Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

June 20, 2012
The math of malaria
In a paper published this month in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, authors Daozhou Gao and Shigui Ruan propose a mathematical model to study malaria transmission among regions, and how it is influenced by human travel.

NHM entomologist wins grant to investigate mega-diverse insect order
This week the NSF awarded a three-year $900,000 grant to co-investigators Drs.

NASA saw Tropical Storm Guchol's rainfall drench Japan
The first tropical storm of the season to make landfall in Japan was a soaker, and the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite captured its large area of rainfall as it moved over the big island.

Long-sought treatment for Huntington's disease a step closer to reality
A new gene-silencing strategy can reverse core symptoms associated with Huntington's disease, according to a preclinical study published by Cell Press in the June 21 issue of the journal Neuron.

Stanford study shows opiates' side effects rooted in patients' genetics
Genetics play a significant role in determining which patients will suffer the most from the disturbing side effects of opiates, commonly prescribed painkillers for severe to moderate pain, according to a new Stanford University School of Medicine study, which pinpoints nausea, slowed breathing and potential for addiction as heritable traits.

Regional anesthesia reduces complications and death for hip fracture patients
In a study of more than 18,000 patients having surgery for hip fracture, researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania found that the use of epidural or spinal anesthesia versus general anesthesia, was associated with a significant reduction in major pulmonary complications and death.

I want to know where love is
Thanks to modern science, we know that love lives in the brain, not in the heart.

How active is your child really?
Children younger than eight need to be targeted to make sure they lead more active lives to combat our obesity time-bomb, researchers at Newcastle University say.

Adding nevirapine to HIV regimen halves newborn transmission rate
Adding the drug nevirapine to the regimen given to newborns of women diagnosed with HIV shortly before or during labor halves the newborns' risk of contracting the virus, according to findings by a National Institutes of Health research network.

Computer science receives millions of euros in research funding
With the award of a five-year extension in funding for its Cluster of Excellence

'Flavor pairing' engenders strange plate-fellows and scientific controversy
Wine and cheese. A burger and fries. Humanity's age-old preoccupation with food pairing is turning a new corner -- and fostering some very strange new plate-fellows -- as scientists and chefs try to make sense of an idea called

Mayo Clinic: Molecule thought cancer foe actually helps thyroid tumors grow
A molecule widely believed to fight many forms of cancer actually helps deadly thyroid tumors grow, and cancer therapies now being tested in humans might boost the activity of this newly revealed bad guy, researchers at Mayo Clinic in Florida say.

Stars, jets and batteries
Magnetic instabilities play a crucial role in the emergence of black holes and other cosmic phenomena.

ORNL wins 9 R&D 100s, bringing total to 173
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have received nine R&D 100 awards.

Researcher's findings provide guide to decisions on use of slings for women's prolapse surgery
A multicenter study involving a UT Southwestern Medical Center urogynecologist will eliminate some of the guesswork physicians face about whether to use a sling during vaginal prolapse repair to prevent urinary incontinence.

Maths experts question key ecological theory
Mathematicians at the University of York in the UK and the University of Canterbury in New Zealand say they have disproved a widely accepted theory underpinning the operation of complex networks of interactions in the natural world.

AGI's Big Ideas in Geoscience video wins 3 awards
Big Ideas in Geoscience, a DVD created by AGI to bring the Nine Big Ideas from the Earth Science Literacy Principles to life, has just won three prestigious awards: Digital Video (DV) Winner in Education, DV Winner in Nature/Wildlife and Videographer Award of Excellence.

Melting sea ice threatens emperor penguins, study finds
At nearly four feet tall, the Emperor penguin is Antarctica's largest sea bird -- and thanks to films like

Stanford engineering team wins $100,000 Qualcomm Innovation Fellowship
The highly competitive fellowship recognizes and rewards innovative Ph.D. students at 12 top US universities across a broad range of technical research areas.

Racial diversity increases, but segregation persists says Dartmouth geography professor
While census data shows racial diversity is increasing in major cities across the United States, highly diverse neighborhoods are still rare, newly arrived immigrants continue to settle in concentrated residential patterns, and many African Americans remain concentrated in segregated neighborhoods, according to recent research by Richard Wright, professor of geography at Dartmouth College.

Research shows the response of the carbon cycle to climate change
In the largest ever analysis of rates of respiration, scientists have found aquatic ecosystems have the potential to release more CO2 to the atmosphere in a warmer climate than land ecosystems.

Euclid jumps final hurdle
The European Space Agency today formally adopted the largest collaboration of astronomers in the World to help build the Euclid satellite, and UCL will be playing a major role.

VLT takes a close look at the War and Peace Nebula
ESO's Very Large Telescope has taken the most detailed image so far of a spectacular part of the stellar nursery called the War and Peace Nebula.

Novel chemotherapy agent appears to be a promising pancreatic cancer treatment
A novel chemotherapeutic agent, the highly selective MEK1/2 inhibitor BAY 86-9766, may be a promising future treatment for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, according to preclinical results presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges conference, held June 18-21.

New drugs, new ways to target androgens in prostate cancer therapy
Prostate cancer cells require androgens including testosterone to grow. A recent review in the British Journal of Urology International describes new classes of drugs that target androgens in novel ways, providing alternatives to the traditional methods that frequently carry high side effects.

Extra treatment during prolapse repair reduces incontinence rate
Surgery to repair pelvic organ prolapse often carries a risk of incontinence.

Researchers estimate ice content of crater at moon's south pole
NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft has returned data that indicate ice may make up as much as 22 percent of the surface material in a crater located on the moon's south pole.

Traumatic brain injury the focus of American Headache Society scientific conference
The impact of traumatic injuries to the brain -- whether sustained in combat or on the playing fields of America's schools -- is a major topic for international migraine specialists the week of June 18 as they gather in Los Angeles for the 54th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Headache Society.

All things big and small: The brain's discerning taste for size
Researchers at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab and the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences have discovered that the brain organizes objects based on their physical size, with a specific region of the brain reserved for recognizing large objects and another reserved for small objects.

Colorado's High Park fire: June 20, 2012
Colorado's High Park Fire continues to expand and generate a lot of smoke visible on NASA satellite imagery.

Taming light with graphene
Spanish research groups achieve first ever visualizations of light guided with nanometric precision on graphene.

High-fat/calorie diet accelerates development of pancreatic cancer
Study results presented at the American Association for Cancer Research's Pancreatic Cancer: Progress and Challenges conference, held June 18-21, strongly suggest that a diet high in fat and calories can hasten the development of pancreatic cancer in humans.

Alcohol may be involved in up to 640,000 hospital admissions in England and Wales every year
Alcohol may be involved in up to 640,000 hospital admissions and nearly two million visits to emergency care departments in England and Wales every year, suggests research published online in Emergency Medicine Journal.

Controlling for the weather: Hedging increases firm value, new study shows
A highly debated topic in corporate finance is whether active risk management policies, such as hedging, affect firm value.

Long-term study identifies early predictors of sedentary behavior in children
Children of older fathers are more sedentary.

Megapixel camera? Try gigapixel
By synchronizing 98 tiny cameras in a single device, electrical engineers from Duke University and the University of Arizona have developed a prototype camera that can create images with unprecedented detail.

Food security and climate change
On a planet with sufficient food for all, today almost half a billion women and children under 5 in the developing world are undernourished -- a consequence of persistently limited nutritious food intake.

Food elimination diet identifies causes of difficulty swallowing and swelling of the throat
A six-food elimination diet significantly improves symptoms in adult patients with eosinophilic esophagitis.

Adolescents who have more than 4 meals a day are thinner
A study carried out in Spain reveals that certain healthy habits, like eating more than four times a day or not eating too fast, are associated with lower body fat levels independently of exercise habits during free time.

Argonne researchers receive 4 R&D 100 awards
Researchers at the US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory received four of the 2012 R&D 100 awards.

Confusion can be beneficial for learning: Study
A new study led by Sidney D'Mello of the University of Notre Dame shows that confusion when learning can be beneficial if it is properly induced, effectively regulated, and ultimately resolved.

1 in 8 heart patients suffer post-traumatic stress disorder
One in eight people who suffer a heart attack or other acute coronary event experience clinically significant symptoms of PTSD, according to a meta-analysis of 24 studies.

Apple peel compound boosts calorie burning, reduces obesity in mice
A natural substance found in apple peel appears to protect mice from the harmful effects of a high-fat diet -- namely obesity, pre-diabetes and fatty liver disease -- according to a new University of Iowa study.

Tin-100, a doubly magic nucleus
A few minutes after the Big Bang the universe contained no other elements than hydrogen and helium.

Toward super-size wind turbines: Bigger wind turbines do make greener electricity
In a study that could solidify the trend toward construction of gigantic windmills, scientists have concluded that the larger the wind turbine, the greener the electricity it produces.

Gruber Cosmology Prize 2012 awarded to Charles Bennett and the WMAP Team
Charles L. Bennett and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe team are the recipients of the 2012 Cosmology Prize from the Gruber Foundation.

Scientists gain understanding of self-cleaning gecko foot hair
Wall-climbing robots, bioadhesives or other sticky substances can benefit greatly from a recent discovery about the self-cleaning and reuse abilities of a gecko's foot hair by a University of Akron graduate student-researcher and his partners.

ICA Fellow, Dafna Lemish, collaborates with UNICEF on child development initiative
Dafna Lemish (Southern Illinois University, Carbondale), a Fellow of the International Communication Association, has partnered with UNICEF to help launch and develop a free resource package available for worldwide use for the creation of quality media for children.

NASA catches birth of Tropical Storm Chris by the tail
Several hundred miles from Newfoundland, the third tropical storm of the Atlantic Hurricane Season was born on June 19, and NASA's Aqua satellite captured an image just before it reached tropical storm strength, and he appears to have a

NTU start-up launches world's first 3-in-1 water monitoring system
Like the instant 3-in-1 coffee, now there is a water monitoring system that is affordable, convenient and saves time.

Respect matters more than money for happiness in life
New research suggests that overall happiness in life is more related to how much you are respected and admired by those around you, not to the status that comes from how much money you have stashed in your bank account.

CRN assesses current state of scientific research for nutritional supplements
The Council for Responsible Nutrition, the dietary supplement industry's leading trade association, today released its comprehensive report, The Benefits of Nutritional Supplements (4th edition).

Mayo Clinic study links healthy muscle mass to healthy bones, finds differences by gender
A Mayo Clinic study looked at skeletal muscle mass and bone health across the life span and discovered distinct differences in how muscle affects the two layers of bone in men and women.

How humans predict other's decisions
Researchers at the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan have uncovered two brain signals in the human prefrontal cortex involved in how humans predict the decisions of other people.

Scientists identify protein required to regrow injured nerves in limbs
A protein required to regrow injured peripheral nerves has been identified by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Proposed drug may reverse Huntington's disease symptoms
With a single drug treatment, researchers at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine can silence the mutated gene responsible for Huntington's disease, slowing and partially reversing progression of the fatal neurodegenerative disorder in animal models.

Traffic noise exposure associated with higher risk of heart attack
Study separated traffic noise and air pollution to investigate relationship.

Simple new way to clean traces of impurities from drug ingredients
Scientists are reporting development of a simple new procedure for removing almost 98 percent of an important impurity that can contaminate prescription drugs and potentially increase the risk for adverse health effects in patients.

NASA follows Tropical Storm Talim's heavy rainfall over Taiwan
Tropical storm Talim has produced torrential rainfall over southern Taiwan as it pumped warm moist air from the South China Sea over mountainous terrain.

Future reproductive outcomes for women who have had an ectopic pregnancy
Women who experience an initial ectopic pregnancy -- when the embryo implants outside the womb, usually in the fallopian tubes -- are less likely to conceive in the future and if they do, are at increased risk of having another ectopic pregnancy, but are no more likely than first time mothers to suffer complications in an ongoing pregnancy according to a study by a team of Scottish researchers published today in PLoS Medicine.

Variable camber airfoil: New concept, new challenge
A variable camber airfoil is an airfoil that changes camber to maximize its performance under radically different flight conditions.

Ear, Nose & Throat Journal publishes research on breakthrough treatment for tonsil stones
Christopher Y. Chang, M.D. and Richard Thrasher, M.D. came up with a novel and effective approach to eradicate tonsil stones.

BUSM study shows role of cellular protein in regulation of binge eating
Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine have demonstrated in experimental models that blocking the Sigma-1 receptor, a cellular protein, reduced binge eating and caused binge eaters to eat more slowly.

Turning down the dial: Ocean energy development with less sound
A new laboratory test can help limit the injuries fish receive from loud, underwater booms created during pile driving, the practice of pounding long, hollow steel piles into the ocean floor to erect structures such as tidal energy turbines.

Alley named to US News STEM Leadership Hall of Fame
Richard Alley, Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences, is one of the inaugural five recipients of the US News & World Reports STEM Leadership Hall of Fame awards.

Graphene? From any lab!
Considered by many as the most promising material of the future, graphene still remains an expensive and hard-to-fabricate substance.

Gene sequencing project identifies potential drug targets in common childhood brain tumor
Researchers studying the genetic roots of the most common malignant childhood brain tumor have discovered missteps in three of the four subtypes of the cancer that involve genes already targeted for drug development.

Online weight loss programs that feature successful dieters may help
A Web-based program featuring successful strategies of others who have lost weight may be an effective strategy for weight loss, according to Penn State College of Medicine researchers.

Omega-3 lowers inflammation in overweight older adults
New research shows that omega-3 fatty acid supplements can lower inflammation in healthy, but overweight, middle-aged and older adults, suggesting that regular use of these supplements could help protect against and treat certain illnesses.

Wake Forest Baptist research provides clue to unexplained excited delirium deaths
Research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center sheds light on unexpected deaths that may be caused by an abnormal cardiac condition called Long QT Syndrome, compounded by a situation of Excited Delirium Syndrome.

Emperor penguins threatened by Antarctic sea ice loss
A decline in the population of emperor penguins appears likely this century as climate change reduces Antarctic sea ice, according to a detailed projection published this week.

Illuminating the dark: Ahead with the Euclid mission
UK teams working on the mission to study the

Study links carcinogens to cancer stem cells -- but spinach can help
Researchers for the first time have traced the actions of a known carcinogen in cooked meat to its complex biological effects on microRNA and cancer stem cells.

Simple mathematcal pattern describes shape of neuron 'jungle'
Neurons come in an astounding assortment of shapes and sizes, forming a thick inter-connected jungle of cells.

Controversial vaccine trial should never have been run in India, researchers say
Research published today in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine raises further questions about a trial of HPV vaccines in India.

Discovery increases understanding how bacteria spread: U of A study
A University of Alberta researcher is moving closer to understanding how infection is caused by the spread of bacteria.

Husband-wife team set out to improve breast cancer exams
Cancer survivors and researchers Lorraine Olson and Robert Throne are working to change the way cancer is diagnosed.

Innovative, automated strategies to engage patients at home are key to improving health outcomes
In a perspective piece published Online First this week in the New England Journal of Medicine, a group of researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania propose a multi-pronged approach to the new practice of so-called

Berkeley Lab wins 4 2012 R&D 100 awards
Berkeley Lab researchers have won four 2012 R&D 100 awards, also known as the

Sleep improves functioning in Parkinson's patients, but reasons remain elusive
A new study, published in the June issue of the Journal of Parkinson's Disease, assesses a large sample of Parkinson's disease patients and confirms that some patients experience sleep benefit, both overnight and following afternoon naps, but finds no significant variables between those who do benefit and those who do not.

National Academy of Inventors congratulates 11 top universities for 2011 patent success
A new report issued by the Intellectual Property Owners Association lists 11 universities, including nine American universities plus China's Tsinghua University and National Taiwan University, among the top 300 organizations worldwide to receive patents from the US Patent and Trademark Office in 2011.

Researchers find gold nanoparticles capable of 'unzipping' DNA
New research from North Carolina State University finds that gold nanoparticles with a slight positive charge work collectively to unravel DNA's double helix.

TrackTown USA identity is focus of new research paper
As final preparations are underway for the 2012 Olympic Team Trials -- Track & Field in Eugene this month, a research paper by faculty of the University of Oregon's Lundquist College of Business focuses on a revival of the TrackTown USA identity.

Breast cancer's many drivers
Breast cancer is not a single disease, but a collection of diseases with dozens of different mutations that crop up with varying frequency across different breast cancer subtypes.

'Tell me no lies': New human factors/ergonomics research on deception may improve Homeland Security
New HF/E research examines the social cues between two suspects that may indicate deception and how interrogators can use this information to foil potential terrorist attacks.

UW research shows new prognosis tool for deadly brain cancer
A diagnosis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is generally a death sentence, but new research from the University of Wisconsin-Madison lab of Dr.

Researchers create the first GPS for the blind
A research group from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona has created a GPS-based application for mobile devices equipped with Android operating system to help users move around the city.

Half of inner city children in deprived areas consuming fast food/drinks at least twice a week
Over half of inner city school-kids in deprived areas may be consuming fast foods/drinks at least twice a week, if the findings from one London borough are applicable elsewhere, suggests research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Carrots, not sticks, motivate workers
The promise of reward motivates people to work harder than the threat of penalty, a new study finds.

IDRC and CIDA support Canadian and developing-country scientists' efforts to solve world hunger
Canadian and developing-world scientists are working on the front lines of hunger to make food more sufficient, safe, and nutritious around the globe.

Asymmetry may provide clue to superconductivity
Japanese and US physicists are reporting intriguing new details this week in the journal Nature regarding the quirky electronic properties of high-temperature superconductors (HTS).

Children exposed to HIV in the womb at increased risk for hearing loss
Children exposed to HIV in the womb may be more likely to experience hearing loss by age 16 than are their unexposed peers, according to scientists in a National Institutes of Health research network.

Structure of RNAi complex now crystal clear
Whitehead Institute researchers have determined and analyzed the crystal structure of a yeast Argonaute protein bound to RNA, which plays a key role in the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway that silences genes.

A new tool for molecular architects
Thanks to a research led by a team from the University of Geneva and NCCR Chemical Biology, one must now add the exotic halogen bond to the list of its better known kin such as the covalent bond, the hydrogen bond and the ionic bond.

SAGE partners with University of North Carolina Greensboro on SAGE Open
SAGE and the University of North Carolina Greensboro have announced a partnership designed to encourage social science and humanities faculty and students at the university to publish in SAGE Open.

Graphene is a tunable plasmonic medium
With a beam of infrared light, scientists have sent ripples of electrons along the surface of graphene and demonstrated that they can control the length and height of these oscillations, called plasmons, using a simple electrical circuit.

'Master molecule' may improve stem cell treatment of heart attacks
A single protein molecule may hold the key to turning cardiac stem cells into blood vessels or muscle tissue, a finding that may lead to better ways to treat heart attack patients.

Out of the mouths of primates, facial mechanics of human speech may have evolved
Two recent studies based at Princeton University suggest that the oral-facial component of human speech evolved from lip smacking, a friendly back-and-forth gesture performed by primates such as chimpanzees, baboons and macaques.

Chemical analysis of pottery reveals first dairying in Saharan Africa in the fifth millennium BC
The first unequivocal evidence that humans in prehistoric Saharan Africa used cattle for their milk nearly 7,000 years ago is described in research by an international team of scientists, led by the University of Bristol, UK, published today in Nature.

Nano-pesticides: Solution or threat for a cleaner and greener agriculture?
Research is urgently needed to evaluate the risks and benefits of nano-pesticides to human and environmental health.

What motivates generosity? Researchers study Muslims and Catholics
Generosity is accepted and encouraged as a practice, but the reasons behind the behavior are not well understood.

UC Riverside geologist receives 2 prestigious honors
Peter M. Sadler, a professor of geology at the University of California, Riverside, has been awarded the 2012 ICS Medal of the International Commission on Stratigraphy for his high-quality research in stratigraphy, the branch of geology that studies rock layers as an archive of Earth history.

Misidentified and contaminated cell lines lead to faulty cancer science
A University of Colorado Cancer Center study published this week in the journal Gynecologic Oncology shows that due to a high rate of contamination, misidentification and redundancy in widely available cell lines, researchers may be drawing faulty conclusions.

Wikipedia 'edit wars' show dynamics of conflict emergence and resolution
Wikipedia's crowd-sourced content generation has made it the world's largest encyclopedia, but this model also leads to

New delivery method improves efficacy of 2 common Parkinson's disease medications
A new delivery method for levodopa/carbidopa, a common dual-drug Parkinson's disease (PD) regimen, significantly improved the duration of the drugs' effectiveness in people with advanced PD.

Preserved frogs hold clues to deadly pathogen
A Yale graduate student has developed a novel means for charting the history of a pathogen deadly to amphibians worldwide.

Double the pain: RUB biologists find the cause of pain in the treatment of fair skin cancer
Apply the ointment, light on, light off - that's how easy it is to cure various forms of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Drug combo much better than AZT alone at preventing mother-to-infant HIV transmission
A two- or three-drug combination within 48 hours or birth to infants born of HIV-positive mothers can reduce the risk of intrapartum HIV acquisition by about half, compared to AZT alone.

Mount Sinai is first in New York state to perform new Alzheimer's imaging test in clinical setting
The Mount Sinai Medical Center is the first institution in New York State to use in the clinical setting a newly approved imaging technique to detect Alzheimer's disease (AD) in people who are cognitively impaired.

Ethics should drive health policy reform, especially with physician-owned specialty hospitals
The ethical principles that have for centuries shaped the relationship between patient and physician should also guide legislators, regulators -- and justices of the highest court -- charged with crafting US health care policies that demarcate the boundaries of a physician's business practice, an Indiana University professor argues.

A non-antibiotic approach for treating urinary tract infections
A potential new approach for treating urinary tract infections -- which affect millions of people annually -- without traditional antibiotics is being reported in ACS' Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 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