Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

May 30, 2012
New study reports rise in community land rights in tropical forests; most laws unenforced
New research released today by the Rights and Resources Initiative shows that hundreds of millions of forest peoples in tropical nations have, in the last 20 years, quietly gained unprecedented legal rights to the land and resources owned under customary law.

Belief in God associated with ability to 'mentalize'
Individuals on the autism spectrum show deficits in understanding others' mental states, and in turn report decreased belief in God.

Genetic variant increases risk of heart rhythm dysfunction, sudden death
Cardiovascular researchers at the University of Cincinnati have identified a genetic variant in a cardiac protein that can be linked to heart rhythm dysfunction.

OSC's Oakley Cluster delivers on performance efficiency
The Ohio Supercomputer Center's newest system, the HP/Intel Xeon Oakley Cluster, would fall in the top half of the list of the world's most powerful supercomputers based purely on speed, but the cluster would rank even higher -- ninth in the United States and second among US academic institutions -- when comparing benchmarked performances against the maximum theoretical performance of the system.

Harvard's Wyss Institute develops nanodevice manufacturing strategy using DNA 'building blocks'
Researchers at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University have developed a method for building complex nanostructures out of interlocking DNA

New math model by Stanford researchers can help computers avoid communication breakdowns
In a new paper, Stanford researchers describe a mathematical model they created that helps predict pragmatic reasoning and may eventually lead to the manufacture of machines that can better understand inference, context and social rules.

Skin transplant offers new hope for vitiligo patients
Henry Ford Hospital dermatologists say skin transplant surgery is safe and effective for restoring skin pigmentation caused by the skin disease vitiligo.

Patient mental health overlooked by physician when a family member is present
New study finds that patients with poor mental health function may experience more communication challenges during physicians visits if accompanied by a loved one.

When equality loses
Despite our inclination to believe equality within a team or group is important, new research suggests that a built-in hierarchy leads to fewer group conflicts and higher productivity.

Research from University of East Anglia shows fine wine investors should diversify
Wine investors are warned not to put all their eggs in one French basket in a new report from the University of East Anglia.

12 tons of palm biomass ships from Malaysia to Italy in test to extract valuable chemicals
Successful tests in Italy on 12 tons of waste oil palm biomass from Malaysia to determine its suitability for conversion into industrial sugar could soon result in commercial scale production of high-value green chemicals from the waste residue of Malaysia's huge palm oil plantations.

US Army internal medicine residents receive awards from American College of Physicians
Last month, US Army medical residents and their program directors from around the country attended the American College of Physicians' (ACP) annual meeting to present their research, compete in national medical student abstract competitions and share their perspective as military officers with civilian peers.

The sequencing of the tomato genome
Scientists from several European centers, including Modesto Orozco, David Torrents and Xavier Pastor, researchers from the joint program between the Barcelona Supercomputing Center and the Institute for Research in Biomedicine have joined forces to obtain the sequence of this fruit belonging to the family Solanaceae.

Ketamine improved bipolar depression within minutes
Bipolar disorder is a serious and debilitating condition where individuals experience severe swings in mood between mania and depression.

Surgical site infections more likely in patients with history of skin infection
People with a past history of just a single skin infection may be three times more likely to develop a painful, costly -- and potentially deadly -- surgical site infection when they have an operation, according to new Johns Hopkins research.

Researchers say tart cherries have 'the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food'
Tart cherries may help reduce chronic inflammation, especially for the millions of Americans suffering from debilitating joint pain and arthritis, according to new research from Oregon Health & Science University presented today at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in San Francisco, Calif.

New report examines effects of trees killed by bark beetles on wildfire
A recent report analyzing a range of published studies on the impact of bark beetles on trees in the US and Canada provides a more complete picture of the effect of this destructive insect on wildfires.

Voluntary groups can promote pro-environmental practice at small scale
New research by the University of Southampton has examined the role of voluntary organizations in promoting pro-environmental behavior change.

Super-eruptions may have surprisingly short fuses
Super-eruptions are potentially civilization-ending events and new research suggests that they may have surprisingly short fuses.

'Just do it!' not good enough for cancer patients, UR researchers say
Exercise generally helps the nation's 12 million cancer survivors, but researchers are still working toward being able to prove, with scientific certainty, that prescriptions for daily yoga or 20 minutes of walking will likely extend a patient's survival.

Coatings with nanoparticles that interact with sunlight and eliminate contaminants are developed
Researchers of the UPNA have developed a type of coating for construction materials.

To spread, nervous system viruses sabotage cell, hijack transportation
Princeton University researchers have found that herpes and other viruses that attack the nervous system may thrive by disrupting cell function in order to hijack a neuron's internal transportation network and spread to other cells.

MIT-designed cooler preserves tuberculosis drugs, records doses
A simple cooler could help patients battle antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis.

GMES in Action conference in Copenhagen
The GMES in Action conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, on June 4-5, highlighting the usefulness of Europe's space program for the GMES Global Monitoring for Environment and Security initiative to decision-makers and European citizens alike.

Hear to see: New method for the treatment of visual field defects
Patients who are blind in one side of their visual field benefit from presentation of sounds on the affected side.

A better delivery system for chemotherapy drugs
Professor Daniel Wreschner of Tel Aviv University is developing new antibodies that bind to and kill off cancer cells exclusively.

International consortium, including Hebrew University scientist, 'decodes' tomato genome
The tomato genome sequence -- both the domesticated type and its wild ancestor, Solanum pimpinellifolium -- has been sequenced for the first time by a large international team of scientists, including a researcher from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Nationwide adoption of NIST-developed test predicted to cut death toll due to cigarette-caused fires
A new study projects that deaths due to fires ignited by cigarettes or other tobacco products will drop 30 percent below the total number of such fatalities in 2003, following nationwide adoption of a fire safety standard based on a test developed by NIST to reduce the risk of igniting upholstered furniture and bedding.

Arctic bacteria help in the search to find life on moon Europa
In a fjord in Canada scientists have found a landscape similar to one of Jupiter's icy moons: Europa.

Marriage may make people happier
Married people may be happier in the long run than those who aren't married, according to new research by Michigan State University scientists.

Injection of methotrexate not superior to oral therapy in juvenile arthritis treatment
A retrospective analysis of methotrexate safety data found that injection of this disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug was not superior to oral therapy in long-term treatment of patients with juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

29 Johns Hopkins stem cell researchers awarded funding
This year the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund awarded 29 of 40 grants to Johns Hopkins researchers for the study of stem cell metabolism and regulation, the creation of new cell models for human diseases such as schizophrenia and Rett syndrome, which previously could be studied only in animals, and the development of new potential therapies.

Electric moon jolts the solar wind
Now, a powerful combination of spacecraft and computer simulations is revealing that the moon does indeed have a far-reaching, invisible influence -- not on us, but on the sun, or more specifically, the solar wind.

MADRID-MIT M+Vision Consortium hosts Biomedical Innovation Conference 2012
The 2012 Biomedical Innovation Conference -- Building High-Performance Innovation Ecosystems, scheduled for June 5-6 in Madrid, will host the presentation of IDEA2 Madrid, a program developed to encourage biomedical innovation in the region.

University of Tennessee anthropologists find American heads are getting larger
University of Tennessee forensic anthropologists examined 1,500 skulls dating back to the mid-1800s through the mid-1980s.

Handful of genetic changes led to huge changes to human brain
Changes to just three genetic letters among billions led to evolution and development of the mammalian motor sensory network, and laid the groundwork for the defining characteristics of the human brain, Yale University researchers report.

Office bacteria all around us, especially in men's offices
Men's offices have significantly more bacteria than women's, and the office bacterial communities of New York and San Francisco are indistinguishable, according to a study published May 30 in the open-access journal PLoS ONE.

Exercise and a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables extends life expectancy in women in their 70s
Women in their 70s who exercise and eat healthy amounts of fruits and vegetables have a longer life expectancy, according to research published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

UC Santa Barbara researchers develop synthetic platelets
Synthetic platelets have been developed by UC Santa Barbara researchers, in collaboration with researchers at Scripps Research Institute and Sanford-Burnham Institute in La Jolla, Calif.

Despite less play, children's use of imagination increases over 2 decades
Children today may be busier than ever, but Case Western Reserve University psychologists have found that their imagination hasn't suffered -- in fact, it appears to have increased.

Overdiagnosis poses significant threat to human health
Overdiagnosis poses a significant threat to human health by labeling healthy people as sick and wasting resources on unnecessary care, warns Ray Moynihan, Senior Research Fellow at Bond University in Australia, in a feature published on today.

Automotive research at Concordia benefits from $500,000 in funding
There may now be an alternative for powering high-tech electric motors, thanks to Concordia's Power Electronics and Energy Research team.

Iowa State, Ames Lab researchers find new properties of the carbon material graphene
A group of scientists at Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory, led by physicist Jigang Wang, has shown that graphene has two properties that could have applications in high-speed telecommunications devices and laser technology -- population inversion of electrons and broadband optical gain.

Landslides linked to plate tectonics create the steepest mountain terrain
New research shows some of the steepest mountain slopes in the world got that way because of the interplay between terrain uplift associated with plate tectonics and powerful streams cutting into hillsides, leading to large landslides.

Innovative scoliosis treatment: A back brace that can measure how long it is worn for
Scoliosis affects three or four per thousand children and seven out of 10 adults.

When is it ethical to prescribe placebos?
The American Medical Association's Code of Ethics prohibits physicians from prescribing treatments that they consider to be placebos unless the patients know this and agree to take them anyway.

People know when to move on
People make decisions all the time and previous studies suggest that while we are good at making low-level perceptual choices, we're not so good when it comes decisions that require higher-level analysis.

The environment and pharmaceuticals and personal care products: What are the big questions?
Researchers at the University of York headed a major international review aimed at enhancing efforts to better understand the impacts of chemicals used in pharmaceuticals or in personal care products, such as cosmetics, soaps, perfumes, deodorants and toothpastes, on the natural environment.

The effect of treatment with antibiotics and vaccination against Q fever in sheep
Scientists at Neiker-Tecnalia, the Basque Institute for Agricultural Research and Development, have evaluated the effect of treatment with antibiotics and vaccination in controlling Q fever in sheep flocks.

Light-induced delivery of nitric oxide eradicates drug-resistant bacteria
Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed a novel approach for eradicating drug-resistant bacteria from wounds and skin infections, using light to trigger the controlled release of nitric oxide.

A trained palate: Understanding complexities of taste, smell could lead to improved diet
Researchers have made some fundamental discoveries about how people taste, smell and detect flavor, and why they love some foods much more than others.

Researchers complete the first epigenome in Europe
A study led by Manel Esteller, director of the Epigenetics and Cancer Biology Program at the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute, professor of genetics at the University of Barcelona and ICREA researcher has completed the first epigenome in Europe.

Study: In-patient, out-patient stroke rehab might benefit from yoga
Researchers looking into the value of adapted yoga for stroke rehabilitation report that after an eight-week program, study participants demonstrated improved balance and flexibility, a stronger and faster gait, and increased strength and endurance.

OU scientists and international team decipher the genetic code of the tomato
University of Oklahoma scientists and others from more than a dozen countries joined together to sequence the tomato genome and, ultimately, improve the nation's $2 billion tomato crop.

Mars missions may learn from meteor Down Under
A discovery about the make-up of the atmosphere of Mars could help inform future missions searching for life there.

Move over pie charts, here come FatFonts
Researchers in the computer science department at the University of Calgary have developed a new font for numbers that represent their relative value.

The Genetics Society of America announces DeLill Nasser Travel Award recipients
The Genetics Society of America announces the selection of six graduate students and seven postdoctoral researchers as recipients of the DeLill Nasser Awards for Professional Development in Genetics.

Debated: Wave-Cut or Weathering or Both?
The June GSA TODAY science article is now online and open access at

Understanding the links between inflammation and chronic disease
American parents may want to rethink how much they protect their children from everyday germs.

Report details efforts to improve, advance indoor microbial sampling
A fundamental understanding of the microbial community in the built environment -- including estimates of diversity, function and concentration -- is necessary to accurately assess human exposure and the potential impacts on human health.

NTU marketing guru's new book shows companies how to create 'Happy Customers Everywhere'
Can shopping make you happy?

Eat healthy -- your kids are watching
If lower-income mothers want kids with healthy diets, it's best to adopt healthy eating habits themselves and encourage their children to eat good foods rather than use force, rewards or punishments, says a Michigan State University study.

LA BioMed's Dr. Patricia Dickson researching treatments for neurodegenerative disorders
Patricia Dickson, M.D., principal investigator at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, is co-principal investigator of a project that was just awarded a $5.5 million grant from the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine.

The special scent of age
New findings from the Monell Center reveal that humans can identify the age of other humans based on differences in body odor.

Immigrant women giving birth in Spain suffer 'great stress,' a study warns
University of Granada researchers have remarked that in many cases immigrant women should receive psychological treatment after giving birth to help them overcome disorders such as obsessive compulsive disorder, phobic anxiety, depression or psychosis.

Training cells to perform Boolean functions? It's logical
Johns Hopkins scientists have engineered cells that behave like AND and OR Boolean logic gates, producing an output based on one or more unique inputs.

Odds of quitting smoking affected by genetics
Genetics can help determine whether a person is likely to quit smoking on his or her own or need medication to improve the chances of success, according to research published in today's American Journal of Psychiatry.

New materials could slash energy costs for CO2 capture
A detailed analysis of more than four million absorbent minerals has determined that new materials could help electricity producers slash as much as 30 percent of the

Neural protective protein has 2 faces
A protein produced by the central nervous system's support cells seems to play two opposing roles in protecting nerve cells from damage, an animal study by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests: decreasing its activity seems to trigger support cells to gear up their protective powers, but increasing its activity appears to be key to actually use those powers to defend cells from harm.

UCSF researchers identify a potential new HIV vaccine/therapy target
The discovery by researchers at UCSF may shed light on the mystery of why some people infected with HIV are better able to control the virus, live longer and have fewer associated health problems than others who have been infected as long, they said.

ASCO: Younger colon cancer patients have worse prognosis at diagnosis, yet better survival
Younger patients with colorectal cancer were more likely to present advanced stage tumors at diagnosis and metastasize much sooner, yet had better than or equal survival to patients 50 and older, according to data being presented at the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago

Tomato genome becomes fully sequenced
For the first time, the genome of the tomato, Solanum lycopersicum, has been decoded, and it becomes an important step toward improving yield, nutrition, disease resistance, taste and color of the tomato and other crops.

Reduced tillage doesn't mean reduced cotton yields under drip irrigatio
Loss of production may be one concern cotton producers have on the Rolling Plains when considering switching to reduced- or no-tillage systems, said Dr.

Researchers identify a 'life-and-death' molecule on chronic leukemia cells
A new study has identified a life-and-death signaling role for a molecule on the surface of the immune cells involved in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), the most common form of chronic leukemia.

Zinc supplementation lowers risk of treatment failure in children with serious infections
Treating young children with suspected serious bacterial infection with zinc in addition to standard antibiotics significantly reduces the likelihood of treatment failure, according to new research published online first in the Lancet.

Female sex offenders protected by the criminal justice system
Female sex offenders receive lighter sentences for the same crimes than males says a study recently published in Feminist Criminology, a SAGE journal and the official journal of the Division on Women and Crime of the American Society of Criminology.

New NIST SRM supports the fight against terrorist bombings
NIST has released a new certified reference material to aid in the detection of two explosive compounds that are known to be used by terrorists.

Genes predict if medication can help you quit smoking
A new study shows the same gene variations that make it difficult to stop smoking also increase the likelihood that heavy smokers will respond to nicotine-replacement therapy and drugs that thwart cravings.

Mayo Clinic, youth mental health experts, publish new guidelines to treat childhood aggression
Mayo Clinic researchers, in collaboration with other research institutions and youth mental health experts, are publishing new guidelines for primary care providers and mental health specialists to manage the common but often complex problem of childhood aggression.

Current focus of veterinary medical profession leaves research, food security, public health needs underserved
Without immediate action, a new National Research Council report warns, the academic veterinary community could fail to prepare the next generation of veterinarians for faculty teaching and research positions as well as for jobs in state diagnostic laboratories, federal research and regulatory agencies, and the pharmaceutical and biologics industry.

New observations on the San Andreas Fault in Santa Cruz Mountains, Seattle Fault Zone
New research studies indicate that the Santa Cruz region produces large earthquakes more frequently than previously thought.

Memoir tracks the life, decline and death of a family farm
There is no sentimentality in Robert Switzer's modestly titled new book,

Biochip-based device for cell analysis
Inexpensive, portable devices that can rapidly screen cells for leukemia or HIV may soon be possible thanks to a chip that can produce three-dimensional focusing of a stream of cells, according to researchers.

Eyewitness identification reforms may have unintended consequences
New research by a University of California, Riverside psychologist raises serious questions about eyewitness identification procedures that are being adopted by police departments across the United States.

Drug-monitoring programs needed to cut dangers linked to 'pharmaceuticalization' of 21st century
A Perspective piece published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine outlines a plan for an

Time is ticking for some crop's wild relatives
A botanist brings a species of alfalfa from Siberia, to the United States.

Study finds TV can decrease self-esteem in children, except white boys
If you are a white girl, a black girl or a black boy, exposure to today's electronic media in the long run tends to make you feel worse about yourself.

Breast stem-cell research: Receptor teamwork is required and a new pathway may be involved
Breast cancer researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found that two related receptors in a robust signaling pathway must work together as a team to maintain normal activity in mammary stem cells.

Honoring the fundamental role of microbes in the natural history of our planet
Inspired by a 2009 colloquium on microbial evolution convened at the Galapagos Islands, a new book from ASM Press, Microbes and Evolution: The World That Darwin Never Saw celebrates Charles Darwin and his landmark publication On the Origin of Species.

The special scent of age
People can identify other people's ages based on their body odors, according to a study published May 30 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Common genetic mutation increases sodium retention, blood pressure
Nearly 40 percent of the small adrenal tumors that cause big problems with high blood pressure share a genetic mutation that causes patients to retain too much sodium, researchers report.

Microreactors to produce explosive materials
The larger the reaction vessel, the quicker products can be made -- or so you might think.

Esther B. O'Keeffe Foundation gives $2 million to the Scripps Research Institute
The Esther B. O'Keeffe Charitable Foundation has made a $2 million donation to the Scripps Research Institute to fund biomedical research and education on the Florida campus.

There's more star-stuff out there but it's not dark matter
More atomic hydrogen gas -- the ultimate fuel for stars -- is lurking in today's universe than we thought.

An international consortium sequences tomato genome
The Tomato Genome Consortium, a group of over 300 scientists from 13 countries, has sequenced the genomes of the domesticated tomato and its wild ancestor, Solanum pimpinellifolium.

Men and women receive different fertility advice following cancer diagnosis
There are significant gaps in the information women receive about their future fertility following cancer diagnosis.

Misuse of over-the-counter pain medication is potential health threat
A significant number of adults are at risk of unintentionally overdosing on over-the-counter pain medication, according to a new study in the US by Dr.

Benefits of hypothermia for infants continue through early childhood
A treatment to reduce the body temperatures of infants who experience oxygen deficiency at birth has benefits into early childhood, according to a follow-up study by a National Institutes of Health research network.

A super tiny giraffe
Shaahin Amini was ready to quit. The Ph.D. student at the University of California, Riverside's Bourns College of Engineering had spent three hours looking into a microscope scanning a maze of black-and-white crosshatched lines, tubes and beads made of nickel, aluminum and carbon magnified 3,800 times.

Fatty acid found in fish prevents age-related vision loss: U of A medical research
An omega-3 fatty acid found in fish, known as DHA, prevented age-related vision loss in lab tests, demonstrates recently published medical research from the University of Alberta.

The finest gold dust in the world
What can you do if you need single gold atoms for chemical reactions, but instead of staying apart, the atoms keep balling up into nano-clusters?

Peeking at peak oil: Will consumers face oil rationing within a decade?
What happens when a handful of the world's largest oil fields -- accounting for two-thirds of the world's oil -- run dry?

'Simple and effective' injection could offer hope for treatment of autoimmune disease
Australian researchers have uncovered a potential new way to regulate the body's natural immune response, offering hope of a simple and effective new treatment for autoimmune diseases.

Pitt researchers identify agent that can block fibrosis of skin, lungs
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine have identified an agent that in lab tests protected the skin and lungs from fibrosis, a process that can ultimately end in organ failure and even death because the damaged tissue becomes scarred and can no longer function properly.

Just like us: Immigrants embrace 'distinctly American' values
Deborah Schildkraut, associate professor of political science at Tufts University, finds that immigrants and their descendants embrace basic American values -- the love of freedom, the desire for economic advancement, the promise of the American Dream -- even as they celebrate and honor their own heritages. 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