Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

December 22, 2014
Alcohol apps aimed at young
Apps with names like 'Let's get Wasted!' and 'Drink Thin' have led a James Cook University professor to call for government action on alcohol advertising on mobile devices.

Decision 'cascades' in social networks
A paper published this month in the SIAM Journal on Computing shows how people in social networks are often influenced by each other's decisions, resulting in a run of behaviors in which their choices become highly correlated, causing a cascade of decisions.

PNAS study: Devising a way to count proteins as they group
A new study from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and UC Berkeley researchers reports on an innovative theoretical methodology to solve 'the counting problem,' which is key to understanding how proteins group and perform their vital functions within the human body.

Fast-food consumption linked to lower test score gains in 8th graders
The amount of fast food children eat may be linked to how well they do in school, a new nationwide study suggests.

New technology makes tissues, someday maybe organs
A new device for building large tissues from living components of three-dimensional microtissues borrows on ideas from electronics manufacturing.

Study: Industrial clusters fuel economies
Experts have long theorized that having a cluster of firms within a given industry helps a region's economy grow.

Graying, but still golden
Getting old doesn't spell doom when it comes to making important financial decisions, a team of researchers led by a University of California, Riverside assistant professor report in a just published paper.

Scientists uncover new, fundamental mechanism for how resveratrol provides health benefits
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have found that resveratrol, the red-wine ingredient once touted as an elixir of youth, powerfully activates an evolutionarily ancient stress response in human cells.

Cells 'feel' their surroundings using finger-like structures
Cells have finger-like projections that they use to feel their surroundings.

Disadvantaged men more likely to do 'women's work' reveals new study
New research has revealed that men who are disabled and from an ethnic minority are significantly more likely to do jobs traditionally associated with women.

Scientists find drug that helps Huntington's disease-afflicted mice -- and their offspring
A new study from scientists at the Scripps Research Institute suggests therapies that change gene expression in parents could help their children.

Brazil turns to Brunel as it seeks to reverse footballing failures
Brazilian football is looking to science for answers as it comes to terms with the national team's humiliating 7-1 defeat at the hands of Germany in this summer's World Cup.

Bone loss drugs may help prevent endometrial cancer
A new analysis suggests that women who use bisphosphonates -- medications commonly used to treat osteoporosis and other bone conditions -- have about half the risk of developing endometrial cancer as women who do not use the drugs.

Penn researchers model the mechanics of cells' long-range communication
Interdisciplinary research at the University of Pennsylvania is showing how cells interact over long distances within fibrous tissue, like that associated with many diseases of the liver, lungs and other organs.

Suppressing a protein reduces cancer spread in mice
In a new study, researchers found that a specific protein called 'chitinase 3-like-1' appears key in enabling malignant melanoma or breast cancer to spread to the lungs of mice.

Smoke signals: New evidence links air pollution to congenital defects
The health effects of air pollution are a major concern for urban populations all over the world.

Virtual handshake
Toyohashi Tech's researcher has developed an innovative virtual-communication system that enables people to 'shake hands' over the Internet using inexpensive commercial devices.

Light-emitting e-readers detrimentally shift circadian clock
You may think your e-reader is helping you get to sleep at night, but it might actually be harming your quality of sleep, according to researchers.

Study reveals major websites could be doing more to promote improved password security
Online giants including Amazon and LinkedIn could be doing far more to raise awareness of the need for better password practices among their users, a study by Plymouth University has found.

Study: An alternative for pain control after knee replacement surgery
A Henry Ford Hospital study, presented recently at the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons meeting in Dallas, found that injecting a newer long-acting numbing medicine called liposomal bupivacaine into the tissue surrounding the knee during surgery may provide a faster recovery and higher patient satisfaction.

Forager past shows our fragile bones result from inactivity since invention of farming
Latest analysis of prehistoric bones show there is no anatomical reason why a person born today could not develop the skeletal strength of a prehistoric forager or a modern orangutan.

The Lancet: Trial confirms Ebola vaccine candidate safe and equally immunogenic in Africa
Two experimental DNA vaccines to prevent Ebola virus and the closely related Marburg virus are safe, and generated a similar immune response in healthy Ugandan adults as reported in healthy US adults earlier this year.

Variety is the spice of humble moth's sex life
A small brown moth has one of the most complex sex lives in the insect world, new research has found.

Store remodelling benefits bottom line
Retail sales increase by nearly 50 per cent when shops are upgraded, according to new research.

Light-emitting e-readers before bedtime can adversely impact sleep
Use of a light-emitting electronic device (LE-eBook) in the hours before bedtime can adversely impact overall health, alertness, and the circadian clock which synchronizes the daily rhythm of sleep to external environmental time cues, according to researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital who compared the biological effects of reading an LE-eBook compared to a printed book.

Fragile bones of modern humans result from reduced physical activity
The comparatively light bone structure of modern humans compared to early human species and other modern primates may be due to the modern abandonment of the constant physical activity that was inherent in the life of early hunter gathers, according to an international team of researchers.

University of Louisville faculty discover mutation role involved in 75 percent of glioblastomas, melanomas
Researchers at the University of Louisville's James Graham Brown Cancer Center have identified for the first time mutations that destabilize a DNA structure that turns a gene off.

Using light to understand the brain
UCL researchers have developed an innovative way to understand how the brain works by using flashes of light, allowing them to both 'read' and 'write' brain signals.

Fraunhofer is part of EIT's new consortium
Fraunhofer and Helmholtz jointly managed the start of Knowledge and Innovation Community on raw materials.

Dirty pool: Soil's large carbon stores could be freed by increased CO2, plant growth
Researchers based at Princeton University report that an increase in human-made carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could initiate a chain reaction between plants and microorganisms that would unsettle one of the largest carbon reservoirs on the planet -- soil.

Journal of the American College of Cardiology notes most accessed papers
A blood test to rule out heart attack, an advisory about guidelines for preventing high blood pressure, cutting edge research on a new class of cholesterol drugs, and a study that found benefits in early surgery for mitral regurgitation were among the top accessed research studies in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology in 2014.

Shape-shifting may help some species cope with climate change, Dartmouth-USC Study shows
Researchers have found that a Rocky Mountain mustard plant alters its physical appearance and flowering time in response to different environmental conditions, suggesting some species can quickly shape-shift to cope with climate change without having to migrate or evolve.

Skin patch could help heal, prevent diabetic ulcers, study finds
Stanford researchers knew that a drug administered to remove iron from the blood could also overcome diabetic interference with blood vessel formation, but finding the right way to deliver it for this use was the challenge.

Genetic Testing and Nondiscrimination workshop
We are pleased to host the Genetic Testing and Nondiscrimination workshop, which is organized by Genetic Alliance and IRB-BGI to be held on May 21-23, 2015, in Shenzhen, China.

Distribution of fish on the northeast US shelf influenced by both fishing and climate
Scientists studying the distribution of four commercial and recreational fish stocks in Northeast US waters have found that climate change can have major impacts on the distribution of fish, but the effects of fishing can be just as important and occur on a more immediate time scale.

Diverse autism mutations lead to different disease outcomes
People with autism have a wide range of symptoms, with no two people sharing the exact type and severity of behaviors.

Radiologist recommendations for chest CT have high clinical yield
A substantial percentage of patients who receive radiologist recommendations for chest CT to evaluate abnormal findings on outpatient chest X-rays have clinically relevant findings, including cancer, according to a new study.

Study links suicide risk with insomnia, alcohol use
A new study is the first to show that insomnia symptoms mediate the relationship between alcohol use and suicide risk, and that this mediation is moderated by gender.

New cell marking technique to help understand how our brain works
Scientists from the University of Southampton have developed a new technique to mark individual brain cells to help improve our understanding of how the brain works.

Tales from a Martian rock
A new analysis of a Martian rock that meteorite hunters plucked from an Antarctic ice field 30 years ago this month reveals a record of the planet's climate billions of years ago, back when water likely washed across its surface and any life that ever formed there might have emerged.

Startling benefit of cardiology meetings
High-risk patients with certain acute heart conditions are more likely to survive than other similar patients if they are admitted to the hospital during national cardiology meetings, when many cardiologists are away from their regular practices.

The 'Breaking Bad' syndrome? UCLA anthropologist exposes the moral side of violence
In a new book, University of California Los Angeles and Northwestern social scientists ascribe most acts of violence to a truly surprising impulse: The desire to do the right thing.

The psychology of gift-giving and receiving
Researchers are exploring various aspects of gift-giving and receiving, such as how givers choose gifts, how gifts are used by recipients, and how gifts impact the relationship between givers and receivers.

Patient outcomes when cardiologists are away at national meetings
Having some cardiologists away from the hospital attending national cardiology meetings did not appear to negatively affect Medicare patients admitted for heart conditions, according to a report published online by JAMA Internal Medicine.

UTA physicist offers new research, tool for identifying habitable zones
Research by a University of Texas at Arlington astrophysicist sheds greater light on S-type and P-type binary stars and forms the basis for BinHab, a new online tool that can be used to calculate the regions of binary systems favorable for life, commonly known as habitable zones.

Muddy forests, shorter winters present challenges for loggers
A new study finds that the period of frozen ground has declined by an average of two or three weeks since 1948.

How big data could reduce weather-related flight delays
Next year's holiday travelers may see fewer delays thanks to research now being conducted by a team of University of Michigan engineers.

Ninety-eight new beetle species discovered in Indonesia
Ninety-eight new species of the beetle genus Trigonopterus have been described from Java, Bali and other Indonesian islands.

221 new species described by the California Academy of Sciences in 2014
In 2014, researchers at the California Academy of Sciences added 221 new plant and animal species to our family tree.

An existing drug, riluzole, may prevent foggy 'old age' brain
Researchers found they could stop normal, age-related memory loss in rats by giving them with riluzole.

Survival rates higher in obese heart failure patients
Patients who were obese before developing heart failure lived longer than normal weight patients with the same condition according to a new study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology that examined the 'obesity paradox' by following obese and non-obese heart failure patients for more than a decade.

Ecosystems need maths not random nature to survive
A previously unknown mathematical property has been found to be behind one of nature's greatest mysteries -- how ecosystems survive.

Researchers discover new genetic anomalies in lung cancer
By analyzing the DNA and RNA of lung cancers, researchers at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center found that patients whose tumors contained a large number of gene fusions had worse outcomes than patients with fewer gene fusions.

Guilt complex
Some people hate to disappoint -- and you should definitely get them on your team.

Hands on: Crafting ultrathin color coatings
Research from Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences suggests that an ultra-thin layer of a metal and a semiconductor could be applied to essentially any rough or flexible material to produce a vividly colored coating.

New knowledge about host-virus coevolution unmasked from the genomic record
Retroviruses are important pathogens, which have attacked vertebrate hosts for millions of years.

New concussion laws result in big jump in concussion treatment
New laws regulating concussion treatment, bolstered by heightened public awareness, have resulted in a large increase in the treatment of concussion-related injuries for school-age athletes.

Blocking Notch pathway leads to new route to hair cell regeneration to restore hearing
Scientists from Massachusetts Eye and Ear/Harvard Medical School and Fudan University, Shanghai, China, have shown that blocking the Notch pathway, known to control the elaborate hair cell distribution in the inner ear, plays an essential role that determines cochlear progenitor cell proliferation capacity.

Limit imaging scans for headache? Neurosurgeons raise concerns
Recent guidelines seeking to reduce the use of neuroimaging tests for patients with headaches run the risk of missing or delaying the diagnosis of brain tumors, according to a special article in the January issue of Neurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

Acoustic tweezers manipulate cell-to-cell contact
Sound waves can precisely position groups of cells for study without the danger of changing or damaging the cells, according to a team of Penn State researchers who are using surface acoustic waves to manipulate cell spacing and contact.

Test predicts response to treatment for complication of leukemia stem cell treatment
A new test may reveal which patients will respond to treatment for graft versus host disease (GVHD), an often life-threatening complication of stem cell transplants (SCT) used to treat leukemia and other blood disorders, according to a study led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and published online today in the journal Lancet Haematology and in print in the January issue.

Clarithromycin-statin mix can cause drug interactions, requiring hospitalization
The combination of the common antibiotic clarithromycin with some statins increases the risk of adverse events, which may require hospital admission for older people, according to a new study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Oregon study links physical violence, stress hormone in women
A new study links physical violence against women by male partners to a disruption of a key steroid hormone that opens the door potentially to a variety of negative health effects.

Russian scientists 'map' water vapor in Martian atmosphere
Russian scientists from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, together with their French and American colleagues, have created a 'map' of the distribution of water vapor.

Lightweight skeletons of modern humans have recent origin
New research shows that modern human skeletons evolved into their lightly built form only relatively recently -- after the start of the Holocene about 12,000 years ago and even more recently in some human populations.

Shedding new light on the diet of extinct animals
A study of tooth enamel in mammals living today in the equatorial forest of Gabon could ultimately shed light on the diet of long extinct animals, according to new research from the University of Bristol.

Piezoelectricity in a 2-D semiconductor
Berkeley Lab researchers have opened the door to low-power off/on switches in micro-electro-mechanical systems, MEMS, and nanoelectronic devices, as well as ultrasensitive bio-sensors, with the first observation of piezoelectricity in a free standing two-dimensional semiconductor.

New non-invasive method can detect Alzheimer's disease early
Northwestern University researchers have developed a noninvasive MRI approach that can detect the Alzheimer's disease in a living animal, well before typical Alzheimer's symptoms appear.

Use with caution: High doses of vancomycin fuel risk of kidney damage in children
Results of a small Johns Hopkins Children's Center study show that hospitalized children given high-dose intravenous infusions of the antibiotic vancomycin to treat drug-resistant bacterial infections face an increased risk for kidney damage -- an often reversible but sometimes serious complication.

Crowdsourcing with mobile apps brings 'big data' to psychological research
A fast-paced game app where players pretend they are baggage screening officers operating airport X-ray scanners has provided researchers with billions of pieces of data in record time, according to an article published by the American Psychological Association.

Study: Extra income boosts health of elderly in poor countries
Boosting the incomes of poor, elderly residents in developing countries can significantly improve their health and well-being, particularly in lung function and memory, a new study shows.

Blocking excessive division of cell powerhouses reduces liver cell death in cholestasis
The power plants that fuel liver cells rapidly splinter when exposed to bile salts that aid digestion, prompting cell death, but blocking this excessive fission appears to protect the liver, scientists report.

Fear of terrorism increases resting heart rate and risk of death
A new study of over 17,000 Israelis has found that long-term exposure to the threat of terrorism can elevate people's resting heart rates and increase their risk of dying.

Intelligent façades generating electricity, heat and algae biomass
Materials scientists of Jena University coordinate new EU-project on intelligent façades.

Effects of state legislation on health care utilization for kids with concussion
Children with concussion had increased health care utilization which appears to be directly and indirectly related to concussion legislation, according to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics.

Drought causes birds to nest later, reducing nesting success
A recent study published in the journal, The Auk, suggests drought conditions are delaying nesting by two weeks or more for some Sonoran Desert bird species, such as Black-tailed Gnatcatchers and Verdins.

Universality of charge order in cuprate superconductors
Initiated by researchers from Minnesota, an international team of scientists has now identified charge order in HgBa2CuO4 , a pristine cuprate material.

Study finds cardiorespiratory fitness improves memory among older adults
Older adults who have greater heart and lung health also have better memory recall and cognitive capabilities.

Consumer purchases of cakes, cookies and pies have decreased by 24 percent
The results of a new study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that there has been little change in the nutritional content of Ready-to-eat grain-based desserts manufactured or purchased between 2005 and 2012; however overall consumer purchases of Ready-to-eat grain-based desserts declined by 24 percent during that same time period.

Weight training appears key to controlling belly fat
Healthy men who did 20 minutes of daily weight training had less of an increase in age-related abdominal fat compared with men who spent the same amount of time doing aerobic activities, according to a new study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers and colleagues.

Risk for leukemia after treatment for early-stage breast cancer higher than reported
The risk of developing leukemia after radiation therapy or chemotherapy for early stage breast cancer remains very small, but it is twice as high as previously reported, according to results of a new study led by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Average temperature in Finland has risen by more than two degrees
Over the past 166 years, the average temperature in Finland has risen by more than two degrees.

Using no-evidence-of-disease-activity standard for patients with multiple sclerosis
Maintaining 'no-evidence-of-disease-activity' was difficult over time for many patients with multiple sclerosis but the measure may help gauge a patient's long-term prognosis, according to a study published online by JAMA Neurology.

Study pumps up the volume on understanding of marine invertebrate hearing
Noise pollution in the ocean is increasingly recognized as harmful to marine mammals, affecting their ability to communicate, find mates, and hunt for food.

Mysteries of 'molecular machines' revealed
Scientists are making it easier for pharmaceutical companies and researchers to see the detailed inner workings of molecular machines.

News from Dec. 23, 2014, Annals of Internal Medicine
The Dec. 23, 2014, issue of Annals of Internal Medicine includes 'Blood pressure drugs likely to prevent stroke and death in patients with mild hypertension' and 'Task force reviews evidence to update blood pressure screening recommendations.'

Modern genetics confirm ancient relationship between fins and hands
Efforts to connect the evolutionary transition from fish fins to wrist and fingers with the genetic machinery for this adaptation have fallen short because they focused on the wrong fish.

Methane is leaking from permafrost offshore Siberia
Images of craters on Yamal Peninsula, caused by collapsing permafrost, have become world famous.

Holiday lights on the sun: SDO imagery of a significant solar flare
The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 7:28 pm EST on Dec.

Coral reveals long-term link between Pacific winds, global climate
New research indicates that shifts in Pacific trade winds played a key role in twentieth century climate variation and are likely again influencing global temperatures. 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