Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (May 2006)

Science news and science current events archive May, 2006.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from May 2006

National study finds off-label prescribing common, often not backed by data
A study of office-based physicians in the United States suggests that about one-fifth of medications are prescribed to treat conditions for which they are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and that nearly three-fourths of those uses lack strong scientific support, according to an article in the May 8 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

'Mercury sponge' technology goes from lab to market
A material designed to capture and remove mercury and other toxic substances from industrial waste streams is now available for commercial use.

Climate history rewritten: Arctic ice an early arrival
Artic ice formed about 45 million years ago - roughly 14 million years ahead of previous predictions - according to new research published in Nature. An international team of scientists, including Brown geologist Steven Clemens, says this startling evidence shows that glaciers formed in tandem at Earth's poles, providing important insights into global climate change.

Polycystic kidney disease: MRI provides an early alert to progression
A new method using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) accurately tracks structural changes that predict functional changes earlier than standard blood and urine tests in people with autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (PKD), according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). PKD is a common inherited condition characterized by cysts that grossly distort the kidneys and liver and by high blood pressure and brain aneurysms (bulges in arteries). Findings are in the May 18 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

New analysis of networks reveals surprise patterns in politics, the web
A new computer analysis technique developed at the University of Michigan that separates networks into communities yielded some surprises when used on real-world networks like political books, blogs, and metabolic systems.

Rutgers School of Engineering awards first alumni medals of excellence
The Rutgers School of Engineering is awarding its first

ESA to host Atmospheric Science Conference
ESA will hold a five-day Europhysics Conference at its ESRIN facilities in Frascati, Italy, from 8-12 May 2006, for data users, scientists and students working in the field of remote sensing of the atmosphere.

New study reveals structure of E. coli multidrug transporter protein
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have determined the x-ray structure of EmrD, a multidrug transporter protein from Escherichia coli (E. coli), a common bacteria known to cause several food-borne illnesses. Proteins like EmrD that expel drugs from cells contribute significantly to the continued rise in multidrug resistant bacteria, and the re-emergence of drug-resistant strains of diseases such as tuberculosis that were once thought to have been eradicated.

Founding member of Pitt's Biology Department to be honored in Harrisburg, Pa., ceremony
Max A. Lauffer, who was in 1949 the first chair of the Department of Biophysics at the University of Pittsburgh (now known as the Department of Biological Sciences in the School of Arts and Sciences), will be recognized by the department at a May 6 event in Harrisburg, Pa., as a Distinguished Founding Member of the Department of Biological Sciences.

Ethnobotanist says non-regulated herbs pose risks
Ginsengs, echinaceas, and ephedras, oh my! These herbs sound innocuous enough, however, according to Memory Elvin-Lewis, PhD, professor of microbiology and ethnobotany in biomedicine in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, Americans are unaware of the dangers inherent in these herbal supplements. Not only are we self-prescribing herbal supplements at alarming rates, but we are not reporting these medications to our physicians.

Launch of the Lancet Asia Medical Forum
Some 500 scientists, public-health experts, and policy makers will be convening at the inaugural Lancet Asia Medical Forum on pandemic influenza in Singapore tomorrow.

A bone of contention in drug-induced osteomalacia
Long-term therapy with some antiepileptic drugs and antibiotics can cause osteomalacia, which is usually the result of vitamin D deficiency. University of Washington researchers now report in the JCI that the adverse effect on bone mineral density of these drugs occurs through their activation of the steroid and xenobiotic receptor (SXR), which induces expression of the enzyme CYP3A4 that breaks down vitamin D, diminishing its beneficial effects on bone, and resulting in osteomalacia.

One-third of adults with diabetes still don't know they have it
The prevalence of diagnosed diabetes in US adults age 20 and older has risen from about 5.1 percent to 6.5 percent, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who analyzed national survey data from two periods -- 1988 to 1994 and 1999 to 2002. However, the percentage of adults with undiagnosed diabetes did not change significantly over the years studied.

Queensland scientists identify molecule that links both sides of the brain
A Queensland Brain Institute-led team has identified a molecule that plays a key role in establishing the major nerve connections between each side of the adult brain.

Coma misrepresented in movies
Coma is often misrepresented in movies, which could skew public perception of coma and impact real-life decisions, according to a new study published in the May 9, 2006, issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

The Gerontological Society of America awards new Hartford Doctoral Fellowships
Six outstanding social work students have been chosen as the newest recipients of the prestigious Hartford Doctoral Fellowship, a program funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, administered by The Gerontological Society of America, and directed by Dr. James Lubben.

Tests for 'face-blindness' reveal disorder may not be so rare
Researchers at Harvard University and University College London have developed diagnostic tests for prosopagnosia, a socially disabling inability to recognize or distinguish faces. They've already used the new test and a related web site ( to identify hundreds of

K-State professors study risk attitudes and consequences of college drinking
Professors at Kansas State University have found that males tend to be greater risk takers when it comes to alcohol, while women tend to use more protective strategies, including drinking only with friends, counting the number of drinks, limiting the amount of money spent on drinking and eating food before drinking.

Scientist works to improve treatment for brain tumors
With a five-year, $1 million grant from the National Cancer Institute, a Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center researcher will work to improve the effectiveness of a drug that he developed for the most deadly type of brain tumor.

Mobile DNA part of evolution's toolbox
The repeated copying of a small segment of DNA in the genome of a primeval fish may have been crucial to the transition of ancient animals from sea to land, or to later key evolutionary changes in land vertebrates. The discovery is

Aspirin + dipyridamole better than aspirin alone to prevent circulatory problems after minor stroke
A combination of aspirin and the antiplatelet drug dipyridamole is better than aspirin alone for the prevention of new circulatory events after a minor, non-disabling stroke, according to a paper published in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Mutation in deafness gene can help heal wounds and prevent infection
A mutation in a gene commonly associated with deafness can play an important part in improving wound healing, a scientist told the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, today (Monday 8 May 2006). Dr. Stella Man, from the Institute of Cell and Molecular Sciences, Queen Mary's University, London, UK, said that the discovery may have implications for the treatment of a wide range of wounds, including post-surgery.

ExoMars rover concept is a star attraction at ILA2006 Space Pavilion
One of the attractions at the ILA2006 Space Pavilion is the full-scale ExoMars rover mock-up based on an artist's impression of Europe's next mission to Mars and the first robotic mission with the European Space Exploration Programme Aurora.

A simple protocol avoids unnecessary invasive procedures
When a patient comes to the ER with a severe headache, he may have an extremely serious Subarachnoid Hemorrhage. Or, there may be less threatening explanations. Until now, physicians could not rule out the serious condition and would do a series of invasive tests. In a paper presented at the 2006 Society for Academic Emergency Medicine Annual Meeting, May 18-21, 2006 in San Francisco, researchers reported on a protocol which could minimize invasive testing.

Study suggests tension headache may actually be TMJD
People whose recurrent headaches have been diagnosed as tension-related actually may be suffering from temporomandibular muscle and joint disorder, or TMJD, a study headed by a researcher from the University at Buffalo's School of Dental Medicine has shown.

USC engineering class creates tools to analyze musical expression
How does music express emotion? USC Systems engineer Elaine Chew, who continues a career as a distinguished concert pianist, teaches a graduate course on using computational and other engineering tools to analyze the question. She presents a paper on issues involved in the class later this year; this semesters' projects are now up as

New technology will allow for flexible television and computer screens
The fabrication of flexible OLEDs has up to now been held back by the fragility of the brittle indium tin oxide layer that serves as the transparent electrode. But researchers at the Regroupement Québecois sur les Matériaux de Pointe (RQMP) have found a solution which they published in the May online issue of Applied Physics Letters.

UCSD study reveals how plants respond to elevated carbon dioxide
An important source of uncertainty in predictions about global warming is how plants will respond to increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide. Now biologists at the University of California, San Diego have made significant advances toward understanding the mechanism plants use to regulate their carbon dioxide intake.

Length of deprivation in infants affects intellectual development for years
A recent study of adopted Romanian children suggests that early experiences of profound institutional deprivation continue to exert marked adverse effects on the children's IQ through age 11. The research shows an IQ deficit in children who have been in deprivation between ages 6 to 42 months, as well as some IQ improvement between the ages of 6 and 11 years. The results imply that some degree of progress is possible, with large individual variation.

ACS weekly press package — May 1st, 2006
The American Chemical Society News Service weekly press package includes reports from the 34 major ACS journals.

Striking the right balance between excitation and inhibition
Neurons in the brain and spinal cord come in two flavors, excitatory neurons that transmit and amplify signals, and inhibitory neurons that inhibit and refine those signals, but little is known about how cells decide to become inhibitory or excitatory during embryonic development. Researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have now uncovered a pathway that plays a central role in regulating this choice.

Indonesia - disaster relief aid in action
ISN's immediate response to this latest quake - to strike the Indonesian island of Java - was to call once again on its Renal Disaster Task Force (RDRTF). Under the leadership of Dr. Raymond Vanholder, the Task Force acted rapidly by sending two scouts to join a team from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). The two appointed Task Force members left within just forty-eight hours of the disaster, joining four other MSF medical and paramedic specialists to volunteer aid to Asia.

Collaborative care decreases some symptoms of dementia for patients with Alzheimer disease
Compared with usual care, patients with Alzheimer disease who were treated with collaborative care had fewer behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia after one year, and caregivers had lower levels of stress and depression, according to a study in the May 10 issue of JAMA.

Extensional tectonics in Tempe Terra
These images, taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC) on board ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, show the tectonic 'grabens' in Tempe Terra, a geologically complex region that is part of the old Martian highlands.

ENERGY STAR®: Government rewards businesses and utilities with Market Transformation Awards
Businesses and utilities across Canada that promote energy efficiency to Canadians were recently recognized by the Government of Canada. The winners of the ENERGY STAR® Market Transformation Awards for innovation and leadership in promoting ENERGY STAR-qualified products in Canada were announced during a ceremony in Toronto.

Eminent inventor of DNA fingerprinting gains new recognition
The inventor of DNA fingerprinting at the University of Leicester, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, is to be honoured with a prestigious international accolade later this year, it has been announced.

Copyright, mass use and exclusivity
The study concentrates on the introduction and background motive of technology related change of copyright law as reflected mainly in the Berne Convention due to the technological and economic necessities experienced in the early 20th century. The purpose of this study is to understand a development which has led to the adaptation of licensing regimes that are not based on traditional exclusivity approach.

Independent review process welcomed by pharmaceutical industry
Medicines Australia is delighted that the Federal Government has established a process that allows an independent review of decisions made by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee (PBAC).

Fear circuit flares as bipolar youth misread faces
Youth with bipolar disorder misread facial expressions as hostile and show heightened neural reactions when they focus on emotional aspects of neutral faces. Brain scans showed that the left amygdala, a fear hub, and related structures, over-activated in youth with the disorder the more misinterpreted the faces. Such a face-processing deficit could help account for the poor social skills, aggression, and irritability that characterizes the disorder, which affects up to one percent of youth.

Key root-development pathway mapped using advanced genomic technique
Biologists have vastly expanded understanding of the biological machinery controlling the intricate process by which plant roots burgeon from single cells into complex tissues. A Duke-led team's discovery of new components of the root-development pathway in the mustard plant, Arabidopsis thaliana, represents both a scientific and technical achievement, the scientists said.

Balancing male fertility and disease resistance
An international collaboration of researchers, headed by Dr. Shiping Wang (Huazhong Agricultural University, China) has discovered that a single gene in rice regulates both male fertility and pathogen resistance, providing an unexpected genetic link between reproductive success and the disease resistance.

Penn State researchers look beyond the birth of the universe
Physicists at Penn State University have used mathematical calculations to reveal a time before the Big Bang, when matter and space-time were born, according to Einstein's general theory of relativity. General relativity offers no clues about existence before the Big Bang, but the model developed at Penn State, which combines quantum physics with general relativity, traces through the Big Bang to a shrinking universe that exhibits the physics similar to ours.

Alcohol consumption habits may threaten GI health
Many studies have evaluated the risks and benefits of alcohol intake, with some concentrating on potential benefits while others focus on the risks of abuse. According to new research presented at Digestive Disease Week® 2006 (DDW), the volume of alcohol ingested and how it is mixed with other beverages can affect the health of the gastrointestinal (GI) system.

Making adult language learning child's play
A sophisticated new language learning method that uses technology to implement findings from neuroscience aims to be simplicity itself for adult learners.

Robots manipulating animal behaviour
A pet dog sits on command, but nobody expects an insect to follow human instructions. So it may come as a surprise to learn that researchers recently succeeded in controlling cockroaches with tiny mobile robots. The results hint at a future where we can interact and communicate with many different kinds of animal.

Certain blood pressure-lowering drugs reduce diabetes risk in Hispanic patients
Hispanic patients appear to benefit from tailor-made medication strategies.

Characteristics of caregivers may increase symptoms in dementia patients
Troublesome symptoms that accompany dementia - including wandering, hallucinations and restlessness - may increase if the patients' caregivers are young, less educated, over-burdened or depressed, according to researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine and colleagues.

CT and ultrasound equally valuable in diagnosing pelvic pain in women
CT and ultrasound are both valuable first-line cross-sectional imaging tools to detect the cause of acute pelvic pain in non-pregnant women and the need for surgery in these patients, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Washington Harborview Medical Center in Seattle, WA.

Young adults happier than adolescents
Although young adults are faced with a diversity of life choices, they seem to be coming to terms with themselves and their lives in their 20s, says new University of Alberta research that shows psychological well-being improves after adolescence and girls improve faster than boys.

Research at University of British Columbia receives historical recognition
The groundbreaking research of chemist Neil Bartlett proving that the noble gases are not inert will be designated an International Historic Chemical Landmark in a special ceremony at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver on May 23. The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, sponsors the Landmarks program. 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