Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (November 2009)

Science news and science current events archive November, 2009.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from November 2009

Antimicrobials: Silver (and copper) bullets to kill bacteria
Dana Filoti of the University of New Hampshire will present thin films of silver and copper she has developed that can kill bacteria and may one day help to cut down on hospital infections. The antimicrobial properties of silver and copper have been known for centuries.

Bigger not necessarily better, when it comes to brains
Tiny insects could be as intelligent as much bigger animals, despite only having a brain the size of a pinhead, say scientists at Queen Mary, University of London. Animals with bigger brains are not necessarily more intelligent. This begs the important question: what are they for?

Powerful genetic studies reveal secrets of adult and childhood inflammatory bowel disease
Two of the largest ever studies of the genetics of inflammatory bowel disease -- one looking at ulcerative colitis, the other at childhood-onset inflammatory bowel disease -- have identified key genetic regions which increase susceptibility to these conditions. The ulcerative colitis study shows the first conclusive evidence of the role played by genetic defects in the epithelium, the layer of cells which line the gut.

Heart failure patients with kidney dysfunction don't recover well after hospital discharge
Most heart failure patients who develop kidney failure in the hospital do not recover from it before going home and are at increased risk of either being re-hospitalized or dying within the year, according to a Henry Ford Hospital study.

Montana State University study explores violent world of raptors
A journey that started with a box of bird feet carried three Montana State University graduate students into the gruesome world of raptors and led to their findings being published.

Groups at high risk of H1N1 influenza A should avoid traveling to 2009 Hajj
Some 2.5 million pilgrims are expected at holy sites in Saudi Arabia for the 2009 Hajj, expected to begin around Nov. 25. To combat the threat posed by H1N1 influenza A, the Saudi Arabian Health Ministry has issued public health recommendations, including recommending groups at highest risk of contracting H1N1 postpone their pilgrimage to a later year when the threat is reduced. The issues are discussed in a public health paper published online first and in an upcoming edition of the Lancet.

Gender-based pay gaps among US faculty
Before the Equal Pay Act of 1963 was signed into law by President Kennedy, women earned about fifty percent less than men. Nationally, women still earn an average of thirty percent less than men regardless of education, choice of industry, or professional standing. Even some of the most highly educated and qualified women are subject to salary discrimination.

Night beat, overtime and a disrupted sleep pattern can harm officers' health
A police officer who works the night shift, typically from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m., already is at a disadvantage when it comes to getting a good

AAP supports the IDF guideline on oral health for people with diabetes
In recognition of American Diabetes Month, the American Academy of Periodontology commends the International Diabetes Foundation on the release of the Guideline on Oral Health for People with Diabetes, and supports its encouragement of continued collaboration and communication between diabetes and oral health-care professionals.

Acetaminophen may be linked to asthma in children and adults
New research shows that the popular pain reliever, acetaminophen, may be tied to asthma in both children and adults.

LLNL licenses carbon nanotube technology to local company
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has exclusively licensed to Porifera Inc. of Hayward a carbon nanotube technology that can be used to desalinate water, and can be applied to other liquid based separations.

Lasers put a shine on metals
Polishing metal surfaces is a demanding but monotonous task, and it is difficult to find qualified young specialists. Polishing machines do not represent an adequate alternative because they cannot get to difficult parts of the surface. A new solution is provided by laser polishers.

Robotic clam digs in mudflats
To design a lightweight anchor that can dig itself in to hold small underwater submersibles, Anette Hosoi of MIT borrowed techniques from one of nature's best diggers -- the razor clam.

Follow Rosetta's final Earth boost
ESA's comet chaser Rosetta will swing by Earth for the last time on Nov. 13 to pick up energy and begin the final leg of its 10-year journey to comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. ESA's European Space Operations Center will host a media briefing on that day.

New nanocrystalline diamond probes overcome wear
Researchers at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University have developed, characterized, and modeled a new kind of probe used in atomic force microscopy, which images, measures, and manipulates matter at the nanoscale. Using diamond, researchers made a much more durable probe than the commercially available silicon nitride probes, which are typically used in AFM to gather information from a material, but can wear down after several uses.

The evolving manager stereotype: Gender a factor in measuring a team's performance
Although women have made strides in the business world, they still occupy less than two percent of CEO leadership positions in the Fortune 500.

Scientists put interactive flu tracking at public's fingertips
New methods of studying avian influenza strains and visually mapping their movement around the world will help scientists more quickly learn the behavior of the pandemic H1N1 flu virus, Ohio State University researchers say. The researchers linked many powerful computer systems together to analyze enormous amounts of genetic data collected from all publicly available isolated strains of the H5N1 virus -- the cause of avian flu.

Early end to key study on benefits of niacin, a B vitamin, in keeping arteries open was premature
Heart experts at Johns Hopkins are calling premature the early halt of a study by researchers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center and Washington Hospital Center on the benefits of combining extended-release niacin, a B vitamin, with cholesterol-lowering statin medications to prevent blood vessel narrowing. Cardiovascular atherosclerosis, as it is also known, is believed responsible for one in three deaths in the United States each year.

Physical education key to improving health in low-income adolescents
School-based physical education plays a key role in curbing obesity and improving fitness among adolescents from low-income communities, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco and UC Berkeley.

Expectant moms, babies subjects of new Singapore study to prevent obesity and diabetes in adults
A major, long-term study of pregnant mothers and their fetuses as well as infant children to determine just how profoundly environmental factors early in life influence the onset of diseases such as obesity and diabetes in later years.

Treatment to improve degenerating muscle gains strength
A study appearing in Science Translational Medicine puts scientists one step closer to clinical trials to test a gene delivery strategy to improve muscle mass and function in patients with certain degenerative muscle disorders.

Deep-sea ecosystems affected by climate change
The vast muddy expanses of the abyssal plains occupy about 60 percent of the Earth's surface and are important in global carbon cycling. Based on long-term studies of two such areas, a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that animal communities on the abyssal seafloor are affected in a variety of ways by climate change.

US gets a 'D' for preterm birth rate
More than a half million infants are born too soon each year and face the risk of lifetime health challenges as a result. Preterm birth is a serious health problem that costs the United States more than $26 billion annually. The United States again earned only a

NJIT, US Marine Corps Reserve Association host counter-terrorism symposium
A free, day-long terrorism preparedness symposium covering counter-terrorist strategies and highlighting new and developing technologies to combat threats and regional concerns will be held at NJIT on Nov. 14, 2009, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Protein changes in heart strengthen link between Alzheimer's disease and chronic heart failure
A team of US, Canadian and Italian scientists led by researchers at Johns Hopkins report evidence from studies in animals and humans supporting a link between Alzheimer's disease and chronic heart failure, two of the 10 leading causes of death in the United States.

Study links folic acid supplements to asthma
A University of Adelaide study may have shed light on the rise in childhood asthma in developed countries like Australia in recent decades.

Impoverished living conditions despite new settlement policy after the genocide in Rwanda
The goal of the new settlement policy for refugees and survivors of the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 was to provide new accommodation for all who needed it. However, even though people were housed, a new thesis from the University of Gothenburg reveals that living conditions in the countryside did not improve.

UT Southwestern receives $42 million in Recovery Act stimulus funding
UT Southwestern Medical Center has been awarded more than $42 million to date for basic and patient-oriented research from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the $787 billion stimulus package President Barack Obama signed into law in February.

Young tennis players who play only 1 sport are more prone to injuries
Gifted young athletes are under increasing pressure to play only one sport year round. But a Loyola University Health System study found that such specialization increases the risk of injury in junior tennis players.

4 in 10 US families lack money for essential household expenses when unemployed
Today the Institute on Assets and Social Policy at Brandeis University's Heller School released a new research and policy brief which reports that four in ten US families lack sufficient assets to pay for essential expenses in the face of unemployment.

Gene therapy technique slows brain disease
A strategy that combines gene therapy with blood stem cell therapy may be a useful tool for treating a fatal brain disease, French researchers have found. These findings appear in the Nov. 6, 2009, issue of the journal Science, which is published by AAAS, the nonprofit science society.

Generating electricity from air flow
A group of researchers at the City College of New York is developing a new way to generate power for planes and automobiles based on materials known as piezoelectrics, which convert the kinetic energy of motion into electricity. They will present their concept later this month at the 62nd Annual Meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics will take place from Nov. 22-24 at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Climate change could boost incidence of civil war in Africa
Using historical data on the relationship between temperature and conflict in Africa, researchers at UC Berkeley, Stanford, New York University and Harvard have estimated the effect of rising temperatures due to global warming. They concluded that the incidence of African civil war could increase 55 percent by 2030, resulting in an additional 390,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent ones.

Teen girls diagnosed with STI more likely to seek treatment for partners after watching video
A study at Johns Hopkins Children's Center found that girls diagnosed with pelvic inflammatory disease who watched a short educational video were three times more likely to discuss their condition with their partners and to ensure partner treatment than girls diagnosed and treated without seeing the film.

Greater certainty in monitoring 3 therapeutic medications is facilitated by new CRMs
To help bring greater certainty to the measurement of medication levels in a patient's bloodstream for three drugs with narrow therapeutic ranges, the US Pharmacopeial Convention is releasing new certified reference materials (CRMs).

Consumers choose locally grown and environmentally friendly apples
When asked to compare apples to apples, consumers said they would pay more for locally grown apples than genetically modified (GMO) apples. But in a second questionnaire consumers preferred GMO apples -- that is, when they were described, not as GMO, but as having a Reduced Environmental Impact. The research conducted by University of Illinois economist Michael Mazzocco and Augustana College marketing professor Nadia Novotorova demonstrated that product labeling makes a difference when it comes to consumer acceptance.

Canadians finding it tough to shake the salt habit
Canadians know that too much salt isn't good for their diets, but half still continue to shake it on, according to a new study by University of Alberta researchers.

High blood pressure easy to miss in children with kidney disease
Spot blood pressure readings in children with chronic kidney disease often fail to detect hypertension -- even during doctor's office visits -- increasing a child's risk for serious heart problems, according to research from Johns Hopkins Children's Center and other institutions. A report of the findings appears online in the Journal of American Society of Nephrology.

Advanced nuclear fuel sets global performance record
Idaho National Laboratory scientists have set a new world record with next-generation particle fuel for use in high temperature gas reactors.

Spinons -- confined like quarks
The concept of confinement is one of the central ideas in modern physics. The most famous example is that of quarks which bind together to form protons and neutrons. Now Prof. Bella Lake from Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin together with an international team of scientists report for the first time an experimental realization and a proof of confinement phenomenon observed in a condensed matter system.

Text message reminders can encourage healthy action
People who received daily text messages reminding them to apply sunscreen were nearly twice as likely to use it as those who did not receive such messages, a new study led by a UC Davis Health System dermatologist has found. Researchers hope their findings, which appear in the November issue of the Archives of Dermatology, will inspire other health-care providers to use text messaging to encourage healthy habits in their patients, such as taking prescribed medications properly.

Study shows that sleep disturbances improve after retirement
A study in the Nov. 1 issue of the journal Sleep shows that retirement is followed by a sharp decrease in the prevalence of sleep disturbances. Findings suggest that this general improvement in sleep is likely to result from the removal of work-related demands and stress rather than from actual health benefits of retirement.

Brain injured athletes may benefit from hypothermia research
NFL players and other athletes who suffer serious or multiple concussions may benefit from ground-breaking research being conducted by scientists at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. The scientists are developing a surgical technique that involves hypothermia in specific regions of the brain.

A vast right arm conspiracy? Study suggests handedness may effect body perception
There are areas in the brain devoted to our arms, legs, and various parts of our bodies. The way these areas are distributed throughout the brain are known as

Exposure to lead, tobacco smoke raises risk of ADHD
Children exposed prenatally to tobacco smoke and during childhood to lead face a particularly high risk for ADHD, according to research done at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. The new study appearing online in Pediatrics estimates that up to 35 percent of ADHD cases in children between the ages of 8 and 15 could be reduced by eliminating both of these environmental exposures.

Unacculturated Hispanics in US at higher risk for HIV
Researchers surveyed 600 Hispanics recruited from Los Angeles County sexually transmitted disease clinics, community-based organizations and needle-exchange programs. They found that those with low levels of acculturation -- meaning adaptation to American culture -- had fewer HIV tests and no hepatitis C tests, were more likely to test positive for HIV, and had low levels of access to health care.

PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative shares strategy for developing 'next-generation' malaria vaccines
Marking its tenth anniversary year, the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative today unveiled a new strategy that sets the stage for an aggressive push targeting the long-term goal of eliminating and eradicating malaria. Malaria is one of the world's deadliest infectious diseases, killing nearly 900,000 people a year, most of them children in sub-Saharan Africa.

Penn study provides first clear idea of how rare bone disease progresses
An international team of scientists, led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, is taking the first step in developing a treatment for a rare genetic disorder called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), in which the body's skeletal muscles and soft connective tissue turns to bone, immobilizing patients over a lifetime with a second skeleton.

Bypassing the blues: Treatment for depression post-bypass surgery improves quality of life
Coronary artery bypass graft patients who were screened for depression after surgery and then cared for by a nurse-led team of health care specialists via telephone reported improved quality of life and physical function compared to those who received their doctors' usual care, according to a study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Study findings will be published in the Nov. 18 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Shifting blame is socially contagious
Merely observing someone publicly blame an individual in an organization for a problem -- even when the target is innocent -- greatly increases the odds that the practice of blaming others will spread with the tenacity of the H1N1 flu. 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