Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

February 23, 2012
Farm 'weeds' have crucial role in sustainable agriculture
Plants often regarded as common weeds such as thistles, buttercups and clover could be critical in safe guarding fragile food webs on UK farms according to Researchers funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Getting a handle on chronic pain
Chronic pain has a significant impact on the physical, social and emotional functioning of those who suffer from it.

CT colonography shown to be comparable to standard colonoscopy
Virtual colonoscopy is comparable to standard colonoscopy at detecting colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps in people ages 65 and older, according to a paper published online Feb.

Human population the primary factor in exotic plant invasions in the United States
New USDA Forest Service research using improved data from previous studies on exotic plant species in the United States shows that social factors such as human population and time of settlement play a greater part in the spread of exotic species than the natural factors such as temperature and area that affect native plant populations.

How 1-year-olds can recognize beliefs of others
The question as to when children become able to attribute mental states such as beliefs and desires to others is answered differently by different tests.

Study: Impulsive kids play more video games
Impulsive children with attention problems tend to play more video games, while kids in general who spend lots of time video gaming may also develop impulsiveness and attention difficulties, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Making the bones speak
Michigan State University students and researchers are examining the skeletons of more than 400 Nubians from the Middle Ages -- an academic and research project that could help shed light on this little-known African culture.

Opinion: H5N1 flu is just as dangerous as feared, now requires action
The debate about the potential severity of an outbreak of airborne H5N1 influenza in humans needs to move on from speculation and focus instead on how we can safely continue H5N1 research and share the results among researchers, according to a commentary to be published in mBio®, the online open-access journal of the American Society for Microbiology, on Friday, Feb.

Neurotoxins in shark fins: A human health concern
New study in Marine Drugs by University of Miami shows alarming accumulation of BMAA neurotoxins in shark fins, which may pose a serious threat to shark fin consumers.

Vaccines for HIV: A new design strategy
Scientists have identified a promising strategy for vaccine design using a mathematical technique that has also been used in analyses of stock market price fluctuations.

Climate change, increasing temperatures alter bird migration patterns
Birds in eastern North America are picking up the pace along their yearly migratory paths.

Mathematician sees artistic side to father of computer
This year a series of events around the world will celebrate the work of Alan Turing, the father of the modern computer, as the 100th anniversary of his birthday approaches on June 23.

The genetic basis for age-related macular degeneration
Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is one of the leading causes of blindness worldwide, especially in developed countries, and there is currently no known treatment or cure or for the vast majority of AMD patients.

Exclusive interview with lead spacewalker on Endeavour's final mission
In an exclusive interview with Physics World, astronaut Drew Feustel gives a vivid account of his two missions into space and recalls his determination to make his childhood ambition -- space flight -- come true.

Mechanism behind capacitor's high-speed energy storage discovered
Researchers at North Carolina State University have discovered the means by which a polymer known as PVDF enables capacitors to store and release large amounts of energy quickly.

Obesity may modify the association between alcohol consumption and the risk of colorectal cancer
A case-control study from Newfoundland/Labrador has reported that greater alcohol intake may increase the risk of colorectal cancer among obese subjects, but not among non-obese subjects.

ONR's ManTech program shrinks costs while building future force
Following a final review Feb. 22, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) is transitioning its work on the second generation of the Navy's Electronic Warfare System, which will save $1 million per ship.

Disarming the botulinum neurotoxin
Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute discovered how botulinum neurotoxin, a potential bioterrorism agent, survives the hostile environment in the stomach on its journey through the human body.

A Rhode Island Hospital physician's experience in front-line field hospital in Libya
Adam Levine, M.D., an emergency medicine physician with Rhode Island Hospital and a volunteer physician with International Medical Corps, was deployed to a field hospital near Misurata, Libya, during the conflict in Libya.

Experts recommend measures to reduce human error in fingerprint analysis
A new report by the NIST and the National Institute of Justice has documented 149 potential sources of human error in the analysis of crime scene fingerprints, and recommends a series of improvements to significantly reduce or eliminate the errors.

New study shows promise for analyzing bladder pain syndrome
A pilot study led by University of Kentucky researchers shows that the gene expression analysis of urine sediment could provide a noninvasive way to analyze interstitial cystitis in some patients.

Higher risk of autism among certain immigrant groups
A major register study from the Swedish medical university Karolinska Institutet shows that children born to certain groups of immigrants in Sweden had an increased risk of developing autism with intellectual disability.

NIST requests comments on updated guide to handling computer security incidents
NIST has published for public comment a draft update to a guide for organizations managing their responses to computer security incidents such as hacking attacks.

Specific antipsychotic drugs increase risk of death in elderly dementia patients
Nursing home residents over the age of 65 who take certain antipsychotic medication for dementia are at an increased risk of death, suggests a research paper published today on

Discovery opens door to low-cost 'negative refraction,' new products and industries
Researchers have discovered a way to make a low-cost material that might accomplish negative refraction of light and other radiation.

New strategies for treatment of infectious diseases
In the latest issue of the journal Science, Miguel Soares from the Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (Portugal) together with Ruslan Medzhitov from Yale University School of Medicine and David Schneider from Stanford University propose that a third strategy to fighting infection needs to be considered: tolerance to infection.

How cells brace themselves for starvation
Cells that repress their

Genetic risk for elevated arsenic toxicity discovered
One of the first large-scale genomic studies conducted in a developing country has discovered genetic variants that elevate the risk for skin lesions in people chronically exposed to arsenic.

Blood mystery solved
For the first time in nearly a decade, two new blood types have been identified.

First study to show that bisphenol A exposure increases risk of future onset of heart disease
Bisphenol A (BPA) is a controversial chemical widely used in the plastics industry.

Clemson establishes social media listening center with support from Dell, Salesforce Radian6
Clemson University has built a Social Media Listening Center with support from Dell and Salesforce Radian6.

Women, young people, and ethnic minorities most difficult to diagnose with cancer
More than three quarters of cancer patients who first present to their family doctors with suspicious symptoms are referred to hospital after only one or two consultations.

Eating citrus fruit may lower women's stroke risk
Eating higher amounts of a compound in citrus fruits, especially oranges and grapefruit, may lower ischemic stroke risk.

Earth siblings can be different!
An international team of researchers, with the participation of IAC astronomers, has discovered that the chemical structure of Earth-like planets can be very different from the bulk composition of the Earth.

No such thing as a typical criminal career
Is there such a thing as a typical criminal career?

President's Bioethics Commission posts additional documents related to its historical investigation
Today the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues posted on its website hundreds of supporting documents related to its investigation into the US Public Health Service studies conducted in Guatemala in the 1940s.

Funding approved for study into ADHD
Researchers from the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry have received funding of almost £310,000 from the National Institute for Health Research Health Technology Assessment program for a systematic review of methods used in school settings for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder that do not involve the use of drugs.

A rainbow for the palm of your hand
University at Buffalo engineers have developed a one-step, low-cost method to fabricate a polymer that is rainbow-colored, reflecting many different wavelengths of light when viewed from a single perspective.

NIST reveals switching mechanism in promising computer memory device
Sometimes knowing that a new technology works is not enough.

Slamming the brakes on the malaria life cycle
Scientists have discovered a new target in their fight against the devastating global disease malaria thanks to the discovery of a new protein involved in the parasite's life cycle.

Recalling items from memory reduces our ability to recall other related items
In the field of psychology, this phenomenon is known as

Protein assassin
Scientists find that the unfolded end of a protein can kill E. coli-like bacteria selectively.

National Academy of Inventors selects Dr. Thomas J. Fogarty as first NAI Fellow
The National Academy of Inventors, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) membership organization dedicated to honoring, recognizing and encouraging academic inventors, has inducted Dr.

Google funds project investigating the geography of the ancient world
A University of Southampton led project, exploring how people of antiquity viewed the geography of the ancient world, has been backed by $50,000 of funding from Google Inc. via its Digital Humanities Awards Program.

Illegal orangutan trader prosecuted
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP) announced today Sumatra's first ever successful sentence of an illegal orangutan owner and trader in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia.

Less is more: Study of tiny droplets could have big impact on industrial applications
Researchers at Princeton University have discovered rules that govern how liquid spreads along flexible fibers and have found that when it comes to the size of liquid droplets, sometimes less is more.

Project aims to improve HIV/AIDS prevention materials for African-American women
African-American women make up a disproportionate number of HIV/AIDS cases in the United States.

$8.5 million NIH grant may help decipher dyslexia
If you can read this sentence with ease, consider yourself fortunate: millions of Americans with dyslexia cannot.

Fast-food menu calorie counts legally compliant but not as helpful to consumers as they should be
Calorie listings on fast-food chain restaurant menus might meet federal labeling requirements but don't do a good job of helping consumers trying to make healthy meal choices, a new Columbia University School of Nursing study reports.

Blue light culprit in red tide blooms
Though the precise causes of red tides remain a mystery, an international team of researchers has solved one of the main riddles about these ecological disasters by uncovering the specific mechanism that triggers phytoplankton to release their powerful toxins into the environment.

Press registration open for 'World Series of Science'
Journalists may now register and reserve housing for a scientific conference that news media accounts have termed

Making droplets drop faster
New research by a team at MIT offers important new insights into how water droplets form, and ways to pattern the collecting surfaces at the nanoscale to encourage droplets to form more rapidly.

European Integrated Structural Biology Infrastructure launching
The Integrated Structural Biology Infrastructure (Instruct) in support of European biomedical research is about to be launched.

Molding the business end of neurotoxins
For venomous creatures, the

Colon Cancer Alliance and American College of Radiology demand Medicare cover virtual colonoscopy
In response to a study published online Feb. 23 in Radiology which showed that virtual colonoscopies are comparably affective to standard colonoscopy at detecting colorectal cancer and precancerous polyps in adults ages 65 and older, the Colon Cancer Alliance and the American College of Radiology released a joint statement demanding Medicare cover seniors for screening virtual colonoscopies -- also known as CT colonography.

Protein scouts for dangerous bacteria
How does the immune system's white blood cells know which bacteria are good and which are harmful?

Virtual colonoscopy effective screening tool for adults over 65
Computed tomography colonography can be used as a primary screening tool for colorectal cancer in adults over the age of 65, according to a new study.

Study: Evolution of earliest horses driven by climate change
Some 56 million years ago, rising temps and concentrations of carbon dioxide caused mammals, including tiny Sifrhippus, to shrink.

New class of compounds stops disease-fueling inflammation in lab tests
Scientists have developed a unique compound that in laboratory tests blocks inflammation-causing molecules in blood cells known to fuel ailments like cancer and cardiovascular disease without causing harmful toxicity.

Scripps Florida scientists uncover inflammatory circuit that triggers breast cancer
Although it's widely accepted that inflammation is a critical underlying factor in a range of diseases, including the progression of cancer, little is known about its role when normal cells become tumor cells.

From Adam's housecat to zydeco: Dictionary of American Regional English completed
What is a Maine-born doctor to do when a patient in Pennsylvania complains,

Research examines environmental triggers altering gene function in CFS patients
Research at the University of Toronto Scarborough is examining how environmental triggers might alter gene function in people with chronic fatigue syndrome, which could lead to better insights into the disease and eventually to new treatments.

New street drug 'bath salts' packs double punch
Research on this potent drug paints an alarming picture, revealing that bath salts produce combined effects similar to both methamphetamine and cocaine, according to research to be presented at the 56th Annual Meeting of the Biophysical Society, held Feb.

Breaking down cancer's defense for future vaccines
Researchers at the EPFL have identified an important mechanism that could lead to the design of more effective cancer vaccines.

Secondhand smoke results in graft rejection
A new study published in the American Journal of Transplantation reveals that cigarette smoke exposure, in a cause-effect manner, results in graft rejection that would have been prevented by certain drug treatments.

Lineage trees reveal cells' histories
A method for judging kinship ties between different cells yields answers to some open questions in biology.

Naked mole-rats bear lifesaving clues
A University of Illinois at Chicago biologist thinks the subterranean lifestyle of the naked mole-rat may hold clues to keeping brain cells alive and functioning when oxygen is scarce, as during a heart attack.

Researchers find a key to growth differences between species
The tiny, little-noticed jewel wasp may provide some answers as to how different species differ in size and shape.

Genome sequencing finds unknown cause of epilepsy
In one of the first successful attempts to use whole-genome sequencing to track down the cause of a neurological disease in a patient, UA researchers have identified a previously unknown mutation in a sodium channel protein as the likely cause of a severe form of epilepsy.

Geological Society of America member scientists, students, and colleagues meet in Texas
Geoscientists from across the south-central US and beyond will convene in Texas on March 8-9 to discuss new science, expand on existing science, and explore the geologic and scenic wonders of the region.

Cunning super-parasitic wasps sniff out protected aphids and overwhelm their defenses
In the war between parasite and host, the parasitic wasp, Aphidius ervi, and the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum, are locked in a battle for survival.

Cebit 2012 -- Internet service prevents cable tangle in presentations at conferences
Screen contents can be shifted to any terminal's display.

Proteins behaving badly
Researchers have developed an algorithm to predict how and when proteins misfold, with potential implications for neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer's.

Fear of job loss causes dissatisfaction and a lack of commitment at work
A study in Spain shows that insecurity at work is directly and negatively linked to satisfaction in work and life, as well as affecting performance and commitment.

Genetic variants affect arsenic metabolism and toxicity in Bangladesh
A large-scale genomic study conducted in Bangladesh has discovered genetic variants that control arsenic metabolism and elevate the risk of skin lesions in people chronically exposed to arsenic.

Novel bioactive peptides promote wound healing in vivo
Researchers have combined bioactive peptides to stimulate wound healing. The peptides act by stimulating the growth of new blood vessels and promoting re-growth of tissue.

Investigation links deaths to paint-stripping chemical
The deaths of at least 13 workers who were refinishing bathtubs have been linked to a chemical used in products to strip surfaces of paint and other finishes.

More is better: Frequent or extended dialysis treatments benefit kidney failure patients
Frequent or extended dialysis treatments during the day or at night may improve patients' survival compared with conventional dialysis.

Parkinson's disease patients can become more creative when they take dopamine
Some Parkinson's disease patients can suddenly become creative when they take dopamine therapy, producing pictures, sculptures, novels and poetry.

Faculty of 1000's 'Faculty Member of the Year 2011' awards
Faculty of 1000 announces the first in a series of awards marking the achievements of its Faculty members.

Science magazine honors biology lab that helps students design research
This month, Science magazine has chosen Campus Trees, which inspires students to develop their own research methods, to win the Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction.

Invade and conquer: Nicotine's role in promoting heart and blood vessel disease
Cigarette smoke has long been considered the main risk factor for heart disease.

Burning calories at the gym avoids burnout at work
Dr. Sharon Toker of Tel Aviv University discovered that employees who regularly engaged in physical activity experienced much lower rates of burnout and depression than their more sedentary colleagues.

For fish, fear smells like sugar
When one fish gets injured, the rest of the school takes off in fear, tipped off by a mysterious substance known as

Penn researchers build first physical 'metatronic' circuit
The technological world of the 21st century owes a tremendous amount to advances in electrical engineering, specifically, the ability to finely control the flow of electrical charges using increasingly small and complicated circuits.

Mobile DNA elements can disrupt gene expression and cause biological variation, study shows
The many short pieces of mobile DNA that exist in the genome can contribute to important biological differences between strains of mice, according to a new study.

Girls' verbal skills make them better at arithmetic
While boys generally do better than girls in science and math, some studies have found that girls do better in arithmetic.

Italian vineyards invaded from North America by new species of leafminer
A leafminer that has been invading north Italian vineyards since 2006, appeared to be an undescribed species.

Metal nanoparticles shine with customizable color
Engineers at Harvard have demonstrated a new kind of tunable color filter that uses optical nanoantennas to obtain precise control of color output.

New theory shows that neither birth nor death stops a flock
Neither births nor deaths stop the flocking of organisms. They just keep moving, says theoretical physicist John J.

Engineers improve allocation of limited health care resources in resource-poor nations
Georgia Tech systems engineers are using computer models to help resource-poor nations improve distribution of breast milk and non-pharmaceutical interventions for malaria.

A change of heart
New experiments may provide insights into possible modes of heart damage from alcohol.

Transforming computers of the future with optical interconnects
The ability to manufacture photonic interconnect components -- modulators, detectors, waveguides, and filters -- on silicon substrates has finally been realized, and these optical interconnect structures show great potential for intrachip and interchip applications.

'Storm of the century' may become 'storm of the decade'
Researchers from Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology report that projected increases in sea level and storm intensity brought on by climate change would make devastating storm surges -- the deadly and destructive mass of water pushed inland by large storms -- more frequent in low-lying coastal areas.

Earliest horses show past global warming affected body size of mammals
As scientists continue developing climate change projection models, paleontologists studying an extreme short-term global warming event have discovered direct evidence about how mammals respond to rising temperatures.

A unique on-off switch for hormone production
Weizmann scientists have revealed a new kind of on-off switch in the brain for regulating the production of a main biochemical signal from the brain that stimulates cortisol release in the body.

NASA pinning down 'here' better than ever
Before our Global Positioning System (GPS) navigation devices can tell us where we are, the satellites that make up the GPS need to know exactly where they are.

MIT research: The high price of losing manufacturing jobs
The loss of US manufacturing jobs is a topic that can provoke heated arguments about globalization.

Memory formation triggered by stem cell development
Researchers at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics have discovered an answer to the long-standing mystery of how brain cells can both remember new memories while also maintaining older ones.

Aircraft of the future could capture and re-use some of their own
Tomorrow's aircraft could contribute to their power needs by harnessing energy from the wheel rotation of their landing gear to generate electricity.

Sam Houston State professor examines race and sentencing
A Sam Houston State University professor is working on a series of studies that examine the effects of race and ethnicity on state and federal sentencing outcomes, including incarceration and sentence length decisions.

Woodchucks and sudden cardiac death
A new study of hibernating woodchucks may provide insight into therapies for cardiac arrhythmias -- abnormal heart rhythms such as ventricular tachycardia and ventricular fibrillation that can lead to sudden cardiac death.

Medicare and Medicaid CT scan measure is unreliable according to new BWH study
Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital have published findings that question the reliability of a new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services quality measure.

Preschools get disadvantaged children ready for the rigors of kindergarten
Preschools help children prepare for the rigors of grade school -- especially children who come from a minority family, a poor family, or whose parents don't provide high-quality interactions.

Breakthrough in designing cheaper, more efficient catalysts for fuel cells
UC Berkeley chemists Christopher Chang, Jeffrey Long and Marcin Majda are redesigning catalysts in ways that could have a profound impact on the chemical industry as well as on the growing market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Classic Maya civilization collapse related to modest rainfall reductions
A new study reports that the disintegration of the Maya civilization may have been related to relatively modest reductions in rainfall.

Voters overrate favorite candidates
If your political candidate of choice falls behind in the polls, will you lose faith in his ability to win?

World nourishment at risk of being diminished: Wild cereals threatened by global warming
Wheats and barleys are the staple food for humans and animal feed around the world, and their wild progenitors have undergone genetic changes over the last 28 years that imply a risk for crop improvement and food production, reveals a new study.

Healthy foods missing from stores in low-income black neighborhoods, UGA study finds
Most convenience stores have a wide variety of chips, colorful candies and bottles of sugar-sweetened carbonated beverages.

Microbes may be engineered to help trap excess CO2 underground
The mineralization process required to permanently trap excess CO2 underground is extremely slow.

UC Santa Barbara researcher's new study may lead to MRIs on a nanoscale
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) on the nanoscale and the ever-elusive quantum computer are among the advancements edging closer toward the realm of possibility, and a new study co-authored by a UC Santa Barbara researcher may give both an extra nudge.

Acute demand for US geoscientists prompts call for higher ed action
A recent American Geosciences Institute (AGI) workforce evaluation estimates that by 2021, 150,000 to 220,000 geoscience jobs will need to be filled.

Study: Nation's urban forests losing ground
National results indicate that tree cover in urban areas of the United States is declining at a rate of about 4 million trees per year, according to a US Forest Service study published recently in Urban Forestry & Urban Greening.

Underage drinking laws reduce future criminal behavior
Do strict underage drinking laws really have a positive impact on society?

Study examines number of GP visits before cancer patients are referred to specialists
New research shows a wide variation in the number of times a cancer patient sees their general practitioner before they are referred to a specialist, with the most pre-referral consultations occurring when the cancer was one of the less common types, or when the patient was either female, young, or an older person from an ethnic minority.

For Latina moms, pediatrician's personality, empathy trump knowledge of Spanish, quick service
A small study of Latina women with young children led by researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center shows moms value a pediatrician's empathy and warmth far more than their ability to speak Spanish or other conveniences.

AERA responds to suspension of Mexican American studies in Tucson
The Council of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) unanimously issued two resolutions at its February meeting in response to the suspension of the Mexican American Studies program in the Tucson Unified School District No.

Researchers discover how vitamin D inhibits inflammation
Researchers have discovered specific molecular and signaling events by which vitamin D inhibits inflammation. 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