Brightsurf Science News & Current Events

May 31, 2018
Aerial robot that can morph in flight
French researchers have drawn inspiration from birds to design an aerial robot capable of altering its profile during flight.

For patients with prostate cancer, dysfunction due to treatment side effects results in increased emotional distress -- and vice versa
A new study published in The Journal of Urology reports that men with prostate cancer who had worse urinary, bowel, and sexual function after surgery or radiotherapy than others experienced more emotional distress.

Applying ecological principles to gut health
When disturbances upset the balance of a forest, field, or stream, ecologists practice ecological restoration to assist ecosystem recovery.

The link between handgrip strength and healthy lungs in older women
Research has linked handgrip strength to other health problems in older adults.

Bigger human brain prioritizes thinking hub -- at a cost
Some human brains are nearly twice the size of others -- but how might that matter?

Dormant cytomegalovirus resides in eyes of healthy mice long after infection
Infection with cytomegalovirus triggers long-lasting eye inflammation and establishes a dormant pool of the virus in the eyes of mice with healthy immune systems, according to new research presented in PLOS Pathogens by Valentina Voigt of the Lions Eye Institute in Western Australia and colleagues.

Scientists boost crop production by 47 percent by speeding up photorespiration
Increasing production of a common, naturally occurring protein in plant leaves could boost the yields of major food crops by almost 50 percent, according to a new study led by scientists at the University of Essex published today in Plant Biotechnology Journal.

Drowsy worms offer new insights into the neuroscience of sleep
Scientists studying worms have discovered a group of cells that help the body transition from wakefulness to slumber.

AI researchers design 'privacy filter' for your photos
As concerns over privacy and data security on social networks grow, U of T Engineering researchers led by Professor Parham Aarabi and graduate student Avishek Bose have created an algorithm to dynamically disrupt facial recognition systems.

Handgun purchaser licensing laws linked to fewer firearm homicides in large, urban areas
State laws that require gun purchasers to obtain a license contingent on passing a background check performed by state or local law enforcement are associated with a 14 percent reduction in firearm homicides in large, urban counties.

For American Indian youth, risk is higher for alcohol, drug use, say CSU researchers
Since 1975, Colorado State University social scientists have studied rates of drug and alcohol use among American Indian youths living on or near reservations.

Scientists rethink co-evolution of marine life, oxygenated oceans
Researchers in the Department of Earth Sciences at Syracuse University have confirmed that rising oceanic and atmospheric oxygen levels co-evolved with marine life hundreds of millions of years ago.

Neuroscientists discover roles of gene linked to Alzheimer's
MIT researchers found that the gene APOE4 promotes the aggregation of beta amyloid proteins that cause plaques seen in Alzheimer's patients.

Study examines concerns of living kidney donors
Among living kidney donors, the post-donation concern that was considered most important was kidney health, followed by the surgical, lifestyle, functional, and psychosocial impacts of donation.

Number of wild mountain gorillas exceeds 1,000
A recent census of the critically endangered mountain gorillas conducted in the Virunga Volcanoes found a minimum of 604 individuals.

Researchers document another cost of 2016 election: Shorter Thanksgiving visits
Scientists at UCLA and Washington State University are seeing America's polarization play out at the family dinner table, with Thanksgiving visits that were 30 to 50 minutes shorter after the presidential election of 2016.

Abnormal lipid metabolism in fat cells predicts future weight gain and diabetes in women
The inefficient breakdown of fats predicts later weight gain and metabolic complications such as type 2 diabetes in women, researchers report May 31 in the journal Cell Metabolism.

Combining experts and automation in 3D printing
Researchers in CIT have developed a novel approach to optimizing soft material 3D printing.

Study estimates increased death rate in Puerto Rico in months after Hurricane Maria
The mortality rate in Puerto Rico rose by 62 percent [95 percent confidence interval (CI) 11percent to 114 percent] after Hurricane Maria, according to a new study led by researchers from Harvard T.H.

Labor exploitation is endemic in global tea and cocoa industries, international study finds
Labor exploitation including forced labor is endemic at the base of global tea and cocoa supply chains, according to a pioneering international study published by researchers at the University of Sheffield today (31 May 2018).

Meet three new genes that may have influenced human brain size
Three brain development genes are found only in humans and may have helped drive the rapid expansion of the brain starting roughly three million years ago.

Study finds two ancient populations that diverged later 'reconverged' in the Americas
A new genetic study of ancient individuals in the Americas and their contemporary descendants finds that two populations that diverged from one another 18,000 to 15,000 years ago remained apart for millennia before mixing again.

Most surgical residents want personal financial education offered during medical training
Close to 80 percent of resident respondents to one online survey said they think personal financial education is needed during residency, according to study findings in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Screening resident physicians entering training misses many at risk for sleep impairment
A Massachusetts General Hospital study finds that screening first year resident physicians to identify those with pre-existing sleep problems does not appear to provide useful data regarding risks of developing sleep impairment during subsequent months.

Why do older male birds father more illegitimate children?
When female birds have chicks as the result of an extra-marital fling, the fathers are almost always older males, and scientists are finding out why.

Cool weather can amplify attacks of tree-killing bark beetle
New research looks at how the destructive southern pine beetle reacts to cooler weather in its climate-induced, new northern ranges.

More important for heart patients to be active than thin
A new study shows that it is much more important to exercise than to lose weight for patients with coronary heart disease conditions, such as angina pectoris and heart attacks.

Symptoms worsen around menses for people with borderline personality disorder
Symptoms associated with borderline personality disorder -- a severe and chronic mood disorder characterized by an inability to manage strong emotions -- tend to worsen just before and during menses, according to a study in Psychological Medicine.

Climate change increasing risks of lightning-ignited fires, study finds
Fires ignited by lightning have and will likely continue to increase across the Mediterranean and temperate regions in the Southern Hemisphere under a warmer climate, according to a new study co-led by a Portland State University researcher.

News flash about hot flashes: They can last longer than you think
Menopause symptoms are not just for midlife anymore, according to a new Mayo Clinic study published this month in the Journal of the North American Menopause Society.

SF State study finds US Forest Service lands underused by minorities
A new study by San Francisco State University and the US Forest Service finds that Forest Service lands are underused by minorities.

A new understanding of how glucose makes you fat
Glucose is the energy that fuels cells, and the body likes to store glucose for later use.

Hydropower in Cambodia could threaten food security of region
Farmers and anglers in Cambodia depend on the Mekong River's predictable seasonal patterns, but new dams for hydroelectricity are altering the hydrology of the river.

Heavier astronauts have higher risk of post-flight eye changes
New research suggests that changes in the eye that occur during spaceflight may be related to how much an astronaut weighs.

An artificial nerve system gives prosthetic devices and robots a sense of touch
Stanford and Seoul National University researchers have developed an artificial nervous system that could give prosthetic limbs or robots reflexes and the ability to sense touch.

The right squeeze for quantum computing
A new theoretical model involving squeezing light to just the right amount to accurately transmit information using subatomic particles is bringing us closer to a new era of computing.

Cocaine use alters gene expression in brain reward circuits
A study in Biological Psychiatry has identified unique genetic changes in the brain's reward circuitry that are associated with cocaine use, including first-time use, withdrawal, and re-exposure to the drug after prolonged withdrawal.

Bacteria ensure square meal for bloodsucking ticks
How do ticks live solely on blood? A study has elucidated the crucial role played by symbiotic bacteria that synthesize B vitamins.

Mother knows best -- how plants help offspring by passing on seasonal clues
New research has delved into the genetic memory systems through which plants pass seasonal information down to their seeds to give them the best chance of reproductive success.

Soaking up the water and the sweat -- a new super desiccant
UNSW Sydney scientists have developed a new carbon-based material that could revolutionise moisture control in applications as diverse as electronics, packaging and air conditioning -- and which could even be used to keep footwear fresh.

Lipid molecules can be used for cancer growth
Cancer cells can when the blood supply is low use lipid molecules as fuel instead of blood glucose.

Inefficient fat metabolism a possible cause of overweight
Protracted weight gain can, in some cases, be attributed to a reduced ability to metabolise fat, a new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in the esteemed journal Cell Metabolism shows.

Memory depends on protein 'off-switch', researchers find
Memory, learning and cognitive flexibility depend on a protein 'off-switch' in the brain, according to a breakthrough discovery made by an international research collaboration co-led by the University of Warwick.

For anxiety, a single intervention is not enough
No matter which treatment they get, only 20 percent of young people diagnosed with anxiety will stay well, UConn Health researchers report.

Cell-like nanorobots clear bacteria and toxins from blood
Engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed tiny ultrasound-powered robots that can swim through blood, removing harmful bacteria along with the toxins they produce.

Single protein on-off switch controls learning flexibility and acquisition of new memories
Scientists have for the first time shown how a single molecule expressed in the brain affects how we learn new tasks and acquire new memories.

Scientists reveal the secrets behind Pluto's dunes
Scientists have discovered dunes on Pluto, and say they are likely to have been formed of methane ice grains released into its rarefied atmosphere.

Massive analysis reveals ways to make food earth-friendly again
A novel and potentially unrivalled meta-analysis of global food production cycles and their environmental impacts around the world may serve as a critical resource for policymakers, food producers and consumers alike, helping reveal data-supported opportunities to reduce food's impact on the environment.

Two genetic stories of human migration into Iceland and the Americas
Two separate studies -- both benefiting from ancient DNA -- paint detailed pictures of the founding, migration, and evolution of human populations in Iceland and the Americas, respectively.

Genes found only in humans influence brain size
Three nearly identical genes found only in humans appear to play a critical role in the development of our large brains, according to a study led by researchers at UC Santa Cruz.

UMD-led study shows how Earth slows the solar wind to a gentle breeze
A University of Maryland-led study describes the first observations of the process of electron heating in Earth's bow shock.

How did human brains get so large?
The human brain is a remarkable organ, but how did it evolve to give us such unprecedented cognitive abilities?

Research shows biosecurity reduces invasions of plant pathogens over a national border
A major new study appearing in PLOS Biology on May 31 examines more than a century of fungal pathogens, finding well-aimed biosecurity measures cut the spread of unwanted fungi into a nation, even in the face of increased globalized trade.

New Horizons data reveals dunes made of methane on Pluto
Dunes are known to form on Earth, Mars, Venus, Titan and Comet 67P -- and now on the dwarf planet Pluto, according to a new study, the latest discovery from New Horizons.

Conflicting guidance on opioid prescribing can jeopardize pain mgmt for patients with cancer
Persistent pain and recurrent episodes of pain are common for those who are living with cancer, or for those undergoing cancer treatment.

Cosmic collision lights up the darkness
Though it resembles a peaceful rose swirling in the darkness of the cosmos, NGC 3256 is actually the site of a violent clash.

One in four intensive care patients return to hospital, study shows
A quarter of intensive care patients are readmitted to hospital shortly after returning home and some of these readmissions are avoidable, research suggests.

Synthetic 'tissues' build themselves
How do complex biological structures -- an eye, a hand, a brain -- emerge from a single fertilized egg?

Infection rates after colonoscopy, endoscopy at US specialty centers are far higher than expected
The rates of infection following colonoscopies and upper-GI endoscopies performed at US outpatient specialty centers are far higher than previously believed, according to a Johns Hopkins study published online this month in the journal Gut.

Micro-CT scans show 2,100-year-old 'hawk' mummy a stillborn baby
A tiny Egyptian mummy long believed to be that of a hawk is actually a rare example of a near-to-term, severely malformed fetus, says an examination led by mummy expert Andrew Nelson of Western University in London, Canada.

Paving the way for safer, smaller batteries and fuel cells
Research led by University of Pennsylvania engineers suggests a different way forward: a new and versatile kind of solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) that has twice the proton conductivity of the current state-of-the-art material.

Kiel physicists achieve hitherto most accurate description of highly excited electrons
It is the 'drosophila' of modern physics: the uniform electron gas.

NASA adds up Alberto's soaking rainfall in the US Southeast and Tennessee Valley
Subtropical Storm Alberto brought soaking rainfall to the southeastern U.S.

Social ties could preserve memory, slow brain aging
A strong social network could be the key to preserving memory.

Nanoplastics accumulate in marine organisms and may pose harm to aquatic food chains
A research team from the National University of Singapore discovered that nanoplastics can accumulate in marine organisms over time.

Psychologists: Women are not to blame for the wage gap
Women should not be blamed for the gender wage gap in the United States, according to psychologists at Rice University.

The making of a human population uncovered through ancient Icelandic genomes
In a study published today, scientists at deCODE Genetics report new findings about the founding of the Icelandic population, and its subsequent evolution, based on ancient DNA.

Got an appetite that won't subside? You've got hungry peptides
The brain's sewer system is a channel of communication that tells you when you are hungry, scientists find.

Atherosclerosis: Stopped on time
For the first time, LMU researchers are pointing out the influence of the internal clock on atherosclerosis.

Stronger biosecurity measures slow the spread of plant pathogens despite trade increases
Biosecurity measures can effectively curb the rate of invasive plant pathogen introductions, even as trade and travel increase, according to a study publishing on May 31 in the open-access journal PLOS Biology.

Gut-inhabiting enterobacter increases subcutaneous fat mass
A research project performed at the universities of Jyväskylä and Turku (Finland) studied the effects of a specific gut enterobacterium on body fat mass.

Ocean-migrating trout adapt to freshwater environment in 120 years
Steelhead trout, a member of the salmon family that live and grow in the Pacific Ocean, genetically adapted to the freshwater environment of Lake Michigan in less than 120 years.

The secret to longevity is in the microbiome and the gut
McGill University scientists fed fruit flies with a combination of probiotics and an herbal supplement called Triphala that was able to prolong the flies' longevity by 60 percent and protect them against chronic diseases associated with aging.

Firing up a new alloy
A centuries-old materials bonding process is being tested aboard the International Space Station in an experiment that could pave the way for more materials research of its kind aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Study gauges impact of dengue virus on Ethiopia
Dengue, a mosquito-borne RNA virus, is one of the most serious and rapidly spreading arboviral diseases in the world.

New guidelines recommend earlier colorectal cancer screening
New guidelines developed by the American Cancer Society (ACS) recommend that screening for colorectal cancer for average-risk adults begin at age 45, five years earlier than the previous recommendation.

The genes from Icelanda's first settlers reveal the origin of their population in detail
In just over 1,000 years, Icelanders have gone through numerous changes in their gene pool, to the extent that Icelanda's first settlers, who came to the island from Norway and the British and Irish isles between the years 870 and 930, are much more similar to the inhabitants of their original home countries than to Iceland's present-day inhabitants.

The brain is able to anticipate painful movements following injury
When people are injured, how does the brain adapt the body's movements to help avoid pain?

Green tea molecule could prevent heart attacks
Scientists from Lancaster University and the University of Leeds have discovered that a compound found in green tea, currently being studied for its ability to reduce amyloid plaques in the brain in Alzheimer's disease, also breaks up and dissolves potentially dangerous protein plaques found in the blood vessels.

How might baking soda boost cancer therapy?
A Ludwig Cancer Research study led by Chi Van Dang, scientific director of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, has uncovered an entirely novel mechanism by which cells enter a state of dormancy as tissues starved of oxygen become increasingly acidic.

Next-generation sequencing sheds light on rotavirus in Indonesia
Rotavirus A causes acute diarrhea in young children, and infects both animals and humans worldwide.

Hospital superbug uses tiny sticky fingers to infect medical tools and devices
The antibiotic-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii bacterium is one of the most globally harmful bacteria that causes nosocomial infections.

Making data matter
The advent of 3-D printing has made it possible to take imaging data and print it into physical representations, but the process of doing so has been prohibitively time-intensive and costly.

Researchers use blood serum markers to develop lupus risk index
Researchers at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, USA have developed an index that identifies the risk for lupus based on the presence and amount of Immunoglobin G (IgG) and Immunoglobin M (IgM) antibodies and levels of C1q, a protein complex associated with protection from lupus, in blood serum.

Scientists use RFID chips to track biological samples
Researchers want to use radio frequency identification (RFID) chips for keeping track of organoids, samples of human tissue that mimic pieces of organs and are grown from stem cells.

Study suggests scientists can use microbial measurements to gauge river flow
Oregon State University scientists have created a tool that can predict the flow rate of Arctic rivers with a surprising degree of accuracy based on the makeup and abundance of bacteria in the water.

Flexible organic electronics mimic biological mechanosensory nerves
Researchers at Seoul National University and Stanford University developed artificial mechanosensory nerves using flexible organic devices to emulate biological sensory afferent nerves.

Antifungal drug eliminates sleeping bowel cancer cells in mice
An antifungal medication, commonly prescribed for toenail infections, could help eliminate dormant cells within bowel tumors, according to new research funded by Cancer Research UK and published in the Journal of Experimental Medicine today.

SUTD developed highly stretchable hydrogels for high resolution multimaterial 3D printing
Researchers from SUTD and HUJI have developed the most stretchable 3D printed hydrogel in the world -- it can be stretched up to 1300 percent.

New findings link estrogen and T cell immune response to autoimmune inflammation
Women are more prone to the development of autoimmune diseases.

Prototype nuclear battery packs 10 times more power
Our next smartphone or electric vehicle might be powered by a nuclear battery instead of your usual lithium-ion cell thanks to a breakthrough made by Russian researchers.

Political tension during the 2016 US Election cut many Thanksgiving dinners short
In November 2016 in the United States, just after the last presidential election, Thanksgiving -- a time that often unites family members of opposing political views -- looked a little different, according to a study that's explored political polarization at the household level; namely, groups of people who had opposing political views spent 20 to 50 minutes fewer at the Thanksgiving table than politically like-minded groups.

Discovery reveals how cells try to control levels of key HIV protein
Salk scientists uncover potential new targets for antiviral drugs using novel laboratory method.

Perception that antibiotics are harmless is widespread
A new study of decision-making about the use of antibiotics in medicine has found that the mistaken belief that antibiotics are harmless is widespread, especially among patients.

From face recognition to phase recognition
Scientists use approach analogous to facial-recognition technology to track atomic-scale rearrangements relevant to phase changes, catalytic reactions, and more.

Ancient tooth shows Mesolithic ancestors were fish and plant eaters
Analysis of the skeletal remains of a Mesolithic man found in a cave on a Croatian island has revealed microscopic fish and plant remains in the dental plaque of a tooth -- a first-time discovery for the period and region.

Research reveals how the same foods create markedly different environmental impacts
Research published in the journal Science highlights the environmental impacts of thousands of food producers and their products, demonstrating the need for new technology to monitor agriculture and environmental labels on food products.

The genome guardian turns to the dark side: Opportunity for drug discovery against cancer?
p53, known as the guardian of the genome, is a protein that blocks cancer development and progression.

'Why not take a risk' attitude widespread among patients and providers, GW study finds
A new study led by David Broniatowski, an assistant professor in the George Washington University's department of engineering management and systems engineering, finds the 'Why not take a risk?' mentality is widespread among patients and medical care providers.

Understanding immune system interplay to improve organ transplant success
A rare opportunity to analyze both blood and tissue samples from human transplant recipients may lead to improved ways of identifying transplant recipients at risk of rejection and treating autoimmune disease.

Organoid profiling identifies treatments for pancreatic cancer
Patient-derived organoids, hollow spheres of cells cultured from tumors, can quickly and accurately predict how patients with pancreatic cancer respond to a variety of treatments, facilitating a precision-medicine approach to the deadly disease.

Penn-developed approach could limit toxicity of CAR T therapy in acute myeloid leukemia
A new approach pioneered at the University of Pennsylvania's Abramson Cancer Center may provide a new path towards treating acute myeloid leukemia (AML) with CAR T cells.

Probe into farm animals could help treat drug-resistant bacteria
Growing threats to public health could be addressed by cutting-edge research that reveals how farm animals contribute to the spread of drug-resistant bacteria, a study suggests.

Meet NOTCH2NL, the human-specific genes that may have given us our big brains
The genetic changes behind the expansion of human brains that played an important role in our ability as a species to think, problem-solve, and develop culture have been elusive.

First peoples: Study finds two ancient ancestries 'reconverged' with settling of South America
New research using ancient DNA finds that a population split after people first arrived in North America was maintained for millennia before mixing again before or during the expansion of humans into the southern continent.

Dolphin algorithm could lead to better medical ultrasounds
Millions of years of evolutionary fine-tuning have made dolphins phenomenally good at using echolocation to orient themselves, find food and communicate with one another.

Mothers with high emotional, cognitive control help their children behave
A new parenting study finds that the greater emotional control and problem-solving abilities a mother has, the less likely her children will develop behavioral problems, such as throwing tantrums or fighting.

Federal home visiting program can be improved to better meet needs of families
Compared with other countries, the United States often falls short on many maternal and child health outcomes.

New study estimates the carbon footprints of 13,000 cities
Many see cities as the new front lines of the climate change fight.

Researchers create new programmed shape-morphing scaffolds enabling facile 3-D endothelialization
A research team led by Dr. DU Xuemin at the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology (SIAT) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences created a new shape-morphing scaffold, enabling programmed deformation from a 2-D planar cell-laden structure to a well-defined 3-D tubular shape, which facilitated the facile 3-D endothelialization of small-diameter vascular grafts.

Drugs that suppress immune system may protect against Parkinson's
A new study shows that people who take drugs that suppress the immune system are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease, which is characterized by difficulty with movement.

Lego-like chemical building blocks self-assemble into catalyst for hydrogen fuel cells
What's better than platinum? In hydrogen fuel cells, the answer may be cofacial cobalt porphyrins.

Beyond BRCA: Links between breast, second primary cancer and inherited mutations
Rates of inherited mutations in genes other than BRCA1/2 are twice as high in breast cancer patients who have had a second primary cancer -- including, in some cases, different types of breast cancer -- compared to patients who have only had a single breast cancer.

This is your brain detecting patterns
Detecting patterns is an important part of how humans learn and make decisions.

Less is more when it comes to predicting molecules' conductivity
Forward-thinking scientists in the 1970s suggested that circuits could be built using molecules instead of wires, and over the past decades that technology has become reality.

Researchers uncover cell types of the human breast epithelium
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine, in collaboration with scientists at UCSF and Northwestern University, have profiled human breast epithelial cells, identifying three new distinct epithelial cell populations. 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