Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 05, 2012
When the first stars blinked on
Researchers at MIT, the California Institute of Technology, and the University of California at San Diego have peered far back in time, to the era of the first stars and galaxies, and found matter with no discernible trace of heavy elements.

Georgia State physicist, international researchers discover fastest light-driven process
A discovery that promises transistors -- the fundamental part of all modern electronics -- controlled by laser pulses that will be 10,000 faster than today's fastest transistors has been made by a Georgia State University professor and international researchers.

The birth of new cardiac cells
Recent research has shown that there are new cells that develop in the heart, but how these cardiac cells are born and how frequently they are generated remains unclear.

Invasive grass fuels increased fire activity in the West
An invasive grass species may be one reason fires are bigger and more frequent in certain regions of the western United States, according to a team of researchers.

New technique to deliver stem cell therapy may help damaged eyes regain their sight
Engineers at the University of Sheffield have developed a new technique for delivering stem cell therapy to the eye which they hope will help the natural repair of eyes damaged by accident or disease.

Scientists discover mechanism that could reduce obesity
Approximately 68 percent of US adults are overweight or obese, according to the National Cancer Institute, which puts them at greater risk for developing cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and a host of other chronic illnesses.

Widely used sedatives/sleeping pills linked to increased fatal pneumonia risk
Commonly prescribed sleeping pills/sedatives may increase the risk of contracting pneumonia by as much as 50 percent and increase the risk of dying from it, suggests research published online in the journal Thorax.

Rejected hearts now viable for transplantation after stress echo
Hearts previously rejected due to donors' age or other risk factors can now be declared viable for transplantation using pharmacological stress echo, according to research presented at EUROECHO and other Imaging Modalities 2012.

Africa's Homo sapiens were the first techies
The search for the origin of modern human behavior and technological advancement among our ancestors in southern Africa some 70,000 years ago, has taken a step closer to firmly establishing Africa, and especially South Africa, as the primary center for the early development of human behavior.

Exercise affects reproductive ability in horses
Results from the study showed that exercise induced greater cortisol concentrations in horses.

Studying marrow, URMC researchers accelerate blood stem cells
University of Rochester Medical Center scientists are testing a new approach to speed a patient's recovery of blood counts during a vulnerable period after a stem-cell transplant, according to a study published in the journal Stem Cells.

Experts available to discuss new paper detailing global sea level rise scenario
On Dec. 6, NOAA will release a technical report that estimates global mean sea level rise over the next century based on a comprehensive synthesis of existing scientific literature.

Breath test could possibly diagnose colorectal cancer
A new study published in BJS has demonstrated for the first time that a simple breath analysis could be used for colorectal cancer screening.

Adult antiviral drug effective in suppressing hepatitis B in teens
A recent clinical trial found that the adult antiviral drug, tenofovir disoproxil fumarate, is safe and effective in treating adolescents with hepatitis B virus.

Tackling urban sustainability on global scale
As the world's urban areas continue to grow, evidenced by rampant poverty from Shanghai to Rio de Janeiro, the question becomes: How can we focus on protecting environmental resources for future generations when so many kids are dying today?

USC Norris cancer research ranks among top clinical advances for 2012
USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center research that identifies specific genes that have to be turned off in order for cancer cells to survive was named one of the top major advances in cancer research this year by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

NASA-NOAA satellite reveals new views of earth at night
Scientists unveiled today an unprecedented new look at our planet at night.

Can the memory of a good meal fill your belly?
People who think they have eaten more feel less hungry hours after a meal.

Tasty and gluten-free
Cereals are good for you, supplying the body with carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins.

MECP2 duplication affects immune system as well as brain development
Boys with Rett syndrome tend to get devastating infections such as pneumonias.

Everything you ever wanted to know about virtual visualizations
Learn about the application of Google Geo Tools to geoscience education and research through this new book from The Geological Society of America.

Women and men appear to benefit in different ways from AA participation
A new study finds differences in the ways that participation in Alcoholics Anonymous helps men and women maintain sobriety.

Cycling safer than driving for young people
Researchers from UCL have found that cycling is safer than driving for young males, with 17 to 20 year old drivers facing almost five times greater risk per hour than cyclists of the same age.

New report finds increase in media coverage of synthetic biology
Press coverage of synthetic biology in the United States and Europe increased significantly between 2008 and 2011, according to a report released today by the Synthetic Biology Project.

NIST and Forest Service create world's first hazard scale for wildland fires
Wildfires are growing more prevalent as housing developments push into wilderness areas.

New clinical trial explores use of smartphone application for postpartum weight loss
In a first-of-its-kind clinical trial, physician-researchers at University Hospitals (UH) Case Medical Center MacDonald Women's Hospital are exploring the use of

Sustainable business innovation adds firms' market value
Sustainable business innovation is good business; researchers from Aalto University, Finland have proved.

Study shows antibody therapy clears Alzheimer's plaques in mice
Antibodies against amyloid beta protein deposits that are thought to play a role in Alzheimer's disease have shown some success in preventing the buildup of deposits in animals, but they have not been effective at removing preexisting deposits.

Embracing the art of science
Creativity is essential part for both art and scientific investigation.

NASA satellites analyze Typhoon Bopha inside and out
Typhoon Bopha proved deadly to residents in the Mindanao region of the Philippines after ravaging islands in Micronesia.

UMass Medical School enrolling participants in National Children's Study pilot program
UMass Medical School is enrolling expectant mothers from Worcester County in a pilot program in preparation for the much larger National Children's Study, the landmark undertaking in which 100,000 children will be followed from the womb to age 21 to determine the environment's impact on growth, development and onset of disease.

New prenatal test, chromosomal microarray, proposed as standard of care
A large, multi-center clinical trial led by researchers from Columbia University Medical Center shows that a new genetic test resulted in significantly more clinically relevant information than the current standard method of prenatal testing.

Where 'where it's at' is at in the brain
A new study in the journal Neuron suggests that the brain uses a different region than neuroscientists had thought to associate objects and locations in the space around an individual.

See-through 'MitoFish' opens a new window on brain diseases
Scientists in Munich have demonstrated a new model for investigating mechanisms at work in Alzheimer's and other neurodegenerative diseases, which also could prove useful in the search for effective drugs.

Fire and ice: Wildfires darkening Greenland snowpack, increasing melting
Satellite observations have revealed the first direct evidence of smoke from Arctic wildfires drifting over the Greenland ice sheet, tarnishing the ice with soot and making it more likely to melt under the sun.

Small patches of native plants help boost pollination services in large farms
Isolation from natural habitat can lead to productivity losses due to lack of pollinators.

Treat snoring to avoid deadly heart failure
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea have the same early cardiovascular damage as diabetics, according to research presented at EUROECHO and other Imaging Modalities 2012.

Research identifies a way to block memories associated with PTSD or drug addiction
New research from Western University could lead to better treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and drug addiction by effectively blocking memories.

NASA investigates use of 'trailblazing' material for new sensors
Tiny sensors -- made of a potentially trailblazing material just one atom thick and heralded as the

RI Hospital: Standardized road test results differ from older adults' natural driving
If you're thinking that little old lady driving 35 miles per hour in the passing lane shouldn't be behind the wheel, you may be right.

Ten years of adjuvant tamoxifen treatment further reduces breast cancer recurrence and improves survival
For women with oestrogen receptor-positive breast cancer, taking the drug tamoxifen for ten years rather than the usual five years further reduces the likelihood of recurrence and of death from breast cancer, according to new results from the Adjuvant Tamoxifen: Longer Against Shorter trial, published in The Lancet to coincide with a presentation at the 2012 CTRC-AACR San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Advice for bag-in-box wine drinkers: Keep it cool
Bag-in-box wines are more likely than their bottled counterparts to develop unpleasant flavors, aromas and colors when stored at warm temperatures, a new study has found.

EPO doping in elite cycling: No evidence of benefit, but high risk of harm
The drug erythropoietin, often called EPO, is banned from sports because it is believed to enhance an athlete's performance and give people who use it an unfair advantage over unenhanced competitors.

Atherosclerosis found in HIV children
Children with HIV have a 2.5 fold increased risk of atherosclerosis, according to research1 presented at EUROECHO and other Imaging Modalities 2012.

Scientists pinpoint great-earthquake hot spots
The world's largest earthquakes occur at subduction zones - locations where a tectonic plate slips under another.

Large pores
Researchers of the KIT Institute of Functional Interfaces, Jacobs University Bremen, and other institutions have developed a new method to produce metal-organic frameworks (MOFs).

Next scientific fashion could be designer nanocrystals
Three University of Chicago chemistry professors hope that their separate research trajectories will converge to create a new way of assembling what they call 'designer atoms' into materials with a broad array of potentially useful properties and functions.

Bye bye Mediterranean diet, the poorest can't afford it anymore
The Mediterranean diet seems to creak under the burden of the economic crisis.

American Chemical Society Climate Science Toolkit: Fostering climate science understanding
A new web-based resource on climate science, designed to help scientists and others understand this key topic, is the focus of a Comment article in the current edition of Chemical & Engineering News, the American Chemical Society's weekly newsmagazine.

Hearing positive verbs can induce unconscious physical response
Hearing a verb related to physical action automatically increases the force with which people grip objects, but has no effect on their physical reaction if the word is presented in the negative form, according to research published Dec.

Researchers identify proteins that indicate which kidney tumors are most likely to spread
Researchers at St. Michael's hospital have identified 29 proteins that are likely to be involved in the spread of kidney cancer.

Microbial Threats to Health: IOM Symposium Explores 2 Decades of Progress
A two-day symposium will explore how much we have learned about new and re-emerging infectious diseases.

Galaxy-wide echoes from the past
A new galaxy class has been identified using observations from ESO's Very Large Telescope, the Gemini South telescope, and the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.

Richard Mayeux, M.D., M.S., elected Fellow of AAAS
Richard Mayeux, M.D., M.S., Chair of the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Medical Center; the Gertrude H.

Study finds unique 'anonymous delivery' law effective in decreasing rates of neonaticide in Austria
Rates of reported neonaticide have more than halved following the implementation of a unique 'anonymous delivery' law in Austria, finds a new study published today (05 Dec.) in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.

Patients with severe back pain who quit smoking report less pain than patients who continue to smoke
For years, research has shown a link between smoking and an increased risk for low back pain, intervertebral (spine) disc disease, and inferior patient outcomes following surgery.

Reading history through genetics
A Columbia Engineering study published in the November 2012 issue of The American Journal of Human Genetics demonstrates a new approach used to analyze genetic data to learn more about the history of populations.

New poll shows US public supports continued investment in Federal Nutrition Assistance Program
A new poll from researchers at Harvard School of Public Health shows that the US public broadly supports increasing or maintaining spending on the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp Program.

How pernicious parasites turn victims into zombies
Parasites are unpleasant at best, but the parasites that hijack their victims' nervous systems are possibly the most pernicious.

Children born after infertility treatment are more likely to suffer from asthma
Asthma is more common among children born after infertility treatment than among children who have been planned and conceived naturally, according to findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study published online in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction.

University of Chicago establishes initiative to study giving scientifically
The University of Chicago has established the Science of Philanthropy Initiative to explore the underpinnings of philanthropy by employing an interdisciplinary approach that includes strategic partnerships with the fundraising community.

In US first, Johns Hopkins surgeons implant brain 'pacemaker' for Alzheimer's disease
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine in November surgically implanted a pacemaker-like device into the brain of a patient in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease, the first such operation in the United States.

Communications training, surgical checklist can reduce costly postoperative complications
Journal of American College of Surgeons study reports that surgical site infections, blood clots, and urinary tract infections are all measurably reduced when surgical teams use two easily accessible, cost-effective tools.

An inadequate diet during pregnancy predisposes the baby to diabetes
Experts already know that pregnant women should not eat for two.

URI oceanography student uses crashing waves on shorelines to study Earth's interior
Scientists have long used the speed of seismic waves traveling through the Earth as a means of learning about the geologic structure beneath the Earth's surface, but the seismic waves they use have typically been generated by earthquakes or man-made explosions.

Akron researchers devise Rx for ailing wellness programs
The NSF was so impressed with this Akron research team's novel, holistic, software-based approach to wellness programs, it funded testing of the project to the tune of $1.3 million.

Adolescents under pressure to speak 'properly'
As adolescents transition to adulthood, the pressure to meet adult expectations -- such as speaking properly -- may be greater than expected, according to a new study by a Michigan State University researcher.

First synthesis of gold nanoparticles inside human hair for dyeing and much more
In a discovery with applications ranging from hair dyeing to electronic sensors to development of materials with improved properties, scientists are reporting the first synthesis of gold nanoparticles inside human hairs.

X-ray laser helps slay parasite that causes sleeping sickness
An international team of scientists, using the world's most powerful X-ray laser, has revealed the 3D structure of a key enzyme that enables the single-celled parasite that causes African trypanosomiasis (or sleeping sickness) in humans.

Plastics used in some medical devices break down in a previously unrecognized way
Scientists have discovered a previously unrecognized way that degradation can occur in silicone-urethane plastics that are often considered for use in medical devices.

Wireless communication's crystal ball
By now, wireless connections like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are just as commonplace in industry.

Smoking may worsen hangover after heavy drinking
People who like to smoke when they drink may be at greater risk of suffering a hangover the next morning, according to a study in the January 2013 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

After 100 years, understanding the electrical role of dendritic spines
More than a century after they were discovered, researchers still remain in the dark about the precise role of a neuron's dendritic spines.

Astronomers discover and 'weigh' infant solar system
A young star no more than 300,000 years old is surrounded by a disk of dust and gas rotating in the same manner as planets in our Solar System, making it the youngest such infant system yet found.

Biologists unlocking the secrets of plant defenses, 1 piece at a time
A team from The University of Texas at Arlington and Michigan State University's Department of Energy Plant Research Laboratory has unraveled an important step in the way the plant hormone jasmonate works.

ACP, others oppose paying for 'fiscal cliff' by halting Medicaid primary care fee increases
The American College of Physicians and more than 100 other national medical specialty societies and state physician member societies today sent a letter to House and Senate leaders expressing their

Bilirubin can prevent damage from cardiovascular disease
Heart attacks and other symptoms of cardiovascular disease can be caused when blockage occurs in the arteries.

Crowdsourcing the cosmos: Astronomers welcome all to identify star clusters in Andromeda galaxy
Astronomers at the University of Washington and partners invite the public to search Hubble Space Telescope images of the Andromeda galaxy to help identify star clusters and increase understanding of how galaxies evolve.

Tracking invasive cheatgrass role in larger, more frequent Western fires
Bradley, Balch and colleagues say that over the past 10 years, cheatgrass fueled most of the largest fires, influencing 39 of the largest 50.

Creativity and linguistic skills important for immersion in World of Warcraft
The sense of immersion in role-play and computer games is sometimes viewed as dangerous, as players' strong perceptions of fictional worlds are assumed to make them lose contact with reality.

Pokemon provides rare opening for IU study of face-recognition processes
Indiana University neuroscientists use Pokemon cards and kids to test a theory of facial cognition that until now has been difficult to support.

Consumers benefitted nearly $1.5 billion from the ACA's medical loss ratio rule in 2011
Consumers saw nearly $1.5 billion in insurer rebates and overhead cost savings in 2011, due to the Affordable Care Act's medical loss ratio provision requiring health insurers to spend at least 80 percent of premiums on health care or quality improvement activities or pay a rebate to customers, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.

Gladstone scientists: 'ApoE is an ideal target for halting progression of Alzheimer's disease'
Despite researchers' best efforts, no drug exists that can slow, halt or reverse the onslaught of Alzheimer's disease.

New test adds to scientists' understanding of Earth's history, resources
A new study co-authored by a University of Florida researcher provides the first direct chronological test of sequence stratigraphy, a powerful tool for exploring Earth's natural resources.

OHSU study shows that a molecule critical to nerve cells increases drammatically during hypertension
Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University's School of Dentistry have made an important connection between a molecule critical to nerve cells and high blood pressure.

A new genetic fingerprint lives in your belly
A new study suggests that the collection of microbial DNA in the belly is just as individualized as our own human DNA.

Site-specific, long-term research expanding understanding of climate change
Research at the Forest Service's Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in New Hampshire's White Mountains forms the basis for an article by Peter Groffman of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies with Forest Service scientists Lindsey Rustad and John Campbell and others.

New technology decodes chemical messages sent by bed bugs
Bed bugs exchange specific chemical signals corresponding to particular behaviors, and researchers have now combined two unusual technologies to sniff out these signals in a matter of seconds.

Microchoreography: Researchers use synthetic molecule to guide cellular 'dance'
Johns Hopkins researchers have used a small synthetic molecule to stimulate cells to move and change shape, bypassing the cells' usual way of sensing and responding to their environment.

New '4-D' transistor is preview of future computers
A new type of transistor shaped like a Christmas tree has arrived just in time for the holidays, but the prototype won't be nestled under the tree along with the other gifts.

Wind speeds in southern New England declining inland, remaining steady on coast
Oceanographers at the University of Rhode Island have analyzed long-term data from several anemometers in southern New England and found that average wind speeds have declined by about 15 percent at inland sites while speeds have remained steady at an offshore site.

First evidence of fish sensing geomagnetic fields from a Czech Christmas market
Carp stored in large tubs at Czech Christmas markets align themselves in the north-south direction, suggesting they possess a previously unknown capacity to perceive geomagnetic fields, according to a new study published December 5 in the open access journal PLOS ONE, led Hynek Burda from the University of Life Sciences (Prague), Czech Republic and colleagues from other institutions.

The many maps of the brain
Your brain has at least four different senses of location -- and perhaps as many as 10.

'Resistance' to low-dose aspirin therapy extremely rare
In a study of 400 healthy volunteers, researchers went looking for people who are truly resistant to the benefits of aspirin.

Clinical trial tests rice bran to prevent cancer
A recent University of Colorado Cancer Center review in the journal Advances in Nutrition shows that rice bran offers promising cancer prevention properties.

New analysis examines stakes for Medicaid in upcoming fiscal cliff negotiations on Capitol Hill
A new analysis by Professor Sara Rosenbaum, JD, the Harold and Jane Hirsh Professor of Health Law and Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services indicates that severe cuts to the Medicaid program will cripple the ongoing effort to reform the US health care system.

Extraverted gorillas enjoy longer lives, research suggests
Gorillas with an extravert personality live longer than their more introverted peers, a study suggests.

African American women with breast cancer less likely to have newer, recommended surgical procedure
African American women with early stage, invasive breast cancer were 12 percent less likely than Caucasian women with the same diagnosis to receive a minimally invasive technique, axillary sentinel lymph node biopsy, years after the procedure had become the standard of surgical practice, according to research from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Plant stress paints early picture of drought
In July 2012, farmers in the US Midwest and Plains regions watched crops wilt and die after a stretch of unusually low precipitation and high temperatures.

A leap forward for red blood cell formation
In a new study out in Nature, researchers have made a leap forward into understanding how red blood cells are formed and how the body regulates the formation of haemoglobin, the molecule that transports oxygen around the body.

Death rate 2 to 4 times as high among childless couples
Despite the popular belief among parents that having children shortens their lives, the reverse seems to be true, particularly for women, indicates a large study of childless couples, treated for infertility, and published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Boston Medical Center awarded elite distinction as a 2012 Leapfrog Top Hospital
The Leapfrog Group's annual list of Top Hospitals was announced on December 4th in Baltimore, Maryland and included Boston Medical Center in Boston, MA for the first time.

National Geographic unveils new phase of genographic project
The National Geographic Society today announced the next phase of its Genographic Project -- the multiyear global research initiative that uses DNA to map the history of human migration.

Discovery of 100 million-year-old regions of DNA shows short cut to crop science advances
Scientists have discovered 100 million-year-old regions in the DNA of several plant species which could hold secrets about how specific genes are turned 'on' or 'off'.

Case Western Reserve School of Medicine receives funding for healthy growth research
Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine announced that it will receive funding through the Achieving Healthy Growth program within the Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative.

Scripps Florida scientist awarded $2.5 million to study inner workings of memory formation
A scientist from the Florida campus of the Scripps Research Institute has been awarded approximately $2.5 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke to better define how the brain organizes different types of memories among its neurons.

Cavemen were better at drawing animals than modern artists
Prehistoric artists were better at portraying the walk of four-legged animals in their art than modern man, according to new research published Dec.

Mayo Clinic: Less invasive surgery detects residual breast cancer in lymph nodes after chemotherapy
A study conducted through the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group and led by Judy Boughey, M.D. a breast surgeon at Mayo Clinic shows that a less invasive procedure known as sentinel lymph node surgery successfully identified whether cancer remained in lymph nodes in 91 percent of patients with node-positive breast cancer who received chemotherapy before their surgery.

National disagreement over NASA's goals and objectives detrimental to agency planning
Without a national consensus on strategic goals and objectives for NASA, the agency cannot be expected to establish or work toward achieving long-term priorities, says a new report from the National Research Council.

Synthetic fuel could eliminate US need for crude oil
The United States could eliminate the need for crude oil by using a combination of coal, natural gas and non-food crops to make synthetic fuel, a team of Princeton researchers has found.

Morphing DNA hydrogel flows like liquid but remembers its original shape
A new material created by Cornell researchers is so soft it can flow like a liquid and then, strangely, return to its original shape.

Body mass index may determine which blood pressure treatments work best
According to new research published Online First in the Lancet, body mass index may influence which blood pressure medications work best at reducing the major complications of high blood pressure (strokes, heart attacks, and death). 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