Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

September 15, 2011
Black-white marriages increased rapidly since 1980, study finds
A new study of interracial marriages in the United States since the 1980s suggests that the racial boundary between blacks and whites continues to break down -- but is not yet close to disappearing.

Small distant galaxies host supermassive black holes
Using the Hubble Space Telescope to probe the distant universe, astronomers have found supermassive black holes growing in surprisingly small galaxies.

GPS in the head?
Prof. Dr. Motoharu Yoshida and colleagues from Boston University investigated how the rhythmic activity of nerve cells supports spatial navigation.

People born after World War II are more likely to binge drink, develop alcohol disorders
Drinking can be influenced by both personal and societal factors, the latter leading to

Restoring forests and planting trees on farms can greatly improve food security
Restoring and preserving dryland forests and planting more trees to provide food, fodder and fertilizer on small farms are critical steps toward preventing the recurrence of the famine now threatening millions of people in the Horn of Africa, according to forestry experts from the CGIAR Consortium.

In rapidly warming seas, some fish lose while others gain
Rising temperatures in the northeast Atlantic Ocean have already led to major shifts in the abundance of commercially important fish stocks.

Moffitt researchers find possible key to preventing chemotherapy resistance in ovarian cancer
Researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center have identified a molecular pathway that may play a key role in the evolution of chemotherapy resistance.

Study finds protein critical to breast cancer cell proliferation, migration
Researchers have found that a protein linked to cell division and migration and tied to increased cell proliferation in ovarian tumors is also present at high levels in breast cancer specimens and cell lines.

MIT: First prototype built from MIT's effort to construct houses for $1,000 each
MIT architects have produced the first prototype from the Institute's

An apple or pear a day may keep strokes away
Eating apples and pears may help prevent stroke. While high consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with lower stroke risk, a Dutch study found that eating fruit and vegetables with white edible portions was associated with a 52 percent lower stroke risk.

Tropical Storm Roke closing in on Kadena Air Base: Infrared NASA satellite imagery
Tropical Storm Roke is showing some signs of intensification on NASA infrared satellite imagery, as areas of strong convection and very cold cloud tops were spotted.

Early detection is key in the fight against ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is a rare but often deadly disease that can strike at any time in a woman's life, but researchers have found there are symptoms associated with ovarian cancer that can assist in early detection.

Carnegie's Timothy Strobel to receive Jamieson Award
Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory's newest staff member, Timothy Strobel, will be given the prestigious Jamieson Award on Sept.

A call to arms for synthetic biology
Scientists have replaced all of the DNA in the arm of a yeast chromosome with computer-designed, synthetically produced DNA that is structurally distinct from its original DNA to produce a healthy yeast cell.

New insight into immune tolerance furthers understanding of autoimmune disease
The mechanisms that underlie immune activation and tolerance are not completely understood.

Targeting cholesterol may help slow glioblastoma
Glioblastoma is among the most lethal cancers, but scientists have uncovered a novel growth mechanism that suggests patients with glioblastoma could be treated with cholesterol-lowering agents, according to a study published in Cancer Discovery, the newest journal of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Symposium on Post-Infectious Syndromes Affecting the Nervous System
This symposium will provide information to educate physicians, psychiatrists and other medical and mental health-care professionals about the possibility of neurological repercussions to post-infectious syndromes.

Genomic catastrophe causes developmental delay, cognitive disorders
Using a diversity of DNA sequencing and human genome analytic techniques, researchers led by Baylor College of Medicine have identified some cases of developmental delay or cognitive disorders associated with a sudden chromosomal catastrophe that occurred early in development, perhaps during cell division when DNA is replicated.

Small group homes are better for many dementia patients and their families
A number of countries are increasingly providing dementia care in small group homes, which offer a more domestic environment focusing on normal daily life.

Study update: Cancer information on Wikipedia is accurate, but not very readable
It is a commonly held that information on Wikipedia should not be trusted, since it is written and edited by non-experts without professional oversight.

Rice reinforces gas hydrate strategy
A paper by a Rice team expands upon previous research to locate and quantify the amount of methane hydrates -- a potentially vast source of energy -- that may be trapped under the seabed by analyzing shallow core samples.

Max Planck Society partners with Sanofi to develop innovative solutions for restoring vision
The Max Planck Society, Germany's leading basic research organization, announced today that it has signed with Fovea Pharmaceuticals, the ophthalmology division of Sanofi, a research collaboration and license agreement to identify and develop innovative solutions for restoring vision in patients suffering from diseases affecting the retina.

Cancer-killing cells are caught on film in more 3-D detail than ever before
Scientists reveal how a type of white blood cells, called Natural Killer cells, protect the body from tumors and virus-infected cells.

Estrogen treatment may help reverse severe pulmonary hypertension
UCLA researchers have found that the hormone estrogen may help reverse advanced pulmonary hypertension, a rare and serious condition that affects 2 to 3 million individuals in the US, mostly women, and can lead to heart failure.

Alcohol metabolism causes DNA damage and triggers a breast cancer-related DNA damage response
Alcohol is known to be carcinogenic to humans in the upper aerodigestive tract, liver, colorectum, and the female breast.

Safeguards needed to prevent discrimination of early Alzheimer's patients in the workplace
Despite the emergence of new tools that can diagnose Alzheimer's earlier, no effective interventions have been identified to stop the progression of the disease.

Finding pathways to cancer progression may lead to identification of targeted therapies
Researchers are working to discover how genes interact with each other to lead to cancer progression.

Winner of the 2011 ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award: Bertil Fredholm, Sweden
This year's ECNP Neuropsychopharmacology Award in Basic Science Research has been conferred upon Bertil Fredholm at the 24th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology on Sept.

Serotonin levels affect the brain's response to anger
Fluctuations of serotonin levels in the brain, which often occur when someone hasn't eaten or is stressed, affects brain regions that enable people to regulate anger, new research from the University of Cambridge has shown.

NASA's TRMM satellite reveals heaviest rainfall in Maria's northwestern quadrant
NASA's TRMM satellite peers through clouds and can decipher the rate rain is falling within a tropical cyclone, and data from the satellite shows that the heaviest rainfall is occurring in the northwestern quadrant of the storm, away from Bermuda.

New type of spinal cord stem cell discovered
A group led by a University of British Columbia and Vancouver Coastal Health scientist has discovered a type of spinal cord cell that could function as a stem cell, with the ability to regenerate portions of the central nervous system in people with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's disease).

New class of stem cell-like cells discovered offers possibility for spinal cord repair
The Allen Institute for Brain Science announced today the discovery of a new class of cells in the spinal cord that act like neural stem cells, offering a fresh avenue in the search for therapies to treat spinal cord injury and disease.

Study: Housing bust could mean lower college attendance
A study published in the October issue of the Journal of Labor Economics suggests an unexpected consequence of the housing bust: lower college attendance.

For kids with ADHD, regular 'green time' is linked to milder symptoms
A study of more than 400 children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder has found a link between the children's routine play settings and the severity of their symptoms, researchers report.

Installed cost of solar photovoltaic systems in the US declined significantly in 2010 and 2011
The installed cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2010 and into the first half of 2011, according to the latest edition of an annual PV cost tracking report released by the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Targeting cholesterol to fight deadly brain cancers
Blocking the uptake of large amounts of cholesterol into brain cancer cells could provide a new strategy to battle glioblastoma, one of the most deadly malignancies, researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have found.

The turbulent lives of stars
The stars are boiling! The reason is the energy generated in the center of the star that wants to escape.

Study in underwater laboratory may help manage seaweed-eating fish that protect coral
A team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology is using the Aquarius underwater laboratory off the coast of Florida to study how the diversity of seaweed-eating fish affects endangered coral reefs.

Seaside fortress was a final stronghold of early Islamic power
Professor Moshe Fischer of Tel Aviv University says that a Roman-influenced bath house at the fortress of Yavneh-Yam, located on a peninsula near present-day Tel Aviv, indicates that Arabic rulers maintained control of the site until the 12th century A.D.

Scorched Earth: The past, present and future of human influences on wildfires
Fires have continuously occurred on Earth for at least the last 400 million years.

Plants create a water reserve in the soil
An international research team has now demonstrated in experiments at the Paul Scherrer Institute that the soil in the vicinity of roots also contains more water -- contrary to the earlier belief that there must be less water in this region, as the plant takes up water from the soil.

NGOs call for UN to address potential conflicts of interest with industries that contribute significantly to 36 million deaths from non-communicable diseases
Ahead of next week's UN Summit on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in New York, over 140 international NGOs and public health organisations are calling on the United Nations to urgently address their current approach to engaging with the food and beverage industry whose products and marketing contribute substantially to the development of NCDs that kill 36 million people every year.

Stents may reduce heart attacks by delivering downstream medication
Researchers at Cleveland Clinic have discovered that cardiac patients receiving medicated stents -- a procedure that occurs often when blood vessels are blocked -- have a lower likelihood of suffering heart attacks or developing new blockages in the vessel downstream from the stent.

EGFR essential for the development of pancreatic cancer
The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene is essential for KRAS-driven pancreatic cancer development, according to study results presented at the Second AACR International Conference on Frontiers in Basic Cancer Research.

FASEB announces new client: The Histochemical Society
The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) announced today the signing of its newest client, the Histochemical Society.

Journey to the lower mantle and back
Mineral inclusions discovered in diamonds prove that surface rocks can be subducted into the deep part of the Earth's mantle.

CRF announces late-breaking trials and first report investigations to be presented at TCT 2011
Transcatheter Cardiovascular Therapeutics (TCT) is the annual scientific symposium of the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.

Put down that Xbox remote: FSU researcher suggests video games may not boost cognition
Wouldn't it be nice if all those hours kids spent glued to their PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or Nintendo DS video games actually resulted in something tangible?

Mom, dad and kids undergo novel genome analyses for medical risks in new Stanford study
Stanford University School of Medicine researchers have predicted the inherited health risks of a four-person family by analyzing their whole genome sequences.

MU researchers unveil new method for detecting lung cancer in Nature article
When lung cancer strikes, it often spreads silently into more advanced stages before being detected.

Carbon nanoparticles break barriers -- and that may not be good
In a study published in September 2011 issue of Nanotoxiology, researchers from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis studied cellular alterations in the urine-blood barrier in the kidney caused by repeated exposure to low concentrations of carbon nanoparticles.

Cities to grab lands equaling size of Mongolia In next 20 years, says Texas A&M study
In the next 20 years, more than 590,000 square miles of land globally -- more than twice the size of Texas -- will be gobbled up by cities, a trend that shows no signs of stopping and one that could pose threats on several levels, says a Texas A&M University geographer who is part of a national team studying the problem.

Arctic sea ice reaches minimum 2011 extent, making it second lowest in satellite record
The blanket of sea ice that floats on the Arctic Ocean appears to have reached its lowest extent for 2011, the second lowest recorded since satellites began measuring it in 1979, according to the University of Colorado Boulder's National Snow and Ice Data Center.

Virus shows promise for imaging and treating pancreatic cancer
Researchers are investigating a potential treatment and noninvasive imaging modality for pancreatic cancer that shows promise, according to researchers at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, N.Y., and Genelux Corporation in San Diego, Calif.

Damaged gait and balance can recover with long-term abstinence from alcohol
Chronic alcoholism is often associated with a disturbed gait and balance, likely caused by alcohol damage to neural systems.

ONR navigation and tracking mobile app extended for sea
Deployed Sailors and Marines on board aircraft carriers will be able to use smart phones to navigate, locate and track anyone on the ship in real time, Office of Naval Research officials announced Sept.

UF-led study: Invasive amphibians, reptiles in Florida outnumber world
Florida has the world's worst invasive amphibian and reptile problem, and a new 20-year study led by a University of Florida researcher verifies the pet trade as the No.

Some memory complaints in the elderly may be warning signs of cognitive problems
Older individuals' complaints about memory lapses such as having trouble remembering recent events may indicate that they are experiencing cognitive problems that are greater than typical age-related changes.

CanGeoRef launches, bringing focus to Canada-related geoscience research
The American Geological Institute and the Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences are pleased to announce the launch of CanGeoRef on Sept.

UOG entomologist receives new grant monies to combat the rhino beetle
Researchers on Guam have employed pheromone-baited bucket traps, canines to sniff out breeding sites, acoustic detection technology, and a biocontrol virus to eradicate the coconut rhinoceros beetle (CRB) on Guam with the beetles showing a high rate of resistance to these tactics.

Tree resin captures evolution of feathers on dinosaurs and birds
A U Alberta researcher found treasure trove of Cretaceous feathers trapped in tree resin.

Archivist in the sound library
A new mathematical model mimics the process of speech and noise recognition in the human brain efficiently.

Black white marriages increased rapidly since 1980s, study finds
A new study of interracial marriages in the United States since the 1980s suggests that the racial boundary between blacks and whites continues to break down, but is not yet close to disappearing.

Notre Dame researchers demonstrate antibiotic sensing event central to MRSA antibiotic resistance
A new paper by a team of University of Notre Dame researchers describes a unique process that is central to induction of antibiotic resistance in the problematic bacterium methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

Cleveland Clinic researchers awarded NIH grant to study concussion-identifying blood test
Researchers at Cleveland Clinic have received a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue studying the effectiveness of a blood test that conclusively identifies concussions in college football players.

Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' annual Top Employers Survey polls employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical and related industries to determine the driving characteristics of the best employers and to determine the 20 best employers in these industries.

An electronic bucket brigade could boost solar cell voltages
Some ferroelectric materials can develop extremely high voltages when light falls on them, which might greatly improve solar cells if scientists could figure out how they do it.

From Star Wars to science fact: Tatooine-like planet discovered
Although cold and gaseous rather than a desert world, the newfound planet Kepler-16b is still the closest astronomers have come to discovering Luke Skywalker's home world of Tatooine.

Genetics may predict why calcium increases risk for prostate cancer
A study led by University of Southern California (USC) epidemiologists suggests that a high intake of calcium causes prostate cancer among African-American men who are genetically good absorbers of the mineral.

Salmon and other fish predators rely on 'no guts, no glory' survival tactic
The phrase

Career award winner develops an app to help commercial boats stay safe
A Virginia Tech College of Engineering researcher has developed an app that can help captains of commercial fishing vessel and other small boats better and more safely maneuver their craft in water.

Watching the world in motion, babies take a first step toward language
Watching children on the playground, we see them run, climb, slide, get up, and do it all again.

Ethnicity-specific reference genomes improve genetic risk assessment using whole-genome sequencing
A group of scientists, based primarily at Stanford University School of Medicine, have introduced ethnicity-specific reference genome sequences in a study to be published in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics on Sept.

Diamonds show depth extent of Earth's carbon cycle
Scientists have speculated that Earth's carbon cycle extends into the deep Earth, but until now there has been no direct evidence.

Infrared NASA satellite imagery confirmed newborn Tropical Storm Sonca
Infrared satellite imagery from NASA's Aqua satellite yesterday showed powerful convection building in the low pressure area known as System 94W and provided forecasters with an inside look that the low was strengthening.

Scripps Research team discovers treatable mechanism responsible for often deadly response to flu
Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute have found a novel mechanism by which certain viruses such as influenza trigger a type of immune reaction that can severely sicken or kill those infected.

Common invasive test not necessary for kidney disease patients
Equations that estimate a patient's kidney function work as well as direct, invasive measurements, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Society Nephrology (JASN).

When ticks transmit dangerous pathogens
Blood-sucking ticks are not just a nuisance, they can also transmit dangerous diseases.

Chronic drinking leads to reduced cortical thickness in frontal and temporal brain regions
Chronic misuse of alcohol can cause widespread damage to the brain.

Some like it hot -- European fish stocks changing with warming seas
The first 'big picture' study of the effects of rapidly rising temperatures in the northeast Atlantic Ocean shows that a major shift in fish stocks is already well underway.

Mouse genome sequences reveal variability, complex evolutionary history
A new paper, building on recent advances in sequencing capability, now reports the complete genomes of 17 different strains of mice, creating an unparalleled genetic resource that will aid studies ranging from human disease to evolution.

Stowers scientists successfully expand bone marrow-derived stem cells in culture
All stem cells--regardless of their source--share the remarkable capability to replenish themselves by undergoing self-renewal.

Study suggests methylation and gene sequence co-evolve in human-chimp evolutionary divergence
Scientists published the first quantitative evidence supporting the notion that genome-wide

Biochemical cell signals quantified for first time
Just as cell phones and computers transmit data through electronic networks, the cells of your body send and receive chemical messages through molecular pathways.

Carbon cycle reaches Earth's lower mantle, Science study reports
The carbon cycle, upon which most living things depend, reaches much deeper into the Earth than generally supposed -- all the way to the lower mantle, researchers report.

New report on creating clinical public use microdata files
Many governments in Europe and the US are looking at ways to make more data publicly available.

Death rates in newborns more than halved as a result of national strategy to promote hospital births in China
Since 2000, China has encouraged hospital delivery through a safe motherhood programme and nearly all babies are now born in hospital except in the poorest socioeconomic regions.

Highlights of the 24th Congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) 2011
The 24th ECNP Congress, which was held from 3 to 7 September 2011 in Paris, France, was once again a great success, bringing together more than 6,700 psychiatrists, neurologists, psychologists and neuroscience researchers from all over the world.

Iowa State astronomer: 'Beware of the wildlife, even in apparently quiet galaxies'
Iowa State's Curtis Struck wrote a News & Views commentary --

New ONR policy equalizes opportunities for contractors
The Office of Naval Research published new guidance on Sep.

New model for treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder created
A new model of obsessive-compulsive disorder that mirrors both symptoms of the disease and the timing of its treatment in humans has been created by University of Chicago researchers, according to a new study.

Two-thirds of hepatitis C patients can see a cure in half the time, new study finds
Treatment with a telaprevir-based combination regimen for hepatitis C -- heretofore a chronic, destructive and difficult to manage disease -- effectively can be shortened to six months in about two-thirds of patients, finds a new study published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Avoiding fatal responses to flu infection
Most of the time, being ill with the flu is little more than a nuisance.

Heavy drinkers may die needlessly in house fires
People who drink heavily may increase their risk of dying in house fires that should otherwise have been escapable, a new study suggests.

Science and science education critical for Haiti's future, says international team convened by AAAS
Haiti and the global community should work together to build a robust science sector that can help the nation recover from last year's deadly earthquake, support future development, and improve the lives of Haiti's people, says a new AAAS report by Haitian and international scientists and educators.

First field-based molecular diagnostic test for African sleeping sickness in sight
The Geneva-based not-for-profit foundation FIND and Japanese diagnostics company Eiken announced today that a next-generation molecular test designed specifically for sleeping sickness -- a deadly parasitic disease also known as human African trypanosomiasis -- is ready to enter accelerated field trials in sites across the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

GSA sets focus on optimizing older adults' pain care
To highlight Pain Awareness Month in September, the Gerontological Society of America -- the nation's largest interdisciplinary organization devoted to the field of aging -- is announcing two forthcoming publications focused on pain relief and medication for seniors.

Of mice and men
Scientists have sequenced the genomes (genetic codes) of 17 strains of common lab mice -- an achievement that lays the groundwork for the identification of genes responsible for important traits, including diseases that afflict both mice and humans.

Cacao collection expedition may yield weapons for combating witches' broom disease
Fungi found in the leaves and trunks of wild Peruvian cacao trees offer the potential for biological control of cacao diseases such as witches' broom disease, according to US Department of Agriculture scientists.

Lack of protein FKBP51 in old mice improves resilience to depressive behavior
Decreasing expression of a protein associated with susceptibility to depression made old mice resistant to depressive-like behavior while improving their hormonal response to stress, a new study appearing online in PLoS ONE reports.

Tatooine-like planet discovered
A planet with two suns may be a familiar sight to fans of the

Inner workings of virus responsible for rare skin cancer
Scientists at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute have begun to uncover how the virus that causes most Merkel cell carcinoma -- a rare and aggressive skin cancer -- operates, meaning that a rational chemotherapeutic target for this cancer could be developed in the near future.

Sheffield scientists shine a light on the detection of bacterial infection
Researchers at the University of Sheffield have developed polymers that fluoresce in the presence of bacteria, paving the way for the rapid detection and assessment of wound infection using ultra-violet light.

AACR to host conference on the science of cancer health disparities
The American Association for Cancer Research will host its Fourth AACR Conference on The Science of Cancer Health Disparities from Sept.

Researchers discover a switch that controls stem cell pluripotency
Scientists have found a control switch that regulates stem cell

Prasugrel: Indications of an additional benefit for some patients, but also of greater harm
In order to better prevent blood clots, the drugs clopidogrel or prasugrel can be prescribed to patients with acute ischaemia of the heart muscle, in addition to acetylsalicylic acid (ASA).

All credit ratings not created equal
At least one of the

Personalized 3-D avatars for real life
Until now, 3-D avatars were mainly used as fun objects for diversion and entertainment purposes of the end user.

Yellow patches around eyelids predict risk of heart problems
Raised yellow patches of skin (xanthelasmata) around the upper or lower eyelids are markers of an individual's increased risk of having a heart attack or suffering from heart disease, finds research published on today.

Moms who eat high-fat diet before, during pregnancy 'program' babies to be fat, at risk
New research in mice indicates that babies born to moms who eat a high-fat diet before and during pregnancy have a higher fat mass and smaller livers than babies whose moms consume low-fat fare, according to scientists at Oregon Health & Science University Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

Arctic ground squirrels muscle up to hunker down
When Arctic ground squirrels are getting ready to hibernate they don't just get fat -- they pack on muscle at a rate that would make a bodybuilder jealous.

New strategy likely to speed drug development for rare cancers
Researchers have identified promising new therapies for ependymoma, a rare tumor with few treatment options.

'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' wins best book award from National Academies
The recipients of the 2011 Communication Awards were announced today by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine.

Fail-safe system may lead to cures for inherited disorders
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have uncovered a previously unknown fail-safe (compensatory) pathway that potentially protects the brain and other organs from genetic and environmental threats.

How the Milky Way got its spiral
The signature spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy were likely formed by an epic collision between the Milky Way and the Sagittarius Dwarf galaxy, according to a University of Pittsburgh researcher and his collaborators, published today in the prestigious British journal Nature.

Mobile phone electromagnetic field affects local glucose metabolism in the human brain
Recent PET-measurements in Turku, Finland, show that the GSM mobile phone electromagnetic field suppresses glucose metabolism in temporoparietal and anterior temporal areas of the hemisphere next to the antenna.

Syracuse University Industrial Assessment Center awarded $1.5 million to support DOE initiative
The Syracuse University-Industrial Assessment Center has been awarded $1.5 million over five years to support the Department of Energy's Industrial Assessment Center program to train undergraduate- and graduate-level engineering students in manufacturing efficiency.

Starving cancer cells of cholesterol might offer a new way to treat brain tumors
A new study suggests that blocking cancer cells' access to cholesterol may offer a new strategy for treating glioblastoma, the most common and deadly form of brain cancer, and perhaps other malignancies.

Childhood and the driving force of fashion
University of Leicester research reveals brands and logos are highly important to some children, influenced by family attitudes, peer pressure and celebrity culture. 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