Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

August 16, 2007
New NIST calibration service 'arms' phasors for more reliable power grids
A new NIST service provides calibrations for phasor measurement units, the instruments that measure the magnitude and phase of voltage and current signals in a power system to help ensure the uninterrupted flow of electricity across the nation's power grids.

Role seen for cannabis in helping to alleviate allergic skin disease
Administering a substance found in the cannabis plant can help the body's natural protective system alleviate an allergic skin disease (allergic contact dermatitis), an international group of researchers from Germany, Israel, Italy, Switzerland and the US has found.

Memory machine
Are memories recorded in a stable physical change, like writing permanently on a clay tablet?

More proof needed of safety and quality of electronic personal health records
More research must be done to prove that electronic personal health records are safe and effective, according to an article in this week's BMJ.

SRMs track fire retardants in humans and environment
To help scientists evaluate the risks of polybrominated diphenylethers by improving measurements of these pollutants in the environment, NIST has re-evaluated several of its environmental reference materials to report PBDE concentrations in them

Mice use specialized neurons to detect carbon dioxide in the air
Mice have a way of detecting carbon dioxide, and new research from Rockefeller University shows that a special set of olfactory neurons is involved, a finding that may have implications for how predicted increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide may affect animal behavior.

Planets like earth may have formed around other stars, UCLA astronomers report
The chemical fingerprint of a burned-out star indicates that Earth-like planets may not be rare in the universe and could give clues to what our solar system will look like when our sun dies and becomes a white dwarf star some five billion years from now.

Celecoxib helps prevent restenosis and appears safe
Adjunctive use of the COX-2 inhibitor celcoxib after stent implantation in patients with coronary artery disease is safe and can reduce the need for revascularisation of the target lesion, conclude authors of an article published in this week's cardiology special issue of the Lancet.

Shaky financial ground awaits many American retirees
The burden of long-term economic security in the United States is moving away from employers and the government onto the shoulders of workers -- a transformation that Yale University political scientist Jacob Hacker calls

All change at the Earth's core
It is hard to know what is going on over 3000 kilometers beneath our feet, but until recently scientists were fairly confident that they understood the way the iron atoms in the Earth's core packed together.

Savanna habitat drives birds, and perhaps others, to cooperative breeding
Birds of a feather flock together, but for African starlings, this is true primarily in savannas, where cooperation improves survival in the unpredictable habitat, according to UC-Berkeley and Cornell researchers.

Scientists retrace evolution with first atomic structure of an ancient protein
Scientists have determined for the first time the atomic structure of an ancient protein, revealing in unprecedented detail how genes evolved their functions.

New prion protein discovered by Canadian scientists may offer insight into mad cow disease
Scientists have discovered a new protein that may offer fresh insights into brain function in mad cow disease.

Public seminar series on the next 50 years of space science
Next month, the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council will kick off a yearlong series of public lectures and colloquia in cities across the country and abroad.

Brain imaging reveals breakdown of normal emotional processing
Brain imaging has revealed a breakdown in normal patterns of emotional processing that impairs the ability of people with clinical depression to suppress negative emotional states.

Free distribution of insecticide-treated mosquito nets can save lives
Malaria is still responsible for over a million deaths every year, even though it has been known for some years that sleeping under an insecticide-treated net greatly reduces the chance of being bitten by the mosquitoes which carry the disease.

Hypertension: Uncontrolled and taking over the world
The biggest problem for controlling hypertension is compliance with treatment, says an editorial in this week's cardiology special edition of the Lancet.

Is ultrasound as useful as we think?
In a recent article published in Ultrasound, the Journal of the British Medical Ultrasound Society (Vol.

Researchers at University of Pennsylvania develop method for mass production of nanogap electrodes
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a reliable, reproducible method for parallel fabrication of multiple nanogap electrodes, a development crucial to the creation of mass-produced nanoscale electronics.

$6M NIH grant to fund U-M research on childbirth-related prolapse, incontinence
A group of researchers from the University of Michigan Health System has been awarded a $6 million federal grant to study the serious injuries that afflict millions of women as a result of childbirth, including incontinence and prolapse.

'String' theory offers insight into catastrophic failure
Kent State researchers test model to predict catastrophic failure with simple string experiment.

Nanoscale blasting adjusts resistance in magnetic sensors
A new NIST process for adjusting the resistance of semiconductor devices by blanketing a layer of the device with tiny pits may be the key to a new class of magnetic sensors, enabling new, ultra-dense data storage devices.

UC-Irvine program that melds life sciences and computers awarded $5.6 million grant
The UC Irvine Institute for Genomics and Bioinformatics has been awarded $5.6 million over five years from the National Institutes of Health to continue training students to apply advanced computer and information technologies in the biological and medical sciences.

Layered approach may yield stronger, more successful bone implants
Researchers from the American Dental Association Foundation and NIST have developed a new method for layering two kinds of biomaterials into one strong, yet porous unit that may lead to improved reconstruction or repair of bones.

New caledonian crows find 2 tools better than 1
Researchers have found that New Caledonian crows -- which are known to make complex food-getting tools in the wild -- can also spontaneously use one tool on another to get a snack.

Can cancer drugs combine forces?
Individuals with chronic myeloid leukemia are treated first with imatinib (Gleevec) and then, if their cancer returns, with dasatinib (SPRYCEL).

Key to out-of-control immune response in lung injury found
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine have discovered how a protein modulates the inflammatory response in sudden, life-threatening lung failure.

Uncertainty of rainfall breeds cooperation in birds, study finds
For the first time, Cornell researchers have linked a specific aspect of the environment to the evolution of cooperative breeding in numerous bird species: unpredictable rainfall.

Dark matter mystery deepens in cosmic 'train wreck'
Astronomers have discovered a chaotic scene unlike any witnessed before in a cosmic

Today's white rice is mutation spread by early farmers
Researchers at Cornell and elsewhere have determined that 97.9 percent of all white rice comes from a mutation in a single gene and that early farmers favored, bred and spread white rice around the world.

Effectiveness of mouse breeds that mimic Alzheimer's disease symptoms questioned
Scientists have shown that recently developed mouse breeds that mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease may not be as effective as previously assumed.

Emory scientists use NIH grant to develop biomarkers for ALS tracking and prevention
The National Institutes of Health has awarded Emory University researchers a $275,000 grant aimed at developing protein biomarkers to diagnose, monitor and prevent amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Whiplash may produce delayed jaw pain
One in three people exposed to whiplash trauma is at risk of developing delayed TMJ symptoms that may require treatment, according to research published in the August issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association.

Promoting excellence in pharmacy research
The University of Nottingham's School of Pharmacy has been singled out by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain to help promote the next generation of research talent.

OSU wheat breeder's genetic code-breaking means dollars to Oklahoma and region
Liuling Yan only joined Oklahoma State University's Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources last year, but that move is already helping the southern Great Plains states make major breakthroughs in wheat improvement.

Structure of 450 million year old protein reveals evolution's steps
A detailed map that pinpoints the location of every atom in a 450-million-year-old resurrected protein reveals the precise evolutionary steps needed to create the molecule's modern version, according to researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Oregon.

Specific antagonism lowers blood pressure
High blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of heart attack and stroke.

Saudi Arabia's KAUST and French IFP to collaborate on sustainable transport energies and materials
Saudi and French research institutions, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Institut Français Du Pétrole, will collaborate on cleaner, more efficient, economical and sustainable transport energies and materials.

Restricting blood flow in the arm to protect the heart?
Patients having the blood supply in their arm restricted temporarily prior to coronary artery bypass graft surgery could have improved outcomes following such surgery, conclude authors of an article published in this week's cardiology special issue of the Lancet.

Computing breakthrough could elevate security to unprecedented levels
By using pulses of light to dramatically accelerate quantum computers, University of Michigan researchers have made strides in technology that could foil national and personal security threats.

Tumors use enzyme to recruit regulatory T-cells and suppress immune response
One way tumors fly under the radar of the immune system is by using IDO, an enzyme used by fetuses to help avoid rejection, to recruit powerful regulatory T cells that turn down the immune response, researchers say.

Learning how to learn for exam success
It may be the height of the holiday season, but about a million people are about to get life-altering news.

Uncertainty drives the evolution of 'cooperative breeding' in birds
Rather than striking out to start a family of their own, members of some bird species will stick around longer to help a relative raise their young.

Umbilical cord clamping should be delayed, says expert
Clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord should be delayed for three minutes after birth, particularly for preterm infants, suggests a senior doctor in this week's BMJ.

Antigen sparing strategy could boost bird flu vaccine production
A strategy to boost worldwide production of the bird flu vaccine could mean many more people receive the vaccine, boosting efforts to contain any future pandemic.

August-September GEOSPHERE Media Highlights
The August-September issue of GEOSPHERE, published in electronic format only by the Geological Society of America, is now available online.

Fewer degrees of separation make companies more innovative, creative
Companies that network and form strategic alliances are more creative and develop more patented inventions than those that don't.

University of Pennsylvania researchers develop formula to gauge risk of disease clusters
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a mathematical formula to assess whether concentrated disease outbreaks can be ascribed to random-chance events or, instead, suggest a contagious or environmental effect that requires epidemiological investigation.

Light seems to defy its own speed limit
It's a speed record that is supposed to be impossible to break.

CU-Boulder team forcasts 92 percent chance of record low Arctic sea ice extent in 2007
University of Colorado at Boulder researchers are now forecasting a 92 percent chance that the 2007 September minimum extent of sea ice across the Arctic region will set an all-time record low.

Self-fertility in fungi -- the secrets of 'DIY reproduction'
Research from the University of Nottingham sheds new light on a fascinating phenomenon of the natural world -- the ability of some species to reproduce sexually without a partner.

Fellowships will provide specialized training in medical microbiology
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center recently received approval for two new medical microbiology fellowship programs to train the next generation of leaders in clinical and public-health microbiology.

Prophylactic cranial irradiation in small cell lung cancer significantly increases survival
Prophylactic cranial irradiation after chemotherapy significantly reduces the risk of brain metastasis and doubles one-year survival in small-cell lung cancer, according to the results of the multicenter phase III randomized EORTC trial 08993-22993, published in the New England Journal of Medicine today.

Penn researchers discover new mechanism for viral replication
Researchers have identified a new strategy that Kaposi's Sarcoma Associated Herpesvirus uses to dupe infected cells into replicating its viral genome.

Are too many people diagnosed as 'depressed?'
Are too many people now diagnosed as having depression? Two experts give their views in this week's BMJ.

Humans mispredict their emotions after decision making
How accurate are people in their anticipations of regret -- and of other post-decisional emotions, such as disappointment?

Mother's little helpers
An Australian bird has been found to produce smaller, less nourishing eggs when it breeds in the presence of other

Ginkgo SRMs: Tools for product analysis/quality
NIST has issued a suite of Standard Reference Materials for ginkgo biloba, one of the most popular dietary supplements in the marketplace.

University of Cincinnati researchers design humorous 'bot'
University of Cincinnati researchers Julia Taylor and Larry Mazlack recently unveiled a

JCI table of contents: Aug. 16, 2007
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, Aug.

Understanding hypertension in African Americans proves elusive
Exercise cannot reduce a sodium-retaining hormone, aldosterone, in African Americans known to potentially cause hypertension. 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