Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

January 09, 2013
Next-generation adaptive optics brings remarkable details to light in stellar nursery
A new image released today reveals how Gemini Observatory's most advanced adaptive optics system will help astronomers study the universe with an unprecedented level of clarity and detail by removing distortions due to the Earth's atmosphere.

Measuring genomic response to infection leads to earlier, accurate diagnoses
Duke researchers are looking to genomic technologies -- not the isolation of bacteria or viruses -- to quickly detect and diagnose infectious diseases such as the flu and staph.

AFOSR awards grants to 40 scientists and engineers through its Young Investigator Research Program
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research will award approximately $15 million in grants to 40 scientists and engineers who submitted winning research proposals through the Air Force's Young Investigator Research Program.

Microscopic blood in urine unreliable indicator of urinary tract cancer
Microscopic amounts of blood in urine have been considered a risk factor for urinary tract malignant tumors.

Used coffee grounds are a rich source of healthful antioxidants
To plant food, insect repellant and other homespun uses for spent coffee grounds, scientists are adding an application that could make the gunk left over from brewing coffee a valuable resource for production of dietary supplements.

News from the world of quantum physics: A non-causal quantum eraser
Whether a quantum object behaves like a wave or like a particle depends (according to the Copenhagen interpretation) on the choice of measurement apparatus used for observing the system, and therefore on the type of measurement performed.

R U eating healthy 2day?
Teens receive an average of 114 texts per day!. Couple this with CDC's report that high school students' consumption of fruit and vegetables is, on average, 1.2 times per day and it makes sense to start using text messages to inform teens about health.

Fusion gene contributes to glioblastoma progression
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers led by Matti Annala at Tampere University of Technology in Finland identified a fusion between the FGFR3 and TACC3 genes in human glioblastoma samples.

US health disadvantage spans age and socioeconomic groups
On average, Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than people in other high-income countries.

GW researchers find variation in foot strike patterns in predominantly barefoot runners
A recently published paper by two George Washington University researchers shows that the running foot strike patterns vary among habitually barefoot people in Kenya due to speed and other factors such as running habits and the hardness of the ground.

Bugs need symbiotic bacteria to exploit plant seeds
While firebugs have no impact on humans, their relatives, the cotton stainers, are serious agricultural pests.

Expert suggests tried-and-true strategies to strengthen your relationship
What are you doing to keep your relationship alive? A University of Illinois study highlights the importance of five relationship maintenance strategies that couples can use to preserve or improve the quality of an intimate relationship.

Low extinction rates made California a refuge for diverse plant species
The remarkable diversity of California's plant life is largely the result of low extinction rates over the past 45 million years, according to a new study.

Engineering alternative fuel with cyanobacteria
Sandia National Laboratories Truman Fellow Anne Ruffing has engineered two strains of cyanobacteria to produce free fatty acids, a precursor to liquid fuels, but she has also found that the process cuts the bacteria's production potential.

Not all stem cells are equally efficient for use in regenerative medicine
Scientists at the University of Granada and Alcala de Henares University have concluded that, contrary to what was thought, only a specific group of cord blood stem cells maintained in culture are useful for therapeutic purposes.

Small peptide ameliorates autoimmune skin blistering disease in mice
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, researchers led by Jens Waschke at the Institute of Anatomy and Cell Biology in Munich, Germany, report on a small peptide that treats pemphigus vulgaris.

Smaller radiation fields can spare brain when treating tumors, Wake Forest Baptist research finds
New research from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center shows that patients suffering from aggressive brain tumors can be effectively treated with smaller radiation fields to spare the rest of the brain and preserve cognition.

Protective communities may reduce risk of drinking in teens
Living in a caring community may help curb teenage alcohol use, while hanging out with antisocial peers can have the opposite effect, according to Penn State researchers studying substance abuse patterns.

Ames Laboratory to lead effort to address shortages in rare earth and critical materials
The US Department of Energy announced today that a team led by Ames Laboratory has been selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish an Energy Innovation Hub that will develop solutions to the domestic shortages of rare earth metals and other materials critical for US energy security.

The Teotihuacans exhumed their dead and dignified them with make-up
In collaboration with the National University of Mexico, a team of Spanish researchers has analyzed for the first time remains of cosmetics in the graves of prehispanic civilizations on the American continent.

Regenerative medicine: Clinical trials launched for the treatment of delayed union fractures
Fifty percent of fractures do not heal alone and require surgical bone grafting; this figure equates to around one million patients in Europe.

Anglo American PLC and Carnegie Mellon University sign master agreement for robotics development
Carnegie Mellon University has signed a five-year master agreement with one of the world's largest mining companies, London-based Anglo American PLC, to develop robotic technologies for mining.

KAIST and Saudi Aramco agreed to establish a joint CO2 research center in Korea
The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and Saudi Aramco, a global energy and petrochemicals enterprise, signed a memorandum of understanding on Jan.

First image of insulin 'docking' could lead to better diabetes treatments
A landmark discovery about how insulin docks on cells could help in the development of improved types of insulin for treating both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.

UW, PNNL tackle big data with joint computing institute
The University of Washington and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have created the Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing, which will foster collaborative computing research between the two institutions.

A history lesson from genes
University of Chicago researchers have developed a software model that can infer population history from modern DNA.

NTU study looks at national attitudes towards homosexuals
Attitudes of Singaporeans and permanent residents toward gays and lesbians, although sharply polarised and predominantly negative, have shifted slightly over a five-year span to become a little more favourable.

Networking ability a family trait in monkeys
Two years of painstaking observation on the social interactions of a troop of free-ranging monkeys and an analysis of their family trees has found signs of natural selection affecting the behavior of the descendants.

Why are children at higher risk for negative health effects of environmental toxins?
Children are particularly vulnerable to environmental toxins and a detailed look at how and why, and what can be done to protect children's health, is presented in a two-part article published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies.

After decades of research, scientists unlock how insulin interacts with cells
After decades of speculation about exactly how insulin interacts with cells, the international group of scientists finally found a definitive answer: in an article published today in the journal Nature, the group describes how insulin binds to the cell to allow the cell to transform sugar into energy--and also how the insulin itself changes shape as a result of this connection.

Magma in mantle has deep impact
Magma forms far deeper in the Earth's interior than previously thought, and may solve several puzzles for geologists.

The farthest supernova yet for measuring cosmic history
In 2004 the Supernova Cosmology Project based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory used the Hubble Space Telescope to find a tantalizing supernova that appeared to be almost 10 billion light-years distant.

E-games boost physical activity in children; might be a weapon in the battle against obesity
Video games have been blamed for contributing to the epidemic of childhood obesity in the United States.

Dark energy alternatives to Einstein are running out of room
Research by University of Arizona astronomy professor Rodger Thompson finds that a popular alternative to Albert Einstein's theory for the acceleration of the expansion of the universe does not fit newly obtained data on a fundamental constant, the proton to electron mass ratio.

BPA linked to potential adverse effects on heart and kidneys
Exposure to a chemical once used widely in plastic bottles and still found in aluminum cans appears to be associated with a biomarker for higher risk of heart and kidney disease in children and adolescents, according to an analysis of national survey data.

Mathematics and weather and climate research
The US component of a major world-wide scientific initiative begins Jan.

Scientists use marine robots to detect endangered whales
Two robots equipped with instruments designed to

Passive smoking increases risk of severe dementia, according to study in China
An international study by scientists in China, the UK and the US has found a link between passive smoking and syndromes of dementia.

Mount Sinai researchers foresee new therapies and diagnostics for deadly fibrotic diseases
A team of scientists has developed a playbook for ending the devastating impact of fibrotic diseases of the liver, lung, kidney, and other organs, which are responsible for as many as 45 percent of all deaths in the industrialized world.

NASA sees Tropical Cyclone Narelle intensifying
Infrared and near-infrared NASA satellite imagery provided signs to forecasters that Tropical Cyclone Narelle is intensifying as it moves southwest paralleling Western Australia coastline.

Johns Hopkins scientists use Pap test fluid to detect ovarian, endometrial cancers
Using cervical fluid obtained during routine Pap tests, scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have developed a test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers.

2nd World Summit 'Gut Microbiota For Health' to be held in Madrid
To keep themselves up to date on the most recent advances in the field, scientists and health-care professionals will come together at the 2nd Gut Microbiota For Health World Summit, which is hosted this year by the Gut Microbiota & Health Section of the European Society of Neurogastroenterology and Motility -- a member of United European Gastroenterology -- and the American Gastroenterological Association, with the support of Danone Dairy.

Mussels inspire innovative new adhesive for surgery
Mussels can be a mouthwatering meal, but the chemistry that lets mussels stick to underwater surfaces may also provide a highly adhesive wound closure and more effective healing from surgery.

Researchers reveal most effective treatment for common kidney disorder
The results of a pioneering UK-wide clinical trial that compared treatments for patients with a common type of kidney disease has found one to be significantly more effective.

Deal or no deal: 5 year olds make smart decisions in games of risk
You may have to be over a certain age to be a contestant on

Flooding preparedness needs to include infection prevention and control strategies
In the February issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, clinical investigators report key findings and recommendations related to the closure and re-opening of hospitals impacted by black-water floods.

Sickle cells show potential to attack aggressive cancer tumors
By harnessing the very qualities that make sickle cell disease a lethal blood disorder, a research team led by Duke Medicine and Jenomic, a private cancer research company in Carmel, Calif., has developed a way to deploy the misshapen red blood cells to fight cancer tumors.

Spin and bias in published studies of breast cancer trials
Spin and bias exist in a high proportion of published studies of the outcomes and adverse side-effects of phase III clinical trials of breast cancer treatments, according to new research published in the cancer journal Annals of Oncology.

New study identifies significance of co-infection in disease control
Becoming infected with one parasite could change your chances of becoming infected with another according to new research from Cardiff University.

How the brain stays receptive
The channel protein Pannexin1 keeps nerve cells flexible and thus the brain receptive for new knowledge.

Tree seeds offer potential for sustainable biofuels
Tree seeds, rather than biomass or fuel crop plants, could represent an abundant source of renewable energy, according to research published in the International Journal of Automotive Technology and Management.

Hispanics leery of health care providers, often avoid cancer screenings, Moffitt study shows
When researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center and colleagues conducted a random telephone survey among blacks, whites and Hispanics in New York, Baltimore and San Juan, Puerto Rico, they found that Hispanics are nearly twice as likely to report that fear of being used as a

Faulty behavior
In an earthquake, ground motion is the result of waves emitted when the two sides of a fault move rapidly past each other.

Newly found 'volume control' in the brain promotes learning, memory
Researchers report synapses that act as

Unnecessary antimicrobial use increases risk of recurrent infectious diarrhea
A new study featured in the February issue of Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, the journal of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America, found that many patients with Clostridium difficile infection are prescribed unnecessary antibiotics, increasing their risk of recurrence of the deadly infection.

Making whole wheat bread taste and smell more appetizing
The key to giving whole wheat bread a more appetizing aroma and taste may lie in controlling the amounts of a single chemical compound that appears in the bread, which nutritionists regard as more healthful than its refined white counterpart.

Majority of Americans say new Congress should take immediate action to expand medical research
America Speaks, Volume 13, a compilation of public opinion polls commissioned by Research!America, features timely data about Americans' views on issues related to biomedical and health research.

High fiber diet prevents prostate cancer progression
The rate of prostate cancer occurrence in Asian cultures is similar to the rate in Western cultures, but in the West, prostate cancer tends to progress, whereas in Asian cultures it does not.

Eliminating useless information important to learning, making new memories
As we age, it just may be the ability to filter and eliminate old information -- rather than take in the new stuff -- that makes it harder to learn, scientists at Georgia Regents University report.

Chemical modules that mimic predator-prey and other behaviors
Scientists are reporting development of chemical modules that can reproduce, on an

Vaccine schedule safety: IOM Report to release Jan. 16
Roughly 90 percent of American children receive most childhood vaccines.

Guaranteed delivery -- in ad hoc networks
A new algorithm for message dissemination in decentralized networks is faster than its predecessors but, unlike them, guarantees delivery.

Baby sharks stay still to avoid being detected by predators
Baby sharks still developing in their egg cases can sense when predators are near, and keep very still to avoid being detected, according to research published January 9 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Ryan Kempster from the University of Western Australia and colleagues.

Study finds routine tests done on patients with microscopic blood in urine can be avoided
The presence of microscopic hematuria -- blood found in urine that can't be seen by the naked eye -- does not necessarily indicate the presence of cancer, according to a Kaiser Permanente Southern California study published in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

Neurologists describe most feared and devastating strokes
Among the most feared and devastating strokes is a type that causes head-to-toe paralysis called locked-in syndrome.

Disappearing bacterium may protect against stroke
A new study by NYU School of Medicine researchers reveals that an especially virulent strain of the gut bacterium Helicobacter pylori isn't implicated in the overall death rate of the US population, and may even protect against stroke and some cancers.

Oscillating gel gives synthetic materials the ability to 'speak'
Self-moving gels can give synthetic materials the ability to

UCSF Helen Diller Cancer Center awarded $36 million grant
The National Cancer Institute has awarded the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center a $36 million grant to fund cutting edge research programs and clinical trials over five years.

Research: Bad news can spur strategic change in businesses
While businesses have typically viewed the news media as a megaphone for publicity, they have not viewed it as an influential stakeholder capable of shaping the strategic decisions of key executives, says Michael K.

Sensory hair cells regenerated, hearing restored in mammal ear
Massachusetts Eye and Ear researchers demonstrate for the first time that hair cells can be regenerated in an adult mammalian ear by using a drug to stimulate resident cells to become new hair cells, resulting in partial recovery of hearing in mouse ears damaged by noise trauma.

Study examines how news spreads on Twitter
A study of the Twitter activity of 12 major news agencies shows varying levels of success for the social network as a news-sharing tool, based on factors like article lifespan and number of retweets.

Regeneration of sound sensing cells recovers hearing in mice with noise-induced deafness
Extremely loud noise can cause irreversible hearing loss by damaging sound sensing cells in the inner ear that are not replaced.

Stem cells may hold promise for Lou Gehrig's disease
Apparent stem cell transplant success in mice may hold promise for people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Summit of osteoporosis experts from CIS countries issue 5-point call for action
The Second Summit of CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) Osteoporosis Societies met in St.

Multiple sclerosis drug may one day treat colorectal cancer
After uncovering a mechanism that promotes chronic intestinal inflammation and the development of colorectal cancer, scientists from Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center have found that fingolimod, a drug currently approved for the treatment of multiple sclerosis, could potentially eliminate or reduce the progression of colitis-associated cancer.

Whales' foraging strategies revealed by new technology
Despite the many logistical difficulties of studying large whales, multisensor tags attached to the animals with suction cups are revealing their varied foraging techniques in unprecedented detail.

Online message boards provide outlets for mothers' concerns, MU researcher says
Parenting infants and toddlers can be challenging, and for generations, mothers have turned to other moms for advice.

New book examines the changing landscape of marketing
A new book, Flux: What Marketing Managers Need to Navigate the New Environment, helps managers adapt to the rapidly changing business environment.

Genome scientists launch Microbiome journal
Two prominent microbiologists have launched a new peer-reviewed publication focusing on microbiome research in environmental, agricultural, and biomedical areas.

Mapping the Milky Way: Radio telescopes give clues to structure, history
Surveys of the Milky Way are vastly increasing the number of known sites of massive star formation, tracing the structure of the Galaxy and giving clues to its history, including evidence of possible past mergers with other galaxies.

Drug resistance: 'Baby steps' can pay off big
Rice University scientists have found that mutations of seemingly small consequence can turn out to be game changers in the bacterial fight against antibiotic drugs.

JCI early table of contents for Jan. 9, 2013
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs, and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, Jan.

Particles of crystalline quartz wear away teeth
Dental microwear, the pattern of tiny marks on worn tooth surfaces, is an important basis for understanding the diets of fossil mammals, including those of our own lineage.

Oscar-worthy smoke signals
Top honor for ETH Zurich professor and Disney director Markus Gross: He is to receive a

Poll of psychologists cites emotions as top obstacle to successful weight loss
When it comes to losing weight, a popular New Year's resolution for many, people often focus on eating less and exercising more.

A new treatment for kidney disease-associated heart failure?
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Florian Lang and colleagues at the University of Tubingen in Germany, found that treatment with the mineralocorticoid receptor antagonist spironolactone reduced vascular calcification in klotho hypomorphic mice and increased their life span.

Supply problems spark search for new ways to make magnets -- not the 'fridge' variety
Supply problems spark search for new ways to make magnets -- not the

Genetic form of anemia offers new avenue to treating drug-resistant tumors
The genetic mutation that causes sickle cell anemia also turns red blood cells into potent tumor killers and may offer a new way to treat some cancers that are resistant to existing treatments, according to research published January 9 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by David S.

Interagency report published on information required for short-term water management decisions
Adapting to future climate change impacts requires capabilities in hydroclimate monitoring, short-term prediction and application of such information to support contemporary water management decisions.

Drug-resistant melanoma tumors shrink when therapy is interrupted
Researchers in California and Switzerland have discovered that melanomas that develop resistance to the anti-cancer drug vemurafenib (marketed as Zelboraf), also develop addiction to the drug, an observation that may have important implications for the lives of patients with late-stage disease.

Invading species can extinguish native plants despite recent reports
Evolutionary biologists at the University of Toronto and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich have found that, given time, invading exotic plants will likely eliminate native plants growing in the wild despite recent reports to the contrary.

Study quantifies the size of holes antibacterials create in cell walls to kill bacteria
Researchers recently created a biophysical model of the response of a Gram-positive bacterium to the formation of a hole in its cell wall, then used experimental measurements to validate the theory, which predicted that a hole in the bacteria cell wall larger than 15 to 24 nanometers in diameter would cause the cell to lyse, or burst.

Brown eyes appear more trustworthy than blue
People view brown-eyed faces as more trustworthy than those with blue eyes, except if the blue eyes belong to a broad-faced man, according to research published Jan.

Scientists will assess health of New York-Long Island barrier protection in wake of Sandy
A rapid response science team from the University of Texas at Austin's Institute for Geophysics will help map the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the beach/barrier systems off the south shore of Long Island.

Small price differences can make options seem more similar, easing our buying decisions
Some retailers, such as Apple's iTunes, are known for using uniform pricing in an effort to simplify consumers' choices and perhaps increase their tendency to make impulse purchases. 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