Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

July 19, 2017
NASA's Terra satellite watching Tropical Storm Greg
NASA Terra satellite provided a clear view of Tropical Storm Greg, located off the southwestern coast of Mexico.

New treatment options for common debilitating skin disease Hidradenitis suppurativa
The research team behind the study pinpointed 'Th17' cells as mediating the disease (HS).

ALS: New clues to the cause and how future drugs might reverse disease
Scientists have known that a protein called TDP-43 clumps together in brain cells of people with ALS.

Some women may benefit from delaying breast reconstruction following mastectomy
Some patients with a combination of risk factors, such as being obese and having diabetes or being a smoker, may benefit from delayed rather than immediate breast implant reconstruction after a mastectomy to decrease their risk for serious wound complications, according to a study published by JAMA Surgery.

Soil filters out some emerging contaminants before reaching groundwater
There is considerable uncertainty surrounding emerging contaminants in aquatic ecosystems and groundwater, and a recent Penn State study of compounds from pharmaceuticals and personal care products didn't add much clarity.

Damming and lost connectivity for fish in northeastern ecosystems
Fish that migrate between freshwater and sea ecosystems play a multitude of ecological roles.

Very low rate of early use of prescription smoking cessation medications among older patients after
Only about 7 percent of older adults who smoked used a prescription smoking cessation medication within 90 days after being discharged from a hospital following a heart attack, according to a study published by JAMA Cardiology.

Sea temperature changes contributing to droughts
Fluctuations in sea surface temperature are a factor in causing persistent droughts in North America and around the Mediterranean, new research suggests.

NASA spots a diminished, but drenching ex-Tropical Cyclone Don
Tropical Storm Don didn't live long before it weakened to a remnant low pressure area in the North Atlantic Ocean.

Titanium dioxide nanoparticles can exacerbate colitis
Titanium dioxide, one of the most-produced nanoparticles worldwide, is being used increasingly in foodstuffs.

Does having a sibling with autism affect a child's language and motor skills?
A review of published studies suggests that infants who have siblings with autism spectrum disorder may have less advanced linguistic and motor skills than siblings of children with typical development.

Scientists identify new epigenetic mechanism that switches off placental genes in mice
Working with mice, Harvard Medical School researchers have discovered a new regulatory mechanism for genomic imprinting, the process that silences one parent's gene so that only the other parent's gene is expressed in offspring.

Despite lack of efficacy data, surprising consensus in pediatric anti-epilepsy med scripts
A study that includes William D. Gaillard, M.D., among its authors indicates that US doctors appear to have reached an unexpected consensus about which anti-seizure medicine to prescribe to their pediatric patients.

Understanding genetic synergy in cleft palate
Like mechanics fixing a faulty engine, Youssef A. Kousa, M.S., D.O., Ph.D., says researchers will not be able to remedy problems related to IRF6, a gene implicated in cleft palate, until they better understand how the gene works.

Scientists shed light on carbon's descent into the deep Earth
The presence of carbonates in the Earth's mantle is known from diamond inclusions, but how carbon is transported there remains a mystery.

The price of increasing health-care costsĀ 
New study finds that a higher out-of-pocket price of mental health treatment is associated with reduced use, especially among those with low incomes, but also high downstream costsĀ for the seriously ill.

Privacy, please: Why surveiling shoppers can inhibit sales, and how to fix it
The authors designed a series of studies and field experiments that tested shoppers' reaction to being watched while shopping and found that when they feel their privacy or freedom of behavior is threatened, they will back off.

Aging power plants provide Trump administration with risks and opportunities
When it comes to the current plans to retire US power plants, Carnegie Mellon University researchers believe we are 'running towards a cliff with no fence.' They found that power plant retirement trends will complicate achieving long-term carbon dioxide emission reduction targets and require a significant increase in capital investments.

New treatment guidelines for pediatric acute onset neuropsychiatric syndrome (PANS/PANDAS)
A panel of leading clinicians and researchers across various general and specialty pediatric fields developed comprehensive treatment recommendations to help guide the management of youngsters with a broad spectrum of neuropsychiatric conditions defined by the terms Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and PAN Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infection (PANDAS).

Massive simulation shows HIV capsid interacting with its environment
It took two years on a supercomputer to simulate 1.2 microseconds in the life of the HIV capsid, a protein cage that shuttles the HIV virus to the nucleus of a human cell.

Nanoparticles could spur better LEDs, invisibility cloaks
In an advance that could boost the efficiency of LED lighting by 50 percent and even pave the way for invisibility cloaking devices, a team of University of Michigan researchers has developed a new technique that peppers metallic nanoparticles into semiconductors.

Social interaction affects cancer patients' response to treatment
How well cancer patients fared after chemotherapy was affected by their social interaction with other patients during treatment, according to a new study by researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, and the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.

Antiaromatic molecule displays record electrical conductance
Researchers demonstrate high electrical conductance for an antiaromatic nickel complex -- an order of magnitude higher than for a similar aromatic complex.

Surprising genetic variety in childhood brain cancer
An international research team led by scientists from the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the Hopp Children's Tumor Center at the NCT Heidelberg (KiTZ) has identified new genetic alterations and mechanisms that lead to very aggressive types of childhood brain cancer.

Skin vaccination with microneedle patch, influenza fusion protein improves efficacy of flu vaccines
A boosting skin vaccination with a biodegradable microneedle patch and protein constructed from sequences of influenza virus subtypes could improve the effectiveness of conventional influenza vaccines, according to a study led by Georgia State University.

A common underlying genetic basis for social behavior in dogs and humans
In a new study published in the journal Science Advances, an interdisciplinary team of researchers, including those from Princeton University, identified genetic changes that are linked to dogs' human-directed social behaviors and suggest there is a common underlying genetic basis for hyper-social behavior in both dogs and humans.

Despite a great grip, geckos sometimes slip
A new theoretical study examines for the first time the limits of geckos' gripping ability in natural contexts.

Birds avoid crossing roads to prevent predation
It was once believed that roads posed no problem to birds because of their ability to fly.

A uranium-based compound improves manufacturing of nitrogen products
EPFL scientists have developed a uranium-based complex that can allow nitrogen fixation reactions to take place in ambient conditions.

Why some women are more likely to feel depressed
It's no secret that the risk of depression increases for women when their hormones are fluctuating.

Simulation reveals universal signature of chaos in ultracold reactions
Researchers have performed the first ever quantum-mechanical simulation of the benchmark ultracold chemical reaction between potassium-rubidium (KRb) and a potassium atom, opening the door to new controlled chemistry experiments and quantum control of chemical reactions that could spark advances in quantum computing and sensing technologies.

Many pet owners unable to spot an out of hours vet emergency
Up to two-thirds of pet owners are unable to recognise veterinary emergencies requiring out of hours care, according to a survey at one clinic published in the Veterinary Record today.

High-fat ice cream may not necessarily mean tastier ice cream
Even though ice cream connoisseurs may insist that ice cream with more fat tastes better, a team of Penn State food scientists found that people generally cannot tell the difference between fat levels in ice creams.

Sea cave preserves 5,000-year snapshot of tsunamis
An international team of scientists digging in a sea cave in Indonesia has discovered the world's most pristine record of tsunamis, a 5,000-year-old sedimentary snapshot that reveals for the first time how little is known about when earthquakes trigger massive waves.

Lunatic fringe gene plays key role in the renewable brain
Researchers have developed a novel mouse model that for the first time selectively identifies neural stem cells, the progenitors of new adult brain cells.

Researchers create new technique for manipulating polarization of terahertz radiation
Brown University researchers have developed a new kind of polarizing beamsplitter for terahertz radiation, which could prove useful in imaging and communications systems.

Antiplatelet drugs are often inappropriately prescribed in older patients
A study has found that antiplatelet drugs, such as aspirin, are often inappropriately prescribed in acutely hospitalized older people.

Goodbye HERA, hello sleep
After 45 days in NASA's Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA), the four-man crew can hardly hold their eyes open.

Definitive genomic study reveals alterations driving most medulloblastoma brain tumors
An international consortium co-led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital completed a landmark study of most common pediatric brain tumor, revealing new cancer genes, laying the foundation to expand precision medicine.

New study reveals contrasts in how groups of neurons function during decision making
A new study in mice trained to perform a sound identification task in a virtual reality maze reveals contrasts in how groups of neurons in different regions of the brain function during decision making.

Thawing permafrost releases old greenhouse gas
The thawing permafrost soils in the Arctic regions might contribute to the greenhouse effect in two respects: on the one hand rising temperatures lead to higher microbial methane production close to the surface.

How off-line retailers can fight back
For concrete thinkers, product touch is important; for abstract thinkers, not so much.

Exercise packs a punch against inflammation
Physical activity has strong anti-inflammatory properties, according to a recent review.

Conserve intact forest landscapes to maximize biodiversity, reduce extinction risk
A new global analysis of forest habitat loss and wildlife extinction risk published July 19 in the journal Nature shows that species most at risk live in areas just beginning to see the impacts of human activities such as hunting, mining, logging and ranching.

Smart toys without the batteries
The greatest challenge in entertaining young children is keeping their toys powered up.

Hot dogs: Is climate change impacting populations of African wild dogs?
Climate change may be harming the future of African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) by impacting the survival rates of pups, according to one of the first studies on how shifting temperatures are impacting tropical species.

Innovative nanosensor for disease diagnosis
A research group at KAIST has developed diagnostic sensors using protein-encapsulated nanocatalysts, which can diagnose certain diseases by analyzing human exhaled breath.

Silk 'micrococoons' could be used in biotechnology and medicine
Microscopic versions of the cocoons spun by silkworms have been manufactured by a team of researchers.

Saliva as good as blood for diagnosing hepatitis E, study suggests
A saliva test developed by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health nearly matches the performance of a blood test widely used to assess recent or past hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection, a new study reports.

Cornell researchers uncover fresh role for nitric oxide
Cornell University chemists have uncovered a fresh role for nitric oxide that could send biochemical textbooks back for revision.

Are magnets the secret to Elastigirl's powers?
Under certain conditions, the magnetic properties of a material can predict the relationship between its elasticity and temperature, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln physicist has found.

Satellite shows a weaker Hurricane Fernanda
Hurricane Fernanda appears to be weakening on infrared satellite imagery.

Study finds obese patients don't need to lose weight before total joint replacement
There's good news from UMass Medical School for overweight people with painfully arthritic hips and knees: A new study finds that obese patients who underwent knee or hip replacement surgery reported virtually the same pain relief and improved function as normal-weight joint replacement patients six months after surgery.

PETA journal article lays out steps to end flea/tick infestation tests on dogs and cats
An article just published in the peer-reviewed journal Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology, authored by scientists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), calls on companies to stop testing experimental flea and tick control products on dogs and cats.

Heat tweet: Users flock to Twitter when temperatures rise
A new study by Florida State University researchers examines the impact rising temperatures have on Twitter activity, and how government officials use the social media tool to warn the general public of heatwave conditions.

Not under the skin, but on it: Living together brings couples' microbiomes together
Couples who live together share many things: Bedrooms, bathrooms, food, and even bacteria.

Novel CRISPR-Cas9 screening enables discovery of new targets to aid cancer immunotherapy
A novel screening method developed by a team at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center -- using CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing technology to test the function of thousands of tumor genes in mice -- has revealed new drug targets that could potentially enhance the effectiveness of PD-1 checkpoint inhibitors, a promising new class of cancer immunotherapy.

No battery, no wire, no problem
Folding robots based on origami have emerged as an exciting new frontier of robotic design, but generally require onboard batteries or a wired connection to a power source, limiting their functionality.

Imaging of Scar Tissue Formation
Organs respond to injuries with the formation of new fibrous tissue, which can result in scarring.

Teaching without training
Despite efforts from No Child Left Behind to promote 'highly qualified' teaching, recent research shows that just 36 percent of new secondary science teachers are teaching only in their trained subject.

CU Boulder discovery could lead to better results for patients undergoing radiation
A new study involving CU Boulder shows why some cells treated with radiation therapy for cancer leak chemical signals and damage unexposed healthy cells, findings that could lead to new medications that patients could take prior to radiation.

Control of the unfolded protein response in health and disease
Information generated by screening tools, readily available therapies and potential pathways to drug development are the cornerstone of informed clinical research and clinical trial design.

Is bone strength hereditary?
A new study indicates that bone strength may be inherited and that its genetic determinants are to some extent shared with bone mineral density.

Brains are more plastic than we thought
Research at the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University (The Neuro) has shown just how adaptive the brain can be, knowledge that could one day be applied to recovery from conditions such as stroke.

Blood test IDs key Alzheimer's marker
A new study led by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St.

Hitting the bull's eye on crop nutrient requirements
A new method can determine crop nitrogen requirements with a precision of 10-20 kg N/ha by preparing a reference curve to determine when a crop is deficient in nitrogen.

Supramolecular materials with a time switch
Materials that assemble themselves and then simply disappear at the end of their lifetime are quite common in nature.

NanoVelcro microchips could someday noninvasively diagnose prenatal conditions
Many pregnant women undergo some form of prenatal testing before their children are born.

Memory takes time, researchers conclude
How short-term memories become long-term ones has frequently been explored by researchers.

Noninvasive test may predict asthma attacks in children
A new technology may help to noninvasively analyze lung sounds in children and infants at risk of an asthma attack.

Kakadu find confirms earliest Australian occupation
Aboriginal people have been in Australia for at least 65,000 years -- much longer than the 47,000 years believed by some archaeologists.

Here's a tip: Indented cement shows unique properties
Three key molecular mechanisms control the mechanics of layered crystals such as tobermorite, a natural crystal used by the Romans to make concrete.

Holograms taken to new dimension
Using sophisticated algorithms and a new fabrication method, a University of Utah team of electrical and computer engineers has discovered a way to create inexpensive full-color 2-D and 3-D holograms that are far more realistic, brighter and can be viewed at wider angles than current holograms.

In mice, acting male depends on estrogen receptors
Until now, the identity of the cells that regulate 'masculinization' in the mouse has been unclear.

Study examines birth defects following 9/11 terrorist attacks
A recent study found that birth defects among male infants fell below expected values after the terrorist attacks of Sept.

A new application for enhanced oil recovery has been developed by University scientists
A new class of materials which are suitable agents for oil displacing in enhanced oil recovery have been developed by scientists in the Energy Safety Research Institute (ESRI) at Swansea University and scientists at Islamic Azad University in Iran.

Manipulating electron spins without loss of information
Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip.

GW Cancer Center receives $100,000 from Avon Foundation for Patient Navigator
Mandi Pratt-Chapman, MA, associate center director for patient-centered initiatives and health equity, accepted a check from the Avon Foundation at the annual walk in Washington, DC.

How poverty may affect children's behavior
In a recent study of young children experiencing homelessness, high-quality parenting was associated with better peer relationships and protection from internalizing problems in the context of family adversity.

Memory foam advances give firm support to growing mattress industry
The way we sleep started to change in 1992 with the commercial release of memory foam -- a product originally developed at NASA.

Artifacts suggest humans arrived in Australia earlier than thought
A team of researchers, including a faculty member and seven students from the University of Washington, has found and dated artifacts in northern Australia that indicate humans arrived there about 65,000 years ago -- more than 10,000 years earlier than previously thought.

Steering an enzyme's 'scissors' shows potential for stopping Alzheimer's disease
UBC scientists find that changing where an enzyme cuts amyloid beta precursor protein can determine whether Alzheimer's disease develops.

'Nano-in-micro' stem cell delivery could rescue blood flow after injury
When blood flow is reduced or cut to tissues, cells are deprived of oxygen and nutrients, which can lead to cell death if blood flow isn't efficiently restored.

'Shadow network' keeps communities safe from deadly volcano
New research by the University of East Anglia (UEA) shows that 'shadow networks' linking volunteers with authorities can help keep some of the millions of people living near dangerous volcanoes safer.

New study provides BRCA mutation carriers guidance for when surgery has greatest impact
Of the women who carry the mutated BRCA1/2 genes, 45-65 percent will develop breast cancer, and 15-39 percent will develop ovarian cancer.

Penn researchers engineer macrophages to engulf cancer cells in solid tumors
In a recent study, human macrophages were engineered to ignore the 'don't eat me' signal both healthy and cancerous cells exhibit.

Kent State researcher examines vaccine rejection and hesitancy, calls to promote vaccination
The center of a public health debate is whether parents should have their children vaccinated.

Dundee-China linkup uncovers secrets of our cellular 'energy sensor'
A scientific collaboration between researchers in Scotland and China has uncovered a new kind of 'energy sensor' in our cells, changing our understanding of how the body monitors glucose levels and switches on the supply of alternative 'fuels.' It is thought the research, published in the journal Nature, could have particular implications for diabetes, in which the level of glucose in the blood is abnormally high.

New way found to boost immunity in fight cancer and infections
Medical professor Christopher Rudd and his research team have identified a key new mechanism that regulates the ability of T-cells of the immune system to react against foreign antigens and cancer.

This week from AGU: Water quality improvements increase bay home prices
This week from AGU includes research highlighted on AGU's blog and from

Over 9.1 billion tons of plastic have been produced and most of it thrown away
More than 9.1 billion tons of plastic have been manufactured since the material was initially mass-produced in the 1950s, according to 'the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics,' which reports the majority has ended up in landfills or natural settings.

Smart walk assist improves rehabilitation
A mobile harness suspended from the ceiling is now equipped with intelligent motion analysis for tailored walking rehabilitation in people suffering from spinal cord injury, stroke and other neurological disorders affecting gait.

Destruction of wetlands linked to algal blooms in Great Lakes
Canada's current wetland protection efforts have overlooked how the environment naturally protects fresh-water resources from agricultural fertilizer contaminants.

Scientists reveal new connections between small particles and the vast universe
Are density distributions of the vast universe and the nature of smallest particles related?

Certain antibiotics during pregnancy may increase risk of birth defects
A new study has found links between certain antibiotics during pregnancy and major congenital malformations in newborns.

Arts-based groups benefit individuals with mental health conditions
A new study found that participation in arts-based groups -- such as those that involve choir singing and creative writing -- benefits the emotions of both healthy adults and those experiencing mental health conditions.

New animal models for hepatitis C could pave the way for a vaccine
In the rats that roam New York City's streets and tunnels, scientists have found a virus that resembles hepatitis C.

Researchers find path to discovering new topological materials
Researchers have found a recipe for discovering new topological materials, which have exotic electronic properties that hold promise for future technologies.

Shark scavenging helps reveal clues about human remains
Shark feeding habits are helping scientists identify marks on human bones found in the ocean.

Indestructible virus yields secret to creating incredibly durable materials
It lives in boiling acid that dissolves flesh and bone.

Study: Supreme Court decision complicates prosecuting child abusers
Nearly 42 percent of the prosecutors who participated in a national online survey reported that the US Supreme Court's 2004 decision in Crawford v.

Nipple temperature may help guide newborns to breastfeed
Newborn babies instinctively have the ability to crawl to the breast when placed skin-to-skin on the mother's abdomen.

Too many bats are being killed for research
The work of zoologists worldwide is often an important asset for biodiversity protection, but a new article notes that scientists kill many bats -- even of threatened species -- to study them.

Russia's use of the 'energy weapon' against Western European countries a strategic threat
Although it has not been widely successful to date in the former Soviet zone, Russia's use of the 'energy weapon' against Western European countries in various forms still constitutes a strategic threat that warrants close attention from policymakers in Washington and throughout Europe, according to an issue brief by an expert in the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy.

Personalized 'earable' sensor monitors body temperature in real time
Wireless, wearable sensors are all the rage with millions of people now sporting fitness trackers on their wrists.

UBC researchers test 3-D-printed water quality sensor
Researchers at UBC's Okanagan campus have designed a tiny device -- built using a 3-D printer -- that can monitor drinking water quality in real time and help protect against waterborne illness.

Dust deposits give new insights into the history of the Sahara
Remote Saharan dust influences the earth's radiation budget and tropical North Atlantic ocean-atmosphere temperature variability that might even attenuate Hurricane activity.

Study looks at physicians who prescribe methadone
A small number of physicians prescribe the majority of the drugs used to treat people in Ontario who are battling opioid addictions, a new study has found.

Major communication gaps between doctors and home health care nurses revealed
Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have found serious gaps in communication between physicians and home health care agencies responsible for caring for often elderly patients discharged from hospitals.

New algorithm, metrics improve autonomous underwater vehicles' energy efficiency
Robotics researchers have found a way for autonomous underwater vehicles to navigate strong currents with greater energy efficiency, which means the AUVs can gather data longer and better.

High-tech sensing illuminates concrete stress testing
Using the principles of light, University of Leeds scientists have discovered a new way to measure the strength of modern forms of concrete -- giving industry a better way to understand when it could fracture.

Many men with diabetes experience erectile dysfunction
A review of the published literature indicates that erectile dysfunction is common in males with diabetes, affecting more than half of men with the condition and with a prevalence of approximately 3.6 times higher than in non-diabetics.

Are sugary drink interventions changing people's behavior?
An evaluation of efforts designed to reduce how many sugary drinks we consume shows some success in changing younger people's habits but warns they cannot be the only way to cut consumption.

Individual insight into brain networks
Harvard scientists have gained new insights into how the brain networks important for thought and remembering are organized in individual people, bringing the notion of using brain scans to help personalize medical treatments one step closer to reality.

New harmless radiopaque glue to seal bleeding and guide surgery
First nanoparticle-based adhesive with imaging contrast effect in CT and ultrasound was successfully tested in animals and showed less toxicity than the FDA-approved glue CA-Lp.

Pangolins at huge risk as study shows dramatic increases in hunting across Central Africa
The true scale of the problem facing world's most illegally traded mammal has been revealed.

Evidence of the Higgs particle's decay in quarks
A research group at the University of Freiburg contributes significant new findings to the ATLAS experiment.

Why are dogs such doting companions? It's in their genes
Researchers have identified a genetic difference in domesticated dogs and wolves that could explain the canines' contrasting social interaction with humans.

Stem cell clinics and businesses are registering for-profit, pay-to-participate
A new perspective piece highlights the regulatory, ethical and scientific issues associated with US 'stem cell clinics' registering pay-to-participate stem cells studies on the NIH registry and database,

The dangers of driving after restricted sleep and moderate alcohol intake
In a recent study, combining moderate alcohol consumption (within legal limits for driving) and moderate sleep restriction led to greater drowsiness and increased deficits in attention, compared with either sleep restriction or alcohol intake alone.

Robotics-based study provides insight into predator-prey interactions
A research team led by New York University professor Maurizio Porfiri put forth a robotics-based study to control information flow in predator-prey interactions, as well as test the validity of transfer entropy when attempting to understand causal influences of the system.

Human in vitro fertilization could evolve thanks to piglet study
It is estimated that parents seeking to have children through in vitro fertilization (IVF) spend between $12,000 and $15,000 each session plus the cost of medications, which could average between $3,000 and $5,000.

Scientists identify new way cells turn off genes
For some developmental genes one allele must stay silent, otherwise debilitating syndromes and cancers can arise.

Jefferson researchers identify new target for chronic pain
Discovery of a phosphorylation event outside of the cell offers a new avenue for targeting chronic and pathologic pain, a new study reports.

Engineered liver tissue expands after transplant
Researchers have developed a way to engineer liver tissue by organizing tiny subunits that contain cells embedded into a biodegradable tissue scaffold.

Treated hydraulic fracturing wastewater may pollute area water sources for years
Given Pennsylvania's abundant natural resources, it's no surprise that the Commonwealth has become a mecca for hydraulic fracturing. 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