Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

November 25, 2008
Halas wins high-profile national security award
Rice University nanophotonics pioneer Naomi Halas has been named a National Security Science and Engineering Faculty Fellow by the Department of Defense.

M.I.N.D. Institute researchers call for fragile X testing throughout the lifespan
Writing in this week's Journal of the American Medical Association, UC Davis M.I.N.D.

To make better MRI images, let the atoms spin out of control
Scientists here and in France have made a new theoretical advance inĀ atomic behavior that could lead to sharper magnetic resonance imaging pictures.

Research-based undergraduate course expands beyond Washington University
Washington University in St. Louis is in the spotlight for its pivotal role in the Genomics Education Partnership, a collaborative effort to provide research experience in genomics to undergraduate classrooms across the country.

Sweet molecule could lead us to alien life
Scientists have detected an organic sugar molecule that is directly linked to the origin of life, in a region of our galaxy where habitable planets could exist.

Meteorite search update
Investigation of the fireball that lit up the skies of Alberta and Saskatchewan on Nov.

Saying 'cheese' for more effective border security
Researchers at NIST have found that several simple steps can significantly improve the quality of facial images that are acquired at border entry points such as airports and seaports

Kidney function discovery sheds light on genetic complexity of disease
To find a cure for cancer, hemophilia and other diseases, researchers need to be looking for complex, interacting genetic factors, according to the authors of a new study.

Gene variation for persons with diabetes associated with increased risk of coronary artery disease
Patients with type 2 diabetes who have poor glycemic control and a certain genetic variation have an increased risk of coronary artery disease, according to a study in the Nov.

In sickness and health: Caring for ailing spouse may prolong your life
Older people who spent at least 14 hours a week taking care of a disabled spouse lived longer than others.

Europe unveils 20-year plan for brilliant future in astronomy
The ASTRONET network, backed by the entire European scientific community, supported by the European Commission and coordinated by the CNRS, today presents its Roadmap for a brilliant future for European astronomy.

How to improve email communication
In a new article in the current issue of American Journal of Sociology authors Daniel A.

Are there careers in mathematics outside of academia?
The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics has published its latest brochure on applied mathematics and computational science careers outside of academia.

'Green' electricity to help UK meet 2050 carbon emissions target
Extensive use of low-carbon

Bright idea illuminates LED standards
Researchers at NIST have proposed a new, economical method to allow LED and lighting manufacturers to obtain accurate, reproducible, and comparable measurements of LED brightness and color.

Inhaled corticosteroids raise pneumonia risk for lung disease sufferers
Lung disease experts at Johns Hopkins are calling for physicians to show much greater caution in prescribing inhaled corticosteroid drugs for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease after finding evidence that the widely used anti-inflammatory medications increase the risk of pneumonia by a full third.

The physics of explosives and blast helmets
Of all the threats facing US soldiers in combat, among the most dangerous are roadside bombs and other improvised explosive devices.

Rescue robot exercise brings together robots, developers, first responders
NIST held a rescue robot exercise in Texas last week in which about three dozen robots were tested by developers and first responders in order to develop a standard suite of performance tests to help evaluate candidate mechanical rescuers.

Heart pumps: High cost, high mortality in an emerging technology
Ventricular assist devices, or VADs -- surgically-placed mechanical pumps that can support failing hearts or buy time to transplant -- are associated with high hospital costs and high rates of early death among Medicare recipients, say researchers at Duke University Medical Center.

Understanding donor-recipient genetics could decrease early kidney transplant complications
Researchers have found an association between the genetics of donor-recipient matches in kidney transplants and complications during the first week after transplantation.

Do you know you're having a stroke?
A Mayo Clinic study shows a majority of stroke patients don't think they're having a stroke -- and as a result -- delay seeking treatment until their condition worsens.

American Meteorological Society 2009 Annual Meeting
The American Meteorological Society's 89th Annual Meeting will be held Jan.

K-State psychologist studies ways to improve soldiers' work-life relationship
The US military provides its members with policies to help balance their work and family commitments.

Hubble captures outstanding views of mammoth stars
Two of our galaxy's most massive stars have been scrutinized in an impressive view by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

Jupiter's rocky core bigger and icier, according to new simulation
When Jupiter formed 4.5 billion years ago, rocks and ice combined to form a rocky core 14-18 times the mass of the Earth, according to a new simulation by UC Berkeley geophysicist Burkhard Militzer.

UT Southwestern researchers find clue to safer obesity drugs
Once hailed as a miracle weight-loss drug, Fen-phen was removed from the market more than a decade ago for inducing life-threatening side effects, including heart valve lesions.

Link between depression, higher risk of cardio events may be because of change in health behaviors
The increased risk of cardiovascular events for patients with coronary heart disease and symptoms of depression appears to be largely explained by a change in health behaviors, especially a lack of physical activity, according to a study in the Nov.

'Missing link' galaxies discovered
Astronomers at the University of Nottingham have identified a type of galaxy that could be the missing link in our understanding of galaxy evolution.

A more rational and scientific approach to AIDS is needed, says expert
The Secretariat of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has lost valuable ground by ignoring for years the contribution of long-term concurrent relationships to Africa's AIDS epidemic, claims an expert, ahead of World AIDS Day, on today.

UNC scientists teach enzyme to make synthetic heparin in more varieties
Scientists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have learned to customize a key human enzyme responsible for producing heparin, opening the door to a more effective synthetic anticoagulant as well as treatments for other conditions.

UH Manoa researchers release results of statewide survey of snail, slug invasions in Hawai'i
Hawai'i's ongoing problem with invasive species such as snails and slugs, including their serious impact on plant nurseries and other aspects of the local horticultural industry, has been investigated and documented by four University of Hawai'i at Manoa researchers.

Major teaching and learning research program draws conclusions
The Teaching and Learning Research Program, the largest research initiative into education related topics ever undertaken in the United Kingdom, presents its major conclusions Nov.

Improvement seen regarding disparities for liver transplantation
Following introduction of a new system in 2002 to determine the allocation of donated livers, black patients no longer are less likely to receive a liver transplant, but disparities for women remain, according to a study in the Nov.

NIST 'stress tests' probe nanoscale strains in materials
Researchers at NIST have demonstrated their ability to measure relatively low levels of stress or strain in regions of a semiconductor device as small as 10nm across.

Radiation before surgery improves pancreatic cancer outcomes
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest and most difficult to treat cancers.

Lightheadedness at the dentist could prove serious
Breath-holding spells, also known as vasovagal syncope, are characterized by a loss of consciousness and muscle tone, which typically are preceded by nonspecific symptoms that last anywhere from a few seconds to a minute.

Understanding how oxidative stress impairs endothelial progenitor cell function
Researchers from the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at the Indiana University School of Medicine and Riley Hospital for Children report in the Nov.

Tracking and feedback registry may reduce racial disparities in breast cancer care
Alerting surgeons when their breast cancer patients did not attend a follow-up consultation with a medical oncologist was associated with a reduction in racial disparities in adjuvant therapy, according to a nonrandomized study published in the Nov.

Electronic health records may lower malpractice settlements
Use of electronic health records may help reduce paid malpractice settlements for physicians.

Agent-based computer models could anticipate future economic crisis
As the stock market continues its dive, economists and business columnists have spilled a lot of ink assigning responsibility for the ongoing financial calamity.

Mammogram most effective 12 months after radiation treatment
Breast cancer patients who receive breast-conserving therapy and radiation do not need a follow-up mammogram until 12 months after radiation, despite current American Society of Clinical Oncology and National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines that recommend follow-up mammograms at between six and 12 months after radiation, according to a Nov.

Politics and technical concerns thwart efforts to use carbon markets to halt deforestation
Carbon credit politics and misplaced technical concerns are impeding efforts to encourage sustainable land use practices in tropical regions -- such as better forest management and growing more trees on farms -- that could curtail up to 20 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions while also boosting incomes of the rural poor, according to a new analysis by the Nairobi-based World Agroforestry Center.

Estrogen therapy could be dangerous for women with existing heart risk
Hormone therapy could accentuate certain pre-existing heart disease risk factors and a heart health evaluation should become the norm when considering estrogen replacement, new research suggests.

The ESRF launches an ambitious Upgrade Program
More than ten thousand scientists across Europe will profit from new investments in the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility approved today.

End of the line for Tuna Commission
The commission tasked with protecting Atlantic bluefin tuna has once again failed to save the species, according to World Wildlife Fund.

Annual report to the nation finds declines in cancer incidence and death rates
A new report from the nation's leading cancer organizations shows that, for the first time, both incidence and death rates for all cancers combined are decreasing, driven largely by declines in some of the most common types of cancer.

Receipt of heart assist pumps by Medicare patients associated with poor outcomes, high costs
Medicare patients who receive ventricular assist devices have high rates of death, illness, prolonged hospital stays, with resulting high costs of care, according to a study in the Nov.

Making the ultimate family sacrifice
A new study by Rice University biologists and Baylor College of Medicine geneticists is helping narrow the search for genes that drive single-celled amoebae to stick close to their kin before altruistically giving their all.

Also in the Nov. 25 JNCI
The Nov. 25 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute features articles on the association between the consumption of protein, fat and meat and kidney cancer risk; the impact of obesity on mammography use and accuracy; and the association between DNA hypomethylation and colon cancer mortality.

'Deranged calcium signaling' contributes to neurological disorder, UT Southwestern researchers find
Defective calcium metabolism in nerve cells may play a major role in a fatal genetic neurological disorder that resembles Huntington's disease, researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have found in a mouse study.

Adiponectin is a metabolic link between obesity and bone mineral density
Researchers at the University of Toronto, faculty of medicine, Toronto, Canada, have discovered that adiponectin, a protein secreted from adipocytes, is a metabolic link that can explain, in part, the known positive relationship between obesity and both bone mineral density and reduced susceptibility to fractures.

Protein folding researcher David Baker to receive Sackler Prize in Biophysics
University of Washington biochemistry professor David Baker will receive a 2008 Raymond & Beverly Sackler International Prize in Biophysics for his discoveries in protein folding.

Pelvic lymphadenectomy does not improve survival in early stage endometrial cancer
Systematic use of pelvic lymphadenectomy does not improve disease-free or overall survival in women with early stage endometrial cancer, according to a randomized trial published online Nov.

Use of inhaled corticosteroids for COPD does not appear to improve survival
An analysis of randomized trials indicates that use of inhaled corticosteroids for the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease does not improve the rate of survival after one year, but is associated with an increased risk of pneumonia, according to an article in the Nov.

Why C is not G: How we identify letters
The next time you are reading a book, or even as you read this article, consider the words that you are seeing.

Photo-catalytic, self cleaning coating for building exteriors
Imagine the exterior of your house always looking good, without cleaning or giving it a new coat of paint.

December 2008 Geology and GSA Today media highlights
Geology articles cover the minute to the grand, from calcite-producing earthworms, skeletal metazoans and mineral discoveries, to Earth's highest coastal mountain range, a newly discovered extension of the Nile deep-sea fan and a Canadian impact crater and mark important events in time, from a 9-degree warming in Greenland only 14,700 years ago to Africa's Middle Stone Age.

Joslin research links genetic variant, poor glycemic control to coronary artery disease
A new study led by researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center and Harvard Medical School has found that a common genetic variant associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease in the general population is also linked to an even higher risk for people with diabetes, particularly those with poor glucose control.

Prejudice affects perception of ethnic minority faces
Prejudice can be a powerful influence, biasing the way we think about and act towards ethnic minorities.

Presence of gum disease may help dentists and physicians identify risk for cardiovascular disease
Individuals reporting a history of periodontal disease were more likely to have increased levels of inflammation, a risk factor for heart disease, compared to those who reported no history of periodontal disease, according to an American Journal of Cardiology report available online today.

Carnegie Mellon scientists offer explanation for 'face blindness'
For the first time, scientists have been able to map the disruption in neural circuitry of people suffering from congenital prosopagnosia, sometimes known as face blindness, and have been able to offer a biological explanation for this intriguing disorder.

Drink brewed tea to avoid tooth erosion
Mohamed A. Bassiouny, D.M.D., B.D.S, M.Sc., Ph.D., the lead author of a study published in the July/August issue of General Dentistry, compared green and black tea to soda and orange juice in terms of their short- and long-term erosive effect on human teeth.

Disability Rights Legal Center honors Ossur
The Disability Rights Legal Center, which for four decades has advocated for the civil rights of people with disabilities, has recognized Ossur, a trusted and leading global innovator and provider of noninvasive orthopedic products and services, with the Charles D.

Feed a cold, feed a fever: Research shows calorie cut makes it harder to fight flu
Dieters or those who consume fewer calories during flu season could have a harder time fighting off the flu virus, according to research by Michigan State University nutritional immunology professor Elizabeth Gardner.

Largest virtual telescope for short wavelengths opened
Astronomers have succeeded in combining three telescopes in Hawaii using advanced computer techniques.

Synthetic virus supports a bat origin for SARS
To understand how the virus that caused SARS -- severe acute respiratory syndrome -- may have jumped from bats to humans, a team of investigators from Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has generated a synthetic SARS-like bat coronavirus.

Solar-powered sea-slugs live like plants, prof says
The lowly sea slug, Elysia chlorotica, may not seem like the most exciting of creatures, but don't be fooled: It behaves like a plant and is solar-powered, says a Texas A&M University biologist who has been studying these tiny creatures for the past decade and, along with collaborators from several universities, has identified a possible cause of their ability to behave like plants.

Neutron researchers discover widely sought property in magnetic semiconductor
Researchers working at NIST have demonstrated for the first time the existence of a key magnetic property of specially built semiconductor devices that raises hopes for even smaller and faster gadgets that could result from magnetic data storage in a semiconductor material.

People wasting billions of dollars on 'quack' health food products
Globally every year, obese people waste billions of dollars on food products that

Study: Want to be happier? Be more grateful
Want to quickly improve your happiness and satisfaction with life?

Disclosure of medication can save a patient's life
According to a study published in the May/June issue of General Dentistry, the clinical, peer-reviewed journal of the Academy of General Dentistry, stopping anti-platelet medications prior to a surgical procedure places a patient at greater risk of permanent disability or death.

Scientists find more evidence the aging brain is easily distracted
Canadian researchers have found more evidence that older adults aren't able to filter out distracting information as well as younger adults.

Proteins strangle cell during division
A Swedish research group, partly financed by NWO, has discovered a new mechanism for cell division in a microorganism found in extremely hot and acidic conditions.

Pain is in the eyes of the beholder
By manipulating the appearance of a chronically achy hand, researchers have found they could increase or decrease the pain and swelling in patients moving their symptomatic limbs.

LSUHSC's Dr. Xiao Cheng Wu co-authors annual report to the nation on cancer
Xiao Cheng Wu, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor and assistant director of the Louisiana Tumor Registry at LSU Health Sciences Center New Orleans School of Public Health, co-authored the

Physicists receive patent for improved cancer therapy device
Four physicists at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have been awarded US Patent No.

Researchers recreate SARS virus, open door for potential defenses against future strains
Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Vanderbilt University Medical Center have synthetically reconstructed the bat variant of the SARS coronavirus that caused the SARS epidemic of 2003.

Life is a highway: Study confirms cars have personality
No one needs to tell Disney, which brought the likes of Herbie the Love Bug and Lightning McQueen to the big screen, that cars have personality.

Cancer incidence and mortality drops among American men and women, according to annual report
The overall incidence of cancer and death due to cancer dropped for the first time in men and women in the United States, according to a report published in the Nov.

Tiny protein provokes healthy bonding between cells
In human relationships, a certain

New discovery may enhance MRI scans, lead to portable MRI machines
Researchers in Ohio and France have solved a longstanding scientific mystery involving magnetic resonance -- the physical phenomenon that allows MRI instruments in modern hospitals to image tissues deep within the human body.

Universal voluntary testing and immediate treatment after diagnosis would reduce HIV cases
A team of researchers from WHO has used computer modeling to show that universal voluntary HIV testing, combined with immediate antiretroviral treatment following a positive diagnosis, would reduce HIV cases in a severe generalized epidemic from 20 per 1,000 people to 1 per 1000 people within 10 years.

Children's Hospital scientists achieve repair of injured heart muscle in lab tests of stem cells
Researchers at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC have been able to effectively repair damaged heart muscle in an animal model using a novel population of stem cells they discovered that is derived from human skeletal muscle tissue.

Tips from the journals of the American Society for Microbiology
The following are tips from the journals of the American Society for Microbiology:

Climate change wiped out cave bears 13 millennia earlier than thought
Enormous cave bears, Ursus spelaeus, that once inhabited a large swathe of Europe, from Spain to the Urals, died out 27,800 years ago, around 13 millennia earlier than was previously believed, scientists have reported.

'Cool' idea for efficient climate control wins recognition
A Michigan State University researcher and a colleague have won the Boston Innovation Prize for the design of a low-cost, energy-efficient method of cooling and dehumidifying residential and small commercial spaces.

Meteorite hits on Earth: There may be a recount
A University of Alberta researcher has found a tool that could reveal possibly hundreds of undiscovered craters across Canada and around the world. 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