Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

January 07, 2014
Mega-landslide in giant Utah copper mine may have triggered earthquakes
Landslides are one of the most hazardous aspects of our planet, causing billions of dollars in damage and thousands of deaths each year.

Study examines prevalence of smoking among health care professionals
A survey of health care professionals finds that in 2010-2011, current smoking among this group, except for licensed practical nurses, was lower than the general population, and that the majority had never smoked, according to a study in the Jan.

Researchers discover molecule behind the benefits of exercise
While it's clear that exercise can improve health and longevity, the changes that occur in the body to facilitate these benefits are less clear.

NASA's SDO sees giant January sunspots
An enormous sunspot, labeled AR1944, slipped into view over the sun's left horizon late on Jan.

NREL expert honored for energy systems innovations
The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently won several prestigious awards, including honors for innovations in window air-conditioning efficiency, data sharing, and its energy-efficient computer data center.

Fight or flight and the evolution of pain
Hard wired into the survival mechanisms of all animals is the perception of pain.

Survival protein a potential new target for many cancers
Walter and Eliza Hall Institute researchers have discovered a promising strategy for treating cancers that are caused by one of the most common cancer-causing changes in cells.

Temperature found to be most significant driver of the world's tallest trees
Understanding forest biodiversity and how carbon dioxide is stored within trees is an important area of ecological research.

Link found between intimate partner violence and termination of pregnancy
Intimate partner violence in women (sometimes referred to as domestic violence) is linked to termination of pregnancy, according to a study by UK researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

How you practice matters for learning a skill quickly
Practice alone doesn't make perfect, but learning can be optimized if you practice in the right way, according to new research published in Psychological Science based on online gaming data from more than 850,000 people.

Special focus issue on sepsis
A special issue on sepsis has been released by the publisher Landes Bioscience.

Sugar-burning in the adult human brain is associated with continued growth, and remodeling
The Allen Institute for Brain Science announced new research published in Cell Metabolism showing that some regions of the brain continue to develop for longer than others, creating new connections and remodeling existing circuitry.

Childhood fractures may indicate bone-density problems
A recent study at Mayo Clinic, published in the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, indicates that certain types of fractures may have implications for a child's long-term bone health.

Adults with mental illness have lower rate of decline in smoking
In recent years, the decline in smoking among individuals with mental illness was significantly less than among those without mental illness, although the rates of quitting smoking were greater among those receiving mental health treatment, according to a study in the Jan.

Press registration open for CNS 2014 in Boston
Join us for the 2014 Cognitive Neuroscience Society annual meeting, April 5-8, 2014, at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston.

'Traffic light' food labels, positioning of healthy items produce lasting choice changes
The use of color-coded

Sun unleashes first X-class flare of 2014
The sun emitted a significant solar flare peaking at 1:32 p.m.

Cancer Statistics 2014: Death rates continue to drop
An American Cancer Society report finds steady declines in cancer death rates for the past two decades add up to a 20 percent drop in the overall risk of dying from cancer over that time period.

Ketamine acts as antidepressant by boosting serotonin
New research from the RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies in Japan demonstrates using PET imaging studies on macaque monkeys that ketamine increases the activity of serotoninergic neurons in the brain areas regulating motivation.

Perceived benefits of e-cigarettes may lead to higher experimentation rates
E-cigarettes supply nicotine through inhaled water vapor. While the addictiveness and long-term effects of using e-cigarettes as a nicotine delivery system are unknown, many people anecdotally believe that they are safer than traditional tobacco products.

Microbe community changes may reduce Amazon's ability to lock up carbon dioxide
A new paper featured in the January issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology looks for the first time at the reaction of free-living nitrogen-fixing microorganisms called diazotrophs to the conversion of rainforests to pastureland in the Amazon.

Longer-term use of smoking cessation medication effective among patients with mental illness
Among smokers with schizophrenia or bipolar disease who achieved initial smoking abstinence with a standard 12-week course of the smoking cessation drug varenicline, an additional 40 weeks of treatment resulted in abstinence rates that were three times higher than patients who received placebo, according to a study in the Jan.

On-demand vaccines possible with engineered nanoparticles
University of Washington engineers hope a new type of vaccine they have shown to work in mice will one day make it cheaper and easy to manufacture on-demand vaccines for humans.

Combined therapy benefits cigarette smokers trying to quit compared to monotherapy
Among cigarette smokers, combining the smoking cessation medications varenicline and bupropion, compared with varenicline alone, resulted in higher smoking abstinence rates for one outcome but not the other at three and six months; rates were similar at one year, according to a Mayo Clinic study published this month in JAMA.

Drugs related to cannabis have pain-relieving potential for osteoarthritis
Chemical compounds synthesised in the laboratory, similar to those found in cannabis, could be developed as potential drugs to reduce the pain of osteoarthritis.

U of Maryland undergraduates discover rare eclipsing double asteroid
Students in a University of Maryland undergraduate astronomy class made a discovery that wowed professional astronomers: a previously unstudied asteroid is actually a pair of asteroids that orbit and eclipse one another.

Synthetic genetic clock checks the thermometer
Scientists have developed a method to make robust synthetic gene circuits that can adjust to changing temperatures.

Hubble unveils a deep sea of small and faint early galaxies
A team of scientists led by astronomers at the University of California, Riverside has used NASA's Hubble Space Telescope to uncover the long-suspected underlying population of galaxies that produced the bulk of new stars during the universe's early years.

Finding about classic suppressor of immunity points toward new therapies for bad infections
A well-documented suppressor of immunity that's used by fetuses and tumors alike, just may be able to change its spots, researchers report.

Study estimates tobacco control in US has saved 8 million lives in last 50 years
Researchers estimate that tobacco control in the US since 1964 has been associated with the avoidance of an estimated eight million premature smoking-attributable deaths, with the beneficiaries of these avoided early deaths having gained, on average, nearly two decades of life, according to a study in the Jan.

Research shows molecular, protein targeting therapies may be best treatment for certain lung cancer
University of Cincinnati Cancer Institute researchers have found that using therapies specifically targeting the molecular profile of non-small-cell lung cancer with the mutated cancer-causing protein KRas is the most effective treatment strategy for patients with the condition.

MRSA drug dosage calculations found to be inaccurate for children over 10
Nomograms used to calculate drug dosage to treat MRSA are found to be unsuitable for children over 10.

MU researcher's study of African forest elephants helps guide research efforts in the US
Researchers at the University of Missouri are employing genotyping to study movement patterns of African forest elephants in protected and unprotected regions of Gabon to better understand how human occupation of these areas might affect elephants on the African continent.

When germs attack: A lens into the molecular dance
Researchers at Johns Hopkins have zoomed in on what is going on at the molecular level when the body recognizes and defends against an attack of pathogens, and the findings, they say, could influence how drugs are developed to treat autoimmune diseases.

Neuroscience study uncovers new player in obesity
A new neuroscience study sheds light on the biological underpinnings of obesity.

Neurotransmitters resarch can promote better drugs for brain disorders
Although drugs have been developed that inhibit the imbalance of neurotransmitters in the brain -- a condition which causes many brain disorders and nervous system diseases -- the exact understanding of the mechanism by which these drugs work has not yet been fully explained.

How fat might be controlled through the body clock
Australian researchers have shed more light on an underexplored aspect of the important brain-signaling system that controls appetite, body composition and energy use.

New phone alerts for extreme weather may prevent casualties in India
A new paper published in Atmospheric Science Letters details how computer science undergraduates have created image based mobile phone alerts, connected to the Weather Research and Forecasting system.

Pandora's magnifying glass
This image of Abell 2744 is the first to come from Hubble's Frontier Fields observing program, which is using the magnifying power of enormous galaxy clusters to peer deep into the distant universe.

New global stroke repository offers regional comparative statistics
The International Journal of Stroke reports on the efforts of a global team to launch a repository housing the latest published information on the impact of strokes worldwide.

How common is aggression in UK dogs?
New research has estimated the prevalence of human-directed aggression in different situations, and examined the potential risk factors for dogs showing aggression towards people.

The power of packaging in consumer choices
When it comes to deciding what food to eat, one might expect that people's choices will be driven by past experience and personal preference, but how does the general appearance of the package impact buying decisions of consumers?

Including women on convening committees increases women speakers at scientific meetings
Women are currently underrepresented among speakers at scientific meetings, both in absolute terms and relative to their representation among attendees, but a new study from mBio suggests one way to address this deficit.

Study: 'Living Room' offers alternative treatment for emotional distress
Emergency departments may not be the best choice for persons suffering from severe mental illness or emotional distress, according to findings by DePaul University School of Nursing researchers.

The epigenetics of breast cancer family history
Researchers from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York have examined whether a specific epigenetic modification (more specifically, methylation of the DNA) can be associated to breast cancer family history in unaffected women from high-risk breast cancer families.

Gemini Planet Imager first light
After nearly a decade of development, construction, and testing, the world's most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.

Scientists to examine Pacific's 'global chimney'
NCAR scientists and partners next week launch a field project in the tropical Pacific, a remote region that holds a key to understanding worldwide climate.

Stem cells on the road to specialization
Scientists at the University of Copenhagen have gained new insight into how both early embryonic cells and embryonic stem cells are directed into becoming specialized cell types, like pancreatic and liver cells.

Sugar-sweetened beverage tax could reduce obesity and Type 2 diabetes in India
A sugar-sweetened beverage tax could help mitigate the rise in obesity and Type 2 diabetes rates in India among both urban and rural populations, according to a study published this week in PLOS Medicine.

Long-term varenicline treatment supports tobacco abstinence in people with mental illness
Extended treatment with the smoking cessation drug varenicline significantly improved the ability of individuals with serious mental illness to maintain abstinence from tobacco after a standard 12-week course of treatment.

BPA increases risk of cancer in human prostate tissue
Fetal exposure to a commonly used plasticizer found in products such as water bottles, soup can liners and paper receipts, can increase the risk for prostate cancer later in life, according to a study from the University of Illinois at Chicago published Jan.

By the numbers: A simple 10 step approach to reducing the harms of alcohol
Much the same way individuals are encouraged to know their blood pressure and cholesterol numbers to maintain a healthy lifestyle, a new editorial in the Journal of Psychopharmacology urges the European public to know and monitor their alcohol intake number using a simple 10 point plan.

Might more ravens -- aided by humans -- mean 'nevermore' for sage-grouse?
A new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, Idaho State University and the US Geological Survey suggests that habitat fragmentation and the addition of makeshift perches such as transmission polls in sagebrush ecosystems are creating preferred habitat for common ravens that threaten sensitive native bird species, including greater sage grouse.

Out-of-this-world first light images emerge from Gemini Planet Imager
After nearly a decade of development, construction and testing, the world's most advanced instrument for directly imaging and analyzing planets orbiting around other stars is pointing skyward and collecting light from distant worlds.

Overall prevalence of smoking has decreased globally, although number of smokers has increased
Since 1980, the global prevalence of daily tobacco smoking has declined by an estimated 25 percent for men and 42 percent for women, although because of population growth, the number of smokers has increased (41 percent for males; 7 percent for females), along with a 26 percent increase in the number of cigarettes consumed, according to a study in the Jan.

Patterns of social interaction remain consistent over time
Despite the way that mobile technologies and social networking sites have made it easier to stay in touch with large numbers of acquaintances, a new study has shown that people still put most of their efforts into communicating with small numbers of close friends or family, often operating unconscious one-in, one-out policies so that communication patterns remain the same even when friendships change.

Dr. Matt G. Kushner earns Hazelden's Dan Anderson Research Award
Dr. Kushner earned the award for his study,

Combination therapy does not improve ability to quit smoking after 1 year
Among cigarette smokers, the combined use of the smoking cessation medications varenicline and bupropion, compared with varenicline alone, resulted in better rates of smoking abstinence at 12 weeks, but rates were similar after one year, according to a study in the Jan.

8 million lives saved since surgeon general's tobacco warning 50 years ago
A Yale study estimates that 8 million lives have been saved in the United States as a result of anti-smoking measures that began 50 years ago this month with the groundbreaking report from the Surgeon General outlining the deadly consequences of tobacco use.

New research may boost drug efficacy in treating pulmonary arterial hypertension
The development of new, more effective vasodilators to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension has been hampered because of their systemic toxicity and adverse side effects.

Teriflunomide in multiple sclerosis: Added benefit not proven
Flu-like symptoms and reactions at the injection site occur less frequently than under beta interferon 1a, whereas diarrhoea and hair loss are more frequent.

The 5 fingers of our feathered friends: New research results on the evolution of bird wings
Birds' wings have only three fingers. However, the early trace of a fourth finger on the posterior (little finger) side of the hand can be found in embryonic birds.

Some brain regions retain enhanced ability to make new connections
In adults, some brain regions retain a

Unique protein interaction may drive most common genetic cause of Parkinson's disease
Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have discovered how the interplay between two proteins in the brain fuels the degradation and death of the class of brain cells, or neurons, that leads to Parkinson's disease.

Story tips from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory, January 2014
This release focuses on:

Vikings and superheroes: How interconnected characters may reveal the reality behind the stories
The Icelandic sagas of the Norse people are thousand-year-old chronicles of brave deeds and timeless romances, but how true to Viking life were they?

New holographic process uses image-stabilized X-ray camera
A team headed by Stefan Eisebitt has developed a new X-ray holography method that will enable snap-shots of dynamic processes at highest spatial resolution.

Fit teenagers are less likely to have heart attacks in later life
Researchers in Sweden have found an association between a person's fitness as a teenager and their risk of heart attack in later life.

Aflibercept in macular oedema: Added benefit not proven
Due to a lack of suitable data, it is not proven that visual impairment in macular oedema can be treated more effectively with aflibercept than with the appropriate comparator therapy.

New algorithm can dramatically streamline solutions to the 'max flow' problem
An algorithm promises to greatly streamline solutions to the

Ancient sharks reared young in prehistoric river-delta nursery
Like salmon in reverse, long-snouted Bandringa sharks migrated downstream from freshwater swamps to a tropical coastline to spawn 310 million years ago, leaving behind fossil evidence of one of the earliest known shark nurseries.

Low diversity of bacteria may increase the risk for asthma
Low gut microbial diversity in the intestines of infants can increase the risk for asthma development.

Several forms of vitamin E protect against memory disorders
Elderly people with high serum vitamin E levels are less likely to suffer from memory disorders than their peers with lower levels, according to a study published recently in Experimental Gerontology.

Despite declines in smoking rates, number of smokers and cigarettes rises
The number of cigarette smokers globally has increased due to population growth.

Selected events at the 2014 Joint Mathematics Meetings
Over 6,000 mathematicians will attend the annual meetings of the American Mathematical Society and Mathematical Association of America at the Baltimore Convention Center, Jan.

AAS meeting highlights several new Hubble science findings
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is providing a new perspective on the remote universe, including new views of young and distant galaxies bursting with stars.

New research study: The snowball effect of overfishing
Florida State University researchers have spearheaded a major review of fisheries research that examines the domino effect that occurs when too many fish are harvested from one habitat.

50 years of tobacco control significantly extended lives of 8 million Americans
50 years ago, the US Surgeon General issued a report, which outlined, for the first time, the effects of smoking on health.

Compounding pediatric medicines from adult preparations may result in poor content uniformity
More standardized methods are needed for the extemporaneous preparation of pediatric medicines, indicates a doctoral dissertation examined at the University of Eastern Finland.

First dinosaurs identified from Saudi Arabia
Dinosaur fossils are exceptionally rare in the Arabian Peninsula. An international team of scientists from Uppsala University, Museum Victoria, Monash University, and the Saudi Geological Survey have now uncovered the first record of dinosaurs from Saudi Arabia.

To keep their eye on the ball, batters mostly use their heads
Baseball players at bat follow coaches' advice to

Boost careers of female scientists: Make sure women help choose meeting speakers
More women are choosing science careers, yet women are notoriously underrepresented in senior academic positions -- often because they abandon their careers due to pessimism about advancement.

NREL finds a new cellulose digestion mechanism by a fast-eating enzyme
Researchers at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory have discovered that an enzyme from a microorganism first found in the Valley of Geysers on the Kamchatka Peninsula in Russia in 1990 can digest cellulose almost twice as fast as the current leading component cellulase enzyme on the market.

New diagnostic and therapeutic techniques show potential for patients with metastasized melanoma
With low survival rates for patients with metastasized melanoma, accurate staging and effective treatments are critical to extending life.

Stem cells used to model disease that causes abnormal bone growth
Researchers have developed a new way to study bone disorders and bone growth, using stem cells from patients afflicted with a rare, genetic bone disease.

NYSCF scientists make living brain cells from Alzheimer's patients biobanked brain tissue
Scientists at the New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute, working in collaboration with scientists from Columbia University Medical Center, for the first time generated induced pluripotent stem cells lines from non-cryoprotected brain tissue of patients with Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists discover new causes of diabetes
Research by the University of Exeter Medical School has revealed two new genetic causes of neonatal diabetes.

Dabrafenib in melanoma: Added benefit not proven
No positive effects regarding mortality, symptoms and quality of life can be derived from the available data.

AGU journal highlights -- Jan. 7, 2014
Featured in this release are research papers on the following topics:

Of lice and men (and chimps): Study tracks pace of molecular evolution
A new study compares the relative rate of molecular evolution between humans and chimps with that of their lice.

Geological Society of America's top journal, Geology, begins 2014 with 10 new articles
New Geology postings extend the understanding of seawater chemistry by ~300 million years; determine erosion rates for exposure of today's southern Rocky Mountains; reveal new evidence for meltwater pulses; call mudstones

Beating the poppy seed defense: New test can distinguish heroin use from seed ingestion
Heroin is one of the most widely used illegal drugs in the world, but drug testing has long been challenged by the difficulty in separating results of illicit heroin users from those who have innocently eaten poppy seeds containing a natural opiate.

A CNIO research team discovers new regulators of the most prevalent liver disease
CNIO researchers, in collaboration with Johan Auwerx from the EPFL in Lausanne, have discovered novel factors, the AP-1 proteins, which are critically involved in fatty liver disease pathogenesis.

New, simple technique may drive down biofuel production costs
Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a simple, effective and relatively inexpensive technique for removing lignin from the plant material used to make biofuels, which may drive down the cost of biofuel production.

Increased risk of prostate cancer in African-American men; implications for PSA screening
African-American men have an increased risk of prostate cancer and are two times more likely than Caucasian-American men to die from the disease.

Health and wealth connected?
We ring in the New Year with hopes of being healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Is multitasking mastery in the genes?
Human factors/ergonomics researchers have long studied the connection between cognitive function and the ability to perform well on multiple simultaneous tasks, and recently a group of neuroergonomics researchers went a step further to examine a genetic link to multitasking ability. 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