Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (March 2008)

Science news and science current events archive March, 2008.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from March 2008

Canadian astronomers on hunt for meteor
Astronomers from The University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario, have captured rare video of a meteor falling to Earth. The physics and astronomy department has a network of all-sky cameras in Southern Ontario that scan the sky monitoring for meteors. Associate Professor Peter Brown, who specializes in the study of meteors and meteorites, says on March 5, 2008, at 10:59 p.m. EST, these cameras captured video of a large fireball.

What gets a female's attention -- at least a songbird's
Male songbirds produce a subtly different tune when they are courting a female than when they are singing on their own. Now, new research offers a window into the effect this has on females, showing they have an ear for detail. The finding provides insights not only into the intricacies of songbird attraction and devotion but also into the way in which the brain develops and responds to social cues, in birds -- and humans.

Watery pools in bone marrow key to psoriatic arthritic damage
Researchers have learned more about how a leading drug prevents certain types of arthritis from eating away at bone, according to a study published in the March edition of the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. The work was also presented today at the annual meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society in San Francisco.

Study examines association between type of genetic characteristics and cancer
Persons with a certain type of homozygosity (having two identical copies of the same gene, one inherited from each parent), may have a greater predisposition to cancer, according to a study in the March 26 issue of JAMA.

All-round safety
A car body that thinks intelligently and protects its occupants at the crucial moment has been every driver's dream for a long time. Research scientists in an EU project have developed an intelligent side-impact protection system that dramatically reduces the risk of injury. Just recently the system has proved it actually works in a real crash situation. The passenger cell will be on display at the Hannover trade April 21-25.

Rising Australian biotech stars set to connect on the world stage
Two of Australia's leading life scientists have been chosen from a highly competitive field of candidates to take part in an initiative by Merck Sharp & Dohme and Advance to boost the capability of the country's burgeoning biopharmaceutical industry.

Foldable and stretchable, silicon circuits conform to many shapes
Scientists have developed a new form of stretchable silicon integrated circuit that can wrap around complex shapes such as spheres, body parts and aircraft wings, and can operate during stretching, compressing, folding and other types of extreme mechanical deformations, without a reduction in electrical performance.

UCLA researchers find blood stem cells originate and are nurtured in the placenta
Solving a long-standing biological mystery, UCLA stem cell researchers have discovered that blood stem cells, the cells that later differentiate into all the cells in the blood supply, originate and are nurtured in the placenta.

Fighting terror online
Online terrorism is the use of new technology to elicit fear and panic in society. This new book, Fighting Terror Online, focuses on how different societies react to this new form of terrorism and the ethics behind these responses. In Fighting Terror Online, Prof. Martin Golumbic asks the burning question,

Research to lead to brain tumor therapies
No therapy, other than invasive surgery aiming at a single tumor and which may not eradicate the full extent of the tumors, currently exists. By developing drug therapies, the work of this particular research team at the Peninsula Medical School will provide patients with a viable, non-invasive alternative.

Excellence in open access research celebrated at BioMed Central awards dinner
The winners of the 2007 BioMed Central Research Awards were announced yesterday at an awards ceremony at the Royal Society of Medicine. The event was attended by shortlisted authors, eminent researchers from around the world, open access advocates and science journalists.

Chemotherapy with chemoradiation for pancreatic cancer has small survival benefit
The addition of the drug gemcitabine with chemoradiation for the treatment of patients who had surgery for pancreatic cancer was associated with a survival benefit, although this improvement was not statistically significant, according to a study in the March 5 issue of JAMA.

Nanomaterials show unexpected strength under stress
In yet another twist on the strangeness of the nanoworld, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland-College Park have discovered that materials such as silica that are quite brittle in bulk form behave as ductile as gold at the nanoscale. Their results may affect the design of future nanomachines.

Problems getting around in old age? Blame your brain
New research shows how well people get around and keep their balance in old age is linked to the severity of changes happening in their brains. The study is published in the March 18, 2008, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. White matter changes, also called leukoaraiosis, are frequently seen in older people and differ in severity.

Magnesium associated with lower risk for some strokes in male smokers
Male smokers who consume more magnesium appear to have a lower risk for cerebral infarction, a type of stroke that occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked, according to a report in the March 10 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Smoking is major risk factor for stroke in China
Smoking is a major risk factor for stroke in China, accounting for about one in seven strokes in men, researchers reported in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

The Wiimote as an interface bridging mind and body
The Nintendo Wii is a popular source of video game entertainment, but more recently, it has been adapted for a number of different uses. New research from the University of Memphis, published this week in the journal PLoS ONE, has found another use: psychological experimentation. By integrating the Nintendo Wiimote with a laboratory computer, psychologist Rick Dale and his student collaborators extracted rich information about a person's reaching movements while they performed a learning task.

Spirit II explores long-term performance of XIENCE V stent
Early results of the SPIRIT II study showed that the XIENCE V stent was superior to the Taxus stent in both six-month findings on angiography and one-year clinical outcomes. Now, a new analysis shows that after two years, the investigational everolimus-coated XIENCE V stent may continue to hold a clinical edge over its paclitaxel-coated competitor, but the differences between the two are no longer statistically significant.

3 new honorary doctors at Karolinska Institutet
Each year, Karolinska Institutet's Board of Research confers the title honorary doctor to persons who by their actions in different ways have promoted activities carried out at the university. This year three honorary doctorates in medicine are to be conferred. The ceremony will take place on Friday, May 9 in Stockholm City Hall. On this occasion the honorary doctors will receive their doctoral hats, diplomas and rings from the dean of research as confirmation of their new status.

Rare North Island brown kiwi hatches at the Smithsonian's National Zoo
Early Friday morning, March 7, one of the world's most endangered species -- a North Island brown kiwi -- hatched at the Smithsonian's National Zoo Bird House. Keepers had been incubating the egg for five weeks, following a month long incubation by the chick's father, carefully monitoring it for signs of pipping: the process in which the chick starts to break through the shell. The chick remained in an isolet for four days and is now in a specially designed brooding box.

Monthly personal counseling helps maintain weight loss
In the largest and longest study to date of weight loss maintenance strategies, researchers at Duke University Medical Center found that personal contact -- and, to a lesser extent, a computer-based support system -- were helpful in keeping weight off. The results of the study appear in the March 12 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

JAMA editor-in-chief comments on Pfizer lawsuit
In an editorial published early online today, JAMA Editor-in-Chief Catherine D. DeAngelis, M.D., M.P.H., and JAMA Editorial Counsel Joseph P. Thornton, J.D., write about a recent court ruling regarding litigation involving JAMA and the Archives of Internal Medicine

St. Jude finds signaling system that halts the growth of a childhood brain cancer
A discovery by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital scientists suggests a safer way to treat medulloblastoma, a rare but often fatal childhood brain tumor.

A stronger heart with flavonoids
A polyphenols-rich diet keeps the heart younger. This finding comes out from a study by the University of Grenoble in collaboration with the other centers participating to the FLORA Project, a European Commission-funded research studying the effects of flavonoids, a variety of polyphenols, on human health.

Gecko's 'active' tail key to preventing falls and aerial maneuvers
While recent research has focused on geckos' toes as the key to climbing walls and hanging from ceilings, UC-Berkeley biologists have found that their tails play a critical role in preventing falls after a slip. The tail prevents pitch-back while the gecko regains traction. Unlike cats, which don't need their tail to right themselves in midair, geckos also rely on their tails to rotate face down and then maneuver to a secure perch.

Monthly contact with counselor provides some benefit for maintaining weight loss
Weight-loss program participants who had a brief, monthly personal contact intervention -- most often a 10-15 minute phone conversation -- regained less weight than participants who were in a Web-based intervention or self-directed program, according to a study in the March 12 issue of JAMA.

Irritating smells alert special cells, NIH-funded study finds
Reseachers have discovered that a particular cell, abundant near the entry of many animal noses, plays a crucial and previously unknown role in transmitting irritating and potentially dangerous odors.

New organic molecule in space
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn have detected for the first time a molecule closely related to an amino acid: amino acetonitrile. The organic molecule was found with a 30 meter radio telescope in Spain and two radio interferometers in France and Australia in the

iPods and similar devices found not to affect pacemaker function
Last May, a widely reported study concluded that errant electronic noise from iPods can cause implantable cardiac pacemakers to malfunction. This just didn't sound right to the cardiac electrophysiologists at Children's Hospital Boston, who've seen hundreds of children, teens and young adults with pacemakers. Their own just-reported study finds no effect of digital music players on pacemaker function.

Leicester medical team announces 'predictor' for pregnant women who may have miscarriages
Research published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association identifies for the first time a naturally occurring

MicroRNAs, EMT and cancer progression
In the April 1 issue of G&D, a research team led by Dr. Marcus Peter (University of Chicago) identifies the microRNA miR-200 as both a powerful indicator and regulator of the epithelial phenotype of cancer cells.

Understanding teen attitudes critical to quit message
Teen attitudes to smoking need to be re-examined if anti-smoking health campaigns are to be effective, according to Hunter researchers.

Bioinformatics technology developed at Argonne provides new insight into microbial activities
Scientists may gain a new insight into the relationship between viruses and their environments thanks to a new computational technology developed by researchers at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory. This technology has already been used to identify subtle differences in the metabolic processes of microbial communities

Expansion of monocyte subset could serve as a biomarker for HIV progressions
An increase in the CD163+/CD16+ monocyte subset, which correlates with the amount of HIV virus have in their blood, could serve as a biomarker for the progression of HIV disease.

Ant guts could pave the way for better drugs
Scientists have discovered two key proteins that guide one of the two groups of pathogenic bacteria to make their hardy outer shells -- their defense against the world. The work could allow researchers to create new antibiotics, they said.

A new method to identify mutated genes in human diseases
Researchers from the University of Turin, Italy and the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, have devised a new method that may help the medical community to determine the genetic basis of many common diseases. Their findings are described in an article published March 21 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology.

CIESE conference: Encouraging Students Towards STEM and IT Careers, April 1
The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at Stevens Institute of Technology will host the one-day conference for guidance counselors,

The myth of runner's high revisited with brain imaging
Researchers at the Technische Universit├Ąt Muenchen and the University of Bonn succeeded to demonstrate the existence of an 'endorphin driven runner's high.' In an imaging study they were able to show, for the first time, increased release of endorphins in certain areas of the athletes' brains during a two-hour jogging session. Their results are also relevant for patients suffering from chronic pain.

Journalism created initial awareness of nation's history, MU study finds
The study revealed that 19th century American journalism was significantly influential in shaping the nation's early history. Betty Winfield, Curators' professor of Journalism at MU, found an increase in historical references from the beginning of the century to 1900, when historians first began recording the nation's past. Winfield said journalists created a particular national story by referencing certain people and events, which emerged as collective memory.

Researchers create next-generation software to identify complex cyber network attacks
Researchers in George Mason University's Center for Secure Information Systems have developed new software that can reduce the impact of cyber attacks by identifying the possible vulnerability paths through an organization's networks.

Study shows lifetime effects of pediatric liver transplants
Parents of pediatric liver transplant recipients report lower health-related quality of life for their children two years after the surgery, compared to reports from the parents of healthy children. However, reports of family dysfunction fall within the normal range. These findings are published in the April issue of Liver Transplantation.

Systems biology approach identifies nutrient regulation of biological clock in plants
Using a systems biological analysis of genome-scale data from the model plant Arabidopsis, an international team of researchers identified that the master gene controlling the biological clock is sensitive to nutrient status. The study will appear in the latest issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Computers explain why pears may become brown during commercial storage
Internal browning of pears stored under low oxygen conditions is related to restricted gas exchange inside the fruit, according to a study published March 7 in the open-access journal PLoS Computational Biology. Researchers at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium suggest a computer model that can be used to improve long-term storage of fruit under controlled atmospheres.

Carcinogenicity of some aromatic amines, organic dyes and related exposures
The occupational hazards of working as a hairdresser or barber have been confirmed as probably carcinogenic. This is one of the conclusions of the latest working group report of the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Indiana University study finds majority of US physicians favor national health insurance
The largest survey ever of American physicians' opinions on health-care financing has found that 59 percent of doctors support government legislation to establish national health insurance while only 32 percent oppose it.

Brown hosts regional bioengineering conference
Brown University for the first time hosts the 34th Annual Northeast Bioengineering Conference on April 4-6, 2008. The gathering includes talks on the latest advances in bioengineering research and nanotechnology, such as the

Satellites can help Arctic grazers survive killer winter storms
Scientists say satellite data could help to save herds of musk oxen and reindeer from starvation when ice storms cut off their food supply.

Uterine stem cells create new neurons that can curb Parkinson's disease
The injection of uterine stem cells trigger growth of new brain cells in mice with Parkinson's disease, Yale School of Medicine researchers report in an abstract presented at the 2008 Society for Gynecologic Investigation Annual Scientific Meeting held March 26-29 in San Diego, Calif.

Baby boys are more likely to die than baby girls
Male infants in developed nations are more likely to die than female infants, a fact that is partially responsible for men's shorter lifespans, reveals a new study by researchers from University of Pennsylvania and University of Southern California.

New York-Presbyterian/Columbia physician-scientists present at ACC's 57th Annual Scientific Session
Physician-scientists from New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia will present their latest research findings at the American College of Cardiology's 57th Annual Scientific Session. 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