Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

July 03, 2014
Smithsonian scientist and collaborators revise timeline of human origins
Many traits unique to humans were long thought to have originated in the genus Homo between 2.4 and 1.8 million years ago in Africa.

Weighing up the secrets of African elephant body fat
A research team from The University of Nottingham has carried out the first molecular characterisation of the African elephant's adipose tissue -- body fat.

With 'biological sunscreen,' mantis shrimp see the reef in a whole different light
In an unexpected discovery, researchers have found that the complex eyes of mantis shrimp are equipped with optics that generate ultraviolet color vision.

How knots can swap positions on a DNA strand
Computer simulations show how two knots on a DNA strand can interchange their positions.

A 'switch' in Alzheimer's and stroke patient brains that prevents the generation and survival of neurons
Study finds a modification to the transcriptional protein MEF2 that inhibits the growth of new brain cells and survival of existing cells.

Do probiotics help kids with stomach bugs?
To better understand probiotics' capabilities, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Researchers find genetic link to autism known as CHD8 mutation
In a collaboration involving 13 institutions around the world, researchers have broken new ground in understanding what causes autism.

New from Garland Science -- now available: 'Cell Signaling: Principles and Mechanisms'
Garland Science is proud to announce the publication of 'Cell Signaling: Principles and Mechanisms' by Wendell Lim, Bruce Mayer, and Tony Pawson.

New clue helps explain how brown fat burns energy
Researchers add another piece to the brown fat puzzle, identifying a major factor driving the fat's thermogenic process

€95K urban public transport energy efficiency competition launched in Berlin
Climate-KIC, the EU's main climate innovation initiative, and Berlin's public transport company BVG have teamed up for the Open Innovation Slam 2014 competition.

Rethinking the reef
A new study by biologists at San Diego State University and Scripps Institution of Oceanography shows that inhabited coral islands that engage in commercial fishing dramatically alter their nearby reef ecosystems, disturbing the microbes, corals, algae and fish that call the reef home.

Could boosting brain cells' appetites fight disease? New research shows promise
Deep inside the brains of people with dementia and Lou Gehrig's disease, globs of abnormal protein gum up the inner workings of brain cells -- dooming them to an early death.

Biological signal processing: Body cells -- instrumentalists in a symphony orchestra
Every organism has one aim: to survive. Its body cells all work in concert to keep it alive.

Drug shows promise for effectively treating metabolic syndrome
University of Utah researchers have discovered that an enzyme involved in intracellular signaling plays a crucial role in developing metabolic syndrome, a finding that has a U of U spinoff company developing a drug to potentially treat the condition.

Payback time for soil carbon from pasture conversion to sugarcane production
The reduction of soil carbon stock caused by the conversion of pasture areas into sugarcane plantations may be offset within two or three years of cultivation.

Cleveland Clinic researchers identify urgent need for Alzheimer's drug development
Researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health have conducted the first-ever analysis of clinical trials for Alzheimer's disease, revealing an urgent need to increase the number of agents entering the AD drug development pipeline and progressing successfully towards new therapy treatments.

Controversial clues of 2 'Goldilocks planets' that might support life are proven false
Mysteries about controversial signals from a star considered a prime target in the search for extraterrestrial life now have been solved.

Explaining 'healthy' obesity
Up to one-quarter of individuals currently labeled as obese are actually metabolically healthy.

More left-handed men are born during the winter
Men born in November, December or January are more likely of being left-handed than during the rest of the year.

Low-cost TB test means quicker, more reliable diagnosis for patients
A new test for tuberculosis developed at the Texas A&M Health Science Center could dramatically improve the speed and accuracy of diagnosis for one of the world's deadliest diseases, enabling health care providers to report results to patients within minutes, according to a study published this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie.

Hollow-fiber membranes could cut separation costs, energy use
Researchers have developed a microfluidic technique for fabricating a new class of metal-organic framework membranes inside hollow polymer fibers that are just a few hundred microns in diameter.

Manufacturing process developed for HIV microbicide
A drug compound with potential to block HIV transmission in women has been successfully manufactured at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NASA sees Hurricane Arthur's cloud-covered eye
When NASA's Aqua satellite passed over Tropical Storm Arthur on July 2 at 2:50 p.m.

Consider water use in climate change policies, advise Australian researchers
There's more to trying to slow down climate change than just cutting greenhouse gas emissions.

Surprisingly stable long-distance relationships
Contrary to what was thought, sequences of DNA called enhancers find their targets long before they are activated during embryonic development, scientists EMBL Heidelberg have found.

Compounded outcomes associated with comorbid Alzheimer's disease & cerebrovascular disease
Researchers from the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging at the University of Kentucky have been able to confirm anecdotal information on patients with both Alzheimer's disease and cerebrovascular disease using mouse models in two different studies.

Whales as ecosystem engineers
A review of research on whales shows that they have more a powerful influence on the function of oceans, global carbon storage, and the health of commercial fisheries than has been commonly assumed.

Women veterans want options, follow up support when dealing with intimate partner violence
Intimate partner violence is a significant health issue faced by women veterans, but little has been known up until now about their preferences for IPV-related care.

A young star's age can be gleamed from nothing but sound waves
Determining the age of stars has long been a challenge for astronomers.

Fruit fly immunity fails with fungus after (space)flight
A study led by Deborah Kimbrell, Ph.D., at the University of California, Davis and her collaborators, suggests that normal gravity or hypergravity on the space station may help mitigate some of the biological problems in organisms living in space.

Cellular defence against fatal associations between proteins and DNA
DNA -- the carrier of genetic information -- is constantly threatened by damage originating from exogenous and endogenous sources.

Science Elements podcast highlights the science of fireworks
The July feature of Science Elements, the American Chemical Society's weekly podcast series, shines the spotlight on the science of fireworks, just in time for the July 4th holiday.

'Grass-in-the-ear' technique sets new trend in chimp etiquette
Chimpanzees are copycats and, in the process, they form new traditions that are often particular to only one specific group of these primates.

New strategy could uncover genes at the root of psychiatric illnesses
Understanding the basis of psychiatric disorders has been extremely challenging because there are many genetic variants that may increase risk but are insufficient to cause disease.

'Work environment' affects protein properties
The function of proteins, which fulfil various tasks inside the cells, is often analysed in aqueous buffer solutions.

Nutrition screenings should be regular part of geriatric health assessment
As older adults typically have one or more chronic health conditions that can affect dietary intake, malnutrition has been identified as a serious problem in older adults.

Low brain protein levels associated with neurodegeneration
Persons with reduced levels of the TREM2 protein could be at greater risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease or frontotemporal dementia, according to an international study which included the participation of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and the Sant Pau Biomedical Research Institute.

Bone marrow fat tissue secretes hormone that helps body stay healthy
Bone marrow fat may have untapped health benefits, study finds.

Discovery expands search for Earth-like planets
A newly discovered planet in a binary star system located 3,000 light-years from Earth is expanding astronomers' notions of where Earth-like -- and even potentially habitable -- planets can form, and how to find them.

NASA sees rainfall in newborn Tropical Depression 8W
Powerful thunderstorms in some areas of newborn Tropical Depression 08W in the Northwestern Pacific Ocean were dropping heavy rainfall on July 3 as NASA's Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite passed overhead.

New study discovers biological basis for magic mushroom 'mind expansion'
New research shows that our brain displays a similar pattern of activity during dreams as it does during a mind-expanding drug trip.

How does your garden grow?
Growing plants in a microscope is helping scientists to view roots developing in 3-D and in real time.

Archaeopteryx plumage: First show off, then take-off
Paleontologists of Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet in Munich are currently studying a new specimen of Archaeopteryx, which reveals previously unknown features of the plumage.

Gene discovered that activates stem cells for organ regeneration in Planarians
Researchers announced the discovery of a gene zic-1 that enables stem cells to regrow a head after decapitation in flatworm planarians.

Forecasting the development of breakthrough technologies to enable novel space missions
A new report, Technological Breakthroughs for Scientific Progress, has been published today by the European Science Foundation.

Sweet genes
A research team at the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Alberta have discovered a new way by which metabolism is linked to the regulation of DNA, the basis of our genetic code.

NTU launches two new home-grown satellites
Singapore now has two new satellites orbiting in space, built by Nanyang Technological University.

'Unhealthy' food/drinks have starring role in kids' TV programs
Unhealthy food and drinks are common in kids' TV programs broadcast in England and Ireland, and frequently portrayed in a positive light, reveals research published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

From pencil marks to quantum computers
Pick up a pencil. Make a mark on a piece of paper.

Doing something is better than doing nothing for most people, study shows
People are focused on the external world and don't enjoy spending much time alone thinking, according to a new study led by U.Va. psychologist Timothy Wilson and published in the journal Science.

New study reveals how tumors remodel their surroundings to grow
Research identifies a mechanism in the tumor stroma that triggers an inflammatory response, promoting tumor growth and metastasis.

Host genetics can contribute to lung damage in severe tuberculosis
A third of the global population is infected with the bacterial pathogen that causes tuberculosis.

Biochemical cascade causes bone marrow inflammation, leading to serious blood disorders
Like a line of falling dominos, a cascade of molecular events in the bone marrow produces high levels of inflammation that disrupt normal blood formation and lead to potentially deadly disorders including leukemia, an Indiana University-led research team has reported.

Flower's bellows organ blasts pollen at bird pollinators
A small tree or shrub found in mountainous Central and South American rainforests has a most unusual relationship with the birds that pollinate its flowers, according to a new study.

Lessons from the west: Great Barrier Reef in danger
Scientists at a coral reef symposium in Canberra this week are examining degraded reefs off the Northwest Australian coast in an effort to determine what lies ahead for the Great Barrier Reef.

GW researchers: Acute kidney injury and chronic kidney disease as interconnected syndromes
Researchers at the George Washington University were published in the New England Journal of Medicine, calling for greater follow-up care for those with acute kidney injury, as these patients often present later in life with chronic kidney disease, and vice versa.

A CNIO team reduces the size of the human genome to 19,000 genes
A study led by Alfonso Valencia and Michael Tress at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre updates the number of human genes to 19,000; 1,700 fewer than the genes in the most recent annotation, and well below the initial estimations of 100,000 genes.

Prolonged use of stomach feeding tubes in children may increase risk of stomach fistulas
Pediatric patients with intestinal failure often need gastrostomy tubes, or feeding tubes inserted into an opening created in the stomach, for long-term nutrition.

Researchers learn how beryllium causes deadly lung disease
Using exquisitely detailed maps of molecular shapes and the electrical charges surrounding them, researchers at National Jewish Health have discovered how the metal beryllium triggers a deadly immune response in the lungs.

Do you look infected? Should I kill you? No, I'm fine, move along
Some viruses can hide in our bodies for decades. They make 'fake' human proteins that trick our immune cells into thinking 'everything is awesome,' there's nothing to see here.

NUS researchers discover novel protein complex with potential to combat gastric cancer
A team of scientists from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore at the National University of Singapore discovered that a protein named IL23A is part of our stomach's defense against bacterial infection which leads to gastric cancer.

Hot Pot with chicken causes campylobacter infections in Switzerland
A hotpot with chicken is one of the primary risk factors for a campylobacter infection in Switzerland in winter, a new study by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute shows.

SDSC's KC Claffy receives annual IEEE Internet Award
KC Claffy, the principal investigator and co-founder of the Center for Applied Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA) based at the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, has been awarded the latest IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Internet Award.

WSU researchers rule out leading hypothesis for miscarriages, birth defects
Washington State University reproductive biologists have ruled out the 'Production-Line Hypothesis,' one of the leading thoughts on why older women have an increased risk of miscarriages and children with birth defects.

Decade of benefits for the Great Barrier Reef
With this week marking the tenth anniversary of the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, prominent marine scientists from around the world have gathered in Canberra to discuss its successes -- both expected and unexpected.

Power consumption of robot joints could be 40 perecnt less, according to a laboratory study
Unai Ugalde-Olea, lecturer in the Department of Electronics Technology of the UPV/EHU, has analysed a way of propelling robots in a more energy-efficient way and has shown, on a laboratory level, that in some cases energy consumption can be cut by up to 40 percent.

Safer, cheaper building blocks for future anti-HIV and cancer drugs
A team of researchers from KU Leuven, in Belgium, has developed an economical, reliable and heavy metal-free chemical reaction that yields fully functional 1,2,3-triazoles.

Columbia researchers observe tunable quantum behavior in bilayer graphene
Columbia researchers have observed the fractional quantum Hall effect in bilayer graphene and shown that this exotic state of matter can be tuned by an electric field.

The power of the power nap!
For hibernating mammals, the pre-winter months are a race against time to accumulate enough energy reserves to last until spring.

Burst spinal artery aneurysm linked to Ecstasy use
Taking the street drug Ecstasy could lead to a potentially fatal weakening and rupture of the spinal cord artery, doctors have warned in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

Identifying microbial species
Millions of microbial species populate the world, but so far only a few have been identified due to the inability of most microbes to grow in the laboratory.

One third of dyslexic adults report being physically abused during childhood
Adults who have dyslexia are much more likely to report they were physically abused before they turned 18 than their peers without dyslexia, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.

Schizophrenia-associated gene variation affects brain cell development
Johns Hopkins researchers have begun to connect the dots between a schizophrenia-linked genetic variation and its effect on the developing brain.

No two lark sparrows are alike (at least when it comes to migration habits)
New study conducted by researchers from the University of Oklahoma, who used geolocators to track birds migration journey, shows that migration flyways and winter destinations of sparrows are unique to each bird.

Malnutrition screening of hospital patients common but hospitals failing on nutrition care
A new study gives hospitals overall good marks for conducting nutrition screenings within 24 hours of a patient's admission, but finds that many need to improve other practices to be more effective.

Oklahoma quakes induced by wastewater injection, study finds
The dramatic increase in earthquakes in central Oklahoma since 2009 is likely attributable to subsurface wastewater injection at just a handful of disposal wells, finds a new study to be published in the journal Science on July 3, 2014.

Ironing out details of the carbon cycle
Iron is an essential element in all living creatures, and its availability in seawater can have a profound effect on phytoplankton growth and, consequently, the earth's carbon cycle.

High-protein weight loss diets can work
Scientists have shown that instead of counting calories for weight loss, we would do better to boost the protein content of our diet.

New study will discover why women freeze their eggs
A new study will explore the reasons why women freeze their eggs for non-medical reasons.

Doctoral students to study biology, mechanics connection under NIH grant
Four doctoral students at Washington University in St. Louis will have the opportunity to take a closer look at the intersection of biology and mechanics and how they work together to sustain life under a five-year, $921,040 grant from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering of the National Institutes of Health.

Cochrane Review on primaquine to prevent malaria transmission
Researchers from the Cochrane Infectious Diseases Group, hosted at LSTM, conducted an independent review of the effects of adding a single dose of primaquine to malaria treatment to prevent the transmission of the disease.

With 'ribbons' of graphene, width matters
A novel method for producing ultra-narrow ribbons of graphene and then tuning the material's electrical properties holds promise for use in nano-devices.

Groovy giraffes...distinct bone structures keep these animals upright
Researchers at the Royal Veterinary College have identified a highly specialised ligament structure that is thought to prevent giraffes' legs from collapsing under the immense weight of these animals.

Jump to it! A frog's leaping style depends on the environment
A frog's jump is not as simple as it seems.

New satellite data like an ultrasound for baby stars
An international team of researchers have been monitoring the 'heartbeats' of baby stars to test theories of how the Sun was born 4.5 billion years ago.

The Lancet: Doctors confirm Motörhead's reputation as one of the most hardcore rock'n'roll acts on earth
German doctors highlight the potential dangers surrounding headbanging in a Case Report published in The Lancet.

New discovery in living cell signaling
A breakthrough discovery into how living cells process and respond to chemical information could help advance the development of treatments for a large number of cancers and other cellular disorders that have been resistant to therapy.

Old ways help modern maize to defend itself
Many modern crops have high productivity, but have lost their ability to produce certain defence chemicals, making them vulnerable to attack by insects and pathogens.

Researchers from the UCA prove the existence of large accumulations of plastic in all of the oceans
Researchers from the University of Cadiz have made an unprecedented discovery: they have shown that there are five large accumulations of plastic debris in the open oceans, coinciding with the five main ocean gyres in the surface waters of the ocean.

Neurodegenerative diseases: Glitch in garbage removal enhances risk
An international team of researchers identified a pathogenic mechanism that is common to several neurodegenerative diseases.

Tropical Storm Douglas weakening in the eastern Pacific
Tropical Storm Douglas is on a weakening trend, according to the National Hurricane Center, and satellite imagery showed that the storm appeared more elongated on July 3.

WHO targets elimination of TB in over 30 countries
The World Health Organization today, together with the European Respiratory Society, presented a new framework to eliminate tuberculosis (TB) in countries with low levels of the disease.

Movement disorders in young people related to ADHD
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen and the Copenhagen University Hospital have identified a particular genetic mutation that may cause parkinsonism in young people.

Study finds higher risk for celiac disease in some children
Physicians from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in collaboration with an international team of researchers have demonstrated that screening of genetically susceptible infants can lead to the diagnosis of celiac disease at a very early age.
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