Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

March 11, 2015
Scientists use X-ray vision to probe early stages of DNA 'photocopying'
Scientists have created a 3-D model of a complex protein machine, ORC, which helps prepare DNA to be duplicated.

Finding strengths -- and weaknesses -- in hepatitis C's armor
Using a specially selected library of different hepatitis C viruses, a team of researchers led by Johns Hopkins scientists has identified tiny differences in the pathogens' outer shell proteins that underpin their resistance to antibodies.

Clinical trial sponsors fail to report results to participants, public
Despite legal and ethical mandates for disclosure, results from most clinical trials of medical products are not reported promptly on a registry specifically created to make results of human studies publicly available, according to Duke Medicine researchers.

Build your own Siri: An open-source digital assistant
An open-source computing system you command with your voice like Apple's Siri is designed to spark a new generation of 'intelligent personal assistants' for wearables and other devices.

When should blood transfusions be given after cardiac surgery?
New research has shown that patients having heart surgery do not benefit if doctors wait until a patient has become substantially anemic before giving a transfusion.

Graphene: A new tool for fighting cavities and gum disease?
Dental diseases, which are caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the mouth, are among the most common health problems in the world.

Gender and race influences when teens start drinking, smoking and doing drugs
Cigarette use among white teenagers is substantially higher than among black and Hispanic teenagers, especially at 18 years old, according to Penn State researchers.

Honey, I shrunk the ants: How environment controls size
Until now scientists have believed that the variations in traits such as our height, skin colour, tendency to gain weight or not, intelligence, tendency to develop certain diseases, etc., all of them traits that exist along a continuum, were a result of both genetic and environmental factors.

Palm tree Coco de mer performs 'parental care' and modifies its habitat
Can plants take care of their offspring? A TU Darmstadt scientist has found that they can.

Repairing the cerebral cortex: It can be done
A team led by Afsaneh Gaillard (Inserm Unit 1084, Experimental and Clinical Neurosciences Laboratory, University of Poitiers), in collaboration with the Institute of Interdisciplinary Research in Human and Molecular Biology (IRIBHM) in Brussels, has just taken an important step in the area of cell therapy: repairing the cerebral cortex of the adult mouse using a graft of cortical neurons derived from embryonic stem cells.

Treatment outlook for adults with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy moves from grim to good
Newly published research led by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation and Tufts Medical Center in Boston shows that implantable defibrillators, along with other modern treatments, have reduced mortality rates and are helping patients with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy live longer.

Babies' body mass index may predict childhood obesity
Body mass index (BMI) during infancy may help to predict if a child will be obese by age four.

Length matters
Mutations in the MECP2 gene are the cause of the devastating childhood neurological disorder Rett Syndrome.

The physics of clouds
Guenter Ahlers and his postdoctoral coworkers show that transitions from one state of turbulence to another are sharp.

NYU scientists develop computer model explaining how brain learns to categorize
NYU researchers have devised a computer model to explain how a neural circuit learns to classify sensory stimuli into discrete categories, such as 'car vs. motorcycle.' Their findings shed new light on the brain processes underpinning judgments we make on a daily basis.

Understanding plants' immune systems could lead to better tomatoes, roses, rice
Spring is just around the corner and for millions of Americans, that means planting a garden with plenty of fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes.

West coast log and lumber exports decreased in 2014
Log and lumber exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska both decreased in volume in 2014 compared to 2013, the US Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station reported today.

Researchers develop tool to understand how the gut microbiome works
Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Columbia University in the United States have developed a way to study the functions of hard-to-grow bacteria that contribute to the composition of the gut microbiome.

Harder-to-abuse OxyContin doesn't stop illicit use
A reformulation of OxyContin that makes it less likely to be abused than the older formulation has curtailed the drug's illicit use.

Scientists reconstruct evolutionary history of whale hearing
Changes in ear bone development in the womb paralleled changes observed throughout whale evolution, providing new insight about how whales adapted to hearing underwater.

Scientists find a new beta cell maturation step triggered by weaning from milk to chow
Scientists have discovered a new developmental step in the process of beta cell maturation, triggered by the dietary transition from milk to chow.

Brain waves predict our risk for insomnia
There may not yet be a cure for insomnia, but Concordia University researchers are a step closer to predicting who is most likely to suffer from it -- just in time for World Sleep Day on March 13.

Cochrane Review of effectiveness of point of care diagnostics for schistosomiasis
Schistosomiasis, also known as bilharzia, is a parasitic disease classified as a neglected tropical diseases, common in tropical and subtropical regions.

Study yields insights into how plant cells grow
A study by Purdue University plant scientists and University of Nebraska-Lincoln engineers advances our understanding of how plants control their shape and development at the cellular level.

New genetic evidence resolves origins of modern Japanese
Researchers Oota, Mano, Nakagome et al., identified the differences between the Ainu people -- direct descendants of indigenous Jomon -- with Chinese from Beijing -- same ancestry as Yayoi.

Tetanus shot improves patient survival with brain tumor immunotherapy
An innovative approach using a tetanus booster to prime the immune system enhances the effect of a vaccine therapy for lethal brain tumors, dramatically improving patient survival, according to a study led by Duke Cancer Institute researchers.

Drug restores brain function and memory in early Alzheimer's disease
An existing epilepsy drug appears to reverse a condition in elderly patients who are at high risk for dementia due to Alzheimer's disease.

Rat brains point to lead's role in schizophrenia
A study of the brains of rats exposed to lead has uncovered striking similarities with what is known about the brains of human schizophrenia patients, adding compelling evidence that lead is a factor in the onset of schizophrenia.

Neandertals modified white-tailed eagle claws 130,000 years ago
Krapina Neandertals may have manipulated white-tailed eagle talons to make jewelry 130,000 years ago, before the appearance of modern human in Europe.

Post-fire logging can reduce fuels for up to 40 years in regenerating forests, new study finds
Harvesting fire-killed trees is an effective way to reduce woody fuels for up to four decades following wildfire in dry coniferous forests, a US Forest Service study has found.

Urging HPV vaccine for boys could protect more people at same price
Whether vaccinating US boys against HPV in addition to girls is worth the cost has been hotly debated.

Alternative way to pay for expensive drugs may be needed, analysis says
A major challenge facing the world's health care systems is paying for a new breed of expensive breakthrough drugs.

'Quantum jitters' could form basis of evolution, cancer
Duke researchers have discovered 'quantum jitters,' in which DNA's four basic building blocks temporarily change shapes, fooling DNA-replication machinery into making a copying mistake.

Naproxen plus acid-blocking drug shows promise in preventing bladder cancer
Researchers used the proton pump inhibitor omeprazole, a commonly used acid inhibitor, in combination with naproxen and found it was effective at preventing bladder cancer in an animal model.

Scientists transfer pathogen-sensing 'antenna' gene to wheat
A team of scientists from the John Innes Centre, the National Institute of Agricultural Botany and The Sainsbury Laboratory have successfully transferred a receptor that recognizes bacteria from the model plant Arabidopsis thaliana -- a dicot, to wheat -- a monocot.

The Lancet: Healthy eating, exercise, and brain-training
A comprehensive program providing older people at risk of dementia with healthy eating guidance, exercise, brain training, and management of metabolic and vascular risk factors appears to slow down cognitive decline, according to the first ever randomized controlled trial of its kind, published in The Lancet.

Sun emits significant solar flare
The sun emitted a significant solar flare, peaking at 12:22 p.m.

Could yoga lessen prenatal depression?
A community-based prenatal yoga program may be an acceptable, safe, and effective intervention to reduce the symptoms of depression among pregnant women, according to initial results from a small pilot study.

NNI releases supplement to the president's 2016 budget
The President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 provides $1.5 billion for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a continued Federal investment in support of the President's priorities and innovation strategy.

Researchers develop 'visual Turing test'
Computers are able to recognize objects in in photographs and other images, but how well can they 'understand' the relationships or implied activities between objects?

Analysis suggests a more virulent swine flu virus in the Indian subcontinent
A flu outbreak in India that has claimed over 1,200 lives may not be identical to the 2009 North American strain, as recently reported in India.

Prescription for living longer: Spend less time alone
Loneliness and social isolation pose a threat to longevity. Effect occurs even for people who like to be alone.

The corrugated galaxy -- Milky Way may be much larger than previously estimated
The Milky Way galaxy is at least 50 percent larger than is commonly estimated, according to new findings that reveal that the galactic disk is contoured into several concentric ripples.

A grand extravaganza of new stars
This dramatic landscape in the southern constellation of Ara (The Altar) is a treasure trove of celestial objects.

Underlying subfertility may affect ART birth outcomes, BU study finds
Birth outcomes for babies whose mothers used assisted reproductive technology (ART) are better in some cases, and worse in others, than for subfertile women who did not use ART, according to a first-of-its-kind study led by Boston University School of Public Health researchers.

British Psychological Society report challenges received wisdom about mental illness
The report, which will be launched at 9 a.m. at the Cooper Union, New York, N.Y., by invitation of the International Society for Psychological and Social approaches to Psychosis, challenges received wisdom about the nature of mental illness and has led to widespread media coverage and debate in the UK.

Wistar receives $1.1 million grant from the Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation
The Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Foundation awarded The Wistar Institute a $1.1 million grant to create The Jayne Koskinas Ted Giovanis Breast Cancer Research Consortium at The Wistar Institute.

INRS professor Federico Rosei received the 2015 Lash Miller Award
Professor Federico Rosei of INRS's Centre Énergie Matériaux Télécommunications is the recipient of the 2015 Electrochemical Society Canada Section Lash Miller Award.

NASA deploys satellite designed to re-enter atmosphere using revamped drag device
The TechEdSat-4 satellite launched from the space station on Tuesday, March 3, has successfully entered its orbit, setting the stage to test technology that could enable rapid return of payloads from space.

When should blood transfusions be given after cardiac surgery?
New research has shown that patients having heart surgery do not benefit if doctors wait until a patient has become substantially anaemic before giving a transfusion.

Tracking sea turtles across hundreds of miles of open ocean
How sea turtles find their way across hundreds of miles of open ocean has been an enduring mystery of animal behavior.

Brain processes ongoing pain more emotionally
A momentary lapse of concentration is all it takes for a finger to become trapped or sprain an ankle -- and it hurts.

Move it or lose it: 1-year mission video miniseries -- physical performance
After living aboard the International Space Station, research into physical performance may hold answers for those living with challenges from health-related concerns from prolonged inactivity.

Dark neural patches
Researchers at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University advance understanding of Parkinson's disease.

Study shows even injured kidneys can be used for transplants
Kidneys from deceased donors that have acute injuries are frequently discarded instead of being used for transplant.

How 3-D bioprinting could address the shortage of organ donations
Three-dimensional bioprinting has come a long way since its early days when a bioengineer replaced the ink in his desktop printer with living cells.

How changes in body weight affect the human metabolism
The proportion of overweight people is steadily rising in Germany, leading to an increase in the number of patients later diagnosed with cardiovascular diseases, dyslipidemia or diabetes.

TRMM sees large and more powerful Cyclone Pam, warnings posted
The Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission or TRMM satellite saw powerful towering thunderstorms in Tropical Cyclone Pam, indicating the storm was strengthening as it moved through the Solomon Islands.

Exercise may help keep seniors moving longer despite old age brain decline
Older people who are physically active may be protecting themselves from the effects of small areas of brain damage that can affect their movement abilities, according to a new study published in the March 11, 2015, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Is US immigration policy 'STEMming' innovation?
Foreign-born graduate students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) disciplines who wish to pursue a career in industry or NGOs are much more likely to stay in the US than those who wish to pursue a career in academia or government concludes a study by researchers at UC Santa Barbara's Center for Nanotechnology in Society.

Are social networks helpful or harmful in long-distance romantic relationships?
Social network sites such as Facebook play an important role in maintaining relationships, including romantic relationships, whether individuals are involved in a geographically close or long-distance romantic relationship.

CU-Boulder-led study shows Saturn moon's ocean may have hydrothermal activity
A new study by a team of Cassini mission scientists led by the University of Colorado Boulder have found that microscopic grains of rock detected near Saturn imply hydrothermal activity is taking place within the moon Enceladus.

Particle jets reveal the secrets of the most exotic state of matter
Shortly following the Big Bang, the universe was filled with a chaotic primordial soup of quarks and gluons, particles which are now trapped inside of protons and neutrons.

Molecules in prostate tumors might predict whether RT can help prevent recurrence
A new study has identified a group of molecules in prostate-cancer cells that doctors might one day use to distinguish which patients should be treated with radiation therapy if rising PSA levels indicate their cancer has recurred after surgical removal of the prostate.

Media portray unrealistic timelines for stem cell therapies
A new study by University of Alberta law researchers reveals sometimes overly optimistic news coverage of clinical translation of stem cell therapies -- and as spokespeople, scientists need to be mindful of harnessing public expectations.

It's sound -- Bristol Pound encourages community unity
There is a rapidly growing momentum driving the development of mobile payment systems.

Fossil skull sheds new light on transition from water to land
The first 3-D reconstruction of the skull of a 360-million-year-old near-ancestor of land vertebrates has been created by scientists from the universities of Bristol and Cambridge, UK

Scientists reconstruct evolutionary history of whale hearing with rare museum collection
The National Museum of Natural History's research team CT scanned fetal whale specimens from the museum's marine mammal collection to trace the development of fetal ear bones in 56 specimens from 10 different whale families.

Satellite sees Tropical Cyclone Nathan begin circling near Queensland coast
NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite captured an image of Tropical Cyclone Nathan as it was beginning to make a cyclonic loop near the eastern coast of Queensland's Cape York Peninsula on March 11.

Epoch-defining study pinpoints when humans came to dominate planet Earth
The human-dominated geological epoch known as the Anthropocene probably began around the year 1610, with an unusual drop in atmospheric carbon dioxide and the irreversible exchange of species between the New and Old Worlds, according to new research published today in Nature.

Netradar: World's fastest mobile Internet in Denmark, Singapore and Switzerland
People have the fastest mobile Internet connections in the world in Denmark (22.3 Mbit/s), followed by Singapore (16.9 Mbit/s), Switzerland (16.6 Mbit/s), Norway (14.8 Mbit/s) and Korea (13.0 Mbit/s).

Focus on geriatric medicine
The study reported by Wolfgang von Renteln-Kruse et al. (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2015; 112: 103) investigated the clinical treatment of geriatric patients with cognitive impairment, who require an appropriate environment and appropriate care.

Study reveals sexual appeal of war heroes
Women are more attracted to war heroes than regular soldiers or men who display heroic traits in other fields, such as in sports or natural disaster work, according to new research from the University of Southampton and partners in Europe.

Rapid coastal population growth may leave many exposed to sea-level rise
The number of people potentially exposed to future sea level rise and associated storm surge flooding may be highest in low-elevation coastal zones in Asia and Africa.

UCLA study shows feasibility of blood-based test for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease
UCLA researchers have provided the first evidence that a simple blood test could be developed to confirm the presence of beta amyloid proteins in the brain, which is a hallmark of Alzheimer's disease.

Deadly to cancer cells only
Parvoviruses can destroy cancer cells and are currently being tested in a preliminary clinical trial to treat malignant brain cancer.

Steroids rapidly restore blood-brain barrier function after blast
Columbia Engineering professor Barclay Morrison has led the first study to determine underlying biological mechanisms that promote functional recovery of the blood-brain barrier after blast injury, demonstrating that treatment with the glucocorticoid, dexamethasone, after primary blast injury promotes rapid recovery of an in vitro model of the BBB.

New mothers more satisfied after giving birth in a public hospital
Women who give birth in a public hospital are more confident parents compared to women who have babies privately, a new Australian study has found.

Discovery demystifies origin of life phenomenon
Biomolecules, if large enough (several nanometers) and with an electrical charge, will seek their own type with which to form large assemblies.

NASA-JAXA's GPM sees birth of Tropical Depression 3W in northwestern Pacific
The third tropical depression of the northwestern Pacific Ocean typhoon season has formed in eastern Micronesia as NASA-JAXA's GPM satellite gathered rainfall data on the developing storm.

Air quality in nursing homes affecting lung health of residents
The indoor air quality in nursing homes has a serious effect on the lung health of elderly residents, according to the findings of a new study.

Silk could be new 'green' material for next-generation batteries
Lithium-ion batteries have enabled many of today's electronics, from portable gadgets to electric cars.

Swine flu outbreak in India raises concern
An MIT study finds evidence that a new strain of H1N1 may carry dangerous mutations.

Skull reconstruction sheds new light on tetrapod transition from water to land
Three-hundred-and-sixty-million-year-old tetrapods may have been more like modern crocodiles than previously thought, according to 3-D skull reconstruction.

Iron-oxidizing bacteria found along Mid-Atlantic Ridge
Bacteria that live on iron were found for the first time at three well-known vent sites along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

Stanford researchers solve the mystery of the dancing droplets
'These droplets sense one another, they move and interact, almost like living cells,' said Manu Prakash, an assistant professor of bioengineering and senior author.

Stem cells in the brain: Limited self-renewal
Stem cells in the brain can produce neurons and are consequently seen as a hope for treatment.

Polymers designed for protection
The Army Research Laboratory is investigating a possible solution to help polymers stand up to the kinds of threats Army Soldiers could face in future conflicts.

Farming a threat to endangered Chinese giant salamander
New research, led by international conservation charity Zoological Society of London, published in Oryx today shows that Chinese giant salamander (Andrias davidianus) farms risk the extinction of wild salamander populations instead of supporting their conservation.

Georgia State study: Ebola-infected sewage may require longer holding period
Storing Ebola-infected sewage for a week at 86° Fahrenheit or higher should allow enough time for more than 99.99 percent of the virus to die, though lower ambient temperatures may require a longer holding period, according to a new study by researchers at Georgia State University's School of Public Health.

Scripps Research Institute study shows 2 new flu strains do not yet easily infect humans
Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute have analyzed a key protein from two influenza strains that recently began causing sporadic infections among people in China and Taiwan.

New material captures carbon at half the energy cost
Capturing carbon from power plants will likely be necessary in the future to avoid the worst effects of climate change, but current technologies are very expensive.

NASA captures birth of Tropical Cyclone Olwyn headed for northwestern Australia
NASA's Aqua satellite saw newly formed Tropical Cyclone Olwyn nearing northwestern Australia on March 11 when it passed overhead.

Study reveals how genetic changes lead to familial Alzheimer's disease
Mutations in the presenilin-1 gene are the most common cause of inherited, early-onset forms of Alzheimer's disease.

Open-source scientific research comes to Brazil
Open-access research into drug discovery has arrived in South America, with a ground-breaking collaboration between leading scientists in North America, Europe and Brazil to provide completely free and open research results to the world.

Uncovering the effects of cooking, digestion on gluten and wheat allergens in pasta
Researchers trying to understand wheat-related health problems have found new clues to how the grain's proteins, including gluten, change when cooked and digested.

Press conference schedule, online registration closing Friday
The schedule of press conferences at the General Assembly of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), which includes presentations on ESA's Rosetta Mission and on Iceland's Bárðarbunga volcanic eruption, is now available.

Therapeutic exercise lessens lung injury and muscle wasting in critically ill patients
Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a life-threatening lung condition that affects approximately 200,000 people a year in the United States and has a higher mortality rate than breast and prostate cancer combined.

Concurrent chemoradiation treatment at high-volume facilities improves survival for NSCLC
Patients treated with definitive concurrent chemotherapy and radiation therapy for stage III non-small cell lung cancer have longer overall survival when treated by highly experienced facilities, whether or not they are academic or community cancer centers.

Meta-study shows that the experience of time is altered in depression
Patients suffering from depression appear to experience time differently than healthy individuals.

Saharan 'carpet of tools' is earliest known man-made landscape
Researchers used the new survey of the Messak Settafet to estimate that enough stone tools were discarded over the course of human evolution in Africa to build more than one Great Pyramid for every square kilometer of land on the continent.

Cebit 2015: Saarland computer scientists present guarantees for online anonymity
When performing an online search for sensitive topics, one may wish to remain unobserved.

Religion and support for birth control health coverage can mix
Religious affiliation doesn't necessarily predict a woman's views on reproductive health care policies like contraceptive coverage.

A new species of tapaculo in South America
After being misidentified and sitting in a museum drawer for more than seventy years, a group of bird specimens collected in Colombia and Venezuela has been determined to represent a previously unknown species, now dubbed the Perijá Tapaculo (Scytalopus perijanus).

Promising Alzheimer's treatment moves toward clinical trials
A promising new natural treatment for Alzheimer's disease is moving toward clinical trials.

Assessing feedback interactions in a creative setting
The traditional notion of feedback usually involves a one-way conversation where a manager rates an employee's performance because the destination, so to speak, is known.

New research reveals low-oxygen impacts on West Coast groundfish
New research by NOAA Fisheries and Oregon State University finds that low-oxygen waters projected to expand with climate change create winners and losers among deep-dwelling groundfish.

Bigelow Laboratory's Shimmield recognized for contributions to oceanography
Graham Shimmield, executive director of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean received the Society for Underwater Technology's President's Award 2014, given annually to a member of the international ocean community.

A sea change for ocean resource management
Ocean ecosystems around the world are threatened by overfishing, extensive shipping routes, energy exploration, pollution and other consequences of ocean-based industry.

Asian monsoon rains drove mammal evolution
New research has shown that the Asian monsoon rains played a key role in the evolution of mammals.

Latest child development research featured next week
The Society for Research in Child Development will hold its Biennial Meeting in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center March 19-21, 2015.

DNA-directed RNA transcription may have profound adaptability
The central dogma of molecular biology describes the flow of genetic information.

CT scanning shows why tilting trees produce better biofuel
Imperial researchers have used medical imaging techniques to explore why making willow trees grow at an angle can vastly improve their biofuel yields. 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