Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

May 20, 2010
What makes music sound so sweet (or not)
Ever since ancient times, scholars have puzzled over the reasons that some musical note combinations sound so sweet while others are just downright dreadful.

When it comes to security, think 'natural'
Security organizations could be more effective if officials learn from occurrences in the environment, University of Arizona researchers suggest in the May 20 issue of the journal Nature.

Caltech researchers identify genes and brain centers that regulate meal size in flies
Biologists from the California Institute of Technology and Yale University have identified two genes, the leucokinin neuropeptide and the leucokinin receptor, that appear to regulate meal sizes and frequency in fruit flies.

3-D model of blood flow by supercomputer predicts heart attacks
The EPFL Laboratory of Multiscale Modeling of Materials in Switzerland has developed a flowing 3-D model of the cardiovascular system that should allow for predictions of certain heart diseases before they become dangerous.

HHMI renews grant for Rice's global health program
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute today awarded a $1.2 million, four-year grant to continue Rice University's successful undergraduate global health program Beyond Traditional Borders.

NASA's Aqua satellite sees Tropical Storm 02A's high thunderstorms
NASA's Aqua satellite saw some strong thunderstorms in Tropical Storm 02A using infrared imagery, as it heads into the Gulf of Aden between Somalia and Yemen.

Experimental vaccine protects monkeys from new Ebola virus
New research has found that an experimental Ebola vaccine developed by researchers at the National Institutes of Health protects monkeys against not only the two most lethal Ebola virus species for which it was originally designed, both recognized in 1976, but also against a newer Ebola virus species that was identified in 2007.

Increased use of drug-eluting stents, ICDs nets higher costs for patients
Increased use of drug-eluting stents and implantable cardioverter-defibrillators between 2003 and 2006 netted significantly higher costs for coronary artery disease and chronic heart failure patients, researchers said.

New global coffee research initiative announced
A new long-term initiative to increase the overall quality and availability of specialty coffee worldwide through scientific research has been announced.

How laptops can enhance learning in college classrooms
Despite the distraction potential of laptops in college classrooms, new research shows that they can actually increase students' engagement, attentiveness, participation and learning.

Synthetic eye prosthesis
Donor corneas are a rarity: in Germany alone, each year roughly 7,000 patients wait for that minuscule piece of tissue.

First results dealing with the impact of a celestial body on the planet Jupiter
The Planetary Sciences Group at the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country, has published the first results of research into one of the recent events that has sparked off maximum interest in the world of astronomy: the impact of a large-sized celestial body on the planet Jupiter last July.

ACS webinar focuses on how to negotiate salary or pay for chemistry professionals
News media and others interested in the chemical sciences are invited to join the next in a series of American Chemical Society webinars, focusing on strategies for negotiating pay or salaries for chemistry professionals.

An sRNA controls a bacterium's social life
Reporting in this week's Science, Indiana University Bloomington scientists identify an sRNA as a key regulator of social behavior in Myxococcus xanthus, a soil bacterium widely studied for its ability to cooperatively construct fruiting bodies that house stress-resistant spores when food runs out.

Materials with potential; growing through holes
Silicon carbide is an up-and-coming semiconductor material. In a thesis project, the qualities of the crystals and the epitaxial layers underwent precise analysis.

Brightest galaxies tend to cluster in busiest parts of universe, study finds
For more than a decade, astronomers have been puzzled by bright galaxies in the distant universe that appear to be forming stars at phenomenal rates.

Co-discoverer of 4.4-million-year-old 'Ardi' to give talk at UC Riverside on human evolution
The discovery of Ardipithecus ramidus or

Proteins in unroasted coffee beans may become next-generation insecticides
Scientists in Brazil are reporting for the first time that coffee beans contain proteins that can kill insects and might be developed into new insecticides for protecting food crops against destructive pests.

Are you being served?
Are you being served? Prescribing practices for demented patients Demented patients are often treated nonspecifically with psychoactive medications.

NASA's TRMM sees heavy rainfall in Cyclone Laila's India landfall
NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite captured a satellite image of Laila's rainfall and revealed some areas of heavy rainfall.

American College of Physicians supports SGR provision of H.R. 4213
The American College of Physicians, representing 129,000 internal medicine physician and medical student members, today said it strongly supports the proposed provision in the American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act (H.R.

Gene discovery potential key to cost-competitive cellulosic ethanol
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are improving strains of microorganisms used to convert cellulosic biomass into ethanol, including a recent modification that could improve the efficiency of the conversion process.

Shark skin for airplanes, ships and wind energy plants
To lower the fuel consumption of airplanes and ships, it is necessary to reduce their flow resistance, or drag.

Mayo Clinic researchers find gene they believe is key to kidney cancer
Researchers at Mayo Clinic's campus in Florida have discovered a key gene that, when turned off, promotes the development of common kidney cancer.

The fight is on to save Kenya's green lung
Poverty and climate change are threatening one of East Africa's most valuable forestry areas.

Computers analyze environmental factors in diabetes
This first-of-its-kind study harnesses a GWAS approach to evaluate environmental factors linked to type 2 diabetes.

Research promises healthier vegetable oil -- and tractor fuel to harvest it
Genetic discoveries from a shrub called the burning bush, known for its brilliant red fall foliage, could fire new advances in biofuels and low-calorie food oils, according to Michigan State University scientists.

Study uncovers optimal ecology of bioinsecticide
Research shows that the commonly used and naturally occurring bacterial insecticide Bt works best if applied to young plants and is enhanced by the presence of the insect pests.

Patients in 'stroke belt' satisfied with care, but many doctors lack cultural awareness
Most patients in the southeastern United States are satisfied with their care and trust their doctors -- though many physicians don't ask questions that would indicate multicultural awareness, according to a survey.

Clean-up tools may help protect wetlands from Gulf of Mexico oil spill
With oil from the big Gulf of Mexico spill threatening fragile coastal wetlands, clean-up crews are about to discover whether a combination of old and new clean-up methods will help limit the environmental damage.

Nature magazine features Dr. Choi's nano-engineering research
As a recipient of the prestigious 2010 Young Investigator Program Award by the US Office of Naval Research, Dr.

Moral issues raised by synthetic biology subject of Hastings Center workshop
A Hastings Center workshop examining moral issues in synthetic biology completed its third meeting as the J.

Brookhaven Lab chemists receive patents for fuel-cell catalysts
Chemists at the US Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have received three patents for developing catalysts to accelerate chemical reactions in fuel cells.

Elsevier/MC Strategies partners with AACN to launch interactive, online pharmacology course
Elsevier/MC Strategies, a pioneer in providing e-learning solutions to more than 1,300 healthcare organizations, has partnered with the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses to develop a series of online nursing courses.

Seeds of aflatoxin-resistant corn lines available
Six new corn inbred lines with resistance to aflatoxin contamination have been found to be free of seed-borne diseases foreign to the United States, and seeds of these lines are now available in the United States for further development toward commercialization.

NIH human microbiome project researchers publish first genomic collection of human microbes
The Human Microbiome Project today published an analysis of 178 genomes from microbes that live in or on the human body.

New study finds attending Weight Watchers meetings helps reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes
A new study published in this month's American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine which found that attending Weight Watchers meetings not only aids in weight loss, but also helps reduce the risk for type 2 diabetes -- promising news for the 57 million Americans currently living with

Solar power manufacturing makes good business sense for governments: Queen's University study
Canadian and provincial governments could spend $2.4 billion to build a large scale solar photovoltaic manufacturing plant and then give it away for free and still earn a profit in the long run, according to a financial analysis conducted by the Queen's University Applied Sustainability Research Group.

Tai Chi gets cautious thumbs up for psychological health
Tai Chi, a low impact martial art, has been associated with reduced stress, anxiety and depression, and enhanced mood, in both healthy people and those with chronic conditions.

Elsevier and academic institutions to partner for the Scholarly Perspectives webinar series
Ten academic institutions will host 10 new webinars in the 2010 Scholarly Perspectives webinar series, launching on May 25. and continuing through 2010.

Artificial butterfly in flight and filmed
A group of Japanese researchers, who publish their findings today Thursday, May 20, in IOP Publishing's Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, have succeeded in building a fully functional replica model -- an ornithopter -- of a swallowtail butterfly, and they have filmed their model butterfly flying.

Stanford scientists track polluted groundwater to the sea
In the first study of its kind, Stanford University researchers have tracked a plume of polluted groundwater from a septic system to one of Northern California's top recreational beaches.

Marshall University institute partners with biotechnology leader IDT
The Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research has announced it has entered into an applied research and product development partnership with leading biotechnology company Integrated DNA Technologies.

Surgical procedure offers new option for pediatric patients with rare cancer in abdomen
A study by a pediatric surgical oncologist from the University of Texas M.

Poll finds concerns about pace of medical and health research
Nearly three-quarters of Americans are confident in our system for reviewing the effectiveness and safety of new medicines and medical devices, yet 41 percent say it takes too long to approve a drug and allow it to be sold to consumers.

Godfather of oceanography wins prestigious award
Hailed as one of the world's greatest oceanographers and pioneers of marine science, Dr.

Nationwide smoking ban would slash heart attack-related hospital admissions, lower health care cost
A nationwide smoking ban would result in more than 18,000 fewer heart attack hospitalizations in the year following such a ban and millions of dollars in direct cost savings, according to a new study.

CIC biomaGUNE seeks new image diagnosis tests for cardiovascular diseases
The Centre for Cooperative Research in Biomaterials, CIC biomaGUNE, is involved in the research consortium of cvREMOD, which aims to move forward in the attainment of new diagnosis techniques for prevention and customized treatment of cardiovascular diseases in the upcoming four years.

HHMI awards $79 million for science education to research universities, top scientists
HHMI today announced new grants totaling $79 million that will help universities strengthen undergraduate and pre-college science education nationwide.

PLoS ONE launching the Biodiversity of Saba Bank collection
Researchers from Conservation International and its partners have completed a collection of rapid assessment biodiversity surveys of the Saba Bank.

Physicists prove Einstein wrong with observation of instantaneous velocity in Brownian particles
A century after Albert Einstein said we would never be able to observe the instantaneous velocity of tiny particles as they randomly shake and shimmy, so called Brownian motion, physicist Mark Raizen and his group have done so.

Mini-projectors -- maximum performance
The number of mini-projector devotees keeps growing. The combination of a new kind of optical structure with high-performance LEDs enables completely new compact and brilliant lighting and projection systems.

Disagreement on symptom-reflux association analysis parameters in infants
A research team from Switzerland and Germany assessed the agreement within three commonly used symptom-reflux association analysis (SAA) parameters investigating gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) in infants.

Caregivers of brain cancer patients play a key role
Despite grim prognoses and aggressive treatments, cancer patients suffering from malignant gliomas -- primary brain tumors -- often rate their quality of life more optimistically than their caregivers do, according to a new Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study.

Books in home as important as parents' education in determining children's education level
Whether rich or poor, residents of the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents who have books in the home increase the level of education their children will attain, according to a 20-year study lead by Mariah Evans, University of Nevada, Reno, associate professor of sociology and resource economics.

I am treefrog, feel me shake
Using experiments involving a mechanical shaker and a robotic frog, researchers reporting online on May 20 in Current Biology, a Cell Press publication, have found new evidence that male red-eyed treefrogs communicate with one another in aggressive contests by using vibrations they send through their plant perches.

What is the best treatment for children with vesicoureteral reflux?
Children with vesicoureteral reflux, in which urine flows backwards into the kidneys from the bladder, have been treated in the past with surgery or antibiotic therapy.

The European Medicines Agency: Questionable decisions on transparency and licensing?
The lead editorial in this week's Lancet focuses on decisions by the European Medicines Agency not to release documentation on severe adverse reactions and to license a the drug rosuvastatin in certain circumstances.

Pistachios offer multiple benefits
Pistachio nuts, eaten as part of a healthy diet, can increase the levels of antioxidants in the blood of adults with high cholesterol, according to an international team of nutritional scientists.

A powerful duo: Diamond and ceramic
To develop a material with high resistance to wear: that was the objective of a research team.

A useful tool to detect in vivo angiogenesis in IBD patients: Narrow-band imaging
A research team from Italy investigated whether narrow-band imaging (NBI) is a useful tool for the in vivo detection of angiogenesis in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients.

Salt Lake City proclaims 'Molecular Imaging Days' during SNM's Annual Meeting in June
Ralph Becker, mayor of Salt Lake City, Utah, has issued an official proclamation declaring June 5-9

Reducing niacin intake can prevent obesity
A research team from China explored the mechanism underlying niacin's action on glucose metabolism, and the association between the US per capita niacin consumption and the obesity prevalence in the US.

Study finds Alzheimer's disease link in eyes of children with Down syndrome
A team of researchers has discovered that the protein that forms plaques in the brain in Alzheimer's disease also accumulates in the eyes of people with Down syndrome.

Traffic safety, alcohol and drugs
In August 2010, researchers and experts on drugs, alcohol and medicines will take part in the T2010 conference, the tri-annual meeting of the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety.

Patients have misconceptions and high levels of anxiety about general anesthesia
Eighty-five percent of patients who took part in a survey shortly after day surgery said that they had been anxious about receiving a general anesthetic.

Drug policy: Time for change in both USA and UK
An editorial in this week's Lancet welcomes US President Barack Obama's new five-year National Drug Control Strategy, which takes a more balanced approach to the problem and emphasizes prevention and treatment, as well as law enforcement.

Health check for Hellfire missiles: Auto-doc onboard
A new on-board missile health-monitoring device is providing troops in the Middle East an added measure of assurance that the Army's Hellfire II missiles will perform without failure.

Nanotech breath sensor detects diabetes and potentially serious complication
Scientists are reporting development and successful testing of a sensor that can instantly tell whether someone has type I diabetes.

HHMI awards $1.2 million to UF for undergrad education
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute awarded $1.2 million to the University of Florida to support a novel dual-mentorship program for undergraduates studying the life sciences.

Physicians should help patients with depression name their problem
To improve recognition and treatment of depression, primary care physicians should do three things: help their patients name their distress, provide explanations for the depression that conform to patients' experiences and reduce blame and stigma.

CA-125 change over time shows promise as screening tool for early detection of ovarian cancer
Evaluating its change over time, CA-125, the protein long-recognized for predicting ovarian cancer recurrence, now shows promise as a screening tool for early-stage disease, according to researchers at the University of Texas M.D.

First-ever high-resolution observations of DNA unfolding
The separation of the two DNA strands occurs in millionths of a second.

Estrogen-lowering drugs minimize surgery in breast cancer patients
A nationwide study has confirmed the benefit of giving estrogen-lowering drugs before surgery to breast cancer patients.

BCM scientists sequence microbes as part of the Jumpstart for Human Microbiome Project
A consortium of genome sequencing leaders including the Baylor College of Medicine Human Genome Sequencing Center released data on the first 178 microbial reference genomes representative of those in the human body in a report that appears in today's issue of the journal Science.

Arsenic in playgrounds nothing to worry about: U of A study
Pressure-treated wooden playground structures do not live up to the bad reputation they have earned as being harmful to children, according to the findings of a new University of Alberta study.

Scientists see new hope in fight against HIV and TB
As US policymakers consider scaling back on its historic initiative to fight AIDS around the world and downsizing goals to combat tuberculosis, next-generation treatment and prevention strategies to significantly reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis are now imminent.

Changing the face of science
Four years ago, Brandeis professor Irv Epstein won a million-dollar grant from the nation's largest private funder of science education to start a science program at Brandeis specifically designed to attract and retain talented, underrepresented students in college-level science.

Exercise may keep cancer patients healthier during, after treatment
Breast and prostate cancer patients who regularly exercise during and after cancer treatment report having a better quality of life and being less fatigued, according to researchers at Henry Ford Hospital.

ASCO data highlight novel anti-cancer approach that exposes tumors to immune attack
A new anti-cancer approach targets

New lab manual for studying the biology of the nervous system in Drosophila is released
A newly released book,

Kidney transplants: Expanding the pool of available organs
In the United States over 80,000 people are on the kidney transplant waiting list, and thousands die each year waiting for transplants.

Scientists discover the molecular heart of collective behavior
A group of scientists seeking the answer to the mystery of collective motion has found strong evidence pointing to the idea that collective behavior can arise in cells that initially may not be moving at all, but are prodded into action by an external agent such as a chemical.

Long-term use of anti-anxiety drugs continues in B.C. despite known health risks: UBC study
Drugs to treat anxiety and sleep disorders are still being prescribed for extended periods to British Columbian patients -- and increasingly so for baby boomers -- despite warnings against long-term use, according to a University of British Columbia study.

IU study: More physical activity leads to less obesity -- often, but not always
It may seem intuitive that greater amounts of exercise lead to less obesity, but an Indiana University study has found that this conventional wisdom applies primarily to white women.

Study finds female damselflies prefer 'hot' males
Researchers from the University of Sheffield have found that female damselflies prefer hot males.

Mount Sinai identifies first drug to demonstrate therapeutic effect in a type of autism
Researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a drug that improves communication between nerve cells in a mouse model of Phelan-McDermid syndrome (PMS).

Massive resources now directed at sustainable animal waste technology
Danish research and industry are leading the field internationally within the development of environmental technologies and are now also focusing on animal waste technologies with worldwide applications.

Researchers from the University of the Basque Country find new path for novel Alzheimer's therapies
Researchers from the University of the Basque Country have found a new Alzheimer's-related mechanism that could give rise to the development of new therapies against this disease.

Communication intervention in preschool children with autism improves parent-child interaction but does not deliver clinically significant reduction in autism symptoms
A social communication intervention in preschool children with autism, although improving parent-child interaction, does not deliver clinically significant benefit in autism symptoms.

Smoking cessation treatments work and are safe for people with severe mental illness
In a study published in the journal Addiction, researchers have determined that treatment for smoking dependence is as effective among people with severe mental illnesses as it is for the general population.

New Orleans schools fail to provide equal education opportunity, new U of Minnesota study says
University of Minnesota Law School's Institute on Race and Poverty study finds that the rebuilt public school system fails to adequately provide equal educational opportunity to all New Orleans students.

High-efficiency concentrator solar cells and modules
Solar energy will play a crucial role in the energy mix of tomorrow as solar energy is available in unlimited quantities.

Diplopedia a success at US Department of State
A new study released today by Rice University and the US Department of State's Office of eDiplomacy looks at the five-year history of creating and implementing Diplopedia, DOS' use of the Wikipedia-style diplomacy Web 2.0 tool.

Nationwide smoking ban would help reduce heart attack admissions, slash costs
A nationwide smoking ban would save more than $90 million and significantly reduce hospitalizations for heart attack, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

New associations between diabetes, environmental factors found by novel Stanford analytic technique
Got diabetes? If so, you probably know that the adult-onset form of the disease can be triggered by, among other things, obesity and a fatty diet.

Reused pacemakers cost-saving, safe option in Third World countries
Pacemaker reuse may be a safe, effective and ethical alternative to address the medical needs for people in Third World countries who couldn't otherwise afford therapy, according to a new study.

Can eGFR be a routine preoperative renal function test?
A research team from Japan evaluated the validity of the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) as a preoperative renal function parameter in patients with gastric cancer.

Patients at high risk of recurrences of heart disease: Breakthrough in prevention
The results of a major clinical study carried out at the Montreal Heart Institute by Dr.

Mecklenburg-West Pomerania is heading for a health-care crisis
Within the next 10 years, there will be deficiencies in health-care provision in parts of Mecklenburg-West Pomerania.

Biodiesel from sewage sludge within pennies a gallon of being competitive
Existing technology can produce biodiesel fuel from municipal sewage sludge that is within a few cents a gallon of being competitive with conventional diesel refined from petroleum, according to an article in ACS' Energy & Fuels, a bimonthly journal.

The sound of seduction
Flirtation may seem largely visual -- the preening, the coy eye contact -- but voice plays a role, too.

Penn-led collaboration mimics library of bio-membranes for use in nanomedicine, drug delivery
An international collaboration led by chemists and engineers from the University of Pennsylvania has prepared a library of synthetic biomaterials that mimic cellular membranes and that show promise in targeted delivery of cancer drugs, gene therapy, proteins, imaging and diagnostic agents and cosmetics safely to the body in the emerging field called nanomedicine.

A compound in smokers' breath
If you smoke, your breath contains 2.5-dimethylfuran. A team of Catalan researchers have proved that the presence of this chemical compound indicates that a person has smoked in the last three days.

Misoprostol plus oxytocin no better than oxytocin alone at preventing blood loss post-birth
An article in this week's Lancet shows that in various middle-income (and low-income) countries, misoprostol plus standard uterotonics (mainly oxytocin) is no better than uterotonics alone at preventing post-birth blood loss.

Georgia Tech awarded Gates Foundation grant for innovative global health research
The Georgia Institute of Technology has received a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Abdominal fat at middle age associated with greater risk of dementia
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine determined that excess abdominal fat places otherwise healthy, middle-aged people at risk for dementia later in life.

EPA holds seminar on air pollution and cardiovascular disease
The US Environmental Protection Agency is sponsoring a seminar called

Racial disparities in readmissions higher at 'minority-serving' hospitals
Racial disparities in readmissions for heart failure are mainly seen at the site at which care is provided, researchers report.

Air Force Prevention Program reduces suicide rates significantly
The US Air Force Suicide Prevention Program has reduced suicide rates significantly since it was launched in 1996, according to a new study that examined almost three decades of data.

'Scrubbing' chemical-contaminated buildings clean with lasers
While no terrorist has managed to deploy a dirty bomb, the same cannot be said of chemical agents.

Probing the dark side of the universe
Much like ripples moving across a pond, gravitational waves waves stretch the fabric of space itself as they pass by.

Get rhythm -- why the key to finding music you like is rhythm, not genre
So close and yet so wrong -- you might love heavy metal like Metallica but your music platform suggests you should also like the '60s sound of the Doors, simply because both bands are classified as rock.

Prehistoric frogs face extinction
The world's most ancient frogs may soon be mined to extinction, if the New Zealand government's plans to open up a conservation area for mining go ahead.

Scientists 'boot up' a bacterial cell with a synthetic genome
Scientists have developed the first cell controlled by a synthetic genome.

Kidney weight matters when it comes to transplantation
Receiving an organ low in weight in relation to the recipient's body weight increases kidney transplant recipients risk of complications and transplant failure, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Blood-clot-related strokes decrease among whites, but not blacks, in long-term study
Tracking 1.3 million people in the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, researchers found that stroke incidence fell significantly in whites between 1999 and 2005, but not among blacks.

Boston University receives $1.5M grant for undergrad neuroscience-lab research
Boston University today was awarded a $1.5 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to accelerate research for undergraduate neuroscience students. 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