Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (November 2012)

Science news and science current events archive November, 2012.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from November 2012

Canada's first liver cell transplant takes place in Calgary
Physicians at Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, successfully completed a series of liver cell transplants earlier this month on a three-month-old girl. It is the first time the procedure has been performed in Canada. The girl was born with a Urea Cycle Disorder, a rare genetic disease that causes ammonia to build up, which, if untreated, can lead to brain damage and death.

Genetic link between pancreatitis and alcohol consumption, says Pitt team
A new study published online today in Nature Genetics reveals a genetic link between chronic pancreatitis and alcohol consumption. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and more than 25 other health centers across the United States found a genetic variant on chromosome X near the claudin-2 gene (CLDN2) that predicts which men who are heavy drinkers are at high risk of developing chronic pancreatitis.

Scientists win funding to study new treatment for severe chronic pain
Scientists at the University of Liverpool are leading a £1.5 million project to study `immunoglobulin', a type of drug which has been shown to ease complex regional pain syndrome.

Double duty: Immune system regulator found to protect brain from effects of stroke
A small molecule known to regulate white blood cells has a surprising second role in protecting brain cells from the deleterious effects of stroke, Johns Hopkins researchers report. The molecule, microRNA-223, affects how cells respond to the temporary loss of blood supply brought on by stroke -- and thus the cells' likelihood of suffering permanent damage.

A next-generation X-ray telescope ready to fly
Nanoflares from the sun may be the missing piece of the puzzle to help understand what seeds the cascade that causes a much bigger flare, or to explain how the sun transfers so much energy to its atmosphere that it's actually hotter than the surface.

DFG funds new Collaborative Research Center at the Mainz University Medical Center
On Jan. 1, 2013, the German Research Foundation will establish a new Collaborative Research Center at the University Medical Center of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. The research team of scientists from Mainz and Frankfurt, coordinated by Professor Dr. Robert Nitsch, Director of the Institute of Microscopic Anatomy and Neurobiology at the Mainz University Medical Center, has been awarded funding of approximately EUR 9.3 million for an initial period of four years.

NIST experiments challenge fundamental understanding of electromagnetism
A cornerstone of physics, quantum electrodynamics, may require some updates if the findings of recent experiments at NIST on highly charged ions are confirmed.

Federal government renews contract for collecting and maintaining national stem cell transplantation database
The Medical College of Wisconsin Center for International Blood and Marrow Transplant Research successfully competed for, and was awarded, renewal of the Stem Cell Therapeutics Outcomes Database contract with the US Health Resources and Services Administration.

Iowa State, Ames Lab researchers find 3 unique cell-to-cell bonds
Researchers led by Sanjeevi Sivasankar of Iowa State University and the Ames Laboratory are studying how biological cells connect to each other. Problems with cell adhesion can lead to diseases, including cancers and cardiovascular problems. The research team's findings have been published online by the Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

How the negative trumps the positive in politics
Negatively framed political attitudes (

Partisanship shapes beliefs about political and non-political issues
A pre-election survey by the independent research organization NORC at the University of Chicago found that party affiliation alters how people react to political as well as non-political issues, including how individuals assess their own financial well-being. The results suggest that partisanship is often a substitute for knowledge and personal experience, researchers said.

Greenland's viking settlers gorged on seals
Greenland's viking settlers, the Norse, disappeared suddenly and mysteriously from Greenland about 500 years ago. Natural disasters, climate change and the inability to adapt have all been proposed as theories to explain their disappearance. But now a Danish-Canadian research team has demonstrated the Norse society did not die out due to an inability to adapt to the Greenlandic diet: an isotopic analysis of their bones shows they ate plenty of seals.

Possible new treatment for Ewing sarcoma
Discovery of a new drug with high potential to treat Ewing sarcoma, an often deadly cancer of children and young adults, and the previously unknown mechanism behind it, come hand-in-hand in a new study by researchers from Huntsman Cancer Institute at the University of Utah. The report appears in today's online issue of the journal Oncogene.

Respiratory symptoms vary according to stage of menstrual cycle
Respiratory symptoms vary significantly during different stages of the menstrual cycle, with higher frequencies during the mid-luteal to mid-follicular stages, according to a new study.

More evidence for an ancient Grand Canyon
For over 150 years, geologists have debated how and when one of the most dramatic features on our planet -- the Grand Canyon -- was formed. New data unearthed by researchers at the California Institute of Technology builds support for the idea that conventional models, which say the enormous ravine is five to six million years old, are way off.

Team led by Argonne National Lab selected as DOE's Batteries and Energy Storage Hub
Energy Secretary Steven Chu joined Illinois dignitaries in announcing that a team led by Argonne National Laboratory was selected for an award of up to $120 million over five years to establish a new Batteries and Energy Storage Hub. The Hub -- the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research -- will combine the R&D firepower of five DOE national laboratories, five universities, and four private firms in an effort toward achieving revolutionary advances in battery performance.

Environmental factors can mitigate genetic risk for developing alcohol problems
Previous research suggests that genetic influences on drinking are moderated by environmental factors. A new study has looked at gene-environment interactions between a functional single nucleotide polymorphism of the μ-opioid receptor gene (A118G) and the risk for developing an AUD during adolescence. Findings confirm that environmental factors can moderate this association.

36 in one fell swoop -- researchers observe 'impossible' ionization
Using the world's most powerful X-ray laser in California, an international research team discovered a surprising behaviour of atoms: with a single X-ray flash, the group led by Daniel Rolles from the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science (CFEL) in Hamburg (Germany) was able to kick a record number of 36 electrons at once out of a xenon atom. According to theoretical calculations, these are significantly more than should be possible at this X-ray energy.

Church-going teens go further with school
A national study found religiously-affiliated youth are 40 percent more likely to graduate high school than their unaffiliated peers and 70 percent more likely to enroll in college.

University of Tennessee supercomputer sets world record for energy efficiency
An Appro Xtreme-X Supercomputer named Beacon, deployed by the National Institute for Computational Sciences (NICS) of the University of Tennessee, tops the current Green500 list, which ranks the world's fastest supercomputers based on their power efficiency.

Climate change threatens giant pandas' bamboo buffet -- and survival
China's endangered wild pandas may need new dinner reservations - and quickly - based on models that indicate climate change may kill off swaths of bamboo that pandas need to survive.

UCLA researchers to study depression in breast cancer survivors
UCLA researchers received a five-year, five million dollar grant from the National Cancer Institute that will fund a study seeking to uncover risk profiles of breast cancer survivors likely to suffer from depression.

Guideline: Steroid pills effective for treating facial paralysis in Bell's palsy
For people experiencing first-time symptoms of Bell's palsy, steroid pills very likely are the most effective known treatment for recovering full strength in the facial muscles, according to a guideline published in the Nov. 7, 2012, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. Bell's palsy is a nerve disorder that affects muscle movement in the face and usually leaves half of the face temporarily paralyzed.

A new way of looking at Prader-Willi Syndrome
An Australian study reveals that people with the rare genetic disorder known as Prader-Willi Syndrome may have an impaired autonomic nervous system. This discovery opens up a new way of looking at the insatiable appetite experienced by all sufferers, as well as their very high risk of cardiovascular disease.

Kicking the habit -- new research examines the barriers to quitting smoking for smokers with asthma
The findings will be presented at the 46th annual convention of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

Working under extreme conditions
Large discoveries made in the Barents Sea mean a high level of petroleum output in these waters for the future. The oil industry needs to learn more about operating in a tough and cold climate in a profitable and acceptable manner.

Hydro-fracking: Fact vs. fiction
In communities across the US, people are hearing more and more about a controversial oil and gas extraction technique called hydraulic fracturing - aka, hydro-fracking. Controversies pivot on some basic questions: Can hydro-fracking contaminate domestic wells? Does it cause earthquakes? How can we know? What can be done about these things if they are true? A wide range of researchers will address these and related critical questions at the GSA Annual Meeting this week.

Electron microscopes with a twist
Viennese Scientists have developed a new way of producing electron beams in electron microscopes. These beams rotate -- they carry angular momentum. Therefore, they can be used not only to display objects but also to probe their magnetic properties. Using a special kind of screen so-called vortex beams with extraordinary intensity can be created.

Short-term exposure to essential oils lowers blood pressure and heart rate
The scents which permeate our health spas from aromatic essential oils may provide more benefits than just a sense of rest and well-being.

Antioxidants may ease PAD blood pressure increase
Low antioxidant levels contribute to increased blood pressure during exercise for people with peripheral arterial disease, according to researchers at Penn State Hershey Heart and Vascular Institute.

More Facebook friends means more stress, says report
A large number of friends on Facebook may appear impressive but, according to a new report, the more social circles a person is linked to online the more likely social media will be a source of stress.

'Smoke-free' laws lead to fewer hospitalizations and deaths
Laws that end smoking at work and other public places result in significantly fewer hospitalizations for heart attacks, strokes, asthma and other respiratory conditions, a new UCSF analysis has found.

Too much or too little activity bad for knees
Both very high and very low levels of physical activity can accelerate the degeneration of knee cartilage in middle-aged adults, according to a new study.

CardioScape: European Society of Cardiology & European Union to recommend transnational funding strategies for cardiovascular disease research
The Cardioscape project will conduct a survey of the European cardiovascular research landscape, identify funding gaps, highlight where coordination could be improved, and help prioritize future areas of research.

Intensive farming with a climate-friendly touch: Farming/woodland mix increases yields
In the world of agriculture, climate protection and intensive farming are generally assumed to be a contradiction in terms. At Technische Universität München, however, scientists have come up with a new land development concept that could change this view.

Dr. Joan Miller selected to deliver the prestigious Edward Jackson Memorial Lecture
Dr. Joan W. Miller was selected by the American Academy of Ophthalmology to deliver the prestigious Edward Jackson Memorial Lecture. She discussed research developments in age-related macular degeneration, a leading cause of blindness.

Once in a lifetime experience for theSkyNet citizen scientist
Last week the top contributor to citizen science initiative theSkyNet traveled to the heart of the West Australian outback to visit the future site of the Square Kilometre Array radio telescope. Mr Kim Hawtin, top contributor to the International Centre for Radio Astronomy Research project, was awarded this rare opportunity as part of theSkyNet's first anniversary celebrations in September.

Ultrasensitive photon hunter
When it comes to imaging, every single photon counts if there is barely any available light. This is the point where the latest technologies often reach their limits. Researchers have now developed a diode that can read photons faster than ever before.

Maths helps mobiles & tablets match eyes' ability to switch from sunshine to shadow
Researchers have pushed the boundaries of High Dynamic Range (HDR) video to match our own eyes' ability to cope with the real world's ever rapidly changing light intensity -- such as sun simply going behind clouds. Now researchers at WMG at the University of Warwick, have found a way to compress and stream HDR video directly to monitors and mobile devices, such as an iPad, bringing enormous benefits to industries including gaming and security.

Traffic cops of the immune system
A certain type of immune cell -- the regulatory T cell, or Treg for short -- is in charge of putting on the brakes on the immune response. In a way, this cell type might be considered the immune system's traffic cops.

Rapid changes in climate don't slow some lizards
One tropical lizard's tolerance to cold is stiffer than scientists had suspected. A new study shows that the Puerto Rican lizard Anolis cristatellus has adapted to the cooler winters of Miami. The results also suggest that this lizard may be able to tolerate temperature variations caused by climate change.

Could chloroplast breakthrough unlock key to controlling fruit ripening in crops?
University of Leicester biologists discover plant cell regulation process affects chloroplasts

Prenatal intervention reduces learning deficit in mice
Mice with a condition that serves as a laboratory model for Down syndrome perform better on memory and learning tasks as adults if they were treated before birth with neuroprotective peptides, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Discovery could hold the key to super-sensory hearing
Researchers at the University of Lincoln and the University of Bristol, UK, have identified a new hearing organ which provides the missing link to understanding how sound is transmitted within the ears of bushcrickets. This discovery will make a valuable contribution to creating bio-inspired acoustic sensors of the future, from medical imaging equipment in hospitals to developing improved hearing aid devices.

Dealing with power outages more efficiently
When there is a power failure, the utility companies, public officials and emergency services must work together quickly. Researchers have created a new planning software product that enables all participants to be better prepared for emergency situations.

Yeast protein breaks up amyloid fibrils and disease protein clumps differently
Hsp104, an enzyme from yeast, breaks up both amyloid fibrils and disordered clumps. Researchers show that Hsp104 switches mechanism to break up amyloid versus disordered clumps. For stable amyloid-type structures, Hsp104 needs all six of its subunits, which together make a hexamer, to pull the clumps apart. By contrast, for the more amorphous, non-amyloid clumps, Hsp104 required only one of its six subunits.

Pharmaceutical firms and universities to work together on multi million pound biotechnology project
Europe's largest public-private partnership dedicated to the development of manufacturing sustainable pharmaceuticals has been launched. It's being led by The University of Manchester and the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

Compound found in rosemary protects against macular degeneration in laboratory model
Researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute report that carnosic acid, a component of the herb rosemary, promotes eye health. The team found that carnosic acid protects retinas from degeneration and toxicity in cell culture and in rodent models of light-induced retinal damage. Their findings, published in the journal Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, suggest that carnosic acid may have clinical applications for diseases affecting the outer retina, including age-related macular degeneration.

Cell phone addiction similar to compulsive buying and credit card misuse, according to Baylor study
Cell phone and instant messaging addictions are driven by materialism and impulsiveness and can be compared to consumption pathologies like compulsive buying and credit card misuse, according to a Baylor University study in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions.

Less than half of youth with mental illness received adequate follow-up care, new study finds
Youth with mental illness are among the most vulnerable, but new research from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has found that less than half of Ontario youth aged 15 to 19 hospitalized with a psychiatric diagnosis received follow-up care with a primary care doctor or psychiatrist within a month after being discharged.

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