Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

February 25, 2011
Innovative micro-insurance program expands to protect Kenyan farmers from drought
With Kenyan farmers increasingly fearing massive weather-related losses, UAP Insurance, Syngenta Foundation and mobile operator Safaricom announced today a major expansion of Kilimo Salama, an innovative and affordable crop insurance program that will now cover the expected value of farm harvests, more crops and many more farmers against drought and flooding, while also protecting against livestock losses.

Successful tech transfer leads to more Hawaiian exports
Hawaii growers can now export more fruits and vegetables to the US mainland, thanks to technology advanced by US Department of Agriculture scientists and cooperators.

Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen among 2011 Dan David Prize winners
Filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, evolution expert Prof. Marcus Feldman, and aging specialists Prof.

Hashimoto's thyroiditis can affect quality of life
Hashimoto's thyroiditis (HT), an inflammatory disorder of the thyroid, is the most common cause of hypothyroidism, but a study has suggested that even when thyroid function is normal, HT may increase symptoms and decrease quality of life, as described in an article in Thyroid, a peer-reviewed journal published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc.

TCD scientists discover that self-eating cells safeguard against cancer
Scientists at Trinity College Dublin have made an important discovery concerning how fledgling cancer cells self-destruct, which has the potential of impacting on future cancer therapies.

Candid cameras give a chance to see wildlife as a scientist does
Researching animals in the wild can be challenging, especially if it involves a rare or elusive species.

Tweeting teenage songbirds reveal impact of social cues on learning
In a finding that once again displays the power of the female, UCSF neuroscientists have discovered that teenage male songbirds, still working to perfect their song, improve their performance in the presence of a female bird.

Heparin a key role player in allergy and inflammatory reactions
Heparin plays a key role in allergic and inflammatory reactions driven by mast cells, scientists from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden shows in an international collaboration involving colleagues from Germany and Switzerland.

Floating solar panels
Most of the solar energy systems on the market today bare two major weaknesses: they require vast land areas in order to be built, and the costs related to solar cells fabrication and maintenance are high.

Mission to extra-solar planets approved
The European Space Agency has backed a £400 million ($643 million) mission to study extra-solar planets, led by University College London.

Storytelling program improves lives of people with Alzheimer's
Participation in TimeSlips, a creative storytelling intervention, improves communication and facilitates positive emotions in persons with dementia, researchers find.

Little historical evidence to support cutting global health aid during recessions
According to a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health, there is surprisingly little historical evidence to justify reversing global financial aid commitments.

Bone drug zoledronic acid may help prevent spread of early lung cancer
A drug that is currently used to help treat bone metastases in patients with lung cancer could also be useful at an earlier stage of treatment, to prevent the cancer from spreading in the first place, Italian researchers have found.

Air Force-funded researcher investigates new material grown from sugar
Ordinary table sugar could be a key ingredient to developing much lighter, faster, cheaper, denser and more robust computer electronics for use on US military aircraft.

Arctic environment during an ancient bout of natural global warming
Scientists are unraveling the environmental changes that took place around the Arctic during an exceptional episode of ancient global warming.

HIV makes protein that may help virus's resurgence
New research enhances the current knowledge of how human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1), which causes AIDS, controls the cell cycle of cells that it infects.

Notre Dame research offers important clues about grasshopper population explosions
A long-running research project be University of Notre Dame biologist Gary Belovsky is examining what limits grasshopper populations and the role played by grasshoppers in prairie ecosystems.

NYU nursing-dental team receives grant to assess effectiveness of A1C diabetes screening technique
New York University's Clinical and Translational Science Institute has awarded an NYU nursing-dental research team a one-year pilot grant to assess the feasibility of using gingival crevicular blood from periodontal patients to gauge hemoglobin A1C -- a blood glucose measurement -- as a means of diagnosing diabetes and identifying pre-diabetes.

The President's Bioethics Commission meets to take up next major issues
The Presidential Bioethics Commission will meet on Feb. 28-March 1 in Washington, D.C., to discuss human-subjects testing, genetics and neuroscience.

New study shows marine 'networks' can protect fish stocks
Univ. of Miami faculty members Claire Paris and Bob Cowen and UM alumnus Johnathan Kool from James Cook U were part of an international scientific team to show that strong links between the corals reefs of the South China Sea, West Pacific and Coral Triangle hold the key to preserving fish and marine resources in the Asia-Pacific region.

New study finds molecular mechanisms that control Rb2/p130 gene expression in lung cancer
A new study uncovers mechanisms that control Rb2/p130 gene expression in lung cancer and reveals why the gene is expressed differently in small and non-small lung cancer cells.

Guidelines and reality
Taking the case of treatment by primary care physicians of three target diseases -- hypertension, heart failure, and chronic coronary heart disease -- in the current edition of Deutsches Arzteblatt International Ute Karbach and her coauthors investigate the relationship for physicians between knowing the guidelines and acting in compliance with them.

Overfertilizing corn undermines ethanol
A new paper in today's online edition of the American Chemical Society's journal Environmental Science and Technology shows how farmers can save money on fertilizer while they improve their production of feedstock for ethanol and alleviate damage to the environment.

Oncogene AEG-1 strongly predicts response to erlotinib treatment in EGFR-mutant lung cancer
Spanish researchers have identified a gene whose expression level strongly predicts how well certain lung cancer patients will respond to treatment with the drug erlotinib.

March 1 workshop on lessons from earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, live video webcast
The Disasters Roundtable of the National Academies is holding a workshop on March 1 to examine how the similarities and differences between the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile last year offer opportunities for reducing risks from future natural disasters.

Researchers have found how brain cells control their movement to form the cerebral cortex
A study led by Academy Research Fellow Eleanor Coffey identifies new players that put the brakes on.

Listening to music is biological
Our willingness to listen to music is biological trait and related to the neurobiological pathways affecting social affiliation and communication, suggests a recent Finnish study published in the Journal of Human Genetics.

Scientists find a new way insulin-producing cells die
Diabetes researchers discover another way that insulin-secreting beta cells in the pancreas can be destroyed -- by the secretions of neighboring alpha cells.

Model for managing asthma in preschoolers leads to dramatic drop in ER visits and hospitalizations
Nearly one in 11 preschool children in the US has been diagnosed with asthma, yet few asthma management programs are designed for parents of preschool children.

Study examines recurrent wound botulism in injection drug users
Botulism is a rare disease and recurrent botulism even more rare.

Adverse drug events costly to health care system: Vancouver Coastal Health-UBC research
Patients who suffer an adverse medical event arising from the use or misuse of medications are more costly to the health care system than other emergency department (ED) patients, say physicians and research scientists at Vancouver General Hospital and UBC.

'The Warming Papers'
Global warming is arguably the defining scientific issue of modern times, but it is not widely appreciated that the foundations of our understanding were laid almost two centuries ago.

Direct electronic readout of 'artificial atoms'
In addition to flows of electrons, researchers are seeking options for the spin of electrons to be used in future information processing.

New way to identify patients at risk of dysphagia after head and neck cancer treatment
At the 3rd International Conference on innovative approaches in Head and Neck Oncology, Dr.

Virginia Tech engineer leads government team to New Zealand earthquake area
Russell Green, of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech, is leading the National Science Foundation-sponsored Geo-engineering Extreme Events Reconnaissance Team as it travels to Christchurch, New Zealand to document the effects of the magnitude 6.3 earthquake that occurred on Feb.

NASA assessing new launch dates for the Glory Mission
Preparations for the launch of NASA's Glory mission from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California have been suspended temporarily.

Bamiyan Buddhas once glowed in red, white and blue
The monumental Buddhas of Bamiyan once shone in glowing colors.

The rise in sea level of the Mediterranean is accelerating
At the end of the 20th century, the rise in sea level of the Mediterranean sea was lower than in the rest of the world due to atmospheric pressure, but since the start of the 21st century the levels of the Mediterranean have regained pace and seem to be accelerating.

Planning and visualization lead to better food habits
If you want to improve the way you eat, the best way to do so is to both make an action plan and visualize yourself carrying it out, according to McGill researchers.

Staring contests are automatic: People lock eyes to establish dominance
Imagine that you're in a bar and you accidentally knock over your neighbor's beer.

ONR moves a modular space communications asset into unmanned aircraft for Marines
Successfully taking a small radio receiver intended for space applications and creating a full-featured radio frequency system, initially designed for a Marine Corps unmanned aircraft, would not have been possible without the integrated effort of three naval entities.

Brain imaging provides window into consciousness
Using a sophisticated imaging test to probe for higher-level cognitive functioning in severely brain-injured patients provides a window into consciousness -- but the view it presents is one that is blurred in fascinating ways, say researchers at Weill Cornell Medical College in the Feb.

Quick, easy test identifies aggressive type of lung cancer in never-smokers
An inexpensive and rapid testing method can effectively identify a sub-group of never-smoking lung cancer patients whose tumors express a molecule associated with increased risk of disease progression or recurrence, US researchers have found

Emory University Eye Center to host pediatric congenital cataract symposium
An international conference addressing the treatment of children born with a cataract (congenital) will take place in New York City on Friday, March 11, 2011.

New book argues that computer programs will continue to deliver chaos while promising perfection
Television commercials advertise sleek new tablet computers and tout these devices as close to computer nirvanas.

4 faculty receive WUN support for global research partnerships
Four Penn State faculty have been selected to receive funds from the Worldwide Universities Network (WUN) Research Development Fund to participate in collaborative projects in 2011.

Protein and microRNA block cellular transition vital to metastasis
Like a bounty hunter returning escapees to custody, a cancer-fighting gene converts organ cells that change into highly mobile stem cells back to their original, stationary state, researchers report online at Nature Cell Biology.

Viral infection not responsible for exacerbation of lung disease in most patients
Acute viral infection does not appear to be a primary cause of acute exacerbation of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a progressive, deadly disease resulting in thickening and scarring of the lungs, according to a study conducted by researchers from the US, Korea and Japan.

Study looks at how homeless kids' use of online social networks can affect sexual behavior
Use of social networking websites by homeless youth can lead to an increase in risky sexual behaviors.

Virginia Tech shares in grant to study effects of climate change on southern pine forests
The National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded a consortium of land-grant institutions in the South, which includes Virginia Tech, a $20 million Coordinated Agricultural Grant to study the effects of climate change on southern pine forests.

Scientists find increase in microearthquakes after Chilean quake
By studying seismographs from the earthquake that hit Chile last February, Earth scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found a statistically significant increase of microearthquakes in central California in the first few hours after the main shock. 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