Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

October 09, 2008
Breathing second life into language teaching
An international team has developed a wireless virtual reality environment that can help promote language learning and let students practice.

Dry adhesive based on carbon nanotubes gets stronger, with directional gripping ability
The race for the best

Turning freshwater farm ponds into crab farms
Work by researchers at North Carolina State University is leading to a new kind of crab harvest -- blue crabs grown and harvested from freshwater ponds, instead of from the sea.

Spallation Neutron Source sends first neutrons to 'Big Bang' beam line
New analytical tools coming on line at the Spallation Neutron Source, the Department of Energy's state-of-the-art neutron science facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, include a beam line dedicated to nuclear physics studies.

Movement for global mental health is launched on World Mental Health Day
One year on from its landmark Series on Global Mental Health, the Lancet is, on World Mental Health Day, publishing a Viewpoint announcing the launch of the Movement for Global Mental Health.

JCI online early table of contents: Oct. 9, 2008
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, Oct.

Hydrogen + corncobs (with a splash of boron) = fuel of the future?
The next alternative fuel in a vehicle's tank might be nothing more than gas with a little help from corn.

A low-cholesterol diet leaves a bitter taste in the gut
One role for the proteins on the tongue that sense bitter tasting substances is to limit ingestion of these substances, as a large number of natural bitter compounds are known to be toxic.

Deep magma matters in volcanic eruption cycle
Although the Soufriere Hills volcano on Montserrat exhibits cycles of eruption and quiet, an international team of researchers found that magma is continuously supplied from deep in the crust but that a valve acts below a shallower magma chamber, releasing lava to the surface periodically.

Kids' weighty issues tackled at obesity and eating disorder conference
Health professionals from across Australia will meet in Brisbane tomorrow at a University of Queensland conference focused on prevention and treatment of childhood obesity and eating disorders.

Mouse studies suggest daily dose of ginkgo may prevent brain cell damage after a stroke
Working with genetically engineered mice, researchers at Johns Hopkins have shown that daily doses of a standardized extract from the leaves of the ginkgo tree can prevent or reduce brain damage after an induced stroke.

'60s generation is heading for conventional old age
Britain's post-war baby boomers, associated throughout their lives with social change, are failing to break new ground in their approach to growing old.

Alzheimer's study at Queen's boosted by £228,000 grant
A Queen's University Belfast academic has been awarded £228,000 to further his research into how Alzheimer's disease progresses.

What causes cell defenses to crumble?
German and American researchers have for the first time identified complete gene sequences and function of two proteins in mussels that play a key defensive role against environmental toxicants.

A new hand -- and signs of sensory recovery
Four months after a successful hand transplant -- 35 years after amputation in an industrial accident at age 19 -- a 54-year-old man's emerging sense of touch is registered in the former

M.I.N.D. Institute researchers find important clue to learning deficit in children with autism
A study by researchers at the UC Davis M.I.N.D. Institute has discovered an important clue to why children with autism spectrum disorders have trouble imitating others: they spend less time looking at the faces of people who are modeling new skills.

Make sure you take your multivitamins after gastric bypass surgery for obesity
The case of a woman who developed a vitamin deficiency disease because she did not take her multivitamins after weight-loss surgery is studied in a case report in this week's edition of the Lancet, written by Dr.

New Systems Biology Awards enable detailed study of microbes
NIAID will award five-year contracts estimated to be up to $68.7 million to establish programs in Systems Biology for Infectious Disease Research at four research institutions.

Expert: Flawed corporate watchdog methods helped fuel economic crisis
Archaic corporate governing systems that failed to ferret out risky business deals helped stoke the nation's deepest financial meltdown since the Great Depression, a University of Illinois business law expert says.

Smithsonian perspective: Biodiversity in a warmer world
Will climate change exceed life's ability to respond? Biodiversity in a Warmer World, published in the Oct.

Gene with probable role in human susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis identified
A new gene that may confer susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis has been identified.

Robert Hazen to Receive 2009 MSA Distinguished Public Service Medal
Robert Hazen, senior staff scientist at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory, will receive the 2009 Distinguished Public Service Medal of the Mineralogical Society of America.

Scientists adapt economics theory to trace brain's information flow
Scientists have used a technique originally developed for economic study to become the first to overcome a significant challenge in brain research: determining the flow of information from one part of the brain to another.

Opening a can of worms: Serendipitous discovery reveals earthworms more diverse than first thought
Scientists have found that the UK's common or garden earthworms are far more diverse than previously thought, a discovery with important consequences for agriculture.

NIAID awards contracts to search for protein markers of disease
NIAID has awarded two five-year contracts to establish Clinical Proteomics Centers for Infectious Diseases and Biodefense.

MIT's CarTel aims to reduce commute times, detect engine woes
Dozens of cars in the Boston area are testing the latest generation of an MIT mobile-sensor network for traffic analysis that could help drivers cut their commuting time, alert them to potential engine problems and more.

Where optics meets medicine
Following are a few of the many technical highlights to be discussed at the meeting.

The beat goes on: Artificial heart technology holds promise for alternatives
There soon may be more options for those needing a heart transplant thanks to a new device being developed by the Texas Heart Institute and University of Houston that emulates how the natural heart responds to physiological conditions within the body.

Brainy genes, not brawn, key to success on mussel beach
Scientists find that mussels in their natural habitat express their genes in cyclic waves, in what appears to be a survival strategy akin to the circadian rhythms that govern sleep.

Europe rallies behind nanotechnology to wean world from fossil fuels
Nanotechnologies can be used to develop sustainable energy systems while reducing the harmful effects of fossil fuels as they are gradually phased out over the next century.

NC State takes lead in crime scene investigation training
North Carolina State University researchers are launching a new project that will standardize forensic crime scene investigation training throughout the state, decrease the cost of providing the training to law enforcement personnel and forensic scientists, and hopefully contribute to the establishment of nationwide standards for death investigations.

Clue to genetic cause of fatal birth defect
A novel enzyme may play a major role in anencephaly, offering hope for a genetic test or even therapy for the rare fatal birth defect in which the brain fails to develop, according to a study from researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine.

Economic crisis could stop citizens from voting
During election season, Americans are reminded of their freedoms and rights that allow them to vote for their leaders.

Promising new material that could improve gas mileage
With gasoline at high prices, it's disheartening to know that up to three-quarters of the potential energy you are paying for is wasted.

Steroid treatment offers no benefit in preemies, Hopkins Children's study suggests
Results of a multicenter study led by Johns Hopkins Children's Center challenge the longstanding practice of treating premature babies with hydrocortisone, a steroid believed to fight inflammation and prevent lung disease.

AAAS satellite image analysis reveals South Ossetian damage
Satellite images captured before and after the Aug. 7-8 clash between Georgia, South Ossetian separatists and Russia reveal that 424 civilian structures near Tskhinvali were damaged by Aug.

Evolution of virulence regulation in Staphylococcus aureus
Scientists have gained insight into the complex mechanisms that control bacterial pathogenesis and, as a result, have developed new theories about how independent mechanisms may have become intertwined during evolution.

A new journal where molecular biology meets clinical research
The European Molecular Biology Organization proudly announces the introduction of EMBO Molecular Medicine, a new journal dedicated to a research discipline focused on the interface between molecular biology and clinical research.

Pregnancy not turning minds to mush: Study
Pregnancy and motherhood may make us all go a little gooey, but it's not turning mums' brains into mush, according to mental health researchers at the Australian National University.

Experts agree: to protect the environment, biofuel standards are needed
Society is in a race to find renewable sources of carbon-neutral energy.

Saving Sumatra: Indonesia reaches historic agreement
The Indonesian government and World Wildlife Fund today announced a bold commitment to protect the remaining forests and critical ecosystems of Sumatra, an Indonesian island that holds some of the world's most diverse -- and endangered -- forests.

UNC receives $8.5 million for new public health preparedness research center
The North Carolina Institute for Public Health has been awarded an $8.5 million, five-year grant to create a new research center focused on helping protect the state from a wide range to disasters and threats.

Risk and reward compete in brain
Imaging study follows on previous lesion studies to pinpoint regions of brain involved in risk management: finds that individuals' response to risk and reward can be gauged from activity in two distinct brain regions.

Tobacco smuggling is killing more people than illegal drugs
Tobacco smuggling causes around 4,000 premature deaths a year -- four times the number of deaths caused by the use of all smuggled illegal drugs put together -- but the UK government is not doing enough to tackle the problem, claim experts on today.

Entrepreneurs invited to attend venture capital 'boot camp'
Next week UCL will become the first British university to host the successful 'Entrepreneurship Boot Camp' successfully pioneered by leading venture capitalist Dr.

Tropical rainforest and mountain species may be threatened by global warming
Contrary to conventional wisdom, tropical plant and animal species living in some of the warmest places on Earth may be threatened by global warming, according to University of Connecticut Ecologist Robert K.

Researchers design artificial cells that could power medical implants
Researchers at Yale University have created a blueprint for artificial cells that are more powerful and efficient than the natural cells they mimic and could one day be used to power tiny medical implants.

Warming in Yosemite National Park sends small mammals packing to higher, cooler elevations
UC Berkeley's resurvey of animal populations in California's eastern mountains kicked off in 2003 with a resurvey of Yosemite National Park, following the route of Joseph Grinnell in 1914-20.

Ripple effect: Water snails offer new propulsion possibilities
A UC San Diego engineer has revealed a new mode of propulsion based on how water snails create ripples of slime to crawl upside down beneath the surface.

Researchers discover how infectious bacteria can switch species
Scientists from the Universities of Bath and Exeter have developed a rapid new way of checking for toxic genes in disease-causing bacteria which infect insects and humans.

Researcher at NYU Langone's Skirball Institute available to discuss finding published in Cell
Over the past several decades, many laboratories have studied the communication between nerve cells and muscle fibers that are crucial to form and maintain neuromuscular synapses.

New findings may improve treatment of inherited breast cancer
Scientists have identified some of the elusive downstream molecules that play a critical role in the development and progression of familial breast cancer.

Vitamin D a key player in overall health of several body organs, says UC Riverside biochemist
Vitamin D, once linked to only bone diseases, is now recognized as a major player in contributing to overall human health, emphasizes UC Riverside's Anthony Norman, an international expert on vitamin D.

Digital zebrafish embryo provides the first complete developmental blueprint of a vertebrate
Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory have generated a digital zebrafish embryo -- the first complete developmental blueprint of a vertebrate.

Texas Children's launches life-enhancing care resource for childhood cancer survivors
Texas Children's Cancer Center today announced Passport for Care, an innovative Web-based application that provides childhood cancer survivors and their physicians with immediate access to a survivor's diagnosis and treatment history. launches new animated 3-D views of human body in action
People will soon have access to a state-of-the-art 3-D visual exploration of the cardiovascular system created from medical imaging and computer animations.

Bold traveler's journey toward the center of the Earth
The first ecosystem with only a single biological species has been discovered and its genome analyzed by a multi-institutional and multidisciplinary team.

New drug class: Angina
A new drug ranolazine is a safe and effective treatment for chronic stable angina and adds to the treatment options for patients with this condition.

Text focuses on diagnosing infections in immunocompromised patients
Over the past 25 years, the number of patients with compromised immune systems has grown astronomically.

Has a new era of reinstitutionalization in mental health care begun?
The number of compulsory admissions to inpatient psychiatric care has increased dramatically but the number of NHS beds has fallen, and there has also been a significant increase in the number of patients admitted for alcohol and drug problems, finds a study published today on

Small intestine can sense and react to bitter toxins in food
Toxins in food often have a bad, bitter taste that makes people want to spit them out.

Children with cystic fibrosis not well covered by guidelines for vitamin D needs
Existing recommendations for treating vitamin D deficiency in children with cystic fibrosis are too low to cover the serious need, leaving most at high risk for bone loss and rickets, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Stabilizing force for good communication between neurons and muscle cells found
Stabilizing force for good communication between neurons and muscle cells found You can't raise a finger without your brain directing muscle cells, and scientists have figured out another reason that usually works so well.

Volcanic eruptions more complex and harder to predict, according to new Science paper
New research by a team of US and UK scientists into volcanoes has found that they function in a far more complex way than previously thought, making future eruptions even harder to predict.

Researchers teach computers to search for photos based on their contents
A new statistical approach that one day could make it easier to search the Internet for photographs has been given a patent.

Wildfires cause ozone pollution to violate health standards, new study shows
Wildfires can boost ozone pollution to levels that violate US health standards.

International drug study shows rapid improvement in overactive bladder symptoms
Patient using solifenacin reported that their overactive bladder problems improved by 70 percent.

Case Western Reserve University research finds drug candidate slows age-related macular degeneration
Research results from the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine show that the progression of age-related macular degeneration is markedly slowed in new laboratory-engineered mice when they received treatments of retinylamine, a trial drug that has been tested in a medical school lab.

Scientists identify gene that may make humans more vulnerable to pulmonary tuberculosis
Researchers from the Genome Institute of Singapore and collaborators have identified a new gene that may confer susceptibility to pulmonary tuberculosis.

Nerve stimulation therapy alleviates pain for chronic headache
A novel therapy using a miniature nerve stimulator instead of medication for the treatment of profoundly disabling headache disorders improved the experience of pain by 80-95 percent, according to a new study from UCSF and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

Science survey ranks top biopharma employers
Science's annual survey of Top Employers polls employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical and related industries.

Keeping herpes infection in check: Pitt researchers describe immune system strategies
Herpes simplex virus type I can cause bouts of cold sores, blindness and potentially lethal encephalitis when it reawakens from a quiescent state in the nerve cells it infects. 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