Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (March 2006)

Science news and science current events archive March, 2006.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from March 2006

Plastic surgeons countdown first full facial transplantation
Even after news of the first partial facial transplantation performed in France spread around the world, plastic surgeons have continued to research how to make the first full facial transplantation a reality. In the first peer-reviewed, scientific studies of their kind in the March issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, US plastic surgeons demonstrated how to successfully complete a full facial tissue transplantation from one human body to another.

Growth-factor therapy improves endothelial cell production and mobility in arterial disease
Using a growth factor to stimulate production of circulating endothelial progenitor cells increases the numbers of these vascular regenerative cells, improves mobility, and potentially could improve blood vessel function in patients with peripheral arterial disease (PAD).

Katrina exposed emergency response weakness
The disastrous response to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Katrina exposed the weakness of existing emergency management and response policies on all political levels - local, state, and federal. William L. Waugh Jr. uncovers the troublesome roots of concern in a piece he edited for the March 2006 volume of SAGE Publications' The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

Cassini images of Enceladus suggest geysers erupt liquid water at the moon's south pole
Images returned from NASA's Cassini spacecraft have yielded evidence that the geologically young south polar region of Saturn's icy moon Enceladus may possess reservoirs of near-surface liquid water that erupt to form geysers of the kind found in Yellowstone National Park.

Relic of life in that Martian meteorite? A fresh look
Since the mid-1990s a great debate has raged over whether organic compounds and tiny globules of carbonate minerals imbedded in the Martian meteorite Allan Hills 84001 were processed by living creatures from the Red Planet. The materials have been under intense scrutiny ever since. Scientists at the Carnegie Institution, with colleagues, have taken a fresh look at how material associated with carbonate globules was created. It does not appear that living organisms were at work.

Newark Preservation Committee honors NJIT for restoring victorian castle
More than 125 people gathered at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) last week to see NJIT President Robert A. Altenkirch receive the highest annual honor from Newark Preservation and Landmarks Committee President William Mikesell, a Newark architect.

Simple idea to dramatically improve dengue vaccinations
An innovative new study in the journal Vaccine explains, for the first time, the failure of previous attempts to vaccinate against the four known Dengue viruses, and it suggests a very simple solution - injecting the four vaccines simultaneously at different locations on the body. Dengue kills tens of thousands per year and sickens 100 million more. According to the CDC, Dengue was

Mother's depressive symptoms contribute unfavorably to parenting practices
When mothers experience symptoms of depression after the birth of their children they are less likely to breastfeed, play with, read to or perform other interactive parenting tasks with their newborns, according to a study conducted by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Columbia University. The nationwide study is the largest to examine whether a mother's depressive symptoms impact her parenting practices post partum.

Plotting the road ahead for wireless sensor networks
Wireless sensor networks consisting of multiple objects, each capable of simple sensing, actuation, communication and processing have tremendous potential. To better realise their full capabilities researchers are developing a broad vision of innovative future applications.

Seattle Heart Failure Model is able to accurately predict survival for patients with heart failure
A new model developed at the University of Washington provides an accurate estimate of one-, two-, and three-year survival rates and average years of survival for patients with heart failure. The model incorporates medications and devices that are used to treat heart failure and how altering these affects survival.

Women's bioethics project receives grant from Ford Foundation
The Women's Bioethics Project today announced it has received a grant from the Ford Foundation. The funding will support a mid-March planning meeting in Washington, DC, to organize the first-ever Bioethics Seminar for Women State Legislative Leaders. Developed in partnership with the Center for Women Policy Studies, the goal of the bioethics seminar is to prepare women state legislators to take leadership positions on emerging bioethics issues in health and biotechnology.

Could a simple test save Medicare hundreds of millions?
The Medicare agency will soon announce whether it will cover the cost of a $400 heart test that assesses a person's risk of dying suddenly from a heart condition. A new computer-model study suggests that the test could actually save Medicare hundreds of millions of dollars in the long run.

International symposium on radar altimetry in Venice, 13 to 18 March 2006
The life of Venetians is strictly connected to the sea-level, which is one of the reasons why Venice was chosen to host the international symposium

New observational study suggests use of combination vaccines may improve immunization coverage rates in infants
Results from a new observational study of administrative claims data from the Georgia State Medicaid program showed that infants who received a combination vaccine had higher immunization coverage rates in the first two years of life compared to infants given component vaccines. Results from the study were presented today at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's 40th National Immunization Conference (NIC) in Atlanta, GA, by Gary S. Marshall, MD, Professor of Pediatrics at University of Louisville, Louisville, KY.

Coffee consumption linked to increased risk of heart attack for persons with certain gene variation
Individuals who have a genetic variation associated with slower caffeine metabolism appear to have an increased risk of non-fatal heart attack associated with higher amounts of coffee intake, according to a study in the March 8 issue of JAMA.

Drug that switches on genes improves myelodysplastic syndrome treatment
A potent member of a new class of drugs increases survival in some patients with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), and may become the new standard of therapy for this group of pre-cancer disorders, say researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center who led a national study of the agent.

Electrical stimulation boosts stroke recovery
Sending tiny electric pulses to a part of the brain controlling motor function helps ischemic stroke survivors regain partial use of a weakened hand, new Oregon Health & Science University research shows. But coupling the technique known as cortical stimulation with aggressive rehabilitation is key to reversing the impairment, doctors say.

Selection tool could revolutionize hiring, online dating
With the assembly line, Henry Ford created a unified production process that revolutionized the manufacturing industry. Now, a University of Calgary business professor has designed a unified selection process that promises to revolutionize the world of human resources.

Duke to test bird flu vaccine dosing
A clinical trial to test different strengths of a vaccine designed to fight avian influenza will begin this month at Duke University Medical Center.

Annals of Internal Medicine tip sheet for March 21, 2006
The current issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine includes the following:

Rodeo cowboys bounce back quicker after suffering whiplash
Rodeo athletes have often been called a breed of their own and now University of Alberta research looking into how they deal with whiplash injuries confirms it.

Quantum dot method rapidly identifies bacteria
A rapid method for detecting and identifying very small numbers of diverse bacteria, from anthrax to E. coli, has been developed by scientists from the National Cancer Institute and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Described in the March 28 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the work could lead to the development of handheld devices for accelerated identification of biological weapons and antibiotic-resistant or virulent strains of bacteria­ -- situations where speed is essential.

ARVO sponsors age-related macular degeneration conference
The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) will present its Summer Eye Research Conference (SERC),

The environmental effects of hedgerows on crops
To evaluate the environmental effects of hedgerows on crops is the aim of the project being undertaken by researchers at the Public University of Navarre, within the framework of the Agenda Local 21 of Noáin municipal council in Navarre.

Complicating in order to simplify
In the rarefied sphere of classical mechanics, more can sometimes be elegantly less. In a paper that will be published March 1 in the proceedings of the Royal Society, two engineers at the Viterbi School of Engineering offer a new and potentially much more flexible method of mathematically describing mechanical systems. The method also resolves a more than 200-year-old mathematical paradox, according to Professor Firdaus Udwadia, who co-wrote the paper with his former PhD student Phailaung Phomosiri.

Climate blamed for mass extictions
Most mass extinctions have been caused by climate change rather than asteroid impacts. That's the controversial view of a palaeontologist who aired his theory at a conference in Washington DC last week. He believes that the Permian extinction, together with many of the other extinctions, was caused by a volcanic eruption which led to catastrophic climate change. However, other experts disagree.

Preparation needed as children enter schools already overweight
Researchers find a substantial amount of young children are entering school overweight.

Junk DNA may not be so junky after all
Researchers at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine at Johns Hopkins have invented a cost-effective and highly efficient way of analyzing what many have termed

Optimising wine-growing operations improves world competitiveness
The EUREKA E! 2587 VI-TIS project has developed new instrumentation and devised modelling software to boost the quality of European wine while reducing overall production costs. Close co-operation between French and Spanish equipment, wine-making and agricultural research partners has resulted in the development of highly automated precision farming technology aimed at helping wine growers around the world to improve the quality of their output and better control their productivity.

Computer simulation and lab synthesis sift through vast universe of possible molecules for the best
Duke University theoretical chemists are investigating a new computer method that could help scientists identify the best molecules for drugs, electronic devices or an array of other uses. Their method would address the

Strategies for Earth observation: 18th CEOS-SIT meeting at ESRIN
On 21 and 22 March 2006, the Strategic Implementation Team (SIT) of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) will be holding its 18th meeting at ESA's ESRIN in Frascati.

Mood affects young and old differently, study finds
The effect of mood on how people process information changes greatly as they age, suggests new research from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Undergrads compete for American Physiological Society Bruce awards at Experimental Biology
Twelve finalists for the David S. Bruce Undergraduate Research Awards in physiology will present their research at the Experimental Biology 2006 conference April 1-5 in San Francisco. Four of the finalists will be chosen to receive the $500 award. The competition attracted 29 applicants. The finalists represent Colorado State, Michigan State, Radford, Tulane and Vanderbilt universities; Bates, Williams and Oberlin colleges; and the universities of Calgary, Missouri, North Carolina and Maryland; and Tripler Army Medical.

Some heart patients vulnerable to mental stress
University of Florida cardiologists have identified a group of heart disease patients who appear especially vulnerable to the physical effects of mental stress. Researchers believe the phenomenon of mental stress-induced reductions in blood flow to the heart is much more common than has been previously recognized.

How can we protect patients with weakened immune systems from influenza?
The flu is bad enough for healthy people, but the disease can place a special burden on those with weakened immune systems, such as patients on chemotherapy. A five-year, $10.7 million federal grant to The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia will support research to determine how adults and children with impaired immune systems may be uniquely vulnerable to influenza, and will seek better ways to protect them.

Elephantiasis close to elimination in Egypt
Five rounds of yearly mass drug administration are likely to have eliminated the parasites that cause elephantiasis in most areas of Egypt, according to a study in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Successful treatment of mothers with depression helps their children, too
Children whose mothers are depressed are more likely to suffer from anxiety, mental-health problems and disruptive behavior than those whose moms aren't. And if the mothers don't get better, these kids' problems often become worse, new research shows.

Radar altimetry revolutionises the study of the ocean
Imagine a space tool so revolutionary it can determine the impact of climate change, monitor the melting of glaciers, discover invisible waves, predict the strength of hurricanes, conserve fish stocks and measure river and lake levels worldwide, among other scientific applications. This instrument is not the subject of a science-fiction novel. In fact, four of them are already operating 800 kilometres above Earth.

Environment, hazards, forensic geology on geoscientists' agenda in Harrisburg next week
Approximately 800 geoscientists will gather 20-22 March in Harrisburg, PA, for the 41st annual meeting of the Northeastern Section of the Geological Society of America. Topics include environmental issues, geologic hazards, and the emerging science of forensic geology.

Conference on planning and response to terrorism and disaster
To help reduce the psychological impact of terror and disaster, the City of New Haven's Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), The National Center for Children Exposed to Violence (NCCEV) at the Yale Child Study Center, and the Department of Psychiatry, will host a conference March 20 and 21 at Yale School of Medicine.

Ocean 'dead zones' trigger sex changes in fish, posing extinction threat
Oxygen depletion in the world's oceans, primarily caused by agricultural run-off and pollution, could spark the development of far more male fish than female, thereby threatening some species with extinction, according to a study published today on the Web site of the American Chemical Society journal, Environmental Science & Technology.

Scientists find brain function most important to maths ability
Scientists at UCL (University College London) have discovered the area of the brain linked to dyscalculia, a maths learning disability. The finding shows that there is a separate part of the brain used for counting that is essential for diagnosis and an understanding of why many people struggle with maths.

The 'oxygen imperative'
It's common knowledge that humans and other animals couldn't survive without oxygen. But scientists are now learning a good deal more about the extent of our evolutionary debt to a substance that was once a deadly poison. New research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Boston University shows that many of the complex biochemical networks that humans and other advanced organisms depend on for their existence could not have evolved without oxygen.

Four-year data suggest the CYPHER® stent provides long-term efficacy and safety benefits
Patients treated with the CYPHER® Sirolimus-eluting Coronary Stent continued to experience significantly better long-term clinical outcomes than those who received a bare metal stent (BMS), according to data presented today during a symposium at the 2006 American College of Cardiology Scientific Session.

NASA scientist claims warmer ocean waters reducing Earth's ice
According to a NASA scientist, the pieces to a years-old scientific puzzle have come together to confirm warmer water temperatures are creeping into the Earth's colder areas. Those warm waters are increasing melting and accelerating ice flow in polar areas.

20th annual Society of Conservation Biology meeting
The Society of Conservation Biology (SCB) will host its 20th Annual Meeting,

March 24 Forum on High School Reform
Leading education researchers and policy experts will explore high school reform issues at a public forum on Friday, March 24.

Cedars-Sinai researchers discover treatment for deadly brain tumors and infections
In a study published in the March 15 issue of The Journal of Immunology, researchers at Board of Governors' Gene Therapeutics Research Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center have developed a way to overcome immune privilege in the brain to eradicate potentially deadly brain tumors such as glioblastoma multiforme and other types of brain infections.

Forecasting the seas
Ocean search-and-rescue can operate more effectively. Meteorologists and climatologists now have a tool to provide long-range weather prediction more accurately. Navies too can perform more accurate anti-submarine surveillance. And environmental managers now have a mechanism to track pollution, algal blooms, or emergent situations such as oil spills. And, this is all due to a unique three-dimensional ocean model that has been developed by Rosenstiel School researchers in collaboration with scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory.

World Water Day: Space tool aids fight for clean drinking water
According to the UN, safe drinking water remains inaccessible for about 1.1 billion people in the world. To address this global dilemma, the UN Millennium Development pledged at the World Summit in Johannesburg in 2002 to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water by 2015. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to