Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

October 16, 2013
Birds on repeat: Do playbacks hurt fowl?
Using the emphatic sounds of two bird species in Ecuador, a Princeton University researcher has -- for the first time in peer-reviewed research -- examined the effects of birdwatchers'

Software uses cyborg swarm to map unknown environs
Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed software that allows them to map unknown environments -- such as collapsed buildings -- based on the movement of a swarm of insect cyborgs, or

Researchers looking at new way to treat chronic kidney disease and heart failure
Researchers at St. Michael's Hospital are using adult bone marrow stem cells as they investigate a completely new way of treating chronic kidney disease and heart failure in rats.

Using mobile devices to look up drug info prevents adverse events in nursing homes
Nearly nine out of 10 nursing home physicians said that using their mobile devices to look up prescription drug information prevented at least one adverse drug event in the previous month, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

IASLC gives 5 people travel awards
The International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer awarded five people Advocacy Travel Awards.

Tracking viral DNA in the cell
Cell biologists and chemists from the University of Zurich reveal how viral DNA traffics in human cells.

The World Food Prize 2013 recognizes the contribution of agrobiotechnology to world food security
This year the World Food Prize honors the pioneers of agrobiotechnology, a technology with a safe use status for 17 years that increased food security and agricultural productivity.

American Geosciences Institute Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding
Today, a national center focused on the geosciences launches the world's most comprehensive and up-to-date online clearinghouse for Earth and space science information and educational resources, ranging from high school curricula and classroom activities to video collections, career resources, and national research reports.

Poor rural youth in Haiti are rich in family ties, rooted in their own culture
Haitian teens, especially those who live in the country's rural areas, are among the poorest persons in the Western Hemisphere, but they are rich in their family relationships and strongly rooted in their own culture, a University of Illinois study finds.

Blood pressure drugs shown to decrease risk of Alzheimer's disease dementia
A Johns Hopkins-led analysis of data previously gathered on more than 3,000 elderly Americans strongly suggests that taking certain blood pressure medications to control blood pressure may reduce the risk of dementia due to Alzheimer's disease.

For celebrated frog hops, scientists look to Calaveras pros
The Calaveras County Jumping Frog Jubilee has entered the scientific record via a new paper in the Journal of Experimental Biology.

Bacteria-eating viruses 'magic bullets in the war on superbugs'
A University of Leicester discovery is going to be commercially developed for potential treatment of antibiotic resistant infections.

Patients with poor nutrition before bladder cancer operation have higher risk of complications
Patients with bladder cancer are two times more likely to have complications after a radical cystectomy procedure if they have a biomarker for poor nutritional status before the operation, according to study findings presented last week at the 2013 Clinical Congress of the American College of Surgeons.

Investing in our future: The evidence base on preschool education
The expansion of publicly-funded preschool education is currently the focus of a prominent debate.

Queen's University scientists shed new light on star death
New research from Queen's astronomers proposes that the most luminous supernovae -- exploding stars -- are powered by small and incredibly dense neutron stars, with gigantic magnetic fields that spin hundreds of times a second.

ALMA probes mysteries of jets from giant black holes
Two international teams of astronomers have used the power of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array to focus on jets from the huge black holes at the centers of galaxies and observe how they affect their surroundings.

Ancient Syrians favored buying local to outsourcing production
An archaeologist at the University of Sheffield has found evidence that, contrary to a widely held theory, ancient Syrians made their stone tools locally instead of importing finished tools from Turkey.

New tool to improve and speed up diagnosis of heart damage after a heart attack
Researchers from the Computer Vision Center have developed a new tool to quantify the myocardial perfusion damage in people who had a heart attack or an angina.

Bariatric surgery patients not being prioritized correctly
Most people who receive bariatric surgery in Canada, and around the world, are obese women, even though their male counterparts are more at risk, especially if those men are smokers and have diabetes.

Antibiotic use to treat catheter-associated bacteriuria futile in decreasing risk of mortality
Many patients with indwelling urinary catheters acquire bacteria in the urinary tract while they are catheterized.

The brain's neural thermostat
Brandeis University scientists observed in vivo that neocortical neurons, cells that control higher functions such as sight, language and spatial reasoning, have a set average firing rate and return to this set point even during prolonged periods of sensory deprivation.

Salk scientists expand the genetic code of mammals to control protein activity in neurons with light
With the flick of a light switch, researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies can change the shape of a protein in the brain of a mouse, turning on the protein at the precise moment they want.

Maximizing broccoli's cancer-fighting potential
Spraying a plant hormone on broccoli -- already one of the planet's most nutritious foods -- boosts its cancer-fighting potential, and researchers say they have new insights on how that works.

Killer whales may have menopause so grandma can look after the kids
Killer whales are just one of three species that live long after they've stopped reproducing.

Recession's after-effects could lead to cheating and workplace theft suggests new study
We like to think we'd stick to our ethical principles no matter what.

The elephant in the room: Elephant vocal folds may hold clues to human sound production
Christian Herbst and his colleagues from the University of Vienna, Austria, have known for just little over a year that elephants produce sound in a similar way to humans, namely by the passive flow-induced vibration of the vocal folds.

New York Stem Cell Foundation announces $10.5 million to 7 new NYSCF-Robertson Investigators
The New York Stem Cell Foundation today named seven of the most promising scientists as its 2013 NYSCF-Robertson Investigators.

Curiosity confirms origins of Martian meteorites
Earth's most eminent emissary to Mars has just proven that those rare Martian visitors that sometimes drop in on Earth -- a.k.a.

As chimpanzees grow, so does yawn contagion
As sanctuary-kept chimpanzees grow from infant to juvenile, they develop increased susceptibility to human yawn contagion, possibility due to their increasing ability to empathize.

Lawsuits increasing over skin-related laser surgery like hair removal performed by non-physicians
A study published online Oct. 16 in JAMA Dermatology found that lawsuits related to procedures when non-physicians are operating the laser are increasing, particularly outside of a traditional medical setting.

Women, STEM and stereotypes
Women who are the most invested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields are also the ones who are most likely to leave them.

Rare gene mutation sheds light on protein's role in brain development
Though worlds apart, four unrelated families have been united in a medical mystery over the source of a rare inherited disorder that results in their children being born with abnormal brain growth and severe functional impairments.

Misinterpretation of study
In a recent study an international research team examined whether cats living in multi-cat households are more stressed than cats housed singly.

Tip-of-the-tongue moments may be benign
Despite the common fear that those annoying tip-of-the-tongue moments are signals of age-related memory decline, the two phenomena appear to be independent, according to findings published in Psychological Science.

Light triggers death switch in cancer cells
Researchers at Cardiff University have created a peptide (a small piece of protein), linked to a light-responsive dye, capable of switching 'on' death pathways in cancer cells.

Extinct 'mega claw' creature had spider-like brain
An international team of researchers has discovered the earliest known complete nervous system exquisitely preserved in the fossilized remains of a never-before described creature that crawled or swam in the ocean 520 million years ago.

Stanford drones open way to new world of coral research
Camera-equipped flying robots promise new insights into climate change effects on important ecosystems.

'Intergenerational Relations: European Perspectives in Family and Society'
Relations between generations in family and society will be of crucial importance to the development of European societies going forward say University of Luxembourg researchers in a new high profile book.

Engine technology on the road to meeting emissions standards
An engine design appearing under the hoods of many new cars and light trucks today is close to meeting the latest pollution standards that will require vehicles to emit fewer harmful particles over their lifetimes, scientists are reporting.

No increase in sexual risk-taking seen in partners who know they are protected from HIV transmission
HIV-negative partners in heterosexual serodiscordant couples who use prophylactic drugs to protect against HIV transmission do not show any significant increase in risky sexual behavior, even when they know they are protected, according to new results published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Finding Alzheimer's disease before symptoms start
Johns Hopkins researchers say that by measuring levels of certain proteins in cerebrospinal fluid, they can predict when people will develop the cognitive impairment associated with Alzheimer's disease years before the first symptoms of memory loss appear.

Defining the graphene family tree
There has been an intense research interest in all two-dimensional forms of carbon since Geim and Novoselov's discovery of graphene in 2004.

Genetic errors identified in 12 major cancer types
Examining 12 major types of cancer, scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Scientists develop heat-resistant materials that could vastly improve solar cell efficiency
Scientists from Stanford and Illinois have created a heat-resistant thermal emitter that could significantly improve solar cell efficiency.

Cuckoos impersonate hawks by matching their 'outfits'
Evolutionary trick allows cuckoos to 'mimic' the plumage of birds of prey, and may be used to scare mothers from their nests -- allowing cuckoos to lay eggs.

Rapid blood test to diagnose sepsis at the bedside could save thousands of lives, study suggests
Researchers at King's College London have identified a biomarker -- a biological 'fingerprint' -- for sepsis in the blood, and showed it could be possible to diagnose the condition within two hours by screening for this biomarker at a patient's bedside.

Wari, predecessors of the Inca, used restraint to reshape human landscape
The Wari, a complex civilization that preceded the Inca empire in pre-Columbia America, didn't rule solely by pillage, plunder and iron-fisted bureaucracy, a Dartmouth study finds.

Study suggests: Blood test can differentiate between benign lung nodules and early stage lung cancer
Indi today announced the results of a major study, which suggests that quantifying a combination of blood proteins can distinguish between benign lung nodules and early-stage lung cancer with high probability.

Study finds traumatic life events biggest cause of anxiety and depression
A study by psychologists at the University of Liverpool has found that traumatic life events are the biggest cause of anxiety and depression, but how a person thinks about these events determines the level of stress they experience.

CHERuB connection to accelerate data-driven science at UC San Diego
The San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, and the university's Administrative Computing and Telecommunications organization have been awarded a National Science Foundation grant to connect the campus to high-bandwidth national research networks to help advance a new range of data-driven research.

Miscarriage perceptions vs. reality: Public understanding not in sync with facts
The majority of Americans inaccurately believe miscarriage is rare and misunderstand its causes, creating an often isolating and guilt-ridden experience for those who experience it.

Study puts freshwater biodiversity on the map for planners and policymakers
When it comes to economic growth and environmental impacts, it can seem like Newton's third law of motion is the rule -- for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction -- and that in most cases, the economy prospers and the environment suffers.

Sinking teeth into the evolutionary origin of our skeleton
Did our skeletons evolve for protection or for violence? The earliest vestiges of our skeleton are encountered in 500 million-year-old fossil fishes, some of which were armor-plated filter feeders, while others were naked predators with a face full of gruesome, vicious teeth.

I'm singing in the rainforest
Researchers find striking similarities between bird song and human music.

Researchers discover and treat toxic effects of ALS mutation in neurons made from patients' skin cells
Researchers have discovered how the most common genetic abnormality in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia kills neurons and have successfully developed a therapeutic strategy to block this neurodegeneration in neurons made from the skin cells of ALS patients.

Tufts CTSI receives $24 Million NIH Clinical and Translational Science Award
Tufts University and Tufts Medical Center today announced that the National Institutes of Health has named the Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) a recipient of the 2013 Clinical and Translational Science Awards.

New cases of autism in UK have levelled off after 5-fold surge during 1990s
The number of newly diagnosed cases of autism has leveled off in the UK after a five-fold surge during the 1990s, finds research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

Study shows how Staph toxin disarms the immune system
Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center have discovered a new mechanism by which the deadly Staphylococcus aureus bacteria attack and kill off immune cells.

Low-voiced men love 'em and leave 'em, yet still attract more women: Study
Men with low-pitched voices have an advantage in attracting women, even though women know they're not likely to stick around for long.

Avian influenza virus detection using smell
New research from the Monell Chemical Senses Center and the US Department of Agriculture reveals that avian influenza, which typically is asymptomatic, can be detected based on odor changes in infected birds.

Genetic alterations show promise in diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer
Genetic alterations show promise in diagnosis and treatment of bladder cancer.

When neurons have less to say, they speak up
Neurons strengthen their synapses in order to remain active after loss of input.

Glowing neurons reveal networked link between brain, whiskers
New research on mouse whiskers from Duke University reveals a surprise -- at the fine scale, the sensory system's wiring diagram doesn't have a set pattern.

Mr. Lewis (Stan) Pittman recognized for service to the American Geosciences Institute
The American Geosciences Institute would like to thank Mr. Lewis (Stan) Pittman for his continued service to the AGI community by honoring him with the William B Heroy Jr.

Chimpanzees: Alarm calls with intent?
Major research led by University of York scientists has discovered remarkable similarities between the production of vocalisations of wild chimpanzees and human language.

A bad break for fake pearls
For the first time, a group of researchers has succeeded in isolating DNA from pearls and used their genetic material to identify the specific species of oyster that produced the pearl.

Schizophrenia linked to abnormal brain waves
MIT neuroscientists discover neurological hyperactivity that produces disordered thinking.

Female hormones key to breast and ovarian cancer in BRCA gene carriers
Researchers announced today in the journal Lancet Oncology that they are well on the way to discovering why women with the faulty genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, one of which was inherited by the actress Angelina Jolie, develop breast and ovarian cancer rather than other cancers.

Farm and germ education go hand in hand
School children demonstrated significantly increased knowledge of germ spread and prevention on a farm after working on an interactive lesson about microbes.

NYU-Poly professors win Google Faculty Research Awards
Two faculty members from the Polytechnic Institute of New York University are among the latest recipients of the Google Faculty Research Awards supporting cutting-edge research.

Elusive secret of HIV long-term immunity
Scientists have discovered a long sought, critical new clue about why some people are able to control the HIV virus long term without taking antiviral drugs.

University of Toronto research warns against Wi-Fi in cars
Plans to provide high-speed Internet access in vehicles, announced last month by Canadian telecommunications company Rogers Communications and American provider Sprint Corporation, could do with some sobering second-thought, says a University of Toronto psychology professor in a new study on the impact of auditory distractions on visual attention.

UMD researchers address economic dangers of 'peak oil'
Researchers from the University of Maryland and a leading university in Spain illustrate why the imminent peaking of global oil production is a threat to national and global economies and demonstrate in their new study which vulnerable sectors could put the entire US economy at risk when global oil production peaks.

Taking stock of research on sleepless soldiers
Various behavioral treatment options are helping to treat the sleeplessness experienced by American soldiers who have been deployed in recent military operations.

Health Affairs looks at economic trends & quality trade-offs
Articles in Health Affairs' October issue examine the pursuit of improved physical and mental health.

Quantum particles find safety in numbers
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich researchers have uncovered a novel effect that, in principle, offers a means of stabilizing quantum systems against decoherence.

Keep your friends close, but...
Counterintuitive findings from a new USC study show that the part of the brain that is associated with empathizing with the pain of others is activated more strongly by watching the suffering of hateful people as opposed to likable people.

Separating the good from the bad in bacteria
New microfluidic technique quickly distinguishes bacteria within the same strain; could improve monitoring of cystic fibrosis and other diseases.

Predicting health risks of everyday chemicals
Concern over the safety of everyday household products, such as baby bottles and soaps, has spurred a wide-ranging research effort into predicting the health risks of tens of thousands of chemicals.

Cognitive skills of kids born to teen moms don't lag behind those of other kids
Contrary to popular belief, the intellectual development of children born to teen moms does not lag behind that of children born to moms in their 20s and 30s, finds research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Toxin-emitting bacteria being evaluated as a potential multiple sclerosis trigger
A research team from Weill Cornell Medical College and The Rockefeller University has identified a bacterium it believes may trigger multiple sclerosis, a chronic, debilitating disorder that damages myelin forming cells in the brain and spinal cord.

New soil testing kit for third world countries
Results of soil testing could improve crop yields and fight hunger.

Dr. John Martin awarded $3.7M for movement control studies
The laboratory of Dr. John Martin, medical professor in The City College of New York's Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education, recently received $3.7 million for three new investigations into how the nervous system controls movement.

Doctors likely to accept new medicaid patients as coverage expands
The upcoming expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act won't lead physicians to reduce the number of new Medicaid patients they accept, suggests a study in the Nov. issue of Medical Care, published by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, a part of Wolters Kluwer Health.

Narrow-spectrum UV light may reduce surgical infections
Despite major efforts to keep operating rooms sterile, surgical wound infections remain a serious and stubborn problem, killing up to 8,200 patients a year in the US.

Sky survey captures key details of cosmic explosions
Developed to help scientists learn more about the complex nature of celestial objects, astronomical surveys have been cataloging the night sky since the beginning of the 20th century.

'Individualized' therapy for the brain targets specific gene mutations causing dementia and ALS
Johns Hopkins scientists have developed new drugs that -- at least in a laboratory dish -- appear to halt the brain-destroying impact of a genetic mutation at work in some forms of two incurable diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and dementia.

How do ADHD medications work?
There is a swirling controversy regarding the suspicion that medications prescribed for the treatment of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) primarily act to control disruptive behavior as opposed to having primary effects on the ability to attend to the environment.

Over 1 million community health center patients will remain uninsured and left out of health reform
A new report by the Geiger Gibson/RCHN Community Health Foundation Research Collaborative at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services examines the impact of health reform on community health centers and their patients.

In elderly, hardening of arteries linked to plaques in brain
Even for elderly people with no signs of dementia, those with hardening of the arteries are more likely to also have the beta-amyloid plaques in the brain that are a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease, according to a study published in the Oct.

UTHealth's John Munz wins orthopaedic teaching award
John Wesley Munz, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston Medical School, has been presented a teaching award by an internationally recognized medical organization.

Working to the beat
Making music alleviates physical exertion.

High school teams receive Lemelson-MIT InvenTeam grant for invention projects
There is an opportunity to strengthen tomorrow's economic leaders through harnessing the powerful imaginations of today's youth.

Carbon cycle models underestimate indirect role of animals
While models typically take into account how plants and microbes affect the carbon cycle, they often underestimate how much animals can indirectly alter the absorption, release, or transport of carbon within an ecosystem.

UNH researchers receive $700,000 to study beneficial bacteria in bioluminescent squid
Microbiologists at the University of New Hampshire have received a $716,000 to study the evolution of beneficial microbes by examining the relationship between the Hawaiian bobtail squid and a bacterium that helps it avoid predators by emitting light.

Without plants, Earth would cook under billions of tons of additional carbon
Researchers based at Princeton University found that Earth's terrestrial ecosystems have absorbed 186 billion to 192 billion tons of carbon since the mid-20th century, which has significantly contained the global temperature and levels of carbon in the atmosphere.

Calaveras County Fair helps scientists measure bullfrogs jumping abilities
In the lab, bullfrogs will jump, on average, just a measly 1 m in distance.

New technology that sorts cells by stiffness may help spot disease
Researchers have developed a new technology to sort human cells according to their stiffness, which might one day help doctors identify certain diseases in patients, according to a new study.

Direct induction of chondrogenic cells from human dermal fibroblast culture by defined factors
A research team led by Professor Noriyuki Tsumaki of the Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) at Kyoto University and Dr.

Children born to teen mothers have delayed development, likely due to social factors
Babies born to teen mothers have less developed speaking skills at age five than children of older mothers, a new study has found.

New survey tools unveil 2 celestial explosions
A team of researchers, including two Carnegie scientists, used a novel astronomical survey software system--the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory--to link a new stripped-envelope supernova, named iPTF13bvn, to the star from which it exploded, which is a first for this type of supernova, called Type Ib.

Participation in cardiac rehab program can result in gains for recovery in stroke patients
Stroke patients who participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program for six months make rapid gains in how far and fast they can walk, the use of weakened limbs and their ability to sit and stand, according to a study presented today at the Canadian Stroke Congress.

Traumatic injuries in elderly patients are often underestimated
Traumatic injuries can be more severe for older adults, yet they often do not get the right level of care, according to a study appearing in the October issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

UCLA to house worldwide database of brain images for chronic-pain conditions
A new database featuring hundreds of brain scans and other key clinical information will help researchers tease out similarities and differences between these and many other chronic-pain conditions, helping to accelerate research and treatment development.

Mice modeling schizophrenia show key brain network in overdrive
Working with mice genetically engineered to display symptoms of schizophrenia, neuroscientists at the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have uncovered a faulty brain mechanism that may underlie schizophrenia and other psychiatric disorders in humans.

Genetic mutation linked to Alzheimer's disease doubles rate of brain tissue loss, USC study shows
Carriers of a specific genetic mutation linked to Alzheimer's disease lose 1.4 percent to 3.3 percent more of their brain tissue than non-carriers, and twice as fast, which indicates more rapid onset of the disease.

Just ask the animals!
Many animals are adapting to human encroachment of their natural habitats.

Toward a urine test for detecting blood clots
Detecting dangerous blood clots, which can cause life-threatening conditions such as strokes and heart attacks, leading causes of death for men and women in the US, has been a coveted and elusive goal.

Mayo Clinic psychiatrist: Taking guns away from mentally ill won't eliminate mass shootings
A string of public mass shootings during the past decade-plus have rocked America leaving policymakers and mental health experts alike fishing for solutions to prevent these heinous crimes.

Pancreatic cancer patient survival 'significantly higher' with nab-paclitaxel, says TGen-led study
By all measures, the addition of nab-paclitaxel for the treatment of patients with advanced pancreatic cancer was superior to the survival for patients who received only gemcitabine, according to the results of a study led by the Translational Genomics Research Institute and Scottsdale Healthcare, published today by The New England Journal of Medicine.

Vaccine confers long-term protection against cholera
A clinical study published in the Lancet Infectious Diseases shows for the first time that an oral cholera vaccine (ShancholTM) provides sustained protection against cholera in humans for up to five years.

Harvard's Wyss Institute and AstraZeneca announce collaboration on Organs-on-Chips for drug safety
The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and AstraZeneca will team up to build new versions of the Institute's Organs-on-Chips devices, which represent an important step toward reducing the need for traditional animal testing.

Geoscience Workforce Currents #79
This is the role of internships for bachelor's, master's and Ph.D. geoscience students from the 2013 National Geosciece Student Exit Survey.

'Crime Prevention through Housing Design: Policy and Practice'
Fears that new planning rules might lead to a surge in crime have led a University of Huddersfield expert to hold talks with senior figures in government and policing, aiming to ensure that there is no relaxation in the requirement for housing developments to incorporate crime prevention measures.

Babies know when you're faking
In a study recently published in Infancy: The Official Journal of the International Society on Infant Studies, psychology researchers Sabrina Chiarella and Diane Poulin-Dubois demonstrate that infants can detect whether a person's emotions are justifiable given a particular context.

Finding blood clots before they wreak havoc
Simple urine test developed by MIT engineers uses nanotechnology to detect dangerous blood clotting. 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