Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

April 15, 2014
The human food connection: A new study reveals more about our relationship to food
Tucked away in Hartford, Conn., a Puerto Rican community is creating a tropical home away from home through cuisine that is so authentic it has caught the attention of scientists.

The Lancet: Functional brain imaging reliably predicts which vegetative patients have potential to recover consciousness
A functional brain imaging technique known as positron emission tomography is a promising tool for determining which severely brain damaged individuals in vegetative states have the potential to recover consciousness, according to new research published in The Lancet.

Long-term predictions for Miami sea level rise could be available relatively soon
Miami could know as early as 2020 how high sea levels will rise into the next century, according to a team of researchers including Florida International University scientist Rene Price.

UCI study finds modified stem cells offer potential pathway to treat Alzheimer's disease
UC Irvine neurobiologists have found that genetically modified neural stem cells show positive results when transplanted into the brains of mice with the symptoms and pathology of Alzheimer's disease.

A screening process for early identification of infants at risk of autism
The aim of this study was to develop a screening tool to identify infants prior to 12 months at risk for autism spectrum disorder and developmental learning delay and provide immediate determination of risk for autism spectrum disorder.

German Research Foundation approves new priority program in the life sciences
The German Research Foundation has agreed to fund a new priority program 'Chemical Biology of Native Nucleic Acid Modifications,' which is coordinated by Mainz University.

Chrono, the last piece of the circadian clock puzzle?
In an article published today in PLOS Biology, researchers from the RIKEN Brain Science Institute in Japan report the identification of Chrono, a gene involved in the regulation of the body clock in mammals and that might be a key component of the body?s response to stress.

Groundbreaking nationwide study finds that people of color live in neighborhoods with more air pollution than whites
A first-of-its-kind study by researchers at the University of Minnesota found that on average nationally, people of color are exposed to 38 percent higher levels of nitrogen dioxide outdoor air pollution compared to white people.

Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking
According to a new study in the Journal of Applied Physics, coupling commercially available spectral X-ray detectors with a specialized algorithm can improve the detection of uranium and plutonium in small, layered objects such as baggage.

Targeting cancer with a triple threat
MIT chemists design nanoparticles that can deliver three cancer drugs at a time.

Study: Deforestation could intensify climate change in Congo Basin by half
By 2050, deforestation could cause temperatures in the Congo Basin to increase by 0.7 degrees C.

Low-cost, hydrogen-powered forklifts with rapid refueling, zero emissions coming soon
Zero-emission hydrogen fuel cell systems soon could be powering the forklifts used in warehouses and other industrial settings at lower costs and with faster refueling times than ever before, courtesy of a partnership between Sandia National Laboratories and Hawaii Hydrogen Carriers.

NASA's TRMM Satellite adds up Tropical Cyclone Ita's Australian soaking
After coming ashore on April 11, Tropical Cyclone Ita dropped heavy rainfall over the weekend that caused flooding in many areas of northeastern Australia's state of Queensland.

Antibiotics improve growth in children in developing countries
Antibiotics improve growth in children at risk of undernourishment in low and middle income countries, according to researchers at McGill University who have just conducted a research literature review on the subject.

Online reviews: When do negative opinions boost sales?
When purchasing items online, reading customer reviews is a convenient way to get a real-world account of other people's opinions of the product.

Mothers with higher BMI have increased risk of stillbirth, infant death
Higher maternal body mass index (BMI) before or in early pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of fetal death, stillbirth, and infant death, with women who are severely obese having the greatest risk of these outcomes from their pregnancy, according to a study in the April 16 issue of JAMA.

New tool advances investigations of disease outbreaks
A new field called genomic epidemiology is taking advantage of the rapidly reduced costs of next-generation DNA sequencing to better inform public health officials faced with ongoing outbreaks.

Repeated self-healing now possible in composite materials
Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have created a 3-D vascular system that allows for high-performance composite materials such as fiberglass to heal autonomously, and repeatedly.

How mothers help children explore right and wrong
Moms want their kids to grow up to be good people -- but how do they actually help their offspring sort out different types of moral issues?

When identity marketing backfires: Consumers don't like to be told what they like
When choosy moms choose Jif peanut butter and sports fans who call themselves sports fans subscribe to DirecTV, identity marketing is hard at work.

Predicting bioavailable cadmium levels in soils
A New Zealand study shows soil pH and iron levels predict cadmium bioavailability, offers solutions to farmers and ranchers.

Low-calorie restaurant menus: Are they making us fat?
Depending on our food cravings, the number of items served, and even the time of day, ordering a meal at a restaurant often requires a 'narrowing down' decision making process.

International research group recognizes UTMB experts
The global experts who study the deadliest infectious diseases recognized the contributions of Frederick A.

Brain changes are associated with casual marijuana use in young adults
The size and shape of two brain regions involved in emotion and motivation may differ in young adults who smoke marijuana at least once a week, according to a study published April 16 in the Journal of Neuroscience.

Cultivating happiness often misunderstood, says Stanford researcher
Stanford research explores the concept of maximizing happiness, and finds that pursuing concrete 'giving' goals rather than abstract ones leads to greater satisfaction.

Study: SSRI use during pregnancy associated with autism and developmental delays in boys
In a study of nearly 1,000 mother-child pairs, researchers from the Bloomberg School of Public health found that prenatal exposure to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a frequently prescribed treatment for depression, anxiety and other disorders, was associated with autism spectrum disorder and developmental delays in boys.

In child custody disputes, LGBT parents face bias in the courts, new Drexel review finds
Court decisions that favor a heterosexual parent over a gay or lesbian parent in a custody dispute often do not consider important social science research on parenting by gay and lesbian individuals, according to a new review from Drexel University.

Goddard scientist receives Vega Medal from King of Sweden
The Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography awards the Vega Medal every three years to a person who has shown excellence in the fields of physical geography, exploration or archaeology.

When it comes to underage sex trafficking, pimps may not be the problem
A new study finds that pimps are only responsible for luring minors into sex work in a very small number of cases, and that they are not the reason why young prostitutes stay in the industry.

Earthquake simulation tops 1 quadrillion flops
A team of computer scientists, mathematicians and geophysicists at Technische Universitaet Muenchen and Ludwig-Maximillians Universitaet Muenchen have -- with the support of the Leibniz Supercomputing Center of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities (LRZ) -- optimized the SeisSol earthquake simulation software on the SuperMUC high performance computer at the LRZ to push its performance beyond the 'magical' one petaflops mark -- one quadrillion floating point operations per second.

Research gives new insights into rare disease of the inner ear
In the most comprehensive study of Meniere's disease to date, researchers at the University of Exeter Medical School have been able to suggest what goes wrong in the body when people develop the disease, and provide an insight into factors that lead to its development.

Eating rice boosts diet quality, reduces body weight and improves markers for health
New research, funded by the US Department of Agriculture and the USA Rice Federation, shows that consumers can improve their diets simply by enjoying white or brown rice as part of their daily meals.

Moth study suggests hidden climate change impacts
A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view.

Study examines vitamin D deficiency and cognition relationship
A study that looks at the vitamin D deficiency and cognition relationship in older adults adds to the existing literature on the subject.

Wire inspection: As fast as a world-class sprinter
Pipes, rails, and wires are manufactured at high speeds. A new optical inspection system reviews the workpieces at 10 meters a second and finds defects in real time that can be as narrow as a single hair.

Researchers transplant regenerated esophagus
Tissue engineering has been used to construct natural esophagi, which in combination with bone marrow stem cells have been safely and effectively transplanted in rats.

New Geosphere series: The St. Elias Erosion/Tectonics Project in Southern Alaska
GEOSPHERE has added a new themed issue to its roster: 'Neogene tectonics and climate-tectonic interactions in the southern Alaskan orogeny.' Interest in Alaskan tectonics has varied over time, propelled mostly by geologic hazards.

American Association of Anatomists 2014 award winners
The American Association of Anatomists (AAA) is honored to announce its 2014 award winners.

UC research illuminates 'touchy' subject
Jianguo Gu, Ph.D., at the University of Cincinnati, and his research colleagues have proved that Merkel cells -- which contact many sensory nerve endings in the skin -- are the initial sites for sensing touch.

Pharmacist-led interventions show high success rates for post-stroke care
Researchers investigate new standard of continuity of care for stroke patients.

Breaking bad mitochondria
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine have identified a mechanism that explains why people with the hepatitis C virus get liver disease and why the virus is able to persist in the body for so long.

Chew on this: How does food texture impact its perceived calorie content?
Food is an intimately personal thing; we savor some tastes and despise others.

Relieving electric vehicle range anxiety with improved batteries
A new, PNNL-developed nanomaterial called a metal organic framework could extend the lifespan of lithium-sulfur batteries, which could be used to increase the driving range of electric vehicles.

Hair from infants gives clues about their life in the womb
Like rings of a tree, hair can reveal a lot of information about the past.

Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage
Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have created new ceramic materials that could be used to store hydrogen safely and efficiently.

Calcium score predicts future heart disease among adults with little or no risk factors
Researchers found that the process of 'calcium scoring' is accurate in predicting the chances of dying of heart disease among adults with little or no known risks of heart disease.

More should be done for female parolees
As the female prison population grows, a new study funded partly by the National Science Foundation says more should be done to help women probationers and parolees in poor urban areas remain crime-free.

UT Arlington physicist creates new nanoparticle for cancer therapy
In a newly published paper, a University of Texas at Arlington physicist describes a newly created complex that may make photodynamic therapy for cancer treatment more efficient and cost effective and effective against deep tissue cancers.

New study from Harvard identifies transgender health disparities
A new study compared methods of collecting and analyzing data to assess health disparities in a clinical sample of transgender individuals.

The National Science Foundation names Feng Zhang its Alan T. Waterman Awardee for 2014
The National Science Foundation named Feng Zhang the 2014 recipient of its Alan T.

Researchers help Boston Marathon organizers plan for 2014 race
After experiencing a tragic and truncated end to the 2013 Boston Marathon, race organizers were faced not only with grief but with hundreds of administrative decisions, including plans for the 2014 race -- an event beloved by Bostonians and people around the world.

Lifestyle determines gut microbes
An international team of researchers has for the first time deciphered the intestinal bacteria of present-day hunter-gatherers.

Blood test spots recurrent breast cancers and monitors response to treatment
Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center investigators report they have designed a blood test that accurately detects the presence of advanced breast cancer and also holds promise for precisely monitoring response to cancer treatment.

Pitt CVR and Sanofi Pasteur collaborate to assess the effectiveness of a dengue vaccine
The University of Pittsburgh Center for Vaccine Research (CVR) and Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, have entered a scientific collaboration to help assess the effectiveness of a dengue vaccine once introduced for immunization programs.

Real-time audio of corporal punishment shows kids misbehave within 10 minutes of spanking
Real-time audio recordings of children being spanked showed parents responded impulsively or emotionally, rather than being intentional with their discipline, says psychologist and parenting expert George Holden, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, the study's lead author.

Scholars propose new standards for gauging muscle decline in older adults
Sarcopenia -- the age-related loss of muscle mass and strength -- may put up to 50 percent of seniors at greater risk for disability, yet there is no consensus within the medical community for how this condition should be measured.

Vitamin D deficiency contributes to poor mobility among severely obese people
Among severely obese people, vitamin D may make the difference between an active and a more sedentary lifestyle, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Sibling cooperation in earwig families gives clues to early evolution of social behavior
Looking at the question of how social behavior has developed over the course of evolution, scientists from the universities in Mainz and Basel have gained new insights from the study of earwigs.

New meta-analysis builds on the power of whey protein for improved body composition
New research published in the March/April 2014 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition shows whey protein, either as a supplement combined with resistance exercise or as part of a weight-loss or weight-maintenance diet, may provide men and women benefits related to body composition.

Prolonged and heavy bleeding during menopause is common
Women going through menopause most likely think of it as the time for an end to predictable monthly periods.

A global view on the prevention of cardiovascular disease
EuroPRevent 2014 will take place at the RAI Congress Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, from May 8-10, 2014.

Nanocrystalline cellulose modified into an efficient viral inhibitor
Researchers at Aalto University and the University of Eastern Finland have succeeded in creating a surface on nano-sized cellulose crystals that imitates a biological structure.

New research shows how pathogenic E. coli O157:H7 binds to fresh vegetables
Between 20-30 percent of food-poisoning outbreaks linked to disease-causing strains of the bacterium Escherichia coli are caused by people eating contaminated vegetables.

Antibiotics improve growth in children in developing countries
Antibiotics improve growth in children at risk of undernourishment in low and middle income countries, finds a study published on today.

Biologists develop nanosensors to visualize movements and distribution of plant hormone
Biologists at UC San Diego have succeeded in visualizing the movement within plants of a key hormone responsible for growth and resistance to drought.

New EU website to provide easy and transparent access to aid data
A unique new web tool that provides easy access to clear, complete and accurate data on development and humanitarian aid around the world was launched today by the European Commission, at the High Level Meeting of the Global Partnership for Effective Development Cooperation in Mexico.

Remnants of Tropical Depression Peipah still raining on Philippines
Several regions in the south and central Philippines have flood advisories as the remnants of now dissipated Tropical Depression Peipah continue to linger over the country.

Diverse gene pool critical for tigers' survival, say Stanford scholars
Increasing tigers' genetic diversity -- via interbreeding and other methods -- and not just their population numbers may be the best solution to saving this endangered species, according to Stanford research.

Consumer predictions: Do categories matter when predicting the lottery or stock market?
From sports to the stock market and even winning the lottery, it's in our nature to predict who or what will come out on top.

New technique will accelerate genetic characterization of photosynthesis
Photosynthesis provides fixed carbon and energy for nearly all life on Earth, yet many aspects of this fascinating process remain mysterious.

Outcome of stroke worse for people with infection
Infection is bad news for all of us -- but it can be really serious to people who have had a stroke.

Study finds new links between number of duplicated genes and adaptation
Liken it to a case of where two genes are better than one.

Outgoing behavior makes for happier humans
Happy is as happy does, apparently -- for human beings all over the world.

Odd tilts could make more worlds habitable
Pivoting planets that lean one way and then change orientation within a short geological time period might be surprisingly habitable, according to new modeling by NASA and university scientists affiliated with the NASA Astrobiology Institute.

Whooping cough bacterium evolves in Australia
The bacterium that causes whooping cough, Bordetella pertussis, has changed in Australia -- most likely in response to the vaccine used to prevent the disease -- with a possible reduced effectiveness of the vaccine as a result.

Lemurs match scent of a friend to sound of her voice
Princeton and Duke scientists report that ring-tailed lemurs respond more strongly to the scents and sounds of female lemurs when the scent they smell and the voice they hear belong to the same female -- even when she's nowhere in sight.

Thyroid disease risk varies among blacks, Asians, and whites
An analysis that included active military personnel finds that the rate of the thyroid disorder Graves disease is more common among blacks and Asian/Pacific Islanders compared with whites, according to a study in the April 16 issue of JAMA.

Unexpected protein partnership has implications for cancer treatment
Scientists have identified two unlikely partners, in a type of immune cell called a macrophage, that work together, in response to cancer drugs, to increase inflammation in a way that may alter tumor growth.

Using video surveillance to measure peoples' hand washing habits
Stanford researchers pioneer use of video surveillance to better understand essential hygiene behavior.

Intelligent prosthetic liners could ease pain for lower limb amputees
A new device could help to relieve the pain and discomfort experienced by thousands of amputees as a result of poorly fitting replacement lower limbs.

Pre-diabetes and diabetes nearly double over the past 2 decades
Cases of diabetes and pre-diabetes in the United States have nearly doubled since 1988, suggests new research from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, with obesity apparently to blame for the surge.

New method isolates immune cells for researchers to study how they ward off oral diseases
Case Western Reserve University dental researchers have found a less invasive way to extract single rare immune cells from the mouth to study how the mouth's natural defenses ward off infection and inflammation.

WPI's Diana Lados honored by SAE International and Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society
Diana Lados, associate professor of mechanical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and founding director of the university's Integrative Materials Design Center, recently received the Ralph R.

Drought hormones measured
Floods and droughts are increasingly in the news, and climate experts say their frequency will only go up in the future.

Changes in processing, handling could reduce commercial fishing injuries
Handling frozen fish caused nearly half of all injuries aboard commercial freezer-trawlers and about a quarter of the injuries on freezer-longliner vessels operating off the coast of Alaska.

Can refined categorization improve prediction of patient survival in RECIST 1.1?
In a recent analysis by the RECIST Working Group published in the European Journal of Cancer, EORTC researchers had explored whether a more refined categorization of tumor response or various aspects of progression could improve prediction of overall survival in the RECIST database.

Irrigated agriculture -- precious habitat for the long-billed curlew
Despite the recent rainfall, California is still in a drought, so not only are water supplies limited, but demand for water is increasing from a variety of uses.

Osteoporosis risk heightened among sleep apnea patients
A diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea may raise the risk of osteoporosis, particularly among women or older individuals, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Potent, puzzling and (now less) toxic: Team discovers how antifungal drug works
Scientists have solved a decades-old medical mystery -- and in the process have found a potentially less toxic way to fight invasive fungal infections, which kill about 1.5 million people a year.

Rethink education to fuel bioeconomy, says report
Microbes can be highly efficient, versatile and sophisticated manufacturing tools, and have the potential to form the basis of a vibrant economic sector.

Photo: Tiger beetle's chase highlights mechanical law
If an insect drew a line as it chased its next meal, the resulting pattern would be a tangled mess.

Teenagers who have had a concussion also have higher rates of suicide attempts
Teenagers who have suffered a traumatic brain injury such as a concussion are at 'significantly greater odds' of attempting suicide, being bullied and engaging in a variety of high-risk behaviors, a new study has found.

Brain anatomy differences between deaf, hearing depend on first language learned
In the first known study of its kind, researchers have shown that the language we learn as children affects brain structure, as does hearing status.

Charitable donation discrepancies: Why are some countries more generous than others?
When it comes to charitable giving, some countries open their collective wallets more than others.

Casual marijuana use linked to brain abnormalities in students
Young adults who used marijuana only recreationally showed significant abnormalities in two key brain regions that that are important in emotion and motivation, scientists report.

New method of screening children for autism spectrum disorders works at 9 months old
Researchers, including a team from Children's National Health System, have identified head circumference and head tilting reflex as two reliable biomarkers in the identification of autism spectrum disorders in children that are between 9 and 12 months of age.

The key to easy asthma diagnosis is in the blood
Using just a single drop of blood, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers has developed a faster, cheaper and more accurate tool for diagnosing even mild cases of asthma.

Girls' mental health suffers when romances unfold differently than they imagined
A new study reveals that for adolescent girls, having a romantic relationship play out differently than they imagined it would has negative implications for their mental health.

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life
A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA.

Computerized counseling reduces HIV-1 viral load, sexual transmission risk
New research shows that computerized counseling is a promising intervention for increased ART adherence and safer sex, especially for individuals with problems in these areas.

Five scientists awarded prestigious Heineken Prizes
The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences has announced the names of five internationally renowned scientists who have been awarded prestigious Heineken Prizes ($1 million prize money in total): Christopher Dobson (Biochemistry and biophysics), Kari Alitalo (Medicine), Jaap Sinnighe Damste (Environmental sciences), Aleida Assmann (History) and James McClelland (Cognitive science).

Rising demand for herbal medicine can increase cultivation of medicinal trees
Formalizing trade in herbal medicinal products has the potential to increase the demand for on-farm grown raw material and raise the level of cultivation of medicinal tree species in smallholder farms.

Preterm delivery, low birth weight and neonatal risk in pregnant women with high blood pressure
Pregnant women with chronic hypertension (high blood pressure) are highly likely to suffer from adverse pregnancy outcomes such as preterm delivery, low birth weight and neonatal death, which highlights a need for heightened surveillance, suggests a paper published on today.

Mouse model would have predicted toxicity of drug that killed 5 in 1993 clinical trial
Over 20 years after the fatal fialuridine trial, a study published this week in PLOS Medicine demonstrates that mice with humanized livers recapitulate the drug's toxicity.

Genetic pre-disposition toward exercise and mental development may be linked
Frank Booth, a professor in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine, has found a potential link between the genetic pre-disposition for high levels of exercise motivation and the speed at which mental maturation occurs.

MRI pinpoints region of brain injury in some concussion patients
Researchers using information provided by a magnetic resonance imaging technique have identified regional white matter damage in the brains of people who experience chronic dizziness and other symptoms after concussion.

Saturn's rings reveal how to make a moon
Disturbances in the icy rings of Saturn have given scientists an insight into how moons are made.

Breakthrough points to new drugs from nature
Researchers at Griffith University's Eskitis Institute have developed a new technique for discovering natural compounds which could form the basis of novel therapeutic drugs. 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