Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

August 26, 2010
Scientists concerned about environmental impact of recycling of e-waste
Much of the world's electronic waste is being shipped to China for recycling and the cottage industry that has sprung up there to recover usable materials from computers, cell phones, televisions and other goods may be creating significant health and environmental hazards.

Core values unite Americans, despite divisions
Americans are united when it comes to many core values, according to a University of Michigan survey.

Distant star's sound waves reveal cycle similar to the sun's
In a bid to unlock longstanding mysteries of the sun, including the impacts on Earth of its 11-year cycle, an international team of scientists has successfully probed a distant star.

Healthy ears hear the first sound, ignoring the echoes
Voices carry, reflect off objects and create echoes. Most people rarely hear the echoes; instead they only process the first sound received.

Why are drug trials in Alzheimer's disease failing?
An editorial in this week's Lancet discusses the poor record of drug trials in Alzheimer's disease, following the dumping of semagacestat on the Phase 3 scrapheap of other failed disease-modifying drugs for the condition.

Our best and worst moments occur within social relationships, research shows
In the first study of its kind, researchers have found compelling evidence that our best and worst experiences in life are likely to involve not individual accomplishments, but interaction with other people and the fulfillment of an urge for social connection.

Scientists find link in humans between nerve cell production, memory
Production of new nerve cells in the human brain is linked to learning and memory, according to a new study in Brain.

Ugly Betty forced to aim for Average Joe
Less-pretty female house sparrows tend to lower their aim when selecting a mate.

On organic coffee farm, complex interactions keep pests under control
Proponents of organic farming often speak of nature's balance in ways that sound almost spiritual, prompting criticism that their views are unscientific and naive.

Technology and Innovation promises new focus on academic invention and translational research
The academic science business known as

2 Hispanic researchers from Argonne receive national acclaim
Two researchers from the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have been recognized for outstanding achievement.

NRL scientist seeing clearly the effects of pyrocumulonimbus
Long mistaken for volcanic ash clouds, pyrocumulonimbus clouds absorb smoke and aerosol particles from intense wildfires and funnel the pollutants as high as 11 miles into the upper atmosphere.

Study: Generation X more loyal to religion
New research has revealed that Gen-Xers are surprisingly loyal to their faith -- a finding that suggests the rising nonreligious tide in the United States may be leveling off.

Fixing Wiki: Wikipedia revision project teaches teamwork, communication, chemistry
Halogen bonding, hyperconjugation, electroactive polymers -- such subjects are typical fare in graduate-level chemistry courses.

Distant star's sound waves reveal cycle similar to sun
In a bid to unlock long-standing mysteries of the sun, including the impacts on Earth of its 11-year cycle, an international team of scientists has successfully probed a distant star.

Prediction of intrinsic magnetism at silicon surfaces could lead to single-spin magnetoelectronics
The integration of single-spin magnetoelectronics into standard silicon technology may soon be possible, if experiments confirm a new theoretical prediction by physicists at the Naval Research Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

New paper examines approaches to measuring protein in foods in context of deadly adulterations
Recent incidents of adulteration involving infant formula, other milk products and pet food with the industrial chemical melamine revealed the weaknesses of current methods widely used across the domestic and global food industry for determining protein content in foods.

National Geographic features University of Miami's work on Bahamas 'blue holes'
University of Miami researcher, Kenny Broad led an expedition to the underwater caves of the Bahamas, known as

OU GeoChip technology plays critical role in Gulf of Mexico deepwater oil plume study
A University of Oklahoma technology -- GeoChip -- played a critical role in an intensive study of the dispersed oil plume that formed at a depth between 3,600 and 4,000 feet some 10 miles from BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico.

Online universe wins AAAS education website award
A website that brings the universe into the homes and onto the computer screens of professional and amateur astronomers alike has won a significant science education award from the AAAS.

AGU 2010 Fall Meeting: News media registration opens, book hotels now
News media registration is now open for the 2010 Fall Meeting (San Francisco, Dec.

Light, circadian rhythms affect vast range of physiological, behavioral functions
A new study of the genetic basis of circadian rhythms -- the biological responses related to daily light exposure -- has found that a few minutes of light exposure in a fungus directly affects a huge range of its biological functions, everything from reproduction to coloring and DNA repair.

Analysis of Ashkenazi Jewish genomes reveals diversity, history
Through genomic analysis, researchers have shown that the Ashkenazi Jewish population is genetically more diverse than people of European descent, despite previous assumptions that Ashkenazi Jews have been an isolated population.

U-M launches effort to conquer common hospital-acquired infection
Clostridium difficile infects nearly a half-million Americans each year in hospitals and nursing homes.

Common blood changes not independent predictor of adverse outcomes for kidney disease patients
Fluctuations in blood composition that often arise from commonly used therapies among kidney disease patients are not an independent predictor of adverse outcomes for European hemodialysis patients, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology.

Toward safer foods for human consumption with anthrax protection
An antibacterial enzyme found in human tears and other body fluids could be applied to certain foods for protection against intentional contamination with anthrax, scientists reported here today at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Shrinking atmospheric layer linked to low levels of solar radiation
Scientists link a recent, temporary shrinking of a high atmospheric layer with a sharp drop in the sun's ultraviolet radiation levels.

Yale team finds a genetic rarity: A mutation that restores health
Errors in the copying of genes during cell division can cause numerous diseases, including cancer.

UK researchers release draft sequence coverage of wheat genome
A team of UK researchers, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, has publicly released the first sequence coverage of the wheat genome.

ACS webinar focuses on funding opportunities for manufacturers and small chemical businesses
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 federal funding opportunities for manufacturers and small chemical businesses.

Fat serves as cells' built-in pH sensor: UBC research
A specific type of fat present in cell membranes also serves as a cellular pH sensor, a team of University of British Columbia researchers has discovered.

Experimental treatments for cocaine addiction may prevent relapse
The drug disulfiram, used for years to deter recovering alcoholics from drinking, also can treat cocaine addiction.

Researchers closer to development of drug to prevent deadly immune response
Researchers have isolated a molecule, small enough to be used as a drug, that can shut down a dysfunctional -- and at times, deadly -- immune response known as the complement system.

IU physics facility awarded $5 million for cooperative neutron research
The next generation of neutron research at Indiana University Bloomington has received a $5 million boost from the National Institute for Standards and Technology.

Stress protein Hsp12 provides a cellular survival mechanism never seen before
Despite clear evidence that Hsp12 -- a so-called heat shock or stress protein -- helps cells survive life-threatening conditions, how it works was an open question until now.

Autism and schizophrenia: Scientists measure gene mutation rate
An international study led by University of Montreal scientists suggests family history may not be a good predictor of the presence of mutations predisposing to autism or schizophrenia.

Bacteria make thrift a habit, U-M researchers find
In these lean times, smart consumers refuse to pay a lot for throwaway items, but will shell out a little more for products that can be used again and again.

Astronomers find 2 large planets, plus possible super-Earth-size one
A team of three University of Florida astronomers contributed to the Kepler spacecraft's discovery of two Saturn-sized planets, plus a possible third planet with a radius just one-and-a-half times that of Earth, orbiting a distant star.

3-D movies via Internet and satellite
Multiview video coding (MVC) is the new standard for 3-D movie compression.

Conference on the Future of Independent Academic Clinical Research in Europe
Journalists are invited to attend the one-day conference on the

Attention, couch potatoes! Walking boosts brain connectivity, function
A group of

Progress on vaccine for 'Ich,' bane of fish farms and home aquarium hobbyists
Tests of the potential vaccine against

Ant colonies shed light on metabolism
Because ant colonies behave metabolically like individual organisms, studying how a colony's size changes its metabolism could offer useful insight for developing theories about medication dosage in humans.

Studies on combat-related substance use and abuse to be funded by NIH and VA
Eleven research institutions in 11 states will receive more than $6 million in federal funding from fiscal year 2010 to support research on substance abuse and associated problems among US military personnel, veterans, and their families.

Genome comparison of ants establishes new model species for molecular research
By comparing two species of ants, Shelley Berger, Ph.D., the Daniel S.

Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology sees growth, promise of tumor ablation
The unprecedented growth and promise of using thermal ablation to target and kill cancer is the subject of the Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology's August supplement,

Adherence to practice guidelines may reduce bleeding in cirrhosis patients
Compliance with practice guideline-recommended treatment for cirrhosis is associated with a reduction in first esophageal variceal hemorrhage.

Analyzing audio-visual content
Filmmakers can identify faults during production with an automatic fault identification and quality assessment system for video sequences.

Ants found to use multiple antibiotics as weed killers
Scientists at the University of East Anglia, have shown that fungus-farming ants are using multiple antibiotics as weed killers to maintain their fungus gardens.

Concordia University researchers boost literacy
Researchers at Concordia's Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance have developed ABRACADABRA, a free, interactive Web-based literacy program for early elementary school-aged students, to help battle the alarmingly high percentage of low ability readers.

Frog skin may provide 'kiss of death' for antibiotic-resistant germs
Kissing a frog won't turn it into a prince -- except in fairy-tales -- but frogs may be hopping toward a real-world transformation into princely allies in humanity's battle with antibiotic-resistant infections that threaten millions of people.

Vitamin A increases the presence of the HIV virus in breast milk
Vitamin A and beta-carotene supplements are unsafe for HIV-positive women who breastfeed because they may boost the excretion of HIV in breast milk -- thereby increasing the chances of transmitting the infection to the child, a pair of new studies suggest.

Scientists unveil structure of adenovirus, the largest high-resolution complex ever found
After more than a decade of research, Scripps Research Institute scientists have pieced together the structure of a human adenovirus -- the largest complex ever determined at atomic resolution.

2 heads are better than 1 -- with the right partner
In the new age of coalition governments, the question of whether two heads are better than one is more relevant than ever.

Researchers discover novel mechanism protecting plants against freezing
New ground broken by Michigan State University biochemists helps explain how plants protect themselves from freezing temperatures and could lead to discoveries related to plant tolerance for drought and other extreme conditions.

Stretched polymer snaps back smaller than it started
Crazy bands are cool because no matter how long they've been stretched around a kid's wrist, they always return to their original shape, be it a lion or a kangaroo.

NASA's Kepler mission discovers 2 planets transiting same star
NASA's Kepler Mission has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet transiting the same star.

Who hasn't had dental cavities?
A research study has for the first time revealed data about dental cavities, periodontal disease, oral treatment needs, the use of dental prostheses and dental hygiene habits among the adult population in the Valencia region.

Mayan pool in the rainforest
Archaeologists from the University of Bonn found a water reservoir the size of a soccer field, whose floor is lined with ceramic shards, in the Mexican rainforest.

Supplement produces a 'striking' endurance boost
Research from the University of Exeter in the UK has revealed taking a dietary supplement to boost nitric oxide in the body can significantly boost stamina during high-intensity exercise.

Society of Interventional Radiology supports research for new MS treatments
Recognizing that venous interventions may potentially play an important role in treating some patients who suffer from multiple sclerosis -- an incurable, disabling disease -- the Society of Interventional Radiology has issued a position statement indicating its support for high-quality clinical research to determine the safety and effectiveness of interventional MS treatments.

$7 million grant designates Nationwide Children's as Wellstone Center
A $7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health will help researchers at Nationwide Children's Hospital translate new scientific findings and technological developments into novel treatments for the muscular dystrophies.

New rules of engagement for older people and climate change
A new study by researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York calls for better engagement of older people on climate change issues.

Commercial trap for wasps, hornets and yellowjackets 'baited' with USDA technology
Forget the ants marching one by one -- yellowjackets are the real party-crashers when it comes to spoiling picnics, outdoor barbecues and other summer fun where cold beverages and meat are present.

Penn study sheds light on how the brain shifts between sleep/awake states under anesthesia
An estimated 25 million patients per year in the US undergo surgeries using general anesthesia, but scientists have only been able to hypothesize how anesthetics interact with the CNS.

NYU Langone scientists are first to sequence the genomes of 2 ant species
Scientists have finally sequenced the entire genome of an ant, actually two very different species of ant, and the insights gleaned from their genetic blueprints are already yielding tantalizing clues to the extraordinary social behavior of ants.

Post-Katrina mold increases asthma symptoms and attacks in children
The mold that spread like a rash across post-Katrina New Orleans did more than destroy homes -- it made children with asthma sick.

Decoding of wheat genome will help address global food shortage
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have decoded the genome of wheat -- the largest genome to be sequenced to date -- to help crop breeders increase the yield of British wheat varieties.

Secondhand smoke may provoke inflammatory response in lungs
Secondhand smoke is associated with a number of diseases and conditions, including cancer, heart disease and emphysema.

Black rice rivals pricey blueberries as source of healthful antioxidants
Health conscious consumers who hesitate at the price of fresh blueberries and blackberries, fruits renowned for high levels of healthful antioxidants, now have an economical alternative.

OU and ConocoPhillips join forces on industry-wide biocorrosion challenge
The University of Oklahoma has joined forces with the Upstream Drilling and Production section of ConocoPhillips to ensure our nation's energy infrastructure is robust with the creation of a new Biocorrosion Center within the OU Institute for Energy and Environment.

Victimized children involved with disasters more likely to have mental health issues
A new national study not only has confirmed that children who have been exposed to disasters from earthquakes to fires are more prone to emotional problems, but many of those children may already have been experiencing maltreatment, domestic abuse or peer violence that could exacerbate those issues.

Lethal backfire: Green odor with fatal consequences for voracious caterpillars
During field studies, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology discovered that the oral secretions of tobacco hornworm larvae contain a particular substance that promptly alters a green leaf volatile in tobacco leaves into an odor attractant signal.

Large CO2 release speeds up ice age melting
Radiocarbon dating is used to determine the age of everything from ancient artifacts to prehistoric corals on the ocean bottom.

New view of tectonic plates
Computational scientists and geophysicists at the University of Texas at Austin and the California Institute of Technology have developed new computer algorithms that for the first time allow for the simultaneous modeling of the earth's Earth's mantle flow, large-scale tectonic plate motions, and the behavior of individual fault zones, to produce an unprecedented view of plate tectonics and the forces that drive it.

Baby's first full nappy can reveal mother's smoking
Meconium, the dark and tarry stools passed by a baby during the first few days after birth, can be used to determine how much the mother smoked, or if she was exposed to tobacco smoke during pregnancy.

Southampton to conduct UK's first cochlear implant operation to give sound in both ears
The UK's first operation to fit a single cochlear implant capable of giving sound in both ears takes place this Friday, thanks to the work of the South of England Cochlear Implant Centre, based at the University of Southampton.

Researchers urge reclassification of traumatic brain injury as chronic disease
Traumatic brain injury, currently considered a singular event by the insurance industry and many health care providers, is instead the beginning of an ongoing process that impacts multiple organ systems and may cause or accelerate other diseases and disorders that can reduce life expectancy, according to research from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

A step toward a new sunscreen?
Ongoing research finds that a blend of plant substances -- such as resveratrol and grape seed extract -- can prevent skin cancer in mice.

UC Irvine School of Medicine's revolutionary iPad program to utilize e-textbooks from Elsevier
First-year med students will access four key titles, including Netter: Atlas of Human Anatomy, from their UCI-furnished iPads.

Texas A&M research produces tools to study stallions' subfertility
Subfertility of breeding stallions -- meaning the horses are less able to sire foals -- is a well-recognized problem that has caused multimillion-dollar losses in the equine industry, experts say.

23rd ECNP Congress: Pioneering CNS research -- translating neuroscience into clinical progress
The European College of Neuropsychopharmacology is Europe's largest and most comprehensive interdisciplinary forum in the field of neurological and mental disorders, dedicated to translating new knowledge on fundamental disease mechanisms into clinical practice, paving the way for improved treatments.

Shape-shifting robot plane offers safer alternative for maritime rescue
Use of morphing flight control surfaces has enabled the development of a cost effective unmanned air-sea rescue plane that can operate in extreme weather conditions despite its light weight and small size.

No lounge for local lizards as living room vanishes
A new ecological network is urgently needed in Northern Ireland to ensure the continued survival of its precious lizard population, according to researchers at Queen's University Belfast.

10-fold rise in obesity surgery in England since 2000
The use of bariatric or weight loss surgery has increased 10-fold in NHS hospitals in England since 2000, finds a study published on today.

US hospitals making only modest gains in adoption of electronic health records
Transforming the US health care system from paper-based to electronic-based may improve health care quality and reduce costs, but a new study by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that goal is far off.

Secrets of the gecko foot help robot climb
The science behind gecko toes holds the answer to a dry adhesive that provides an ideal grip for robot feet.

Artificial enzyme removes natural poison
For the first time ever, a completely man-made chemical enzyme has been successfully used to neutralize a toxin found naturally in fruits and vegetables.

Astronomy website awarded prestigious prize by Science
Growing up in Hungary, Alex Szalay was often a winner of math and science competitions and he got to travel to Budapest to sit in on lectures given by future Nobel Prize winners. 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