Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 17, 2014
New conversion process turns biomass 'waste' into lucrative chemical products
A new catalytic process is able to convert what was once considered biomass waste into lucrative chemical products that can be used in fragrances, flavorings or to create high-octane fuel for racecars and jets.

Australia's coastal observation network may aid in understanding of extreme ocean events
A network of nine reference sites off the Australian coast is providing the latest physical, chemical, and biological information to help scientists better understand Australia's coastal seas.

'Perfect storm' quenching star formation around a supermassive black hole
Astronomers using ALMA have discovered that modest size black holes can quench star formation.

Multiple allergic reactions traced to single protein
Johns Hopkins and University of Alberta researchers have identified a single protein as the root of painful and dangerous allergic reactions to a range of medications and other substances.

Certainty in our choices often a matter of time, researchers find
When faced with making choices, but lack sufficient evidence to guarantee success, our brain uses elapsed time as a proxy for task difficulty to calculate how confident we should be, a team of neuroscientists has found.

Life expectancy increases globally as death toll falls from major diseases
People are living much longer worldwide than they were two decades ago, as death rates from infectious diseases and cardiovascular disease have fallen, according to a new, first-ever journal publication of country-specific cause-of-death data for 188 countries.

Monash researcher honored as leader in sustainability
Environmental business magazine WME has announced its Leaders List for 2014, with the Director of the Monash Sustainability Institute, professor Dave Griggs, taking out the X-Factor category.

Leibniz Prize for Hartmut Leppin
The steering committee of the German Research Foundation last week in Bonn announced that the Frankfurt ancient historian Prof.

North Atlantic signalled Ice Age thaw 1,000 years before it happened, reveals new research
The Atlantic Ocean at mid-depths may have given out early warning signals -- 1,000 years in advance -- that the last Ice Age was going to end, scientists report today in the journal Paleoceanography.

Genetic variations associated with traits underlying type 2 diabetes in Mexican-Americans
While people of Mexican ancestry are nearly twice as likely to develop type 2 diabetes as people of European heritage, the majority of research in this area has focused on those of European origin.

Consumer loyalty driven by aesthetics over functionality
New research from San Francisco State University shows consumers' loyalty and passion for an automobile brand are driven more by appearance than practical concerns.

NOAA/NASA satellite sees holiday lights brighten cities
Even from space, holidays shine bright. With a new look at daily data from the NOAA/NASA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership satellite, a NASA scientist and colleagues have identified how patterns in nighttime light intensity change during major holiday seasons -- Christmas and New Year's in the United States and the holy month of Ramadan in the Middle East.

How do teachers develop their knowledge? Research offers unexpected answers
This book addresses a crucial issue about teacher learning and professional development by presenting two research studies, conducted in USA and Singapore respectively, to investigate how different sources contribute to the development of teachers' pedagogical knowledge.

Orphan receptor proteins deliver 2 knock-out punches to glioblastoma cells
Two related proteins exert a lethal double whammy effect against glioblastoma cells when activated with a small molecule.

Lights, camera, artificial gravity! The premiere of NASA's Fruit Fly Lab
The most advanced system to date for studying fruit flies in space, NASA's Fruit Fly Lab, is making its debut aboard the International Space Station.

Regulation of maternal miRNAs in early embryos revealed
The Center for RNA Research at the Institute for Basic Science has succeeded in revealing, for the first time, the mechanism of how miRNAs, which control gene expression, are regulated in the early embryonic stage.

New class of synthetic molecules mimics antibodies
A Yale University lab has crafted the first synthetic molecules that have both the targeting and response functions of antibodies.

Ultrafast imaging of complex systems in 3-D at near atomic resolution nears
It is becoming possible to image complex systems in 3-D with near-atomic resolution on ultrafast timescales using extremely intense X-ray free-electron laser pulses.

Stem cells faulty in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Stanford researchers find
Like human patients, mice with a form of Duchenne muscular dystrophy undergo progressive muscle degeneration and accumulate connective tissue as they age.

Surprising theorists, stars within middle-aged clusters are of similar age
An examination of middle-aged star clusters reveals an unexpectedly narrow age range among their stars, suggesting that large groups of stars evolve differently than previously understood.

A new strategy for developing drugs to fight cancer and other diseases
Promising treatments known as biologics are on the market and under development for many serious illnesses such as cancer, but some of them come with high risks, even lethal ones.

Study shows how breast cancer cells break free to spread in the body
More than 90 percent of cancer-related deaths are caused by the spread of cancer cells from their primary tumor site to other areas of the body.

'Research of the very highest quality': DFG awards 2015 Leibniz Prizes
The new recipients of Germany's most prestigious research funding prize have been announced.

ORNL microscopy pencils patterns in polymers at the nanoscale
Scientists have used advanced microscopy to carve out nanoscale designs on the surface of a new class of ionic polymer materials for the first time.

Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems launch creates new forum
Peer-reviewed research articles on developments in and applications of telescopes, instrumentation, techniques, and systems for astronomy are being published in the new SPIE Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instruments, and Systems.

Is the label 'hypoallergenic' helpful or just marketing hype?
Many consumers seek out shampoos, soaps and cosmetics that are labeled 'hypoallergenic' or 'dermatologist tested,' words that imply the products are safe to use.

Study: 49 percent of patients withhold clinically sensitive information
In the first real-world trial of the impact of patient-controlled access to electronic medical records, almost half of the patients who participated withheld clinically sensitive information in their medical records from some or all of their health care providers.

New hope for rare disease drug development
Using combinations of well-known approved drugs has for the first time been shown to be potentially safe in treating a rare disease, according to the results of a clinical trial published in the open-access Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases.

Top weather conditions that amplify Lake Erie algal blooms revealed
Of the many weather-related phenomena that can promote harmful algal blooms, a new study has revealed that one -- the wind -- is the most important.

Weigh-in once a week or you'll gain weight
Stepping on the scale is common among dieters but how does the frequency of weigh-ins impact weight?

Substance from broccoli can moderate defects
Children who suffer from Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria syndrome age prematurely due to a defective protein in their cells.

Not just for the holidays, mistletoe could fight obesity-related liver disease
Mistletoe hanging in doorways announces that the holidays are just around the corner.

Life Sciences Discovery Fund announces proof of concept awards, inaugural matching grants
The Life Sciences Discovery Fund announced $1.2 million in Proof of Concept grants to Washington-based organizations to foster the advancement of promising health-related technologies to commercial products.

Pioneer Award winners Katherine High, Amit Nathwani, Arthur Nienhuis, and Andrew Davidoff honored
Recognized for her pioneering work to develop gene therapy for hemophilia spanning several decades, taking it from the laboratory into human clinical trials, is Katherine A.

Rx drugs, 'bath salts,' fake pot and laundry pods lead millions to call poison centers
National Poison Control Center data from 2012 show that poisonings from prescription drugs are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, and that poisonings from 'bath salts,' synthetic marijuana and laundry detergent pods are emerging threats to public health.

Big data may be fashion industry's next must-have accessory
Big data may be the next new thing to hit the fashion industry's runways, according to a team of researchers.

Asteroid that wiped out dinosaurs may have nearly knocked off mammals, too
The classic story is that mammals rose to dominance after the dinosaurs went extinct, but a new study shows that some of the most common mammals living alongside dinosaurs, the metatherians, extinct relatives of living marsupials, were also nearly wiped out when an asteroid hit the planet 66 million years ago.

Researcher to cancer: 'Resistance will be futile'
Turning the tables, Katherine Borden at the University of Montreal's Institute for Research in Immunology and Cancer has evoked Star Trek's Borg in her fight against the disease.

Short-necked Triassic marine reptile discovered in China
A new species of short-necked marine reptile from the Triassic period has been discovered in China.

Scientists open new frontier of vast chemical 'space'
Chemists at The Scripps Research Institute have invented a powerful and extraordinarily robust method for joining complex organic molecules that can be used to make pharmaceuticals, fabrics, dyes, plastics and other materials previously inaccessible to chemists.

Even in restored forests, extreme weather strongly influences wildfire's impacts
A study led by the US Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Research Station and recently published in the journal Forest Ecology and Management examined how the Rim Fire burned through forests with restored fire regimes in Yosemite National Park to determine whether they were as resistant to high-severity fire as many scientists and land managers expected.

Heat boosts phthalate emissions from vinyl crib mattress covers
The US continues to look at the use and regulation of phthalates, which have been associated with health problems.

Stroke patients experience superior outcomes with intra-arterial treatment vs. tPA
An independent study published online today in the New England Journal of Medicine found that intra-arterial stroke treatment was shown to be significantly more effective than medical management with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) -- the current standard of care.

Fine tuning your campaign
An increasing number of innovative and creative projects are being financed through crowdfunding platforms.

Bugs life: The nerve cells that make locusts 'gang up'
Biologists from Universities of Leicester and Sydney reveal behavioral changes in locusts through serotonin-producing cells.

Improving forecasts for rain-on-snow flooding
Researchers hope to better forecast the flood risk from a combination of heavy rains and melting snow, which are most of the worst West Coast floods.

Cannabis-based medicine to be tested as child epilepsy therapy
Children with severe epilepsy could be helped by a new treatment derived from the cannabis plant.

NASA's sun watching observatory sees mid-level solar flare on Dec. 16, 2014
The sun emitted a mid-level solar flare, peaking at 11:50 p.m.

Unraveling the light of fireflies
How do fireflies produce those mesmerizing light flashes? Using cutting-edge imaging techniques, scientists from Switzerland and Taiwan have unraveled the firefly's intricate light-producing system for the first time.

AAAS analysis shows widespread looting and damage to historical sites in Syria
Four of six major archaeological sites in Syria have been heavily looted and damaged, according to a AAAS analysis of high-resolution satellite images that documents the extent of the destruction.

Study hints that ancient Earth made its own water -- geologically
In a finding that meshes well with recent discoveries from the Rosetta mission, Ohio State University researchers have discovered a geochemical pathway by which Earth makes it own water through plate tectonics.

Press registration opens for 2015 spring national meeting of the American Chemical Society
Journalists may now apply for press credentials for the American Chemical Society's (ACS') 249th National Meeting & Exposition.

Policy action urgently needed to protect Hawaii's dolphins
Tourism is increasing pressure on Hawaii's spinner dolphins. A new Duke-led study shows that long-proposed federal regulations to limit daytime access to bays where the dolphins rest are greatly needed, but local, community-based conservation measures tailored to each individual bay will speed their acceptance.

High fitness level reduces chance of developing hypertension
People who performed at the highest fitness levels on a stress test were projected to have a 20 percent less chance of developing high blood pressure over five years.

The Lancet: World population gains more than 6 years of life expectancy since 1990
Global life expectancy increased by 5.8 years in men and 6.6 years in women between 1990 and 2013, according to a major new analysis from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013.

Why some antidepressants may initially worsen symptoms
New research helps explain a paradoxical effect of certain antidepressants -- that they may actually worsen symptoms before helping patients feel better.

Study finds that employees who are open about religion are happier
Employees who openly discuss their religious beliefs at work are often happier and have higher job satisfaction than those employees who do not, according to a collaborative study that involves a Kansas State University researcher.

Comics plus engineering equals a national award
A University of California, Riverside assistant professor who is an expert on the science of superheroes will receive an award from a national engineering organization that was previously won by military leaders, a congressman, a Secretary of Defense and astronauts, including Neil Armstrong.

A survey of the general population in France identifies knowledge gaps in the perception of lung cancer
A prospective nationwide survey on perceptions of lung cancer in the general population of France highlights a need for increased public education on the benefits of lung cancer screening, the good survival rates of early-stage disease and the improved outcomes with new therapeutic strategies, including targeted-therapies.

'Sugar-coated' microcapsule eliminates toxic punch of experimental anti-cancer drug
Johns Hopkins researchers have developed a sugar-based molecular microcapsule that eliminates the toxicity of an anticancer agent developed a decade ago at Johns Hopkins, called 3-bromopyruvate, or 3BrPA, in studies of mice with implants of human pancreatic cancer tissue.

Switching to spintronics
Berkeley Lab researchers used an electric field to reverse the magnetization direction in a multiferroic spintronic device at room temperature, a demonstration that points a new way towards spintronics and smaller, faster and cheaper ways of storing and processing data.

Improving science at universities in Muslim countries: Experts to formulate prescription
In Muslim countries, how is academic freedom understood and applied?

Unpacking brain damage in ALS
Researchers gain new insight into how motor neurons in the brain die during ALS.

Contrasting views of kin selection assessed
Researchers have used several different ways of testing Hamilton's rule, the core mathematical formula of kin selection, as an explanation for the evolution of much altruistic behavior in animals.

National model of restoration: Nine Mile Run
A study by a Pitt hydrologist shows that one of the largest urban-stream restorations in the United States has led to the recovery of fish and, more importantly, a groundswell of local support.

Targeted next-generation sequencing reveals a high number of genomic mutations in advanced malignant
Next generation sequencing in malignant pleural mesothelioma tumors shows a complex mutational setting with a high number of genetic alterations in genes involved in DNA repair, cell survival and cell proliferation pathways.

Behavioral analysis of ISIS brutality presented in Violence and Gender journal
The Sunni Islamist terror organization known as the Islamic State, or ISIS, uses extreme violence and brutality against anyone it perceives as a threat to its goal of expansion and restoration of an Islamic Caliphate.

Researchers identify new approach to diagnose blood clots in lungs of patients over 50
New research identifies a new 'sliding scale' model used to rule out potentially deadly blood clots in the lungs, known as pulmonary embolisms, that is more accurate than current diagnostic methods.

Hugs help protect against stress and infection, say Carnegie Mellon researchers
Carnegie Mellon University researchers tested whether hugs act as a form of social support, protecting stressed people from getting sick.

NASA satellites measure increase of Sun's energy absorbed in the Arctic
NASA satellite instruments have observed a marked increase in solar radiation absorbed in the Arctic since the year 2000 -- a trend that aligns with the steady decrease in Arctic sea ice during the same period.

Ancient, hydrogen-rich waters discovered deep underground at locations around the world
A team of scientists, led by the University of Toronto's Barbara Sherwood Lollar, has mapped the location of hydrogen-rich waters found trapped kilometers beneath Earth's surface in rock fractures in Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia.

Genetic mutation found to cause ovarian failure
A new Tel Aviv University study throws a spotlight on a previously-unidentified genetic cause of Primary Ovarian Insufficiency, associated with infertility in 1 percent of all women worldwide.

Dutch barnacle geese have more active immune system than same species in the North
Bird migration is an impressive phenomenon, but why birds often travel huge distances to and from their breeding grounds in the far North is still very unclear.

Better focus at the micro world: A low-budget focus stacking system for mass digitization
A team of Belgian researchers constructed a focus stacking set-up made of consumer grade products with better end results than high-end solutions and this at only a tenth of the prize of current existing systems.

Despite risks, benzodiazepine use highest in older people
Prescription use of benzodiazepines -- a widely used class of sedative and anti-anxiety medications -- increases steadily with age, despite the known risks for older people, according to a comprehensive analysis of benzodiazepine prescribing in the United States.

Linde, Sandia partnership looks to expand hydrogen fueling network
Sandia National Laboratories and industrial gas giant Linde LLC have signed an umbrella Cooperative Research and Development Agreement that is expected to accelerate the development of low-carbon energy and industrial technologies, beginning with hydrogen and fuel cells.

'Draw me a picture,' say scientists: Computer may respond
The National Science Foundation has awarded a $300,000 grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Hawaii to take the first steps towards developing a computer that can take data and produce meaningful visualizations based on natural language requests, accompanied by common gestures like pointing.

Study identifies 53 approved drugs that may block Ebola infection
Researchers found 53 existing drugs that may keep the Ebola virus from entering human cells, a key step in the process of infection.

Colorado River Delta greener after engineered pulse of water
The engineered spring flood that brought water to previously dry reaches of the lower Colorado River and its delta resulted in greener vegetation, the germination of new vegetation along the river and a temporary rise in the water table, according to new results from the binational team of scientists studying the water's effects.

'Master regulator' gene -- long tied to autism disorders -- stimulates other genes in early brain development
Chemical modifications to DNA's packaging -- known as epigenetic changes -- can activate or repress genes involved in autism spectrum disorders and early brain development, according to a new study to be published in the journal Nature on Dec.

Global carbon dioxide emissions increase to new all-time record, but growth is slowing down
2013 saw global carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel use and cement production reach a new all-time high.

Guelph researchers recipe: Cook farm waste into energy
Guelph researchers are studying how to make biofuels from farm waste, especially 'wet' waste, such as corn husks, tomato vines and manure, that is typically difficult to use.

Airline pilots can be exposed to cockpit radiation similar to tanning beds
Airline pilots can be exposed to the same amount of UV-A radiation as that from a tanning bed session because airplane windshields do not completely block UV-A radiation, according to a research letter published online by JAMA Dermatology.

UT Arlington Public Works Institute to deliver traffic work zone safety classes
The University of Texas at Arlington's Public Works Institute in the Division of Enterprise Development received a $486,234 Texas Department of Transportation contract to train city and county work crews on working in traffic safety zones.

New Notre Dame paper offers novel insights into pathogen behavior
A new study by a team of researchers that includes University of Notre Dame scientists Joshua Shrout and Mark Alber provides new insights into the behavior of an important bacterial pathogen.

Anti-diabetic drug springs new hope for tuberculosis patients
A more effective treatment for tuberculosis (TB) could soon be available as scientists have discovered that metformin, a drug for treating diabetes, can also be used to boost the efficacy of TB medication without inducing drug resistance.

Lens-free microscope can detect cancer at the cellular level
UCLA researchers have developed a lens-free microscope that can be used to detect the presence of cancer or other cell-level abnormalities with the same accuracy as larger and more expensive optical microscopes.

Health coaching paired with gym membership works best for obese people with mental illness
A health promotion program, called In SHAPE, designed for people with serious mental illness, produced more fit participants and significant weight loss than a control group where participants only received a gym membership.

Getting bot responders into shape
Sandia National Laboratories is tackling one of the biggest barriers to the use of robots in emergency response: energy efficiency.

Frontiers launches open-access journals in the humanities and social sciences
Frontiers, a community-driven open-access publisher, is pleased to announce the launch of a series of interdisciplinary open-access journals across the whole spectrum of the humanities and social sciences.

Migraine may double risk for facial paralysis
Migraine headache may double the risk of a nervous system condition that causes facial paralysis, called Bell's palsy, according to a new study published in the Dec.

The hot blue stars of Messier 47
This spectacular image of the star cluster Messier 47 was taken using the Wide Field Imager camera, installed on the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile.

Spider's web weaves way to advanced networks and displays
Searching for new ways to develop efficient, flexible networks, a pair of Boston College physicists discovered the designs of spider webs and leaf venation, refined across thousands of years of evolution, are worthy models for the next generation of optoelectronic applications.

New evidence shows electronic cigarettes facilitate smoking cessation
New Cochrane review finds emerging evidence that smokers who use electronic cigarettes can stop or reduce their smoking.

Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation selected to receive up to $63 million from UNITAID
The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the UNITAID Executive Board to receive up to $63 million in funding to improve early infant diagnosis of HIV programs in nine African countries.

Predicting antibiotic resistance
Treating bacterial infections with antibiotics is becoming increasingly difficult as bacteria develop resistance not only to the antibiotics being used against them, but also to ones they have never encountered before. 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