Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

February 11, 2010
Natural-disaster mathematical aid systems are presented to NGOs
A team of mathematicians from the Complutense University of Madrid has developed a computer application that estimates the magnitude of natural disasters and helps NGOs in the decision making process.

The Marmot Review: Can health equity become a reality?
An editorial published online first and in this week's Lancet discusses the launch of the report by Sir Michael Marmot on health inequalities:

Less is more in cancer imaging
In a paper published last month in the Journal of Nuclear Medicine, a team led by fifth-year Rice graduate student Guoping Chang described an amplitude gating technique that gives physicians a clearer picture of how tumors are responding to treatment.

Research challenges models of sea level change during ice-age cycles
Theories about the rates of ice accumulation and melting during the Quaternary Period -- the time interval ranging from 2.6 million years ago to the present -- may need to be revised, thanks to research findings published by a University of Iowa researcher and his colleagues in the Feb.

New clue why autistic people don't want hugs
Why do people with fragile X syndrome, a genetic defect that is the best-known cause of autism and inherited mental retardation, recoil from hugs and physical touch?

New screening system for hepatitis C
A newly designed system of identifying molecules for treating hepatitis C should enable scientists to discover novel and effective therapies for the dangerous and difficult-to-cure disease of the liver, says Zhilei Chen, a Texas A&M University assistant professor of chemical engineering who helped develop the screening system.

Engineer studies tensional integrity of biological structures
Cornel Sultan, assistant professor of aerospace and ocean engineering at Virginia Tech, has received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development award to look at biological discoveries to develop new controllable structures.

LLNL research at Marshall Islands could lead to resettlement
Through Laboratory soil cleanup methods, residents of Bikini, Enjebi and Rongelap Islands -- where nuclear tests were conducted on the atolls and in the ocean surrounding them in the 1950s -- could have lower radioactive levels than the average background dose for residents in the United States and Europe.

2 years old -- a childhood obesity tipping point?
While many adults consider a chubby baby healthy, too many plump infants grow up to be obese teens, saddling them with type 2 diabetes, elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, according to an article published this month in the journal Clinical Pediatrics (published by SAGE).

MCG conducting stem cell trial in pediatric cerebral palsy
Medical College of Georgia researchers are conducting a clinical trial to determine whether an infusion of stem cells from umbilical cord blood can improve the quality of life for children with cerebral palsy.

Setting out to discover new, long-lived elements
Besides the 92 elements that occur naturally, scientists were able to create 20 additional chemical elements.

Survival benefit with high-intensity end-of-life approaches
Patients admitted to hospitals with high-intensity approaches to end-of-life care live longer than those admitted to hospitals with average- or low-intensity approaches, according to a University of Pittsburgh study available online and published in the February issue of the journal Medical Care.

MSU researcher linking breast cancer patients with alternative therapies
Biological-based therapies such as diet supplements and vitamins are the most popular complementary and alternative medicines for women recovering from breast cancer, according to a Michigan State University researcher working to create a support intervention for women in treatment for the disease.

Antibiotics as active mutagens in the emergence of multidrug resistance
Multidrug resistant bacteria such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) pose a major problem for patients, doctors, and the pharmaceutical industry.

Addition of MRI to conventional assessment for breast cancer diagnosis has no effect on reoperation rates (COMICE study)
Addition of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans to conventional triple assessment techniques for diagnosis of breast cancer has no effect on the reoperation rate.

New investments in agriculture likely to fail without sharp focus on small-scale 'mixed' farmers
A new paper published today in Science warns that billions of dollars promised to fund programs to boost small-scale agriculture in developing countries are unlikely to succeed in feeding the world's increasing populations.

No difference in survival between combination and single therapy in renal cell carcinoma
Combination therapy for renal cell carcinoma does not improve overall or progression-free survival compared with single therapy using interferon alfa-2a alone.

H1N1 international symposium to be hosted by Emory-UGA Influenza Center
UGA Influenza Pathogenesis and Immunology Research Center will host

Parents often wait too long to treat children's asthma symptoms
Parents of young children with asthma often recognize signs that their child is about to have an asthma attack but delay home treatment until the attack occurs, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

UNH chemists create molecule with promising semiconductor properties
A team of chemists from the University of New Hampshire has synthesized the first-ever stable derivative of nonacene, creating a compound that holds significant promise in the manufacture of flexible organic electronics such as large displays, solar cells and radio frequency identification tags.

ASU scientists develop universal DNA reader to advance faster, cheaper sequencing efforts
Arizona State University scientists have come up with a new twist in their efforts to develop a faster and cheaper way to read the DNA genetic code.

New gene discovery could help to prevent blindness
Scientists have uncovered a new gene that could help save the sight of patients with a type of inherited blindness.

The evidence behind the health effects of hot weather
Increasing concerns about climate change and deadly heatwaves in the past mean that the health effects of hot weather are fast becoming a global public health challenge for the 21st century.

Workplace gendered tradeoffs lead to economic inequalities for women
Workplace equality for women boils down to not only whether women are included in the workforce but on how they are included.

Dramatic changes in agriculture needed as world warms and grows, researchers say
To overcome the massive obstacles posed by global climate change and population growth, the world needs to rethink the use of agricultural biotechnology, explore the potential of aquaculture, and maximize agricultural production in dry and saline areas, stress these leading scientists.

Hands-on: From classroom to employment
A pilot program for employment in sustainable agriculture, Sustainable Agriculture Scholars Program, is used to expand on routine undergraduate lab work.

New book shows how to build and sustain a successful hospital medicine program
Recruitment and retention of physicians in all specialties is a national challenge, and it is expected to become even more difficult due to an impending physician shortage.

Protecting patients: Study shows that Johns Hopkins flu vaccination rates twice national average
A campaign that makes seasonal flu vaccinations for hospital staff free, convenient, ubiquitous and hard to ignore succeeds fairly well in moving care providers closer to a state of

If children won't go to school
Children and adolescents who refuse to attend school should not be given doctors' sick notes.

Stent grafts top 'gold standard' balloon angioplasty for dialysis patients
A randomized multicenter study of 190 patients at 13 medical centers shows -- for the first time -- the

New picture of ancient ocean chemistry argues for chemically layered water
A team led by biogeochemists at the University of California, Riverside, has developed a dynamic three-dimensional model of Earth's early ocean chemistry that can significantly advance our understanding of how early animal life evolved on the planet.

Antarctic ice shelf collapse possibly triggered by ocean waves, Scripps-led study finds
Depicting a cause-and-effect scenario that spans thousands of miles, a scientist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California -- San Diego and his collaborators discovered that ocean waves originating along the Pacific coasts of North and South America impact Antarctic ice shelves and could play a role in their catastrophic collapse.

Imaging manufacturers: Plan to reduce unnecessary radiation exposure and medical errors
The Medical Imaging & Technology Alliance, the leading association representing the manufacturers, innovators and developers of medical imaging and radiation therapy systems, today endorsed eight key principles to reduce exposure to unnecessary medical radiation, further minimize medical errors and improve reporting of adverse events.

Homebuilding beyond the abyss
Evidence from the Challenger Deep -- the deepest surveyed point in the world's oceans -- suggests that tiny single-celled creatures called foraminifera living at extreme depths of more than ten kilometers build their homes using material that sinks down from near the ocean surface.

Louisiana Tech's Institute for Micromanufacturing to collaborate with colleagues in the arts
The Institute for Micromanufacturing at Louisiana Tech University and the Center for Biomedical Engineering and Rehabilitation Science have joined forces to offer faculty fellowships that promote interdisciplinary collaboration between IfM and CBERS faculty and colleagues in other areas, particularly in the arts.

Research team targets self-cannibalizing cancer cells
A team of scientists from Princeton University and the Cancer Institute of New Jersey has embarked on a major new project to unravel the secret lives of cancer cells that go dormant and self-cannibalize to survive periods of stress.

Tiny fruit fly could offer big clues in fight against obesity, researcher says
The tiny tongue of a fruit fly could provide big answers to questions about human eating habits, possibly even leading to new ways to treat obesity, according to a study from a team of Texas A&M University researchers.

Swine Flu vaccination: voluntary system works
Social interaction between neighbors, work colleagues and other communities and social groups makes voluntary vaccination programs for epidemics such as swine flu, SARS or bird flu a surprisingly effective method of disease control.

Radical new directions needed in food production to deal with climate change
An international panel of scientists is urging dramatically changed ideas about sustainable agriculture to prevent a major starvation catastrophe by the end of this century among more than 3 billion people who live in the tropics.

Seeing the quantum in chemistry: JILA scientists control chemical reactions of ultracold molecules
Physicists at JILA have for the first time observed chemical reactions near absolute zero, demonstrating that chemistry is possible at ultralow temperatures and that reaction rates can be controlled using quantum mechanics, the peculiar rules of submicroscopic physics.

New book examines the flawed human body
Humanity's physical design flaws have long been apparent -- we have a blind spot in our vision, for instance, and insufficient room for wisdom teeth -- but do the imperfections extend to the genetic level?

Biologist discovers 'stop' signal in honey bee communication
Honey bees warn their nest mates about dangers they encounter while feeding with a special signal that's akin to a

Researchers develop dietary formula that maintains youthful function into old age
Researchers develop dietary formula that maintains youthful function into old age.

The genetic secrets to jumping the species barrier
Scientists have pinpointed specific mutations that allow a common plant virus to infect new species, according to research published in the March issue of the Journal of General Virology.

Animal models that help translate regenerative therapies from bench to bedside
Clinical testing and development of novel therapies based on advances in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine will one day enable the repair and replacement of diseased or damaged human muscle, bone, tendons and ligaments depends on the availability of good animal models.

Queen's researchers propose rethinking renewable energy strategy
Researchers at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, suggest that policy makers examine greenhouse gas emissions implications for energy infrastructure as fossil fuel sources must be rapidly replaced by windmills, solar panels and other sources of renewable energy.

Single-step technique produces both p-type and n-type doping for future graphene devices
A simple one-step process that produces both n-type and p-type doping of large-area graphene surfaces could facilitate use of the promising material for future electronic devices.

Queen's helps produce archaeological 'time machine'
Researchers at Queen's University have helped produce a new archaeological tool which could answer key questions in human evolution.

Sustainable fisheries needed for global food security
Increased aid from developed countries, earmarked specifically for sustainable seafood infrastructure in developing countries, could improve global food security, according to a policy paper by an international working group of 20 economists, marine scientists and seafood experts in the Feb.

Strongest evidence to date shows link between exploration well and Lusi mud volcano
Nearly four years ago, a volcano of mud erupted in the middle of an Indonesian suburb, eventually inundating four villages, displacing 30,000 people and causing a gas line explosion that killed 13.

Researchers using science to decode the secrets of Olympic skeleton sliding
Olympic skeleton athletes will hit the ice next month in Vancouver, where one-hundredths of a second can dictate the difference between victory and defeat.

Dark matter or background noise? Results intriguing but not conclusive
Physicists may have glimpsed a particle that is a leading candidate for mysterious dark matter but say conclusive evidence remains elusive.

School districts should encourage citizen involvement in education policy making
While much of the education reform debate has focused on issues of adequate funding and teacher qualifications, few have addressed the role of citizen involvement in local education policy making.

Study finds that long-distance migration shapes butterfly wings
A University of Georgia study has found that monarch butterflies that migrate long distances have evolved significantly larger and more elongated wings than their stationary cousins, differences that are consistent with traits known to enhance flight ability in other migratory species.

Low levels of antibiotics cause multidrug resistance in 'superbugs'
A new study by Boston University biomedical engineers indicates that treating bacteria with levels of antibiotics insufficient to kill them produces germs that are cross-resistant to a wide range of antibiotics.

Tackling transport and environment in Africa
Researchers at the University of York are coordinating an international drive to strengthen scientific and technological support to enable the implementation of sustainable transport policies in sub-Saharan Africa.

Can chocolate lower your risk of stroke?
Eating chocolate may lower your risk of having a stroke, according to an analysis of available research that will be released today and presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 62nd Annual Meeting in Toronto April 10-17, 2010.

Restrictions on female plasma may not be warranted
Three years after the US blood banking industry issued recommendations that discourage transfusing plasma from female donors because of a potential antibody reaction, Duke University Medical Center researchers discovered that female plasma actually may have advantages.

Compound shows promise against intractable heart failure
A chemical compound found normally in the blood shows promise in treating and preventing an intractable form of heart failure in a mouse model of the disease.

Behavioral therapy improves sleep and lives of patients with pain
Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia significantly improved sleep for patients with chronic neck or back pain and also reduced the extent to which pain interfered with their daily functioning, according to a study by University of Rochester Medical Center researchers.

UCLA chemists create synthetic 'gene-like' crystals for carbon dioxide capture
UCLA chemists report creating a synthetic

Brain study offers insight into causes of autism
Scientists are a step closer to understanding how abnormalities in brain development might lead to autism and behavioral disorders.

La Jolla Institute scientists prove hypothesis on the mystery of dengue virus infection
A leading immunology research institute has validated the long-held and controversial hypothesis that antibodies -- usually the

Cancer: 'Primitive' gene discovered
To find the causes for cancer, biochemists and developmental biologists at the University of Innsbruck, Austria, retraced the function of an important human cancer gene 600 million years back in time.

Computer simulations can be as effective as direct observation at teaching students
Students can learn some science concepts just as well from computers simulations as they do from direct observation, new research suggests.

Saturn's aurorae offer stunning double show
Researchers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope recently took advantage of a rare opportunity to record Saturn when its rings are edge on, resulting in a unique movie featuring both of the giant planet's poles.

Saturn's aurorae images 'unique to science'
University of Leicester team leads international programs using Hubble Space Telescope.

Researchers create drug to keep tumor growth switched off
A novel -- and rapid -- anti-cancer drug development strategy has resulted in a new drug that stops kidney and pancreatic tumors from growing in mice.

Virtual reality and other technologies offer hope
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) threatens to overload healthcare and social support systems worldwide as the number of cases rises and existing treatments are not sufficiently effective.

Grasping bacterial 'friending' paves the way to disrupt biofilm creation
Finding a biological mechanism much like an online social network, scientists have identified the bacterial protein VpsT as the master regulator in Vibrio, the cause of cholera and other enteric diseases.
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