Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

September 29, 2011
Stardust discovered in far-off planetary systems
Searching for extra-solar planets -- which are planets outside of our solar system -- is very popular these days.

Koalas' bellows boast about size
Koalas are usually slothful until the mating season when they begin bellowing.

Fatty acid test: Why some harm health, but others help
In a paper published in the Sept. 30 issue of the journal Cell, researchers at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and colleagues offer an explanation, and a framework that could lead to dietary supplements designed to treat obesity at the molecular level.

Building better catalysts
University of Utah chemists developed a method to design and test new catalysts, which are substances that speed chemical reactions and are crucial for producing energy, chemicals and industrial products.

Review of stroke treatment could save lives
Doctors are underutilizing crucial medication to prevent deadly strokes in those with a common type of heart condition, new research says, leading to fresh calls for a review of current treatment strategies and more research into stroke prevention.

Tree frogs chill out to collect precious water
Research published in the October issue of the American Naturalist shows that Australian green tree frogs survive the dry season with the help of the same phenomenon that fogs up eyeglasses in the winter.

Single dose of hallucinogen may create lasting personality change
A single high dose of the hallucinogen psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called

Vicious queen ants use mob tactics to reach the top
Leptothorax acervorum ants' reproductive strategy depends on habitat. Colonies are functionally monogynous (only one queen reproduces) on sun-exposed slopes in Alaska, Hokkaido and the mountains of central Spain.

Redefining the kilogram and the ampere
Groundbreaking research by the National Physical Laboratory's Quantum Detection Group and an international team of collaborators is underpinning the biggest change in the Système Internationale d'unités (SI Units) since the system began 50 years ago.

2 scientists at the University of Texas at Austin receive early career awards from White House
Two scientists from the University of Texas at Austin are among the 2011 recipients of Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

Cedars-Sinai scientists, physicians to be key presenters at World Stem Cell Summit
The world's largest interdisciplinary stem cell meeting, featuring more than 170 scientists, physicians, medical ethicists, legal scholars and technology transfer experts, will be held in Pasadena, Calif., Oct.

Hydrogen released to fuel cell more quickly when stored in metal nanoparticles
Researchers from TU Delft and VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands have demonstrated that the size of a metal alloy nanoparticle influences the speed with which hydrogen gas is released when stored in a metal hydride.

Single ions -- extremely cool
One of the fundamental questions in the search for the

Climate change will show which animals can take the heat
As climate change continues to take hold this century, which species will be able to take the heat?

Oral steroids linked to severe vitamin D deficiency in nationwide study
People taking oral steroids are twice as likely as the general population to have severe vitamin D deficiency, according to a study of more than 31,000 children and adults by scientists at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University.

New cinema chair studies 'narrative IEDs' -- rumors
The new chair of the SF State cinema department -- and Naval Reserve officer -- has received a $1.6 million grant from the US Department of the Navy to study the impact of rumor on counterinsurgency operations.

Experts propose new unified genetic model for human disease
Based on a wide variety of genetic studies and analysis, four Houston leaders in the field propose a unified genetic model for human disease.

The witch doctors' gift: Potential new drugs from a cup of tea
A medicinal tea made from a plant called

Humans and sharks share immune system feature
A central element of the immune system has remained constant through more than 400 million years of evolution, according to new research at National Jewish Health.

Caltech neuroscientists record novel responses to faces from single neurons in humans
Responding to faces is a critical tool for social interactions between humans.

Epic volcanic activity flooded Mercury's north polar region
Planetary scientists at Brown University and participating institutions have discovered vast, smooth plains around Mercury's north pole that were created by volcanic activity more than 3.5 billion years ago.

Penn researcher helps identify 'superfast' muscles responsible for bat echolocation
As nocturnal animals, bats rely echolocation to navigate and hunt prey.

New minimally-invasive method of surfactant treatment could reduce need for mechanical ventilation in premature babies
A new minimally-invasive method of delivering surfactant is safe and could reduce the need for mechanical ventilation that can cause lung damage and result in breathing problems and chronic lung disease, according to the Avoiding Mechanical Ventilation (AMV) trial published online first in the Lancet.

Top honors for Dr. Armando E. Giuliano from one of the world's leading breast cancer groups
One of the world's leading breast cancer organizations has bestowed its highest honors on Armando E.

National University of Singapore researchers have devised the world's first energy-storage membrane
A team from the National University of Singapore's Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative, led by principal investigator Dr.

Diaphragm pacing system receives FDA approval for use with ALS patients
An electronic system that stimulates the nerve of the diaphragm muscles has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration for use in patients with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Powerful antibody-based strategy suggests a new therapeutic approach to diabetes and obesity
A team at CSHL has devised a way to overcome one of the major technical obstacles preventing a leading therapeutic target for diabetes and obesity from being addressed successfully by novel drugs.

If you're happy and you know it: Researchers trail Twitter to track world's mood swings
Using Twitter to monitor the attitudes of 2.4 million people in 84 countries, Cornell University researchers found that people all over the world awaken in a good mood -- but globally that cheer soon deteriorates once the workday progresses.

Red wine ingredient resveratrol stops breast cancer growth
Cheers! New research in the FASEB Journal shows that resveratrol, the

Rensselaer engineers 'cook' promising new heat-harvesting nanomaterials in microwave oven
Waste heat is a byproduct of nearly all electrical devices and industrial processes, from driving a car to flying an aircraft or operating a power plant.

Researchers: Apply public trust doctrine to 'rescue' wildlife from politics
When a species recovers enough to be removed from the federal endangered species list, the public trust doctrine -- the principle that government must conserve natural resources for the public good -- should guide state management of wildlife, scientists say.

Dr. Malgorzata Borowiak returns to the MDC from Harvard
Dr. Malgorzata Borowiak, a researcher in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., has been awarded a grant from the Helmholtz Association to return to the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) Berlin-Buch, Germany, as head of a Young Investigators Group.

Mechanism uncovered for the establishment of vertebrate left-right asymmetry
A research team at the Hubrecht Institute, Utrecht, demonstrates a mechanism by which left-right asymmetry in the body is established and maintained.

Everyone's a little bit racist, but it may not be your fault, study suggests
In looking for the culprit as to why people tend to display tinges of racism, sexism or ageism, even towards members of their own group, a research team, led by the Georgia Institute of Technology, found that our culture may be partially to blame.

Cleveland Clinic to establish chair for preventive cardiology from Cleveland Foundation
Cleveland Clinic has received a $750,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation to establish the Leonard Krieger Chair in Preventive Cardiology.

Cheickna Sylla receives honor at NJIT convocation
Cheickna Sylla, a professor in the NJIT School of Management (SOM) has been selected to receive the

Scientists discover a 'master key' to unlock new treatments for autoimmune disorders
Imagine a drug that treats most autoimmune disorders, such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease and Lupus.

Not quite 'roid rage
Put up your dukes. A study of aggression in fruit flies aims to provide a framework for how complex gene interactions affect behavior.

Los Alamos researcher nets Presidential Early Career Award
Los Alamos National Laboratory researcher Evgenya Simakov has been named by President Barack Obama as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Diabetes and cancer: A shared biological basis
Contrary to what you might think, cancer and diabetes appear to have some biology in common.

Alcohol impairs the body's ability to fight off viral infection
Alcohol is known to worsen the effects of disease. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Immunology shows that alcohol modulates the anti-viral and inflammatory functions of monocytes.

Carnegie Mellon scientists track neuronal stem cells using MRI
Carnegie Mellon University biologists have developed an MRI-based technique that allows researchers to non-invasively follow neural stem cells in vivo.

Superfast muscles in mammals
Bats use superfast vocal muscles to find their way and their prey in the dark, researchers at the University of Southern Denmark and the University of Pennsylvania have found.

New technique identifies first events in tumor development
A novel technique that enables scientists to measure and document tumor-inducing changes in DNA is providing new insight into the earliest events involved in the formation of leukemias, lymphomas and sarcomas, and could potentially lead to the discovery of ways to stop those events.

Scientists and engineers create the 'perfect plastic'
Researchers at the University of Leeds and Durham University have solved a long-standing problem that could revolutionize the way new plastics are developed.

Drunk behavior -- a question of immunity
University of Adelaide researchers have found that immune cells in your brain may contribute to how you respond to alcohol.

Scientists release most accurate simulation of the universe to date
The Bolshoi supercomputer simulation, the most accurate and detailed large cosmological simulation run to date, gives physicists and astronomers a powerful new tool for understanding such cosmic mysteries as galaxy formation, dark matter, and dark energy.

Iowa State researchers produce cheap sugars for sustainable biofuel production
Iowa State researchers have developed technologies to efficiently produce, recover and separate sugars from the fast pyrolysis of biomass.

'Alarm clock' gene explains wake-up function of biological clock
Ever wondered why you wake up in the morning -- even when the alarm clock isn't making jarring noises?

Pressurized vascular systems for self-healing materials
Artificial microvascular systems for self-repair of materials damage, such as cracks in a coating applied to a building or bridge, have relied on capillary force for transport of the healing agents.

Test identifies Red Angus carriers of bone disease
A new test that detects a rare and deadly bone disorder in Red Angus is now available to cattle producers, thanks to US Department of Agriculture scientists.

Weeds are vital to the existence of farmland species, study finds
Weeds are an integral part of our ecosystem and together with other crop and non-crop seeds found on farms, they provide food for over 330 species of insects, birds and animals.

Scientists discover the proteins that control development of varicose veins
A new discovery published in the October 2011 print issue of the FASEB Journal explains for the first time what kicks off the process that causes varicose veins.

MESSENGER data paints new picture of Mercury's magnetic field: UBC research
A University of British Columbia geophysicist is part of a NASA mission that is analyzing the first sets of data being collected by MESSENGER as it orbits Mercury.

Research project shows calibration is key to spreading manure for maximum effectiveness
Manure, managed correctly, is a valuable natural fertilizer. Researchers and the cattle industry are joining forces to make sure those spreading the manure know how to do so in the

Baseball's winning formula
A new analysis by a University of Delaware professor found hitting accounts for more than 45 percent of Major League Baseball teams' winning records, fielding for 25 percent and pitching for 25 percent.

Academic issues warning on schoolboy rugby
A new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine highlights the injury risks for schoolboys playing rugby.

Autistic mice act a lot like human patients
UCLA scientists have created a mouse model for autism that opens a window into the biological mechanisms that underlie the disease and offers a promising way to test new treatment approaches.

New Stanford technique gives precise picture of how regulatory RNA controls gene activity
A new technique developed by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine allows researchers to identify the exact DNA sequences and locations bound by regulatory RNAs.

Georgia Tech researchers receive 3 NSF Emerging Frontiers awards
The National Science Foundation has awarded $6 million through its Division of Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation to fund three projects involving researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Physicists consider their own carbon footprint
In October's issue of Physics World, Phil Marshall, an astrophysicist at the University of Oxford, calls on physicists to pull their weight when it comes to climate change, drawing on his own research showing that astronomers average 23,000 air miles per year flying to observatories, conferences and meetings, and use 130 KWh more energy per day than the average US citizen.

Mercury not like other planets MESSENGER finds
The MESSENGER spacecraft has shown scientists that Mercury doesn't conform to theory.

White House honors editor of American Chemical Society journal and 2 ACS members
Peter J. Stang, Ph.D., editor of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, and American Chemical Society members Jacqueline K.

ACCF/AHA release updated guideline to promote better management of peripheral artery disease
Peripheral artery disease, or

Galaxy caught blowing bubbles
Hubble's famous images of galaxies typically show elegant spirals or soft-edged ellipses.

Cedars-Sinai opens new Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Core Production Facility
The Cedars-Sinai Regenerative Medicine Institute has opened a new Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) Core Facility to produce powerful cells capable of making all tissues of the body from adult human skin cells.

Study finds consumers may have more control over health costs than previously thought
The historic RAND Health Insurance Experiment found that patients had little or no control over their health care spending once they began to receive a physician's care, but a new study shows that this has changed for those enrolled in consumer-directed health plans.

When chefs move the fruit
A new Cornell University study presented by Professor Brian Wansink at this week's ADA Conference in San Diego, Calif., shows that schools can increase fruit sales by as much as 104 percent by just putting it in a colorful bowl.

'Back-up system' reduces heart disease deaths
Small bypass vessels which act as a

Roads pave the way for the spread of superbugs
Antibiotic resistant E. coli was much more prevalent in villages situated along roads than in rural villages located away from roads, which suggests that roads play a major role in the spread or containment of antibiotic resistant bacteria, commonly called superbugs, a new study finds.

UNC researcher to receive highest US honor for early career science professionals
During a White House ceremony next month, Thomas L. Kash, Ph.D, assistant professor in the department of pharmacology and the UNC Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine will receive the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Large meta-analysis finds new genes for type 1 diabetes
The largest-ever analysis of genetic data related to type 1 diabetes has uncovered new genes associated with the common metabolic disease, which affects 200 million people worldwide.

Study finds promising drug treatment for improving language, social function in people with autism
University of Missouri researchers are examining the use of propranolol (a drug used to treat high blood pressure and control heart rate as well as to reduce test anxiety) to improve the primary traits associated with autism -- difficulty with normal social skills, language and repetitive behaviors.

19th century 'Protestant work ethic' at heart of Europe's North/South debt crisis split
Research from the University of Warwick suggests the 19th century

World-first discovery 'can help save coral reefs'
An international team of scientists has achieved a major breakthrough in fishing sustainability on coral reefs which could play a vital role in preventing their collapse.

Cocaine users have 45 percent increased risk of glaucoma
A study of the 5.3 million men and women seen in Department of Veterans Affairs outpatient clinics in a one-year period found that use of cocaine is predictive of open-angle glaucoma, the most common type of glaucoma.

Knockout of protein prevents colon tumor formation in mice
A protein that regulates differentiation in normal tissue may play a very different role in colon and breast cancer, activating proliferation of damaged cells, according to researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine in a study published in Gastroenterology.

How do you bring health care to the poor?
If you want to provide poor people in developing countries with decent health care, you need to overcome several barriers at the same time.

Journal Science gives SPORE award to 'Earth Exploration Toolbook'
An educational web site called Earth Exploration Toolbook has been tapped to win the prestigious SPORE award by the journal Science.

Women in science? Universities don't make the grade
Despite years of trying to improve the number of women undergraduates in science and engineering, a new study shows most universities are failing.

UH researchers explain hormonal role in glucose and fat metabolism
Hormone researchers at the University of Houston have their sights set on providing long-term treatment options for diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular diseases by better understanding estradiol, the most potent naturally occurring estrogen.

Computational modeling can help plan vaccine introduction, Pitt study finds
Proper planning before the introduction of new vaccines into a developing country's active immunization program could prevent storage problems and transportation bottlenecks that decrease the availability of existing vaccines by as much as two-thirds, according to a University of Pittsburgh study.

Productivity of land plants may be greater than previously thought
The global uptake of carbon by land plants may be up to 45 percent more than previously thought.

Autistic mouse shows striking parallels to human disease
Mice with a defective version of a single gene show behaviors and symptoms that are remarkably similar to characteristics observed in humans with autism spectrum disorders.

Rebuilding the head of an armoured dinosaur
A University of Alberta-led research team has taken a rare look inside the skull of a dinosaur and come away with unprecedented details on the brain and nasal passages of the 72 million year old animal.

Journalism fellows promise in-depth portrayal of aging in a diverse America
The Gerontological Society of America and New America Media have selected 16 reporters for the MetLife Foundation Journalists in Aging Fellows Program, now in its second year.

Hepatitis C patients likely to falter in adherence to treatment regimen over time, Penn study shows
Patients being treated for chronic hepatitis C become less likely to take their medications over time, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

New analysis confirms sharks are in trouble
Sharks are in big trouble on the Great Barrier Reef and worldwide, according to an Australian-based team who have developed a world-first way to measure rates of decline in shark populations.

Lawson research shows Canadians don't believe their eyes
Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness worldwide. Although it can be treated, new research shows Canadians may not be doing enough to protect themselves.

11 women scientists announced as winners of Elsevier Foundation OWSD awards
The Elsevier Foundation, TWAS, the academy of sciences for the developing world and the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World announced today that they are recognizing 11 talented women scientists from Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean for their research excellence.

Rutgers, UMDNJ research provides unprecedented insight into fighting viral infections
Researchers at Rutgers and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School have determined the structure of a protein that is the first line of defense in fighting viral infections including influenza, hepatitis C, West Nile, rabies and measles.

Living with dementia and making decisions
People with dementia can still make decisions in their everyday lives and with support from partners can continue to do so as their condition advances.

Children's National researchers make breakthrough in understanding white matter development
Through the identification of a gene's impact on a signaling pathway, scientists at Children's National Medical Center continue to make progress in understanding the mechanics of a key brain developmental process: growth and repair of white matter, known as myelination.

Rice University lab develops technique to control light from nanoparticles
A Rice laboratory led by chemist Stephan Link has discovered a way to use liquid crystals to control light scattered from gold nanorods.

Unexpected role of noise in spine formation
The development of periodic structures in embryos giving rise to the formation of, e.g., spine segments, is controlled not by genes but by simple physical and chemical phenomena.

University of Toronto Mississauga professor wins Ig Nobel Prize for beer, sex research
The tragic tale of how male Australian jewel beetles became so enamored with brown

NJIT mathematician received honor at NJIT convocation
Richard O. Moore, an associate professor in the department of mathematical sciences in NJIT's College of Science and Liberal Arts, has been selected to receive the honor of

Sexy sons thanks to mom
It is not the superior genes of the father, but the mother's resource investment in the eggs that makes Zebra Finch males particularly attractive.

Lift weights, eat mustard, build muscles?
If you want to lean out, add muscle and get ripped, new research in the FASEB Journal suggests to look to your garden for help. 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