Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

January 29, 2009
Top high-energy astrophysics prize awarded for black hole measurements
The 2009 Rossi Prize has been awarded to three scientists for their work on the measurements of masses of black holes in the Milky Way.

Carnegie's Joe Berry elected Fellow of the American Geophysical Union
Joseph A. Berry, at Carnegie's Department of Global Ecology, has been elected a 2009 Fellow of the American Geophysical Union.

Over the counter obesity drug -- More expensive than prescription, and will it help?
An editorial in this week's Lancet discusses the European Union's decision to allow the obesity drug orlistat to be sold over the counter (OTC).

Perceptions and experiences of homeless youth vary by race, UCSF study shows
The self-perceptions and life experiences of young homeless people vary significantly by race, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

Exercise plays large role in recovery from knee replacement and the occurrence of osteoarthritis
Two new studies found that exercise may be a factor in recovering from a total knee replacement and knee osteoarthritis.

Dinner, lecture series to honor legacy of distinguished UH professor
At every university, there are faculty members who inspire their peers and make permanent marks on their students.

Novel technology could produce biofuel for around €0.50 a liter ($2.49 a gallon)
A novel technology for synthesizing chemicals from plant material could produce liquid fuel for just over €0.50 a liter ($2.49 a gallon), say German scientists.

Two rockets fly through auroral arc
After days of waiting for precise aurora conditions, a team from the University of Iowa finally saw the launch of its two scientific sounding rockets from Poker Flat Research Range.

Tom Cruise smile comes with a sunburn price
UV light-enhanced tooth bleaching is not only a con, but is dangerous to your eyes and skin, says a Royal Society of Chemistry journal.

Scientists see the light: How vision sends its message to the brain
Scientists have known for more than 200 years that vision begins with a series of chemical reactions when light strikes the retina, but the specific processes have been a mystery.

New study explores the relationship between preterm birth and autism spectrum disorder
Recent studies have suggested that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) may be more prevalent among children born very prematurely.

How your body clock avoids hitting the snooze button
Scientists from Queen Mary, University of London, have discovered a new part of the mechanism which allows our body clocks to reset themselves on a molecular level.

Sudden cardiac death without recognizable cause
In about 10 percent of cases, sudden cardiac death in young people is due to a cardiac gene defect.

New animated films challenge false representation of Native Americans in the media
Popular film and television shows have shaped the way Americans view American history -- especially the frontier encounters between settlers and Native Americans.

University of Cincinnati researchers seek improved targeting in Parkinson's surgery
A $51,000 grant will enable University of Cincinnati researchers to determine whether sophisticated new imaging technologies can help them achieve pinpoint placement of deep-brain stimulation electrodes in patients with Parkinson's disease.

Chondroitin slows progression and relieves symptoms of knee osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis causes disability and is a major public health problem.

Biophysical Society announces 2009 International Travel Award winners
The Biophysical Society has announced the winners of its international travel grants to attend the Biophysical Society's 53rd Annual Meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, Feb.

Worm provides clues about preventing damage caused by low-oxygen during stroke, heart attack
Neurobiologists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified pathways that allow microscopic worms to survive in a low-oxygen, or hypoxic, environment.

Surgical implants coated with one of 'nature's antibiotics' could prevent infection: UBC study
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a mimic of one of

Study finds preemies more likely to score positive
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center, in collaboration with other medical centers, have found that children born more than three months premature, are at three times the risk for screening positive on the modified checklist for autism in toddlers (M-CHAT).

The Finnish technology research facing the most challenging fusion energy project
The global ITER-test power plant project can be seen as one of the most challenging energy projects of mankind.

Stanford scientists identify key component in cell replication
Scientists at the Stanford University School of Medicine have now identified a protein that does much the same for the telomerase enzyme -- ferrying the critically important clump of proteins around to repair the ends of chromosomes that are lost during normal replication.

No such thing as a 'born leader,' study in fish finds
Followers are just as important to good leadership as are the leaders themselves, reveals a new study of stickleback fish published online on Jan.

Tobacco companies target girls
Tobacco marketing in South Korea has been deliberately aimed at girls and young women.

New discovery may lead to new class of allergy drugs
If you've ever wondered why some allergic reactions progress quickly and may even become fatal, a report published in the February 2009 issue of the Journal of Leukocyte Biology provides an important part of the answer.

Water lilies inspire scientists to create large-scale graphene films
Jiaxing Huang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, found that graphite oxide sheets -- which are used to make graphene, a hotly studied material that scientists believe could be used to produce low-cost transparent and flexible electronics -- can be assembled into a continuous membrane that could be used as the basis for transparent conductors.

Umbilical cord protein analysis detects early onset infection
Yale School of Medicine researchers have identified proteins associated with early onset neonatal sepsis (EONS), a stealthy bacterial infection linked to premature birth, illness and death.

'The robots are coming'
Iowa State University's Alexander Stoytchev is working on software that will enable robots to learn.

Pole-to-pole flights provide first global picture of greenhouse gases
An advanced research aircraft flew from the Arctic to the Antarctic this month, the first step in a three-year project to make the most extensive measurements of greenhouse gases to date.

Women with high blood pressure during pregnancy face future of complications
Chronic hypertension, diabetes and blood clots are more likely in otherwise healthy women who experienced complications due to hypertension such as pre-eclampsia in their first pregnancies, according to Yale School of Medicine researchers working in collaboration with the University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Genome sequence shows sorghum's immense potential
Southerners may best know sorghum as sweet, biscuit-topping syrup. But the small grain's uses range from a dependable, drought-tolerant food crop to biofuel source, says a University of Georgia researcher who led a team that recently sequenced the plant's genome.

Biophysical Society announces winners of 2009 Student Travel Awards
The Biophysical Society has announced the winners of its student travel award to attend the Biophysical Society's 53rd Annual Meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, Feb.

Exercise underutilized for chronic back and neck pain
Exercise is commonly used to improve physical function, decrease symptoms and minimize disability caused by chronic low back or neck pain.

Teen smoking could lead to adult depression, study says
Teenagers who smoke could be setting themselves up for depression later in life, according to a groundbreaking new Florida State University study.

Is it possible to eradicate homelessness?
A major new £692,000 ($959,000) research initiative launches today with the aim of informing government policy and practice and finding solutions to bring vulnerable homeless people in from the margins of our society.

UT Southwestern researchers identify protein that may explain 'healthy' obesity
Mice whose fat cells were allowed to grow larger than fat cells in normal mice developed

Global glacier melt continues
Glaciers around the globe continue to melt at high rates.

Oncogene inhibits tumor suppressor to promote cancer: Study links B-RAF and LKB1
Scientists have uncovered an interesting connection between two important protein kinase signaling pathways that are associated with cancer.

Jacob Ziv wins the BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge award in technologies
His work has revolutionized the world of information and communication science, and played a large role in enabling file systems like MP3, JPG or PDF, pervasive in the daily lives of personal computer users.

What we don't know still hurts us, environmental researchers warn
Knowledge gaps continue to hobble scientists' assessments of the environment, a Michigan State University researcher and colleagues warn.

Language performance and differences in brain activity possibly affected by sex
In a new fMRI study conducted in the Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Clinical Research Laboratory and published by Elsevier in the February 2009 issue of Cortex, researchers found differences among male and female groups on activation strength linked to verbal fluency.

Serotonin brings locusts together
Researchers have linked the radical transformation of desert locusts -- from harmless, solitary creatures to gregarious, swarm-forming insects -- to the common brain chemical serotonin.

Discovery of ionic elemental crystal against chemical intuition
An ETH Zurich researcher has developed a computational method for predicting the structure of materials.

Peter Zoller and Ignacio Cirac, awarded by the BBVA Foundation
The new laureates authored the first theoretical description of a quantum computer and today remain world leaders in quantum computation.

Pitt receives $11 million from NIH to coordinate hepatitis B clinical research network
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has awarded a seven-year, $11 million grant to the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health to coordinate the Hepatitis B Clinical Research Network -- a consortium of 15 clinical and research centers in the US and Canada that will conduct translational research on hepatitis B.

Blue light destroys antibiotic-resistant staph infection
Two common strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, commonly known as MRSA, were virtually eradicated in the laboratory by exposing them to a wavelength of blue light, in a process called photo-irradiation that is described in a paper published online ahead of print in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery

Wireless at WARP speed
In less than two years, WARP -- an open-source wireless research platform developed by Rice University's Center for Multimedia Communication -- has found its way into laboratories at Nokia, MIT, Toyota, NASA, Ericsson and dozens of other organizations.

ASM biodefense and emerging diseases research meeting
The American Society for Microbiology will host its 2009 Biodefense and Emerging Diseases Research Meeting Feb.

Birds' strategic mobbing fends off parasitic invaders
Reed warblers use mobbing as a front line of nest defense against parasitic cuckoos, according to a new report published online on Jan.

New pathway is a common thread in age-related neurodegenerative diseases
How are neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's initiated, and why is age the major risk factor?

Too much TV linked to future fast-food intake
High-school kids who watch too much TV are likely to have bad eating habits five years in the future.

Study: Learning science facts doesn't boost science reasoning
A study of college freshmen in the United States and in China found that Chinese students know more science facts than their American counterparts -- but both groups are nearly identical when it comes to their ability to do scientific reasoning.

Stem cell transplants can stabilize, and may reverse, neurological disability in multiple sclerosis
A study of 21 adults with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis has found that a technique called autologous non-myeloablative haemopoietic stem cell transplantation can stabilize, and may reverse, neurological disability.

Gene polymorphisms associated with increased cancer risk in alcohol drinkers
A comprehensive review of previous case-control studies investigating the link between alcohol consumption, genetic polymorphisms and cancer risk suggests that gene polymorphisms in enzymes -- alcohol dehydrogenase and aldehyde dehydrogenase -- involved in metabolizing alcohol, significantly increase the likelihood that alcohol drinkers will develop upper aerodigestive tract cancers.

Medical schools must reform how they train physicians so they meet societal needs
Calling this period

'SnowMan' software developed at UB helps keep snow drifts off the road
Snow that blows and drifts across roadways has long troubled road maintenance crews and commuters alike, creating treacherous driving conditions and requiring additional maintenance resources to mitigate the problem.

New data show periodontal treatment doesn't reduce preterm birth risk
Despite an apparent link between gum disease and preterm births, standard periodontal treatment does not decrease the risk of preterm birth.

Gene mutations increase risk for aggressive prostate cancer
Men who develop prostate cancer face an increased risk of having an aggressive tumor if they carry a so-called breast cancer gene mutation, scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University report in today's issue of Clinical Cancer Research.

Dinosaur fossils fit perfectly into the evolutionary tree of life
A study by researchers at the University of Bath and London's Natural History Museum has found evidence that scientists' knowledge of the evolution of dinosaurs is remarkably complete.

TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare and Mayo Clinic study new cancer drug
TGen Clinical Research Services at Scottsdale Healthcare and Mayo Clinic are testing a new drug that may offer broad potential to treat solid tumors.

Stem cell transplant reverses early stage multiple sclerosis
Researchers from Northwestern University appear to have reversed the neurological dysfunction of early stage multiple sclerosis patients by transplanting their own immune stem cells into their bodies and thereby

CDC recognizes UCSF's research as critical to HIV prevention
These UCSF research programs are among the first interventions to establish a reduction in the risk of transmission acts among people living with HIV, commonly called

Stanford writes in world's smallest letters
Stanford researchers have reclaimed bragging rights for creating the world's smallest writing, a distinction the university first gained in 1985 and lost in 1990.

Research uncovers surprising lion stronghold in war-torn central Africa
Times are tough for wildlife living at the frontier between Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Genes may predict vascular malformation
A pair of studies, led by Medical College of Wisconsin scientists at Children's Research Institute in Milwaukee, may translate into rapid molecular tests to distinguish between hemangiomas and congenital blood or lymph vessel malformations in infants.

MIT IDs genes linked to Parkinson's side effects
MIT researchers and colleagues have identified two molecules whose expression in the brain is altered in the brains of animals with side effects related to Parkinson's disease.

Study finds 'rescue course' of antenatal steroids improves outcome in premature babies
A new study shows that premature babies born before 34 weeks have a 31 percent reduction in serious complications when given a

Process found to play role in rheumatoid arthritis could lead to new treatment
Although the origin of rheumatoid arthritis remains unclear, bioactive proteins known as cytokines, particularly TNFα and IL-6, which are involved in inflammation, play a major role in the disease by contributing to joint and tissue destruction.

Skin color studies on tadpoles lead to cancer advance
The humble tadpole could provide the key to developing effective anti-skin cancer drugs, thanks to a groundbreaking discovery by researchers at the University of East Anglia.

Biophysical Society announces winners of 2009 Minority Travel Awards
The Biophysical Society has announced the winner of its Minority Travel Awards to attend the Biophysical Society's 53rd Annual Meeting at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center in Boston, Mass., Feb.

Research links seismic slip and tremor, with implications for subduction zone
New evidence suggests that tectonic plate slippage and nonvolcanic tremor near the Cascadia subduction zone both are signs of processes taking place 25 miles deep at the interface of the Juan de Fuca and North American plates.

How a brain chemical changes locusts from harmless grasshoppers to swarming pests
Scientists have uncovered the underlying biological reason why locusts form migrating swarms. 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