Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

September 21, 2011
Climatic fluctuations drove key events in human evolution
Research at the University of Liverpool has found that periods of rapid fluctuation in temperature coincided with the emergence of the first distant relatives of human beings and the appearance and spread of stone tools.

Reclamation signs CRADA with Envirock to study recycling lime sludge into green concrete
The Bureau of Reclamation's Yuma Area Office is entering into a cooperative research and development agreement with Envirock to explore whether sludge from the Yuma Desalting Plant can be used in a new

An unprecedented role reversal: Ground beetle larvae lure amphibians and prey upon them
Beetle larvae are able to lure their amphibious predators and consume them with almost 100 percent success, a new study shows.

'Drilling Down'
While news of the tragic Gulf oil spill has faded from nightly television newscasts and newspaper front pages, the underlying complex causes of the tragic accident are still with us today.

ONR pursuing affordable common radar for surface ships
To upgrade the Navy's fleet of aging combat ship radar systems, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is developing technologies that will combat the obsolescence of surveillance systems at a more affordable cost.

Fear of childbirth increases likelihood of C-section
A new study published in the international journal Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica reveals that fear of childbirth is a predisposing factor for emergency and elective cesarean sections, even after psychological counseling.

Research into molluscan phylogeny reveals deep animal relationship of snails and mussels
Snails, mussels, squids -- as different as they may look, they do have something in common: they all belong to the phylum Mollusca, also called mollusks.

Observations of fallout from the Fukushima reactor accident in San Francisco Bay area rainwater
Researchers report that Japan's power plant accident fallout extended as far as the San Francisco Bay area, resulting in elevated levels of radioactive material that were nonetheless very low and posed no health risk to the public.

Bionic bacteria may help fight disease and global warming
A strain of genetically enhanced bacteria developed by researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies may pave the way for new synthetic drugs and new ways of manufacturing medicines and biofuels, according to a paper published September 18 in Nature Chemical Biology.

YouTube videos can inaccurately depict Parkinson's disease and other movement disorders
After reviewing the most frequently watched YouTube videos about movement disorders, a group of neurologists found that the people in the videos often do not have a movement disorder.

Steep increase in global CO2 emissions despite reductions by industrialized countries
Global emissions of carbon dioxide -- the main cause of global warming -- increased by 45 percent between 1990 and 2010, and reached an all-time high of 33 billion tons in 2010.

The 'disinhibited' brain
The complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as Morbus Sudeck, is characterized by

Scientists identify a key molecule that blocks abnormal blood vessel growth in tumors
A new and better understanding of blood vessel growth and vascular development (angiogenesis) in cancer has been made possible by research carried out by a team of scientists from Moffitt Cancer Center, the University of Florida, Harvard University, Yale University and the Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

An angry bird in the sky
A new image from the Wide Field Imager on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope reveals the Lambda Centauri Nebula, a cloud of glowing hydrogen and newborn stars in the constellation of Centaurus (the Centaur).

Indiana U. professor to examine how women respond to information about the HPV vaccine
Dena S. Cox, a professor of marketing and faculty fellow at the Kelley School of Business Indianapolis, has received a $99,600, two-year research grant from Merck to study factors influencing young women's adoption of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine.

Joslin researchers identify pathways leading to activation of good fat
Researchers at the Joslin Diabetes Center have identified for the first time two molecular pathways that are critical to activating a type of

Hedging your bets: How the brain makes decisions based on related information
When making decisions based on multiple, interdependent factors, we choose based on how these factors correlate with each other, and not based on an ad hoc rule of thumb or through trial and error as was previously thought, according to research funded by the Wellcome Trust.

Stressed and strapped: Caregivers for friends, relatives suffer emotional and financial strain
Those caring for aging or disabled relatives in California are under both financial and emotional strain and are likely to face even greater burdens given recent cuts in state support for programs that support in-home care, write the authors of a new policy brief by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research.

Novel research set to pinpoint risk of heart attacks and strokes
NTU today announced it will be conducting cutting edge research based on Singapore's multi-racial population which will eventually lead to a simple blood test kit that will pinpoint the exact risk of a person getting heart attacks and strokes.

URMC research could extend life of arthritic joints
A medication already approved to build bone mass in patients with osteoporosis also builds cartilage around joints and could potentially be repurposed to treat millions of people suffering from arthritis, according to orthopedic research at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

Is the 'longevity gene' nearing the end of its life?
Sirtuins, proteins believed to significantly increase lifespan in a number of organisms -- and the claimed target of some anti-aging creams -- do not, in fact, affect animal longevity, according to new research funded by the Wellcome Trust and the European Union.

Small fish recover faster than large fish
A University of Illinois study showed smaller fish recover from exertion faster than larger fish.

Science and religion do mix
Throughout history, science and religion have appeared as being in perpetual conflict, but a new study by Rice University suggests that only a minority of scientists at major research universities see religion and science as requiring distinct boundaries.

Soy-based natural S-equol supplements improve crow's feet skin wrinkles in menopausal women
A soy germ-based nutritional supplement containing natural S-equol significantly improved the appearance of crow's feet skin wrinkles of the outer corner of the eyes in Japanese menopausal women, suggesting that supplements containing natural S-equol have potential to slow skin aging, according to data from a controlled pilot study simultaneously published online in the peer-review journal Menopause and presented in a poster session at the North American Menopause Society annual meeting.

New genetic mutation for ALS identified
A team led by scientists from Johns Hopkins and the National Institutes of Health has discovered a new genetic mutation for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and a related disease called frontotemporal dementia that appears to account for more than a third of all inherited cases of these diseases.

Did the orientation of the continents hinder ancient settlement of the Americas?
In an intriguing original look at the history of the first Americans, a new study finds evidence that the north-south orientation of the American continents slowed the spread of populations and technology, compared to the east-west axis of Eurasia.

A gene for Lou Gehrig's disease and frontotemporal dementia identified
Frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease -- two fatal neurodegenerative disease with distinct symptoms -- are triggered by a common mutation in many cases, according to researchers who say they have identified the mutated gene.

Do women's voices really allow men to detect ovulation?
A new study challenges the view that women broadcast reproductive information in their voice.

Drive to find an alternative to rare earth metals
Engineers at Newcastle University, UK, have been charged with developing a new motor for electric vehicles that will significantly reduce our reliance on rare earth metals.

Welsh-Finnish link pinpoints important new familial motor neuron disease gene
Families suffering from a history of motor neuron disease have helped a scientific team locate a new gene linked to the incurable disease.

Researchers' chance viewing of river cutoff forming provides rare insight
For two University of Illinois river researchers, new insight into river cutoffs was a case of being in the right place at the right time.

UCLA researchers develop system that finds prostate cancer spread earlier than conventional imaging
Researchers at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed a way to image the spread of a particularly dangerous form of prostate cancer earlier than conventional imaging in use today, which may allow oncologists to find and treat these metastases more quickly and give patients a better chance at survival.

Increased responsibility could lead to decreased sexual activity among women
Researchers examined the relationships between married women's autonomy and the time since most recent sexual intercourse and found that women's position in their household may influence sexual activity.

Courageous 8-year-old honored with 2011 Survivor Circle Award
The American Society for Radiation Oncology has selected a pediatric cancer survivor, Bella Rodriguez-Torres, as its 2011 Survivor Circle Award winner.

Rhode Island Hospital looks more closely at personality disorders
A newly published paper from Rhode Island Hospital argues against the proposed changes to redefine the number of personality disorders in the upcoming Diagnostic Statistical Manual, 5th edition (DSM-5).

ECIT researchers use liquid crystals to replace space motors
Researchers at the Institute of Electronics, Communications and Information Technology (ECIT) and the Northern Ireland Semiconductor Research Centre at Queen's University Belfast have devised a way to eliminate the need for motors in space borne radiometers by incorporating liquid crystals in their frequency selective surface antenna arrays.

Continental-scale research project thinks big about water quality
Scientists at Kansas State University and seven other collaborating institutions were recently awarded $3.3 million from the National Science Foundation to conduct a-large scale study of how stream organisms influence water quality across North America.

TGen-Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center launches clinical trial for drug to treat lung cancer
Patients at Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center Clinical Trials are the first in the nation to participate in a clinical trial to determine the safety, tolerability and preliminary activity of an investigational drug that targets cell-signaling proteins associated with the most common form of lung cancer, as well as other forms of cancer such as lymphomas and neuroblastoma.

$40 million project to revitalize Africa's orphaned crops announced
A visionary $40 million effort to boost Africa's health and economic vitality by genetically sequencing and breeding some of the continent's most important, but neglected, native crops was announced today during the Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York City by a consortium of international partners, including the University of California, Davis.

Human genetics study identifies the most common cause of ALS and dementia
Scientists have made an exciting breakthrough in unraveling the genetic basis of two debilitating neurodegenerative disorders, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

UC San Diego biologists discover genes that repair nerves after injury
Biologists at the University of California, San Diego have identified more than 70 genes that play a role in regenerating nerves after injury, providing biomedical researchers with a valuable set of genetic leads for use in developing therapies to repair spinal cord injuries and other common kinds of nerve damage such as stroke.

Advicet to divorcees: Go easy on yourself
Divorce is tough, for just about everyone. But some people move through a breakup without overwhelming distress, even if they're sad or worried about money, while others get stuck in the bad feelings and can't seem to climb out.

El Niño and the tropical Eastern Pacific annual cycle run to the same beat
The interaction between El Niño events and the seasonal cycle of sea surface temperature in the eastern equatorial Pacific can be described through a nonlinear phase synchronization mechanism, according to a study published in the September issue of Physical Review Letters by climate scientists at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

Team creates genetic 'GPS' system to comprehensively locate and track inhibitory nerve cells
A team of neuroscientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has succeeded in creating what amounts to a GPS system for locating and tracking GABA inhibitory neurons, a vital class of brain cells that until now has eluded comprehensive identification, particularly in living animals.

Humor as effective as medication in treating agitation in dementia
Humor therapy is as effective as widely used antipsychotic drugs in managing agitation in patients with dementia -- and avoids serious drug side effects, a new study shows.

From protein to planes and pigskin
The discovery that a protein in insect skin is responsible for protecting the insect as it molts its skin opens the possibilities for selective pest control and new biomaterials like football padding or lightweight aircraft components.

New genetic mutation is the most common cause of familial forms of frontotemporal dementia and ALS
North American investigators led by neuroscientists at Mayo Clinic in Florida have found a genetic abnormality they say is the most common cause of two different but related familial forms of neurodegenerative disease -- frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Could the Higgs boson explain the size of the universe?
The race to identify the Higgs boson is on at CERN.

Acoustical Society meeting: Highlights and media registration
The 162nd Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America will include more than 1,000 presentations in the physical sciences, engineering, and medicine.

Penn researchers find a new twist in a blindness-causing disease gene
After more than three decades of research, University of Pennsylvania veterinarians and vision-research scientists, with associates at Cornell University, have identified a gene responsible for a blindness-inducing disease that afflicts dogs.

UCSF neurologist William Seeley, M.D., named MacArthur Fellow
UCSF neurologist William Seeley, M.D., a clinician-researcher whose work is advancing understanding of neurodegenerative diseases, has been named a 2011 MacArthur Fellow, one of the highest honors bestowed on an individual in the United States.

CSI: Microbial version without PCR
Berkeley Lab researchers have developed PCR-free techniques for identifying the most active microbial populations in samples based on the PhyloChip, the Lab's award-winning, high-density DNA microarray.

New analysis suggests Civil War took bigger toll than previously estimated
The Civil War -- already considered the deadliest conflict in American history -- in fact took a toll far more severe than previously estimated.

How to produce flexible CIGS solar cells with record efficiency
The technology yielding flexible solar cells with an 18.7 percent world record efficiency developed by scientists at Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, has now been published in Nature Materials.

New understanding of how humans and the environment interact
Water quality and environmental health in Botswana; wetlands in a working landscape; the collapse of the ancient Maya and what that has to tell us about society and environmental change today.

2 satellites see Tropical Storm Ophelia born in the Atlantic
Tropical Storm Ophelia was born today in the Atlantic Ocean and captured in an infrared image from NOAA's GOES-13 satellite and NASA's Aqua satellite.

Infant mortality linked to subsequent risk of stillbirth finds new US study
Women whose first pregnancy ended in infant death are significantly more likely to have a subsequent stillbirth finds new research published Sept.

Queen bee or worker bee? New insights into famous honeybee society caste system
Scientists are reporting deep new insights into whys and hows of the famous caste system that dominates honey bee societies, with a select few bee larvae destined for royalty and the masses for worker status.

Information technologies foster freedom or reinforce repression
The media may portray text messaging and social networks as powerful new weapons for freedom fighters, but these new communication tools may not be as uniformly beneficial or as robust as suggested, according to Penn State researchers.

Common stimulant may speed recovery from general anesthesia
Administration of the commonly used stimulant drug methylphenidate (Ritalin) was able to speed recovery from general anesthesia in animals.

Large study finds genetic 'overlap' between schizophrenia, bipolar disorder
Three UCLA scientists were part of a worldwide consortium that has discovered that common genetic variants contribute to a person's risk of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Foreign children take at least 6 years to learn the language used in school
There are now more and more foreign children in the classroom, and many of them speak a different language to that of their sociolinguistic environment.

NHS has 'wasted' $976 million on synthetic insulin in past decade
The NHS has stumped up an extra £625 million ($976 million) over the past decade on synthetic forms of insulin, when the recommended human alternatives -- which are considerably cheaper -- would have probably been just as effective, reveals research published online in BMJ Open.

MSU engages public on using newborn blood spots for research
With millions of newborns' blood samples stored in a Michigan bio-bank, researchers are working to determine public attitudes toward the practice of using the blood spots for medical research.

Marijuana administration after a traumatic experience prevents post-traumatic stress symptoms
Cannabinoids (marijuana) administration after experiencing a traumatic event blocks the development of post-traumatic stress disorder-like symptoms in rats, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa and published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

Researchers discover how 'promiscuous parasites' hijack host immune cells
Cornell researchers recently discovered how T. gondii evades our defenses by hacking immune cells, making it the first known parasite to control its host's immune system.

Harvard School of Public Health awarded $20 million CDC grant to study HIV prevention in Botswana
A new four-year, $20 million grant from the CDC will enable Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) researchers to evaluate the impact and cost-effectiveness of a unique combination of HIV prevention strategies in Botswana.

At long last, new plastics for baby bottles, shopping bags, and much more
With most of the plastics that define modern life dating to the 1930s-1960s, a new breed of these ubiquitous materials are starting to gain a foothold in products ranging from teapots to potato chip bags to plastic plant pots that biodegrade right in the soil.

New hybrid carbon material discovered
New hybrid carbon material, which combines both graphene and SWNTs, Graphene Nanoribbons encapsulated into Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes have been discovered by researchers from Aalto University and Umea University.

Aquarium fishes are more aggressive in reduced environments, a new study finds
Fish in a cramped, barren space turn mean, a study from Case Western Reserve University has found.

UT awarded NIH grants to study prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative and vascular diseases
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded researchers at the University of Texas at Austin two highly competitive research grants to create novel therapeutics for treating heart disease as well as to develop technology that significantly reduces the time and costs required to test drugs for neurodegenerative disease.

Slippery slope:Researchers take advice from a carnivorous plant
Adopting the pitcher plant's slick prey-catching strategy, a group of applied scientists at Harvard have created a material that repels just about any type of liquid, including blood and oil, and does so even under harsh conditions like high pressure and freezing temperatures.

Another step toward resisting breast cancer
Medical researchers at the University of Leeds have come a step closer to understanding how to stop breast cancers from coming back.

Toward an improved test for adulterated heparin
Scientists are reporting refinement of a new test that promises to help assure the safety of supplies of heparin, the blood thinner taken by millions of people worldwide each year to prevent blood clots.

NASA's TRMM Satellite sees Typhoon Roke intensify rapidly before landfall in Japan
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) satellite captured rainfall and cloud data from Typhoon Roke as it rapidly intensified before making landfall in Japan earlier today.

Extent of peer social networks influences onset of adolescent alcohol consumption
Most parents recognize that the influence of peers on their children's behavior is an undeniable fact.

Using human genomes to illuminate the mysteries of early human history
Cornell University researchers are utilizing the complete genome sequences of people alive today to shed light on events at the dawn of human history, such as the times of divergence of early human populations and of the

Air quality has continued to improve in Finnish Lapland
Long-term observations made by the Finnish Meteorological Institute at the Pallas Atmospheric Research Station indicate a positive trend in the quality of air in Lapland during the past 10-20 years.

BPA alters development of in vitro ova and could increase risk of Down syndrome
Researchers at Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, in collaboration with the Vall d'Hebron Hospital, analysed the effects of Bisphenol A (BPA), a polymer widely used to manufacture plastics, in an in vitro culture of ovaries.

NSF funds collaborative effort to identify genes supporting life in extreme conditions
The Atlantic killifish has a rich history as a useful model for research on how organisms respond to changes in the environment.

Allowing native language in school benefits Mexican-American students, University of Missouri researcher finds
A new University of Missouri study shows that Mexican-American students who identify and practice speaking their native language have higher grades than those who are put in English-only environments in their schools.

Smells may help birds find their homes, avoid inbreeding
Birds may have a more highly developed sense of smell than researchers previously thought, contend scholars who have found that penguins may use smell to determine if they are related to a potential mate.

Calit2 at UCI awarded $1 million for plug-load research projects
The California Energy Commission has awarded the UC Irvine division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology $1 million to further its research on plug-load devices, including creating more energy efficiency and providing data to support future Title 20 Appliance Efficiency Standards.

'Emerging contaminants of concern' detected throughout Narragansett Bay watershed
A group of hazardous chemical compounds that are common in industrial processes and personal care products but which are not typically monitored by the Environmental Protection Agency have been detected throughout the Narragansett Bay watershed, according to a URI researcher.

UCLA scientists uncover potential target for treating common form of early-onset dementia
UCLA scientists discovered that a key signaling pathway plays an important role in frontotemporal dementia and may offer a potential target for treatment of the devastating brain disorder, which accounts for one in four cases of early-onset dementia.

Clues to finding further causes for monogenic diabetes
In most cases of diabetes, various genes and environmental factors are involved.

Scientists play ping-pong with single electrons
Researchers from the university's Cavendish Laboratory have moved an individual electron along a wire, batting it back and forth over 60 times, rather like the ball in a game of ping-pong.

FRAX calculator issued in version 3.4
FRAX, the widely used online fracture risk assessment calculator hosted at the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre for Metabolic Bone Diseases, University of Sheffield, has now been released in version 3.4.

Twin study reveals epigenetic alterations of psychiatric disorders
In the first study to systematically investigate genome-wide epigenetic differences in a large number of psychosis discordant twin-pairs, research at the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London provides further evidence that epigenetic processes play an important role in neuropsychiatric disease.

Zinc regulates communication between brain cells
Zinc has been found to play a critical role in regulating communication between cells in the brain, possibly governing the formation of memories and controlling the occurrence of epileptic seizures. 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