Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 16, 2004
Discovery of first demethylase molecule, a long-sought gene regulator
Researchers have discovered an enzyme that plays an important role in controlling which genes will be turned on or off at any given time in a cell.

Scientists discover recipe for life: eating the 'Polymeal' cuts heart disease by 76%
Scientists in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ have discovered the 'Polymeal', a set of ingredients which cuts the risk of heart (cardiovascular) disease by 76% and significantly increases life expectancy.

Catastrophic flooding from ancient lake may have triggered cold period
Imagine a lake three times the size of the present-day Lake Ontario breaking through a dam and flooding down the Hudson River Valley past New York City and into the North Atlantic.

Few Americans aware they have chronic kidney disease
Ten to 20 million people in the United States have chronic kidney disease but most don't know it, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health and the National Center for Health Statistics.

Hidden fault may contribute to Bay Area earthquake risk
Earthquakes are not unusual in the San Francisco Bay Area, but a team of Penn State geoscientists believes that the hazard may be greater than previously thought because of a hidden fault under Marin County.

The human eye cannot spot the offside rule
The human eye is unable to detect an offside position during a football match, claims a doctor from Spain in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

MIT creates new model of cancer syndrome
Scientists from MIT's Center for Cancer Research have developed a new mouse model that closely resembles Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) in humans, a syndrome that predisposes those affected to a broad range of cancers.

Research studies effects of soy baby formula on intestinal development
Two studies by University of Illinois food science and human nutrition professor Sharon Donovan show that the soy isoflavone genistein, in amounts present in commercial soy infant formulas, may inhibit intestinal cell growth in babies.

Research finds genetic link to antidepressants
Basing their study on 80 depressed Mexican-Americans in Los Angeles, the researchers found that depressed and highly anxious patients with a variant of the CRH gene (CRHR1) had a 70 percent greater reduction in anxiety and a 30 percent greater reduction in depression in response to the anti-depressants Prozac and desipramine than did patients without the gene variation in question.

Lilly Endowment gives Indiana University $53 million for life sciences
Indiana University President Adam W. Herbert announced today that the Lilly Endowment Inc. is giving IU Bloomington $53 million to broaden and intensify its life sciences research, retain its best faculty and attract new scientists.

Colonoscopy most reliable method for detecting colon cancer
A fast-track study published online by The Lancet shows that colonoscopy is the most accurate technique for detecting colon polyps and cancers.

New UCLA study develops links between socioeconomic status and poor health
Findings suggest that individuals with high overall cardiovascular risk in midlife can be identified by relatively higher risk factors when they are younger.

Permanent resistance to antibiotics cannot be prevented
Dutch research has shown that the development of permanent resistance by bacteria and fungi against antibiotics cannot be prevented in the longer-term.

LCD as a molecular magnifying glass
Dutch researcher Johan Hoogboom has developed a technique for making LCDs (liquid crystal displays) without the need for cleanrooms.

UAlbany College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering awards first Ph.D. degrees in nanoscale science
The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) of the University at Albany - State University of New York, the first college devoted to the study of nanoscale scientific concepts, today announced that it has awarded the world's first Ph.D. degrees in nanoscience.

UGA International Public Service and Outreach receives grant to encourage trade with Uganda
The Office of International Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia has been awarded a $187,000 grant by the U.S.

Shots fired at Bayonne range prove smart gun technology works
Sixty people crowded last week into a small room at the Bayonne police firing range to witness smart gun technology.

Surprise! Cells have second source of phosphate
For 50 years, thousands of labs around the world have studied cells' critical internal communications, and scientists had assumed the speakers were known.

Major step forwards for vaccine against cervical cancer
Dutch researcher Laura Bungener has developed a vaccine against cervical cancer.

Poison digs its own grave
Botrytis cinerea (grey mould) has a large arsenal of molecular pumps at its disposal to protect it against toxic substances such as antibiotics, plant defence compounds and fungicides.

New desalination technology taps waste heat from power plants
University of Florida researchers have developed a technology that can tap waste heat from electrical power plants as its main source of energy, an advance that could significantly reduce the cost of desalination in some parts of the world.

Hummingbirds lose power at high altitudes
In the Peruvian Andes, hummingbirds have reached an amazing diversity and populated many niches, even moving up mountain slopes to 14,000 feet to feed on flower nectar and insects.

Democracy is good for your health
Freedom has become the political buzzword of the 21st century.

Pacemakers could protect patients with epilepsy from sudden unexplained death
Results of a UK study in this week's issue of The Lancet highlight how interruptions to the heart's rhythm is an under-reported consequence of epileptic seizures, and that the use of cardiac pacemakers by some epilepsy patients could play a future role in protecting against sudden unexplained death.

Conquerors' hopes dashed
Dutch researcher Florine Asselbergs has discovered the Spanish conquering of Guatemala portrayed on an indigenous painting.

Study resolves doubt about origin of Earth's oldest rocks, possibility of finding traces of life
Experiments led by Nicolas Dauphas of the University of Chicago and Chicago's Field Museum have validated some controversial rocks from Greenland as the potential site for the earliest evidence of life on Earth.

Researchers present Cassini findings at Saturn
As NASA's Cassini spacecraft approached Saturn last July, it found evidence that lightning on Saturn is roughly one million times stronger than lightning on Earth.

NASA study finds tiny particles in air may influence carbon sinks
A NASA-funded study provides direct measurements confirming aerosols, tiny particles in the atmosphere, may be changing how much carbon plants and ecosystems absorb from or release to the air.

Scientists study fish oil diet in bid to cut heart attack risks
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh will examine the way a fish-rich diet helps maintain a low risk of heart attack amongst Eskimos, in the first study of its kind to be carried out in the city.

The future's bright for diamond dust
Expensive, bulky TV screens could be a thing of the past thanks to a collaboration between the University of Bristol and Advance Nanotech announced today to develop new display technology made from diamond dust.

Latest census finds more American pika populations disappear as climate warms
WWF-funded research by Dr. Erik Beever of the US Geological Survey confirmed that American pika populations in the Great Basin region are continuing to disappear as the Earth's climate warms.

Iceberg poses no threat to Antarctic personnel
National Science Foundation (NSF) officials said today that iceberg B-15A is not blocking access to McMurdo Station, the U.

Encouraging results of gene therapy for severe combined immunodeficiency
A UK study in this week's issue of The Lancet provides further evidence that gene therapy can be effective in creating a functional immune system for infants with severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID).

Research in yeast yields missing link in DNA maintenance machinery
In a finding akin to discovering pages missing from an antique car repair manual, researchers from The University of Texas M.

2004's top 10 hot topics in plastic surgery
Along with Brittany's weddings, Julia's babies and Martha's new home in a federal penitentiary - one of the biggest stories of 2004 was plastic surgery.

Model simulates dynamics of heart rhythm disorders
Dutch researcher Kirsten ten Tusscher has developed a model that can simulate the electrical behaviour of the heart during heart rhythm disorders.

OTC treatment for acne as good as antibiotics
Results of a UK study in this week's issue of The Lancet highlight how over the counter (OTC) benzoyl peroxide lotion is as good as prescription antibiotics for the treatment of mild to moderate facial acne.

Crochet some chaos for Christmas
It is not often that a serious maths journal contains a crochet pattern, but the current issue of the Mathematical Intelligencer has instructions on how to crochet your very own model of chaos.

Science's Breakthrough of the Year: Salty, acidic soup could have supported life on Mars
Evidence for the prolonged presence of potentially-life-supporting, salty, acidic water on the surface of Mars claims top honors as the Breakthrough of the Year, named by Science and its publisher, AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

McGill researchers identify new way to reduce cholesterol levels
McGill researchers have identified a new therapy that successfully improves cholesterol levels.

Cassini scientist sees evidence that Saturn's outer rings could be disappearing
A massive eruption of atomic oxygen from Saturn's outer rings suggests they may be eroding at a fast rate.

Data protection rules may risk patient safety on wards
Removing patient name boards from hospital wards because they do not comply with the Data Protection Act 1998 may risk the safe delivery of care to patients, argue researchers in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

Rapid progress reported in emerging field of molecular electronics
The field of molecular electronics is in excellent health and has a bright future, conclude UCLA and Caltech chemists in the Dec.

Magnetic bracelets reduce the pain of osteoarthritis
Magnetic bracelets reduce pain in osteoarthritis of the hip and knee, finds a study in this week's Christmas issue of the BMJ.

CALIPSO monitors pulse of Soufriere Hills volcano
A unique monitoring system in place on the island of Montserrat can record the everyday changes beneath the Soufriere Hills volcano and throughout the island, according to an international team of volcanologists.

Paper of the Year 2004
The Lancet Paper of the Year 2004 has been won by Craig Whittington and colleagues' for their systematic review of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors in childhood depression published in the April 2004 issue.

Drinking without food may set you up for high blood pressure
During this season to be jolly, when alcohol flows more freely than usual, a new study alerts drinkers that a habit of drinking outside of meals may be setting them up for high blood pressure.

Data on firearms and violence too weak to settle policy debates
The role of guns in U.S. society is a subject of intense policy debate and disagreement.

Report on health insurance coverage of Iowa children shows gaps
A new report on health insurance coverage of Iowa children indicates that nearly 90,000 children in the state are uninsured at some point in the year.

Nevada seismology researchers develop model that estimates impact of large earthquake in Los Angeles
Stiffer building codes in the Los Angeles basin may come in the near future as a result of a new study completed by University of Nevada, Reno seismologists of an anticipated large thrust-fault earthquake.

Microbe's genome promises insight into Earth's carbon and sulfur cycling
Scientists have sequenced the genome of the microorganism Silicibacter pomeroyi, a member of an abundant group of marine bacteria known to impact the Earth's ecosystem by releasing and consuming atmospheric gases.

'Deep and crisp and eaten': The Scottish deep-fried Mars bar
A letter in this week's issue of The Lancet details a survey of Scottish fish and chip shops to try and estimate the popularity of the deep-fried Mars bar.

NYU chemists create DNA translation machine
Chemists at New York University have developed a device that allows for the translation of DNA sequences, thereby serving as a factory for assembling the building blocks of new materials.

Stowers researcher publishes DNA double-strand break repair discovery in Science
Thomas Kusch, Ph.D., a Senior Research Associate at the Stowers Institute working with Investigator Jerry Workman, Ph.D., has identified a histone-modifying complex from Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies), which facilitates DNA double-strand repair by locally increasing DNA accessibility at sites of damage.

Experimental Biology/Congress of the IUPS meets March 31 - April 6 in San Diego
More than 16,000 biological and biomedical scientists will gather for Experimental Biology 2005, an annual meeting that brings together scientists from dozens of different disciplines, from laboratory to translational to clinical research, from throughout the United States and the world.

Balancing 'hysteria and suspicion': Doctors face new responsibilities in 'bioterrorism era'
As the threat of bioterrorism looms, doctors need training to prepare them to balance hysteria and suspicion so they can catch problems early, Saint Louis University experts write in The Lancet.

Herding with hockey sticks
There are no hockey sticks waving around on NHL ice this holiday season, but travel to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, and you'll see plenty of them.

A new twist on an old nebula
A new investigation of the Helix nebula reveals that the object has a more complex three-dimensional structure than previously thought, one that is helping astronomers understand the death throes of stars like the sun.

UGA's Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases receives grant to train Brazilian scientists
The Center for Tropical and Emerging Global Diseases (CTEGD) at the University of Georgia has received a $1.2 million, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center to provide informatics training to Brazilian researchers.

Assessing the season: LSU hurricane experts learned lessons during Hurricane Season 2004
Hurricane Season 2004 brought an unusually high number of intense storms, however, according to LSU Assistant Professor of Geography and Anthropology and Louisiana State Climatologist Barry Keim, the season was forecast reasonably well.

TWAS, illycaffè launch Trieste Science prize
TWAS, The Academy of Sciences for the Developing World, and illycaffè, one of the world's premier coffee producers, have launched the Trieste Science Prize.

Screening for genetic disorders: Need to avoid anxiety
People screened for genetic disorders must have appropriate follow-up and monitoring to avoid stress and anxiety, according to new research sponsored by the ESRC.

Satellites plus software equal best-ever Mediterranean heat map
This ultra high-resolution sea surface temperature map of the Mediterranean could only have been made with satellites.

Scientists discover enzyme crucial to the transportation of proteins within cells
Scientists at the University of British Columbia have discovered an enzyme in mammals crucial to the transportation of proteins within cells.

Saturn System driven by ice, says University of Colorado researcher
Ice particles are key players in the ever-changing panorama at Saturn, according to a new study led by a University of Colorado at Boulder professor using an instrument on the Cassini-Huygens spacecraft now at the ringed planet.

UCSD bioinformatics researcher studies tumor genome architectures with career award
UC San Diego postgraduate Ben Raphael will use his $500,000, five-year career award from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund and computational skills to analyze cancer genomes, including maps of the breast and brain tumor genomes.

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in the Eastern U.S.
Join researchers from across the Eastern United States for a two and one-half day conference on the biology, impacts, research and technology development, and management of the hemlock woolly adelgid.

Thanks for the memories: cinematic portrayal of amnesia is profoundly misleading
The way the movies represent amnesia is profoundly misleading, and gives the general public a false view of what to expect if they are diagnosed with the condition, says a paper in this week's BMJ.

A new vaccine against Salmonella
Javier Ochoa Repáraz has developed an acellular vaccine aginst Salmonella enteritidis. The vaccine has shown itself to be efficacious in mice infected with this illness and is currently being employed on experimental farms of Hipra laboratories in Gerona, a compnay involved in the control of pathogens in birds.

Emory biochemist writes lead essay describing Nobel Prize research on ubiquitin protein
During the 1970s Emory School of Medicine biochemist Keith D.

Science names Mars discovery Breakthrough of the Year
Science magazine has chosen the Mars Rovers' discovery of evidence for the presence of potentially life-supporting water as Breakthrough of the Year in its Dec.

Infants, children prefer sounds over pictures and only slowly become visually oriented, studies find
New research provides the strongest evidence to date that infants and young children - unlike adults -- are more drawn to sounds than they are to visuals in their environment.

Greenland ice cores offer glimpse of weather system history
The recent analyses of eight ice cores drilled from the massive Greenland Ice Sheet may paint a map researchers can use to uncover the history of a massive weather machine controlling the climate around the North Atlantic basin. 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