Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

March 25, 2014
Technofossils -- an unprecedented legacy left behind by humans
A new international study by academics from the University of Leicester highlights the unique nature of fossil footprint left behind by mankind.

Long-Term Response of a Forest Watershed Ecosystem
A new book edited by US Forest Service emeritus scientist Wayne Swank and Virginia Tech professor Jack Webster and published by Oxford University Press brings together findings from more than 30 years of collaborative research by the Forest Service and the National Science Foundation Long Term Ecological Research program on the Coweeta Experimental Forest near Otto, North Carolina.

Model predicts blood glucose levels 30 minutes later
A mathematical model created by Penn State researchers can predict with more than 90 percent accuracy the blood glucose levels of individuals with type 1 diabetes up to 30 minutes in advance of imminent changes in their levels -- plenty of time to take preventative action.

Male Eurasian jays know that their female partners' desires can differ from their own
Researchers investigated the extent to which males could disengage from their own current desires to feed the female what she wants.

Blood glucose measure appears to provide little benefit in predicting risk of CVD
In a study that included nearly 300,000 adults without a known history of diabetes or cardiovascular disease (CVD), adding information about glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c), a measure of longer-term blood sugar control, to conventional CVD risk factors like smoking and cholesterol was associated with little improvement in the prediction of CVD risk, according to a study in the March 26 issue of JAMA.

VTT: Building to take note of individual human thermal comfort
Because people in developed countries spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, their sense of warmth becomes one key comfort factor for interior spaces.

JCI online ahead of print table of contents for March 25, 2014
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs, and contact information for the following newsworthy papers published online, March 25, 2014 in the JCI: 'Epigenetic alterations disrupt intestinal T cell homeostasis,' 'Researchers develop a conditionally immortalized human β cell line, PD-1 identifies the patient-specific CD8+ tumor-reactive repertoire infiltrating human tumors,' 'Sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor 1 reporter mice reveal receptor activation sites in vivo,' 'Leptin-promoted cilia assembly is critical for normal energy balance,' and more.

New international partnership aims to unlock wheat's potential
A new international partnership aims to increase wheat yields by 50 percent by 2034.

First images available from NASA-JAXA global rain and snowfall satellite
NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) have released the first images captured by their newest Earth-observing satellite, the Global Precipitation Measurement Core Observatory, which launched into space Feb.

How to look into the Solar interior
An international group, including one professor from the Moscow State University, proposed the first ever quantitative description of the mechanism responsible for sunspot formation and underlying the Solar activity cycle.

Famous paintings help study the Earth's past atmosphere
A team of Greek and German researchers has shown that the colors of sunsets painted by famous artists can be used to estimate pollution levels in the Earth's past atmosphere.

Black markets for hackers are increasingly sophisticated, specialized and maturing
Black and gray markets for computer hacking tools, services and byproducts such as stolen credit card numbers continue to expand, creating an increasing threat to businesses, governments and individuals, according to a new RAND Corporation study.

Long-term productivity higher in university spin-offs than in other companies
Researchers from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the University of Birmingham have analyzed the productivity of technology-based companies in Spain with the aim of comparing the characteristics of spin-offs with all other companies.

Agricultural fires across Sierra Leone
Marked in red, hundreds of land use fires burn in the fields across Sierra Leone.

Entrepreneur teams with scientists to bring vaccines to far reaches of the world
With technical help from Sandia National Laboratories through the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program, a Santa Fe entrepreneur has developed a solar thermal icemaker to cool high-performance shipping containers that safely transport and store temperature-sensitive vaccines and biopharmaceuticals.

Plasma tool for destroying cancer cells
Plasma medicine is a new and rapidly developing area of medical technology.

TEDxNJIT event on April 3
A TEDxNJIT event will take place again on April 3, 2014, in the Jim Wise Theatre on the New Jersey Institute of Technology campus and also via an accompanying live simulcast broadcast available to viewers worldwide.

Knowing true age of your heart key to curbing lifetime heart disease risk
Understanding the true age of your heart is key to curbing the lifetime risk of developing -- and dying from -- heart disease, say new consensus recommendations on how best to stave off the worldwide epidemic of cardiovascular disease, published in the journal Heart.

Patient safety merits new review for modified medical devices, physician says
For patient safety, the US Food and Drug Administration should require that clinical data be submitted as part of a more rigorous re-evaluation of medical devices that are modified after approval.

Two UMass Medical School students take home prestigious Weintraub Award
Colin Conine and Emma Watson, Ph.D. students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, received the 2014 Harold M.

A way to end recurrent urinary tract infections? Study with mice gives hope
Mouse study finds that FDA-approved compound helps rid bladder of 'reservoir populations' of bacteria that cause recurrent UTIs.

Neck ribs in woolly mammoths provide clues about their decline and eventual extinction
Researchers recently noticed that the remains of woolly mammoths from the North Sea often possess a 'cervical' (neck) rib -- in fact, 10 times more frequently than in modern elephants (33.3 percent versus 3.3 percent).

Simon Levin, Ph.D., awarded prestigious 2014 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement
The Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement Executive Committee today named Simon A.

Recreational drug users who switch from ecstasy to mephedrone don't understand the dangers
Contrary to popular belief among recreational drug users, mephedrone has several important differences when compared with MDMA, commonly known as ecstasy.

Doxorubicin alone or with ifosfamide for treating soft tissue sarcoma?
An EORTC study published in The Lancet Oncology does not support administration of intensified doxorubicin and ifosfamide for palliation of advanced soft tissue sarcoma, unless the objective is to shrink the tumor.

New drug raises potential for cancer treatment revolution
A revolution in cancer treatment could soon be underway following a breakthrough by the University of Warwick that may lead to a dramatic improvement in cancer survival rates.

News media registration open for ICE/ENDO 2014
The joint meeting of the International Society of Endocrinology and the Endocrine Society -- ICE/ENDO 2014 -- will be held in Chicago, IL on June 21-24, 2014.

ASU scientist Roy Curtiss receives Lifetime Achievement Award from ASM
Roy Curtiss III, a scientist at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University, has been selected as the 2014 recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Microbiology.

NREL driving research on hydrogen fuel cells
Hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles were the belles of the ball at recent auto shows in Los Angeles and Tokyo, and researchers at the Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory continue to play a key part in improving performance and durability while driving down costs.

Micro systems with big commercial potential featured in SPIE journal
Micro-opto-electro-mechanical systems technologies with a wide range of applications in areas such as robotics, remote chemical detection, space exploration, bioimaging for clinical use, 3D imaging, and telecommunications are highlighted in a special section of the Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS.

Excess weight at 1 year postpartum increases moms' risk for diabetes, heart problems
Watch out for weight gain within a year of giving birth, to prevent new risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Risk of alcohol-related cancer lowers the intention for binge drinking in college students
Binge drinking for college students has proven to be a huge problem at many universities.

Treatment helps reduce risk of esophagus disorder progressing to cancer
Among patients with the condition known as Barrett's esophagus, treatment of abnormal cells with radiofrequency ablation (use of heat applied through an endoscope to destroy cells) resulted in a reduced risk of this condition progressing to cancer, according to a study in the March 26 issue of JAMA.

Indian women with more resources than their husbands face heightened risk of violence
Indian women who have more education than their husbands, who earn more, or who are the sole earners in their families have a higher likelihood of experiencing intimate partner violence (IPV) than women who are not employed or are less educated than their spouse.

NASA sees remnants of TD04W dissipating in South China Sea
The remnants of Tropical Depression 04W moved away from Palawan and into the South China Sea on March 25 as NASA's TRMM satellite passed overhead.

Telecoupling paper honored as 2013's best
A new way scientists -- all kinds of natural and social scientists -- are using to scrutinize some of the world's biggest challenges in sustainability is getting its turn in the spotlight.

Penn study: Distance from designated VA liver transplant center linked with greater risk of death
Veterans with liver disease who live more than 100 miles from a VA hospital that offers liver transplants are only half as likely to be placed on the liver transplant waitlist compared to veterans who live closer to transplant centers, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania.

Robotic arm probes chemistry of 3-D objects by mass spectrometry
A new robotic system at Georgia Tech's Center for Chemical Evolution could soon let scientists better simulate and analyze the chemical reactions of early Earth on the surface of real rocks to further test the theory that catalytic minerals on a meteorite's surface could have jump-started life's first chemical reactions.

The search is on for a hepatitis B drug, thanks to a million dollars in NIH grants to SLU
Two grants from the National Institutes of Health will allow Saint Louis University researchers to build on breakthroughs in understanding the hepatitis B virus and begin the search for a drug to cure -- not just halt -- the illness.

Sugar, not oil
No more oil -- renewable raw materials are the future.

Salamanders shrinking as their mountain havens heat up
Salamanders in some of North America's best habitat are shrinking fast as their surroundings get warmer and drier, forcing them to burn more energy.

Study: Salamanders shrinking due to climate change
Wild salamanders living in some of North America's best salamander habitat are getting smaller as their surroundings get warmer and drier, forcing them to burn more energy in a changing climate.

Managing renewables intelligently
Although more and more of our electrical energy is coming from sources where supply is variable -- whether from wind turbines, solar parks or biomass facilities -- grid structures, industry and private households alike are not yet prepared to deal with the inevitable fluctuations.

Study finds substantial decrease in use of cardiac imaging procedure
There has been a sharp decline since 2006 in the use of nuclear myocardial perfusion imaging (MPI; an imaging procedure used to determine areas of the heart with decreased blood flow), a decrease that cannot be explained by an increase in other imaging methods, according to a study in the March 26 issue of JAMA.

Stink bug traps may increase damage to tomato fruits
New research from entomologists at the University of Maryland suggests that stink bug traps in the garden may actually increase stink bug damage to tomatoes.

In search of a few good apps
While the Food and Drug Administration has released guidelines for the regulation of mobile health (mHealth) apps that act as medical devices or as accessories to medical devices, the vast majority of mHealth apps remain unregulated and unevaluated.

The causes and consequences of global climate warming that took place 56 million years ago studied
A study by the UPV/EHU-University of the Basque Country has ruled out the hypothesis that the fall in sea level was responsible for unleashing global warming 56 million years ago.

Nanotube coating helps shrink mass spectrometers
Nanotechnology is advancing tools that perform on-the-spot chemical analysis for a range of applications including medical testing, explosives detection and food safety.

Mentally challenging jobs may keep your mind sharp long after retirement
A mentally demanding job may stress you out today but can provide important benefits after you retire, according to a new study.

Web-based alcohol screening program shows limited effect among university students
Among university students in New Zealand, a web-based alcohol screening and brief intervention program produced a modest reduction in the amount of alcohol consumed per drinking episode but not in the frequency of drinking, overall amount consumed, or in related academic problems, according to a study in the March 26 issue of JAMA.

Texas researcher: Peaches inhibit breast cancer metastasis in mice
Lab tests at Texas A&M AgriLife Research have shown that treatments with peach extract inhibit breast cancer metastasis in mice.

New method yields potent, renewable human stem cells with promising therapeutic properties
The curative and therapeutic potential of mesenchymal stem cells offers much promise, as these multipotent cells are currently being tested in more than 300 clinical trials in a range of diseases.

Haynes is first to identify cellular patterns of contraction in human hearts
Premi Haynes, a physiology Ph.D. candidate in the Campbell Muscle Lab at the University of Kentucky, has documented the different cellular patterns and mechanical functions in contractions of the human heart.

Pessimism of early global policy architects stunted developing nations' economies: Harvard study
Influential economic ideas first advanced in 1911 -- stressing innovation and entrepreneurialism as the fundamental generators of growth and wealth -- were deemed inappropriate for developing countries, stunting progress in many parts of the world throughout the 20th century, a distinguished Harvard academic says in a newly published paper.

First stem cell study of bipolar disorder yields promising results
What makes a person bipolar, prone to manic highs and deep, depressed lows?

Fewer children at risk for deficient vitamin D
Under new guidelines from the Institute of Medicine, the estimated number of children who are at risk for having insufficient or deficient levels of vitamin D is drastically reduced from previous estimates, according to a Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine study.

Pesticides make the life of earthworms miserable
Pesticides are sprayed on crops to help them grow, but the effect on earthworms living in the soil under the plants is devastating, new research reveals.

Brain differences in college-aged occasional drug users
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have discovered impaired neuronal activity in the parts of the brain associated with anticipatory functioning among occasional 18- to 24-year-old users of stimulant drugs, such as cocaine, amphetamines and prescription drugs such as Adderall.

X-rays film inside live flying insects -- in 3D
Scientists have used a particle accelerator to obtain high-speed 3D x-ray visualizations of flight muscles in flies.

ISU engineer builds instrument to study effects of genes, environment on plant traits
Iowa State University's Liang Dong is leading a research team that's developing an accessible instrument with the scale, flexibility and resolution needed to study how genes and environmental conditions affect plant traits.

Understanding plant-soil interaction could lead to new ways to combat weeds
Using high-powered DNA-based tools, a recent study at the University of Illinois identified soil microbes that negatively affect ragweed and provided a new understanding of the complex relationships going on beneath the soil surface between plants and microorganisms.

Validation study results show method can replace live animals in skin allergy tests
Guinea pigs and mice can be replaced with a non-animal skin sensitization method that uses a human-derived skin model, according to a study presented today by the PETA International Science Consortium, Ltd., at the Society of Toxicology's annual meeting.

Unravelling nerve-cell death in rare children's disease
Researchers discover mutations in a protein that plays a role in the body's DNA repair system -- similar to what's observed in the rare children's disease ataxia-telangiectasia.

USF study: Blood-brain barrier repair after stroke may prevent chronic brain deficits
Following ischemic stroke, the integrity of the blood-brain barrier, which prevents harmful substances such as inflammatory molecules from entering the brain, can be impaired in cerebral areas distant from initial ischemic insult.

Million suns shed light on fossilized plant
Scientists have used one of the brightest lights in the universe to expose the biochemical structure of a 50-million-year-old fossil plant to stunning visual effect.

Last drinks: Brain's mechanism knows when to stop
Our brains are hardwired to stop us drinking more water than is healthy, according to a new brain imaging study led by the University of Melbourne and the Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health.

Counting calories in the fossil record
Why did the ancestors of clams and oysters flourish after one of the worst mass extinctions in Earth's history while another class of shelled creatures, the brachiopods, sharply decline?

Study is first to provide direct evidence that response of unborn children to glucose is associated with mother's insulin sensitivity
A study published in Diabetologia, the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, is the first to provide direct evidence that fetal brain response to a dose of sugar given orally to its mother is associated with the mother's insulin sensitivity.

Doctors raise blood pressure in patients
Doctors routinely record blood pressure levels that are significantly higher than levels recorded by nurses, the first thorough analysis of scientific data has revealed.

Pilot Islamic-compliant livestock insurance product in Africa pays pastoralists in drought-prone Kenya
For the first time in Africa, an insurance policy that combines an Islamic-compliant financial instrument with innovative use of satellite imagery is compensating Muslim pastoralists for drought-induced losses suffered in Kenya's northeastern Wajir County, where livestock are valued at Ksh 46 billion (USD 550 million).

In-fly movie: 3D video from inside flying insects
The flight muscles moving inside flies have been filmed for the first time using a new 3D X-ray scanning technique.

New technique brings us closer to HIV and hepatitis C vaccines
Plans for a new type of DNA vaccine to protect against the deadly HIV and Hepatitis C viruses have taken an important step forward, with University of Adelaide researchers applying for a patent based on groundbreaking new research.

Can virtual reality-based therapy help veterans overcome posttraumatic stress disorder?
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is common among military veterans and together with the often-related anxiety, depression, and psychological and emotional impairment can dramatically affect quality of life.

Clean cooking fuel and improved kitchen ventilation linked to less lung disease
Improving cooking fuels and kitchen ventilation is associated with better lung function and reduced chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to research published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

Small peptides as potential antibiotics
Small peptides attack bacteria in many different ways and may well become a new generation of antibiotics.

RI Hospital: Number of patients admitted with antibiotic-resistant infections is rising
The emergence of community-acquired infections, such as urinary tract infections, due to strains resistant to common antibiotics are on the rise, according to Rhode Island Hospital researchers.

Blood test may help predict whether a child will become obese
Scientists have found that a simple blood test, which can read DNA, could be used to predict obesity levels in children.

Malaysian microjewels going extinct as they are discovered
A Malaysian-Dutch team of biologists has cataloged 31 species of Asian Plectostoma snail, among which ten new to science.

UH industrial designer 'Connects' with International Housewares Association honors
Matthew Burton's 'Connect' recently earned first place the International Housewares Association's 2014 Student Design Competition.

A non-invasive, rapid screening method for Alzheimer's disease
A research team from Department of Neurology, Peking University Shenzhen Hospital in China pointed out a non-invasive and fast method to genotype large samples to help to elucidate the role of apolipoprotein E gene ε4 allele in neural regeneration in the cases with late-onset Alzheimer's disease.

UofSC's McNair Center partners with Fokker Technologies for aerospace research
The Ronald E. McNair Center for Aerospace Innovation and Research, a University of South Carolina center, announced a formal research partnership with Fokker Aerostructures, a subsidiary of Dutch-based Fokker Technologies, to support their development of next-generation aircraft technology.

Goats are far more clever than previously thought
Goats learn how to solve complicated tasks quickly and can recall how to perform them for at least 10 months, which might explain their remarkable ability to adapt to harsh environments, say researchers at Queen Mary University of London.

Sensing gravity with acid
While probing how organisms sense gravity and acceleration, scientists at the Marine Biological Laboratory and the University of Utah uncovered evidence that acid (proton concentration) plays a key role in communication between neurons.

Study yields 'Genghis Khan' of brown bears, and brown and polar bear evolution
By mining the genome of a recently sequenced polar bear, researchers developed Y chromosome-specific markers, and analyzed several regions of the Y chromosome from a broad geographic sample of 130 brown and polar bears.

Kids' books featuring animals with human traits lead to less learning of the natural world
A new study by University of Toronto researchers has found that kids' books featuring animals with human characteristics not only lead to less factual learning but also influence children's reasoning about animals.

Paleontologists assemble giant turtle bone from fossil discoveries made centuries apart
A broken fossil turtle bone discovered by an amateur paleontologist in 2012 turned out to be the missing half of a bone first described in 1849.

Coerced sex not uncommon for young men, teenage boys, study finds
A large proportion of teenage boys and college men report having been coerced into sex or sexual behavior, according to research published by the American Psychological Association.

Don't forget F-type stars in search for life, UT Arlington researchers say
F-type stars, more massive and hotter than our sun, warrant more consideration as spots to look for habitable planets, according to a newly published study that also examined potential damage to DNA from UV radiation.

Ottawa researcher receives international award for obesity research
The International Journal of Obesity New Faculty Award for Population Science and Public Health Research recognizes Dr.

Two spine surgeons are 3 times safer than 1
A new team approach has improved safety -- reducing rates of major complications by two-thirds -- for complex spinal reconstructive surgery for spinal deformity in adult Group Health patients at Virginia Mason Hospital & Seattle Medical Center.

The advantages of entering the workforce in a recession
Despite the well-documented disadvantages of graduating from college during a recession, could graduates actually be happier with their jobs in the long run?

Lick's new Automated Planet Finder: First robotic telescope for planet hunters
Lick Observatory's newest telescope, the Automated Planet Finder, has been operating robotically night after night on Mt.

Electronic medication alerts designed with provider in mind reduce prescribing errors
Changing how medication alerts are presented in electronic medical records resulted in safer prescribing, increased efficiency and reduced workload for health care providers who placed drug orders in a study published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

SU biologists use sound to identify breeding grounds of endangered whales
Susan Parks, assistant professor of biology, says the article confirms what many conservationists fear -- that Roseway Basin, a heavily traveled shipping lane, off the coast of Nova Scotia, is a vital habitat area for the endangered North Atlantic right whale.

Simple, like a neutron star
For astrophysicists neutron stars are extremely complex astronomical objects. Research conducted with the collaboration of SISSA and published in the journal Physical Review Letters demonstrates that in certain respects these stars can instead be described very simply and that they show similarities with black holes.

Model now capable of street-level storm-tide predictions
A new modeling study demonstrates the ability to predict a hurricane's storm tide at a much finer scale than current operational methods.

New clue to autism found inside brain cells
The problems people with autism have with memory formation, higher-level thinking and social interactions may be partially attributable to the activity of receptors inside brain cells, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

MRI reveals genetic activity
New MIT technique could help decipher genes' roles in learning and memory.

Strictly limiting hours surgical residents can work has not improved patient safety
Strictly limiting the number of hours surgical residents can work has not improved patient outcomes but may have increased complications for some patients and led to higher failure rates on certification exams, a research paper concludes.

Penicillin prescriptions risk under-dosing children, say experts at King's College London
Millions of children in the UK are potentially receiving penicillin prescriptions below the recommended dose for common infections, according to new research led jointly by researchers at King's College London, St George's, University of London and Imperial College London.

Environmental stewardship motivates latest White House Champions of Change
Benjamin Blonder and Billy Spitzer are among 14 environmental and conservation leaders honored by the White House as Champions of Change at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., last week for their work on environmental stewardship and community involvement.

Catheter innovation destroys dangerous biofilms
Duke University engineers have developed a new design that could help eliminate the threat of infection from millions of urinary catheters.

Twenty-five percent of breast cancer survivors report financial decline due to treatment
Four years after being treated for breast cancer, a quarter of survivors say they are worse off financially, at least partly because of their treatment, according to a new study led by University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center researchers.

NASA satellite sees wind shear whipping Tropical Cyclone Gillian
A visible image from NASA's Aqua satellite provides a clear picture that wind shear is responsible for weakening the once mighty Tropical Cyclone Gillian from hurricane to tropical storm strength.

Mars-mimicking chamber explores habitability of other planets
A research team in Spain has the enviable job of testing out new electromechanical gear for potential use in future missions to the 'Red Planet.' They do it within their Mars environmental simulation chamber, which is specially designed to mimic conditions on the fourth planet from the sun -- right down to its infamous Martian dust.

EEG study shows how brain infers structure, rules when learning
A new study documents the brain activity underlying our strong tendency to infer a structure of context and rules when learning new tasks (even when a structure isn't valid).

Effect of distance from transplant center on outcomes
Among veterans meeting eligibility for liver transplantation, greater distance from a Veterans Affairs transplant center or any transplant center was associated with lower likelihood of being put on a waitlist or receiving a transplant, and a greater likelihood of death, according to a study in the March 26 issue of JAMA. 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