Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

June 30, 2008
A bright future for plastics -- robot 'skin,' flexible laptops and electric posters
July's edition of Physics World includes an in-depth feature by three Israeli researchers, Marianna Khorzov and David Andelman, from the school of physics and astronomy at Tel Aviv University, and Rafi Shikler, from the electrical and computer engineering department at Ben Gurion University, about exciting developments in plastic electronics engineering.

Lasers, software and the Devil's Slide
Running for more than 1,000 kilometers along picturesque coastline, California's Highway 1 is easy prey for many of the natural hazards plaguing the region, including landslides.

Stillbirths, infant deaths lead to anxiety, guilt and stress among obstetricians
Nearly one in 10 obstetricians in a new study has considered giving up obstetric practice because of the emotional toll of stillbirths and infant deaths.

A histone methyltransferase modulates antigenic variation in African trypanosomes
In this week's issue of PLoS Biology, George Cross and colleagues show that the chromatin modifying enzyme DOT1B helps to epigenetically regulate the number of VSGs each trypanosome parasite can have at a time and how fast each parasite can switch from one coat to another.

American Chemical Society's Weekly PressPac -- June 25, 2008
The American Chemical Society's News Service Weekly PressPac contains reports from 36 major peer-reviewed journals on chemistry, health, medicine, energy, environment, food, nanotechnology and other hot topics.

Tufts to develop morphing 'chemical robots'
Tufts University has received federal funding to develop chemical robots that will be able to squeeze into spaces as tiny as 1 centimeter, then morph into something 10 times larger, and ultimately biodegrade.

Researchers are first to simulate the binding of molecules to a protein
You may not know what it is, but you burn more than your body weight of it every day.

Physicists create millimeter-sized 'Bohr atom'
Nearly a century after Danish physicist Niels Bohr offered his planet-like model of the hydrogen atom, a Rice University-led team of physicists has created giant, millimeter-sized atoms that resemble it more closely than any other experimental realization yet achieved.

MIT researchers tug at molecules with optical tweezers
MIT researchers have developed a novel technique to measure the strength of the bonds between two protein molecules important in cell machinery: gently tugging them apart with light beams.

Annals of Internal Medicine tip sheet for July 1, 2008, issue
The following are highlights of upcoming studies in the July 1 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine.

Researchers call for independent body to monitor deaths in wars and other crises, and more
The accurate documentation of deaths during wars and other humanitarian emergencies is critical to grading the severity of the crisis and adjusting relief operations accordingly, and yet collection of data on death rates is often incomplete, say two researchers in this week's PLoS Medicine.

Researchers link early stem cell mutation to autism
In a breakthrough scientific study published today in the PNAS, scientists at the Burnham Institute for Medical Research have shown that neural stem cell development may be linked to Autism.

Low levels of good cholesterol linked to memory loss, dementia risk
Low levels of good cholesterol are associated with diminished memory by age 60.

Integrins as receptors give insight into rotavirus and diarrhea
Eleven years ago, Dr. Mary Estes of Baylor College of Medicine and her colleagues discovered the first viral enterotoxin, rotavirus NSP4, a toxic protein that affects the intestines, causing diarrhea.

Zinc finger proteins put personalized HIV therapy within reach
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and collaborators are using minute, naturally occurring proteins called zinc fingers to engineer T cells to one day treat AIDS in humans.

Achieving top grades in science subjects more difficult, proves research
Schoolchildren studying science and technology subjects like maths, physics and chemistry find it much harder to achieve the top exam grades than candidates of similar ability studying subjects like media studies and psychology, proves a new report.

University of Oklahoma announces collaboration with Enterprise Electronics Corp.
University of Oklahoma meteorologists and engineers are working to develop systems for better predictions and warnings of such storms through a new collaboration between the University and Enterprise Electronics Corp.

Heavy birthweight increases risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis
People who have a birthweight over 10 pounds are twice as likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis when they are adults compared to individuals born with an average birthweight, according to a study published by researchers from Hospital for Special Surgery online in advance of print in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Potential solutions to the copayment dilemma
A general policy of copayments or top-ups, allowing patients to pay privately for drugs, would be counter to the principles of the NHS and grossly unfair to desperately sick people, say experts on BMJ.com today.

A mammalian clock protein responds directly to light
We know that light effects the growth and development of plants, but what about humans and animals?

Multiple vaccinations have not caused ill health in UK soldiers in Iraq
Multiple vaccinations have not been a cause of ill health in UK service personnel deployed to Iraq, finds a study published on bmj.com today.

New map IDs the core of the human brain
An international team of researchers has created the first complete high-resolution map of how millions of neural fibers in the human cerebral cortex connect and communicate.

Migraine mutations reveal clues to biological basis of disorder
By studying a rare, inherited form of migraine, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center have found clues to the biological basis of the painful, debilitating disorder.

New book presents methods for detecting rare carnivores
Twenty-five North American scientists present their techniques for detecting rare carnivores in a new book useful for land managers developing wildlife conservation plans.

Alley receives Geological Society of America Public Service Award
Richard Alley, the Evan Pugh professor of geosciences, will receive the Geological Society of America's Public Service Award at its fall meeting in Houston.

Research yields pricey chemicals from biodiesel waste
Chemical engineers at Rice University have unveiled a set of techniques for cleanly converting problematic biofuels waste into profitable chemicals.

Despite frustrations, Americans are pretty darned happy
We're number 16 ... in world happiness. Feel the joy.

The perils of overconfidence
Overestimating one's abilities can have hazardous consequences. Research has backed up this notion but with one glaring problem: it relies on participants to give accurate reports of their own confidence.

Experts examine challenges of split liver transplantation
Can split liver transplantation reliably yield grafts for two adults?

Brown University professor to be honored at SIAM Annual Meeting
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics will honor David I.

China quake rare and unexpected, says new MIT study
A new analysis of the setting for last month's devastating earthquake in China by a team of geoscientists at MIT shows that the quake resulted from faults with little seismic activity, and that similar events in that area occur only once in every 2,000 to 10,000 years, on average.

Wake up and smell the coffee
A new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has found that mice immunized to develop an MS-like condition were protected from the disease by drinking caffeine.

'V45' harvester moves south
To meet increasing consumer demands for healthy, high-quality fruit, commercial growers in the United States are ramping up production of blueberries.

UIUC professor to be awarded SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession
On Tuesday, July 8 at its 2008 annual meeting in San Diego, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics will award the SIAM Prize for Distinguished Service to the Profession to Dr.

SIAM to present Richard C. DiPrima Prize for exemplary doctoral work
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics will award the Richard C.

Montreal Heart Institute and Mount Sinai Hospital researchers contribute to Crohn's disease study
Twenty-one new genetic risk factors associated with Crohn's disease have been discovered, more than doubling the amount of genetic information about the disease.

Metals shape up with a little help from friends
For 5,000 years the only way to shape metal has been by the

Eating junk while pregnant can harm your baby
We all know that smoking and drinking when pregnant can harm the baby, but new research published in the Journal of Physiology suggests that poor diet may also cause long-lasting, irreversible damage in offspring from heart disease to diabetes.

Cellular self-eating promotes pancreatitis
To survive tough times, cells sometimes resort to a form of self-cannibalism called autophagy.

American Heart Association announces 4th new journal
The American Heart Association has set August for the premier of Circulation: Cardiovascular Interventions, the fourth in a series of six new titles to be published under the banner of Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

NIAID announces grants to stimulate food allergy research
Twelve investigators have received grants totaling $5 million over two years to lead high-impact, innovative studies of food allergy.

Population-based approach needed to reduce obesity in United States
Population-wide approaches are key for preventing obesity. Preventing excess weight gain needs to be easier, more socially acceptable and personally rewarding for the average person.

Acoustics world wide press room now open
Reporters interested in the upcoming Acoustics '08 Paris meeting in France are invited to visit the ASA World Wide Press Room.

Researchers use supercomputer to track pathways in myoglobin
Myoglobin is responsible for oxygen storage in cells. But how does oxygen travel through the solid protein wall to be anchored by an iron atom deep within the protein?

To sing like Shakira, press '1' now
Tel Aviv University scientists have developed an electronic ear to judge and coach vibrato technique.

Fatty liver disease may raise heart disease risk in overweight, obese kids
Pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) raises cardiovascular risk in overweight and obese children.

Limit sucrose as painkiller for newborns
Using sucrose to reduce pain in newborns undergoing painful procedures should be limited to babies having blood taken for the newborn screening test but not for intramuscular injections.

From beach to backyard, caution can reduce firepit burns
Backyard barbecues and beach bonfires are beloved summer activities across the country, but they also put people -- especially children -- at risk of painful, long-term injury.

Nitrogen: Nutrient of life
Nitrogen is a key component of agricultural fertilizers and is crucial to the world's food supply.

A single mechanism for hypertension, insulin resistance and immune suppression
By counteracting the underlying molecular mechanism for high blood pressure in the spontaneously hypertensive rat, researchers found not only how that ailment and others arise in mammals, but also how the conditions may be treated simultaneously.

U of M leads research to manage incidental findings in human subjects research
Susan Wolf, J.D., professor and chair of the University of Minnesota's Consortium on Law and Values in Health, Environment & the Life Sciences, led a multidisciplinary team of national experts to develop the first major guidelines on managing incidental findings in human subjects research which have just been published.

FSU professor to receive prestigious prize in mathematics
The W.T. and Idalia Reid Prize in Mathematics will be awarded to Max Gunzburger on Tuesday, July 8, at the 2008 SIAM Annual Meeting in San Diego.

Lancet strongly supports Darzi's focus on NHS quality, engagement and professionalism
The Lancet strongly supports Ara Darzi's focus on quality, engagement and professionalism in the NHS Next Stage Review released today by the Department of Health.

Antiretroviral therapy as HIV prevention strategy
The widespread use of highly active antiretroviral therapy may reduce the incidence of HIV in individuals and populations but has been overlooked by public health as a prevention strategy.

Watermelon may have Viagra-effect
Researchers at Texas A&M's Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center have identified a phyto-nutrient in watermelon that promotes Viagra-like effects in that it relaxes blood vessels.

What do politics have to do with it?
A new book,

Wake-up call to business: Tighten up on information security
Britain's economic progress at risk because the enterprises on which it depends are not doing enough to stop cyber crime and human error from damaging or even hijacking the vital business information, according to research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

Spray reduces pain in children undergoing intravenous procedures
A topical spray reduced pain by 34 percent in children undergoing intravenous procedures, such as injections and tube insertions, compared with a placebo group.

Bacterial resistance is futile against wound-cleaning laser
A laser-activated antimicrobial offers hope for new treatments of bacterial infections, even those that are resistant to current drugs.

UTSA/UTHSCSA publish results on bio-threat agent
Researchers at the University of Texas at San Antonio South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases and the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio have identified a cell type believed to play a role in controlling the early infectious process against Francisella tularensis, a respiratory pathogen and bioterrorism agent that is the cause of tularemia.

Rutgers University professor to receive George PĆ³lya Prize
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics has recognized Van H.

Conservation Leadership Program announces 2008 awardees
The Conservation Leadership Program is proud to announce the winners of the 2008 Conservation Team Awards.

Tree-killing fungus officially named by scientists
The USDA Forest Service Southern Research Station today announced that an SRS scientist and other researchers have officially named the fungus responsible for killing redbay and other trees in the coastal plains of northeastern Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

Invisible waves shape continental slope
A class of powerful, invisible waves hidden beneath the surface of the ocean can shape the underwater edges of continents and contribute to ocean mixing and climate, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have found.

Southern farmers realize profits from highbush blueberries
Southern highbush blueberries are emerging as an important fruit crop in Georgia, but experienced farmers say the fruit can be a challenge to grow.

Finding that could shed light on 'golden staph,' candida and allergies
Recent scientific findings explain why patients with a rare immunodeficiency disorder are unusually susceptible to certain common infections.

Carbon hoofprint: Cows supplemented with rbST reduce agriculture's environmental impact
Milk goes green: Cows that receive recombinant Bovine Somatotropin make more milk, all the while easing natural resource pressure and substantially reducing environmental impact, according to a Cornell University study to be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Mother's diet may have long term impact on child's health, study suggests
Mothers who eat an unhealthy diet during pregnancy may be putting their children at risk of developing long term, irreversible health issues including obesity, raised levels of cholesterol and blood sugar, according to research published today.

Happiness is rising around the world: U-M study
People in most countries around the world are happier these days, according to newly released data from the World Values Survey based at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research.

Engineer receives $1.5M grant for nanoparticle cancer research
A biomedical engineering assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin has been awarded a $1.5 million National Institutes of Health/National Cancer Institute grant to conduct nanoparticle cancer research.

When using gestures, rules of grammar remain the same
The mind apparently has a consistent way of ordering an event that defies the order in which subjects, verbs and objects typically appear in languages.

New electrostatic-based DNA microarray technique could revolutionize medical diagnostics
Berkeley Lab researchers have invented a technique in which DNA assays -- the key to personalized medicine -- can be read and evaluated with no need of elaborate chemical labeling or sophisticated instrumentation.

New technology may help Olympic sailing
A team of researchers at the Ocean University of China has developed and tested a mobile lidar (light detection and ranging) station that can accurately measure wind speed and direction over large areas in real time -- an application useful for aviation safety, weather forecasting and sports.

Tongue Drive system lets persons with disabilities operate powered wheelchairs, computers
A new assistive technology allows individuals with disabilities to operate a computer, control a powered wheelchair and interact with their environments simply by moving their tongues.

Fortified cassava could provide a day's nutrition in a single meal
Scientists have determined how to fortify the cassava plant, a staple root crop in many developing countries, with enough vitamins, minerals and protein to provide the poor and malnourished with a day's worth of nutrition in a single meal.

Neuronal correlates of the set-size effect in monkey lateral intraparietal area
This week in PLoS Biology, Jacqueline Gottlieb and colleagues show how a higher-order parietal area relates to attention and eye movements.

An impossible coexistence: Transgenic and organic agriculture
The cultivation of genetically modified maize has caused a drastic reduction in organic cultivations of this grain and is making their coexistence practically impossible.

Unheard of life history for a vertebrate
There is a newly discovered life history among the 28,300 species of known tetrapods.

More severe bone infections, health complications in children linked to MRSA, researchers find
The emergence of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus as a major pathogen has led to more complications and longer hospital stays for children with acute bone infections, UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers report.

United States has highest level of illegal cocaine and cannabis use, and more
A survey of 17 countries has found that despite its punitive drug policies the United States has the highest levels of illegal cocaine and cannabis use.
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