Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

March 29, 2012
The MIRI has 2 faces
A short new video takes viewers behind the scenes with the MIRI or the Mid-Infrared Instrument that will fly on-board NASA's James Webb Space Telescope.

Unnecessary induction increases risk of complications
A University of Adelaide study has revealed that inducing labor in pregnant women when it's not medically necessary is more likely to result in complications at birth.

How quantum physics could make 'The Matrix' more efficient
Researchers have discovered a new way in which computers based on quantum physics could beat the performance of classical computers.

First the smart phone, now the smart home
We have all heard of the smartphone and any day now, most of us will have one.

The 'living' micro-robot that could detect diseases in humans
A tiny prototype robot that functions like a living creature is being developed which one day could be safely used to pinpoint diseases within the human body.

Beatrice Mintz, Ph.D., receives ninth annual AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research
Beatrice Mintz, Ph.D., professor and Jack Schultz chair in basic science at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia, will receive the Ninth Annual AACR Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research during the opening ceremony of the AACR Annual Meeting 2012, held Sunday, April 1, at 8:15 a.m.

New understanding of how materials change when rapidly heated
Collaboration between the University of Southampton and the University of Cambridge has made ground-breaking advances in our understanding of the changes that materials undergo when rapidly heated.

Forest-destroying avalanches on the rise due to clear-cut logging
Scientists with the UBC Avalanche Research Group have been studying the impact of clear-cut logging on avalanche terrain in British Columbia.

Kidney cancer subtype study finds low recurrence and cancer death rates
Patients with papillary renal cell carcinoma, the second most common kidney cancer subtype, face a low risk of tumor recurrence and cancer-related death after surgery.

UCLA Engineering researchers use electricity to generate alternative fuel
Imagine being able to use electricity to power your car and it's not an electric vehicle.

Researcher who identifed genetic cause and possible treatment for Marfan syndrome honored
Harry Dietz, MD, the Victor A. McKusick Professor of Institute of Genetic Medicine and Professor of Pediatrics, at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, who helped identify Marfan syndrome's genetic cause and a potential treatment received the March of Dimes/Colonel Harland Sanders Award for Lifetime Achievement in the field of genetic sciences.

Plant research reveals new role for gene silencing protein
A DICER protein, known to produce tiny RNAs in cells, also helps complete an important step in gene expression, according to research on Arabidopsis thaliana.

Berkeley Lab-led institute to help solve data-intensive science challenges
Today Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $25 million five-year initiative to help scientists better extract insights from today's increasingly massive research datasets, the Scalable Data Management, Analysis, and Visualization (SDAV) Institute.

Countdown to 2015: Among interventions to promote maternal and newborn health in developing countries, early breast feeding is the most equitable intervention, with skilled birth attendance the least equitable
An article in this week's edition of the Lancet tracks progress towards Millennium Development Goals four and five, that promote maternal and child health.

Mass. General-led study reveals simple structure underlying complexity of the primate brain
How do you build a brain? In the March 30 issue of Science a team of investigators presents a surprising answer, reporting their discovery of a remarkably simple organizational structure in the brains of humans and other primates.

How genes organize the surface of the brain
The first atlas of the surface of the human brain based upon genetic information has been produced by a national team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the VA San Diego Healthcare System.

A star explodes and turns inside out
A new X-ray study of the remains of an exploded star indicates that the supernova that disrupted the massive star may have turned it inside out in the process.

Childhood traumatic experiences associated with adult IBS symptoms
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome have a significantly greater prevalence of early adverse life events, including general trauma as well as physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

Physicists explain the collective motion of particles called fermions
Scientists generally believed that certain collective behavior appeared in fermions only when they moved in unison at very long wavelengths.

CO2 was hidden in the ocean during the Ice Age
Why did the atmosphere contain so little carbon dioxide during the last Ice Age 20,000 years ago?

Radioactive antibody fragment may help scientists identify artery deposits
Creating a tiny, radioactive antibody fragment may help scientists identify artery deposits most likely to burst and cause a heart attack.

Supercomputing the difference between matter and antimatter
Using breakthrough techniques on some of the world's fastest supercomputers -- located at DOE labs and elsewhere -- an international collaboration has reported a landmark calculation of a kind of subatomic particle decay that's important to understanding matter/antimatter asymmetry.

Study supports association of alcohol and diabetes
Subjects in a cohort in Sweden, some of whom had been exposed to a community intervention program to prevent diabetes, were evaluated 8-10 years after baseline for the presence of diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose metabolism in relation to a baseline report of alcohol consumption.

Giant piezoelectricity from ZnO materials, comparable with perovskite, was achieved
Lead-free piezoelectric materials with high piezoelectric properties have attracted much attention.

New seismic hazard assessment for Central America
A new study evaluates the seismic hazards for the entire Central America, including specific assessments for six capital cities, with the greatest hazard expected for Guatemala City and San Salvador, followed by Managua and San Jose, and notably lower in Tegucigalpa and Panama City.

Class involving DNA isolation wins Science Prize for Inquiry-Based Instruction
Jacob's research module for introductory-level undergraduates,

International effort led by OMRF discovers 3 new lupus genes
An international consortium of researchers, using a 17,000 sample, multi-ethnic population, have discovered three new lupus-related genes.

On the path to age-defying therapies
The drug rapamycin extends lifespan in lab animals, yet it's linked to two hallmarks of diabetes.

Scientists create compounds that dramatically alter biological clock and lead to weight loss
Scientists from the Florida campus of the Scripps Research Institute have synthesized a pair of small molecules that dramatically alter the core biological clock in animal models, highlighting the compounds' potential effectiveness in treating a remarkable range of disorders -- including obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and serious sleep disorders.

ASU's Krauss will receive national award for improving public understanding of science
Lawrence Krauss has spent much of his lifetime trying to solve the riddles nature has put before us.

ASU to use $27.5 million Walton investment to accelerate sustainability efforts
The Rob and Melani Walton Fund of the Walton Family Foundation is providing $27.5 million to Arizona State University's Global Institute of Sustainability to develop and deploy promising solutions to sustainability challenges including energy, water, environment, climate, urbanization, social transformation and decision-making in local, national and global contexts and to educate future leaders in sustainability.

Reducing cash bite of wind power
A Northwestern University professor has a piece of advice for the State of Illinois, which faces a renewable energy deadline in 2025: Investment Tax Credit.

Much faster than a speeding bullet, planets and stars escape the Milky Way
Dartmouth research explains the phenomenon of runaway planets and stars which are ejected from the Milky Way by the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center.

Norwich scientist recognized for contributions to plant pathology
Professor Jonathan Jones of the Sainsbury Laboratory on the Norwich Research Park in the UK has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 E.C.

Still in good shape? The role of the humanities in higher education and society
A panel discussion on the challenges, contributions, and progress in humanities education and research featuring German, US, and Canadian experts at the German Center for Research and Innovation on April 3, 2012.

UC San Diego physicists find patterns in new state of matter
Physicists at the University of California, San Diego have discovered patterns which underlie the properties of a new state of matter.

NIH grantees find dengue affects genes, function of mosquito salivary glands
Mosquitoes infected with dengue virus experience an array of changes in the activity of genes and associated functions of their salivary glands, and these changes may lead to increased virus transmission, according to a recent study led by George Dimopoulos, Ph.D., of the Malaria Research Institute and Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Report presents designs for study of cancer risks near US nuclear facilities
A proposed study could help determine if there is a link between living near nuclear power plants or other nuclear facilities and having a higher risk of cancer.

UGA scientists reveal genetic mutation depicted in van Gogh's sunflower paintings
In a study published today in the journal PLoS Genetics, a team of University of Georgia scientists reveal the mutation behind the distinctive, thick bands of yellow

When dinosaurs roamed a fiery landscape
The dinosaurs of the Cretaceous may have faced an unexpected hazard: Fire!

Depression common among stroke, TIA patients; Many undertreated
People who have experienced a stroke or transient ischemic attack experience high rates of depression, but up to two-thirds of them are undertreated, according to new findings from Duke University Medical Center.

Depression has big impact on stroke, TIA survivors
Depression is common among stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) survivors.

Mites form friendly societies
For plant-inhabiting predatory mites, living among familiar neighbors reduces stress.

LSUHSC research finds HPV-related head & neck cancers rising, highest in middle-aged white men
LSUHSC research reports that the incidence of head and neck cancer has risen at sites associated with human papilloma virus infection, with the greatest increase among middle-aged white men.

New advances in plate reconstruction: Earthbyte group presents GPlates
The April/May GSA Today science article is now online at

Pattern of large earthquakes on San Jacinto fault identified with help of LiDAR
The San Jacinto Fault Zone is a seismically active, major component of the overall southern San Andreas Fault system.

Scientists clone 'survivor' elm trees
Scientists at the University of Guelph have found a way to successfully clone American elm trees that have survived repeated epidemics of their biggest killer -- Dutch elm disease.

A simple and effective approach to improve device performance of pentacene thin film transistors
Pentacene thin film transistors (TFTs) are attractive owing to their large mobility and high on/off ratio compared to those for amorphous silicon TFTs.

Dengue virus turns on mosquito genes that make them hungrier
Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have, for the first time, shown that infection with dengue virus turns on mosquito genes that makes them hungrier and better feeders, and therefore possibly more likely to spread the disease to humans.

Culprit behind unchecked angiogenesis identified
Max Planck researchers unravel a critical regulatory mechanism controlling blood vessel growth that might help solve drug resistance problems in the future.

Scientists refine Earth's clock
New research has revealed that some events in Earth's history happened more recently than previously thought.

Being bilingual wards off symptoms of dementia
New research explains how speaking more than one language may translate to better mental health.

Vitamin D-fortified yogurt drink may lower risk of heart disease in type 2 diabetics
Daily intake of vitamin D-fortified doogh (Persian yogurt drink) improved inflammatory markers in type 2 diabetics and extra calcium conferred additional anti-inflammatory benefits, according to a recent study accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Key component in mother's egg critical for survivial of newly formed embryo
An international team led by scientists at A*STAR's Institute of Medical Biology discovered that a protein, called TRIM28, normally present in the mother's egg, is essential right after fertilization , to preserve certain chemical modifications or 'epigenetic marks' on a specific set of genes.

Breast cancer risk gene discovery fast tracked by new technology
An international team of researchers led by the University of Melbourne, Australia, has used new technology to fast track the discovery of a breast cancer risk gene and could assist in the discovery of other cancer genes.

Study suggests why some animals live longer
Scientists at the University of Liverpool have developed a new method to detect proteins associated with longevity, which helps further our understanding into why some animals live longer than others.

PCBs levels down in Norwegian polar bears
In a study of PCBs in polar bear cubs in Svalbard, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have found that blood levels of PCBs and related contaminants in polar bear cubs appear to have dropped by as much as 59 percent between 1998 and 2008.

Genetic mutation depicted in van Gogh's sunflower paintings revealed by scientists
In addition to being among his most vibrant and celebrated works, Vincent van Gogh's series of sunflower paintings also depict a mutation whose genetic basis has, until now, been a mystery.

Titanium paternity test fingers Earth as moon's sole parent
A new chemical analysis of lunar material collected by Apollo astronauts in the 1970s conflicts with the widely held theory that a giant collision between Earth and a Mars-sized object gave birth to the moon 4.5 billion years ago.

Making a game of research
Tablet computers are being adopted by behavioral scientists at Norway's University of Stavanger as a more efficient way of obtaining information from young children.

Tiny electrical sensors could signal faster MRSA diagnosis
A simple test to identify MRSA in wounds could identify the superbug quickly and help prevent infection from spreading.

Greater traumatic stress linked with elevated inflammation in heart patients
Greater lifetime exposure to the stress of traumatic events was linked to higher levels of inflammation in a study of almost 1,000 patients with cardiovascular disease led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center and the University of California, San Francisco.

Oscillating gel acts like artificial skin, giving robots potential ability to 'feel'
Sooner than later, robots may have the ability to

Researchers identify mechanism that makes breast cancer invasive
A new study has identified a key mechanism that causes breast cancer to spread.

Elderly thyroid surgery patients at increased risk for postoperative complications
Elderly patients who undergo thyroid surgery are at a much higher risk than their younger counterparts for serious cardiac, pulmonary and infectious complications, according to a recent study accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

New Nuclear Build and Manufacturing Program to address UK's capability gap
A joint project between the universities of Manchester and Sheffield for a New Nuclear Build and Manufacturing program has been awarded £4m funding by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to research innovative manufacturing for the future of the UK's nuclear power supply.

Genetic regulators hijacked by avian and swine flu viruses identified: UBC study
Researchers at the University of British Columbia have identified a number of tiny but powerful

Patients with digestive disorders may receive high levels of X-ray radiation
Patients with inflammatory bowel disease and other gastrointestinal disorders may be exposed to significant doses of diagnostic radiation.

New material cuts energy costs of separating gas for plastics and fuels
In producing hydrocarbons for the chemical industry, refiners must first crack oil at high temperatures and then cool the mixture to liquefy the gases for separation.

Mass privatization put former communist countries on road to bankruptcy, corruption
A new analysis showing how the radical policies advocated by western economists helped to bankrupt Russia and other former Soviet countries after the Cold War has been released by researchers.

Data mining deep space
Bahram Mobasher, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Riverside, has received a NASA grant to compile into a data bank all the imaging observations of galaxy surveys that the Hubble Space Telescope has performed since 2002.

Ticks can adapt to the Spain's climatic diversity
Carnivores in the Iberian Peninsula, such as the Iberian lynx, are under an increasingly serious threat: Ticks that can adapt to changing climatic conditions and that can even survive in extremely arid environments.

Rare animal-shaped mounds discovered in Peru by MU anthropologist
For more than a century and a half, scientists and tourists have visited massive animal-shaped mounds, such as Serpent Mound in Ohio, created by the indigenous people of North America.

Current chemical testing missing low-dosage effects of endocrine-disrupting chemicals
Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) -- such as BPA -- can show tangible effects on health endpoints at high dosage levels, yet those effects do not predict how EDCs will affect the endocrine system at low doses, according to a recent study accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Endocrine Reviews.

Weakness can be an advantage in surviving deadly parasites, a new study shows
When battling an epidemic of a deadly parasite, less resistance can sometimes be better than more.

Novel filter material could cut natural gas refining costs
NIST researchers worked as paryt of an international team to show that a newly created material has the ability to separate closely related components of natural gas from one another using far less energy than currently required.

Newly identified stem cells may hold clues to colon cancer
Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center researchers have identified a new population of intestinal stem cells that may hold clues to the origin of colorectal cancer, reported March 30 in the journal Cell.

Revival of the American elm tree
A healthy century old American elm on the campus of the University of Guelph could hold the key to reviving the species that has been decimated by Dutch elm disease.

Mom was right: It's what you know, not who you know
Professor Yoav Ganzach of Tel Aviv University says that when intelligence and socioeconomic background are pitted directly against one another, intelligence is a more accurate predictor of future career success.

Book on Kathmandu Valley groundwater outlook released
A book titled

AGU journal highlights for March 29, 2012
In this release:

Dolphins cultivate loose alliances
Dolphins behave uniquely. On the one hand, male dolphins form alliances with others; on the other hand, they live in an open social structure.

Studies show how common crop pesticide harms bees
A pair of new studies reveals the multiple ways that a widely used insecticide harms bumblebees and honeybees.

A new breast cancer susceptibility gene
Mutations in a gene called XRCC2 cause increased breast cancer risk, according to a study published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

BIDMC researchers develop novel antibodies to diagnose and treat Alzheimer's disease
Using a newly developed technology, scientists distinguish between healthy and disease-causing isoforms of tau protein and offer a novel strategy for halting disease before the onset of debilitating symptoms.

Duality of longevity drug explained
A Penn- and MIT-led team explained how rapamycin, a drug that extends mouse lifespan, also causes insulin resistance.

Montana State study compares growth around Yellowstone, Glacier and other national parks
The land around Yellowstone and Glacier national parks might look like it's filling up with people and houses, but it's nothing compared to the rate of development around some other US national parks, according to a new Montana State University study.

Stanford Global Climate and Energy Project awards $8.4 million for innovative energy research
The Global Climate and Energy Project has awarded $8.4 million to Stanford researchers to develop innovative technologies that address global climate change.

Brain wiring a no-brainer?
The brain appears to be wired more like the checkerboard streets of New York City than the curvy lanes of Columbia, Md., suggests a new brain imaging study.

Genes for learning, remembering, forgetting
Certain genes and proteins that promote growth and development of embryos also play a surprising role in sending chemical signals that help adults learn, remember, forget and perhaps become addicted, University of Utah biologists have discovered.

Science magazine honors Purdue lab class with award
In a freshman biology class at Purdue University, students participate in research so authentic that their discoveries have been published in a science journal with 30 of the undergraduates listed as co-authors.

Autism Speaks demands urgent response to the autism epidemic in new CDC prevalence estimates
Autism Speaks, the world's leading autism science and advocacy organization, today called on the nation's elected and appointed leaders to immediately develop a new, coordinated strategy to take on a national public health emergency - the autism epidemic - in the wake of a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control finding that autism is now diagnosed in a staggering one in every 88 American children.

New databases harvest a rich bounty of information on crop plant metabolism
The Plant Metabolic Network has launched four new online databases that offer an unprecedented view of the biochemical pathways controlling the metabolism of corn, soybeans, wine grapes, and cassava -- four important species of crop plant.

Microprocessors from pencil lead
Graphite, more commonly known as pencil lead, could become the next big thing in the quest for smaller, less power-hungry electronics.

Asian-Canadian LGB teens face greater health risks as dual minorities: UBC research
Asian Canadian teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual are 30 times more likely to face harassment than their heterosexual peers -- a factor that is linked to higher rates of alcohol or drug use, according to University of British Columbia research.

New paper assigns dollar figure to cost from ship-borne invasive species to the Great Lakes
A new paper by researchers from the University of Notre Dame, the University of Wyoming and the Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands, assigns a dollar figure on the cost to the Great Lakes from invasive species that originate in the ballast water of ocean-going vessels.

Getting to the moon on drops of fuel
The first prototype of a new, ultra-compact motor that will allow small satellites to journey beyond Earth's orbit is just making its way out of the EPFL laboratories where it was built.

Once considered mainly 'brain glue,' astrocytes' power revealed
A type of cell plentiful in the brain, long considered mainly the stuff that holds the brain together and oft-overlooked by scientists more interested in flashier cells known as neurons, wields more power in the brain than has been realized, playing a key role in reducing or stopping the electrical signals that are considered brain activity.

Artificial thymus tissue enables maturation of immune cells
Four signaling substances control the transformation of T cells.

Overweight baby girls at increased risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes in adulthood
Heavier female babies are more likely to develop diabetes and related metabolic risks when they grow up compared with their male counterparts, according to a recent study accepted for publication in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

US autism rates reach new high; N.C. figures higher than national average
A new study estimates that one in 88 children in the United States has an autism spectrum disorder.

Study finds HIV 'superinfection' boosts immune response
Women who have been infected by two different strains of HIV from two different sexual partners - a condition known as HIV superinfection - have more potent antibody responses that block the replication of the virus compared to women who've only been infected once.

Ultrafast laser pulses shed light on elusive superconducting mechanism: U of British Columbia
An international team that includes University of British Columbia physicists has used ultra-fast laser pulses to identify the microscopic interactions that drive high-temperature superconductivity.

Study: Conservatives' trust in science has fallen dramatically since mid-1970s
While trust in science remained stable among people who self-identified as moderates and liberals in the United States between 1974 and 2010, trust in science fell among self-identified conservatives by more than 25 percent during the same period, according to new research from Gordon Gauchat, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill's Cecil G.

Making medication alerts in electronic medical record systems more useful and usable
A study by Regenstrief Institute and US Department of Veterans Affairs investigators provides the first in-depth look at how health care providers react to medication alerts generated by electronic medical record systems.

World's first bedside genetic test gets green light by prestigious medical publication
Developed in Canada and conducted by researchers from the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, in partnership with Spartan Bioscience, the world's first bedside genetic test has received acknowledgment by The Lancet, the world's leading general medical journal.

MRI and neuropsychological tests best predict Alzheimer's disease in old patients
Investigators from the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, have shown that in most elderly patients invasive and expensive techniques, i.e. lumbar puncture and PET scan, are not useful to establish the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease.

Increasing water scarcity in California's Bay-Delta will necessitate trade-offs; 'hard decisions' needed to balance various environmental risks
Simultaneously attaining a reliable water supply for California and protecting and rehabilitating its Bay-Delta ecosystem cannot be realized until better planning can identify how trade-offs.

'Backpacking' bacteria
To the ranks of horses, donkeys and other animals that have served humanity as pack animals or beasts of burden, scientists are now enlisting bacteria to ferry nano-medicine cargos throughout the human body.

A study by IRB Barcelona sheds light on the reasons behind genomes differences between species
A study led by Lluís Ribas de Pouplana, researcher at the Institute for Research in Biomedicine gives an explanation for the divergent evolution of the genomes of different groups of species.

Emergency dispatchers suffer from symptoms of PTSD, study reveals
Dispatchers who answer 911 and 999 emergency calls suffer emotional distress which can lead to symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a new study reports.

NASA's TRMM satellite sees newborn Tropical Storm Pakhar's heavy rain
System 96W intensified overnight and became Tropical Storm Pakhar during the morning hours on March 29. 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