Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (November 2013)

Science news and science current events archive November, 2013.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from November 2013

Volcano discovered smoldering under a kilometer of ice in West Antarctica
A temporary seismic array in Marie Byrd Land in West Antarctica recorded two bursts of activity in 2010 and 2011. Careful analysis of the events shows they originate from a subglacial volcano at the leading end of a volcanic mountain chain. The volcano is unlikely to erupt through the kilometer of ice that covers it but it will melt enough ice to change the way the ice in its vicinity flows.

Preschoolers exposure to television can stall their cognitive development
Television is a powerful agent of development for children, particularly those in preschool. But when could too much TV be detrimental to a young child's mind? A recent paper published in the Journal of Communication found that preschoolers who have a TV in their bedroom and are exposed to more background TV have a weaker understanding of other people's beliefs and desires.

Offshore pockmarks, Wax Lake Delta, Cabo de Gata, the Siberian Traps: Geology covers the world
Locations studied for this month's posting of Geology articles include New Zealand's Taupo Volcanic Zone; Llaima volcano, Chile; the Mississippi Fan (Gulf of Mexico); the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean; Wax Lake Delta, Louisiana; the Atlas Mountains of Morocco; the East Antarctic Ice Sheet; southern Tibet; the Longmenshan fault, Wenchuan, China; the Regab pockmark, offshore Africa; the Siberian Traps; the eastern California shear zone; Cabo de Gata, southern Spain; and the northwest Borborema province, Brazil.

Solar-powered battery woven into fabric overcomes hurdle for 'wearable electronics'
Though some people already seem inseparable from their smartphones, even more convenient, wearable, solar-powered electronics could be on the way soon, woven into clothing fibers or incorporated into watchbands. This novel battery development, which could usher in a new era of

'Many have mystic experiences'
An international conference in Münster will be held on the rediscovery of mysticism in the modern age; including a public lecture and Sufi concert with a dancing dervish in the Münster Petrikirche.

Bleeding symptom leads scientists to intracellular trafficker's role in virus propagation
Vermont researchers find a new important clue to how deadly rodent-borne viruses harness ERGIC-53 to ensure their reproductive success.

Obesity and nutrition are keys to avoiding metabolic syndrome
Data reported by the Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project reinforce the positive influence of lifestyle factors in mitigating risks that potentially increase the likelihood of heart disease and other health problems. Findings based on 1,059 residents of New Ulm, Minn., underscore the importance of obesity prevention and nutrition, specifically eating more fruits and vegetables, in addressing metabolic syndrome, a common precursor to cardiovascular disease.

FDA approved immune-modulating drug unexpectedly benefits mice with fatal mitochondrial defect
In a lab devoted to increasing healthy lifespans, the transplant anti-rejection drug rapamycin showed unexpected health benefits and increased survival in a mouse model of a fatal mitochondrial defect. Children with the untreatable condition suffer from brain damage and muscle weakness, and rarely live beyond 6 or 7 years. The drug enables the body to bypass the mitochondrial defect by switching its metabolism to burn fats and amino acids instead of glucose, and thereby reduces toxic byproducts.

Women directors better at mergers and acquisitions
The more women there are on a corporate board the less a company pays for its acquisitions, according to a new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia's Sauder School of Business.

Postoperative pain may increase risk of temporary problems with learning, memory
The pain caused by a surgical incision may contribute to the risk of postoperative cognitive dysfunction, a sometimes transient impairment in learning and memory that affects a small but significant number of patients in the days following a surgical procedure.

A new path for growth in Latin America
In a new book,

Genetic mutation increases risk of Parkinson's disease from pesticides
A study uses patient-derived stem cells to show that a mutation in the alpha-synuclein gene causes increased vulnerability to pesticides, leading to Parkinson's disease.

Gene puts African-Americans at higher risk for kidney failure
Genetic factors in African-Americans with chronic kidney disease put them at a greater risk for end-stage renal disease compared to white Americans, according to a new study released today in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland contributed data from two separate studies: the African American Study of Kidney Disease and Hypertension and the Chronic Renal Insufficiency Cohort Study.

FDA awards $2.25M grant to study immunosuppresive drug in high-risk patients
University of Cincinnati Research Professor Rita Alloway, PharmD, has been awarded a $2.25 million grant from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to study the safety and efficacy of the generic immunosuppressive drug tacrolimus in transplant patients. As a

Drug combination therapy causes cancer cells to 'eat themselves'
Results from a recent preclinical study have shown that a new drug combination therapy being developed at Virginia Commonwealth University Massey Cancer Center effectively killed colon, liver, lung, kidney, breast and brain cancer cells while having little effect on noncancerous cells. The results lay the foundation for researchers to plan a future phase 1 clinical trial to test the safety of the therapy in a small group of patients.

Astronomers reveal mystery of brightest ever gamma-ray burst
For the first time, a team of astronomers from around the world, including experts from the University of Leicester, have used data from satellites and observatories to explain the brightest gamma-ray burst ever recorded.

UNH, UC Davis launch network to study environmental microbes
A grant to the University of New Hampshire and the University of California, Davis, will help biologists identify an abundant yet largely unknown category of organisms, leading to better understanding of the vital environmental functions they play. The National Science Foundation awarded the universities $500,000 to develop a Research Coordination Network on eukaryotic biodiversity. The work will apply new genome sequencing technology to study and classify microscopic eukaryote species like nematodes, fungi, and single-celled animals.

New way to dissolve semiconductors holds promise for electronics industry
Semiconductors, the foundation of modern electronics used in flat-screen TVs and fighter jets, could become even more versatile as researchers make headway on a novel, inexpensive way to turn them into thin films. Their report on a new liquid that can quickly dissolve nine types of key semiconductors appears in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Blood growth factor boosts effect of exercise in peripheral artery disease
A blood cell growth factor can boost the effects of exercise in improving mobility for patients with peripheral artery disease, according to results scheduled for presentation at American Heart Association Scientific Sessions.

Carnegie Mellon computer searches web 24/7 to analyze images and teach itself common sense
A computer program called the Never Ending Image Learner (NEIL) is running 24 hours a day at Carnegie Mellon University, searching the Web for images, doing its best to understand them on its own and, as it builds a growing visual database, gathering common sense on a massive scale.

UTSA opens Cloud and Big Data Laboratory
The University of Texas at San Antonio has opened a new laboratory to support the Open Compute Project through cloud computing and big data research and development. The laboratory, developed in large part through industry collaboration, will help the international business community improve their computing platforms and will also train a pipeline of students for the workforce.

Drinking more milk as a teenager does not lower risk of hip fracture later
Drinking more milk as a teenager apparently does not lower the risk of hip fracture as an older adult and instead appears to increase that risk for men, according to a study published by JAMA Pediatrics, a JAMA Network publication.

Increasing cropping frequency offers opportunity to boost food supply
Harvesting existing cropland more frequently could substantially increase global food production without clearing more land for agriculture, according to a new study from the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota.

Scientists nearing forecasts of long-lived wildfires' paths
Scientists have developed a new computer modeling technique that for the first time offers the promise of continually-updated daylong predictions of wildfire growth through the lifetimes of long-lived blazes.

Amateur divers share species data for science
Species observations from thousands of scuba divers all over the world are now freely accessible via the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. The citizen science platform Diveboard has published over 15,000 records from the 'electronic log books' submitted by its community of nearly 100,000 registered divers. The dataset, available on the GBIF portal, includes records of species occurrences from dives in all the world's oceans, as well as many inland water bodies.

Repurposed drug may be first targeted treatment for serious kidney disease
A team led by Massachusetts General Hospital researchers is reporting that treatment with abatacept appeared to halt the course of focal segmental glomerulosclerosis in five patients, preventing four from losing transplanted kidneys and achieving disease remission in the fifth.

A bio patch that can regrow bone
Researchers at the University of Iowa have created an implantable bio patch that regrows bone in a living body, using existing cells. The team created a scaffold seeded with plasmids containing the genetic information for producing bone. The plasmids are absorbed by bone cells already in the body, spurring new growth. Potential applications extend to dentistry. Results appear in the journal Biomaterials.

Next-generation global e-infrastructure for taxon names registry
Issue no. 346 of ZooKeys has been automatically registered in ZooBank on its day of publication last Friday. This marks the successful deployment of an automated registration-to-publication pipeline for taxonomic names for animals. The innovative workflow sets directions towards building a next-generation e-infrastructure for a common global taxon names registry.

MAVEN Solar Wind Electron Analyzer seeks answers at microscopic levels
When the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission launches in November to study why the Red Planet is losing its atmosphere, one of its instruments will look to electrically charged particles called electrons for answers.

Ditty bag of condoms, home-use instructions lead to improved comfort and consistency with condom use
A new and successful strategy for combating STIs such as HIV draws from an old idea: practice is fundamental to learning, even when it involves using condoms correctly. The Kinsey Institute Homework Intervention Strategy gives men condoms and lubricants, makes sure the men understand how to apply condoms correctly, and then assigns homework. The men are expected to try out at least six condoms solo, paying particular attention to their own pleasure and favorite condoms.

Distant artificial atoms cooperate by sharing light, international research team shows
An international team of scientists has shown for the first time that atoms can work collectively rather than independently of each other to share light. Quantum physicists have long discussed such an effect, but it has not been seen before in an experiment. The team included scientists from ETH Zürich (a leading university in Switzerland) who performed the experiment and theoretical scientists from the Université de Sherbrooke in Québec and the University of Calgary in Alberta.

Effect of reducing blood pressure with medications immediately following ischemic stroke
Jiang He, M.D., Ph.D., of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, New Orleans, and colleagues examined whether moderate lowering of blood pressure within the first 48 hours after the onset of an acute ischemic stroke would reduce death and major disability at 14 days or hospital discharge.

Lifting fusion power onto an (optimized) pedestal
New technique that will help optimize the transport barrier, or pedestal, in fusion plasmas, which will be key to increasing future fusion power performance.

Penn produces graphene nanoribbons with nanopores for fast DNA sequencing
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have made an advance towards realizing a new gene sequencing technique based on threading DNA through a tiny hole in a layer of graphene. Earlier versions of the technique only made use of graphene's unbeatable thinness, but the Penn team's research shows how the material's unique electrical properties may be employed to make faster and more sensitive sequencing devices.

Pre-industrial rise in greenhouse gases had natural and anthropogenic causes
For years scientists have intensely argued over whether increases of potent methane gas concentrations in the atmosphere -- from about 5,000 years ago to the start of the industrial revolution -- were triggered by natural causes or human activities. A new study, published Friday in the journal Science, suggests the increase in methane likely was caused by both.

The reality behind Europe's response to climate change
British cities -- unlike their counterparts on the mainland -- are taking the lead in making plans to curb and handle the impact of climate change. A study in Climatic Change analyzed the relevant strategic policies and planning documents of 200 urban areas in eleven European countries. It found that one in every three European cities has no plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while seven in every ten urban areas have no formal adaptation plans.

Blue gene active storage boosts I/O performance at JSC
Realization of an active storage architecture and integration of non-volatile memory into Blue Gene/Q enables data intensive applications to exploit the performance of this highly scalable high-performance computing system by IBM. The BGAS system is the result of a close collaboration between Forschungszentrum Jülich and IBM in the framework of the Exascale Innovation Centre. It is attached to the supercomputer JUQUEEN installed at Jülich Supercomputing Centre.

Bring a 50,000-degree plasma into your living room
A new system will allow users to log on and remotely control a working plasma physics experiment from their own browser.

OU natural products discovery group asks for public's help with citizen science program
The University of Oklahoma Natural Products Discovery Group has taken an unconventional approach to finding new compounds with therapeutic relevance by launching a crowdsourcing initiative with citizen scientists from around the country. OU researchers team with the public to sample soils from all across the United States for the purpose of identifying new microorganisms that produce drug-like compounds.

Lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar could halve obesity-related risk of heart disease
Controlling blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood glucose may substantially reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke associated with being overweight or obese.

Fruit bat population covering central Africa is carrier of 2 deadly viruses
A population of fruit bats which is found across much of continental Africa is widely infected with two deadly viruses that could spread to humans, new research reveals.

Conscientious people more likely to provide good customer service
Conscientious people are more likely to provide good customer service, according to a new study from researchers at Rice University.

DFG establishes 10 new research training groups
The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft is establishing 10 new Research Training Groups (RTGs) to further support early career researchers in Germany. This decision was made by the relevant Grants Committee in Bonn. The RTGs will receive funding of approximately 33 million euros for an initial period of four and a half years. In addition to the 10 new awards, the Grants Committee approved the extension of 13 RTGs for another four and a half years.

Virtual sailing simulator shows key role of recreation
Researchers at the Kennedy Krieger Institute announced today the results of a pilot study demonstrating use of a virtual therapeutic sailing simulator as an important part of rehabilitation following a spinal cord injury.

Government grants reduce HIV risks for teenage girls in South Africa
A study, led by Oxford University, finds that government grants in Southern Africa reduce HIV risks for teenage girls. The study, in The Lancet Global Health, involved 3,515 young people between 2009-12 in urban and rural parts of two South African provinces. They found teenage girls from households receiving grants were two-thirds less likely to take much older boyfriends, and half as likely to have sex in exchange for money, food, school fees or shelter.

Biosensor could help detect brain injuries during heart surgery
Engineers and cardiology experts have teamed up to develop a fingernail-sized biosensor that could alert doctors when serious brain injury occurs during heart surgery.

Schools help kids choose carrots over candy bars
When schools adopt healthful nutrition policies and practices, kids' diets improve. According to new research led by Michigan State University and published in the current issue of Childhood Obesity, when schools offered snacks in lunchtime a la carte or vending that were mostly or entirely healthful, students responded with improvements in their diets, said Katherine Alaimo, MSU associate professor of food, science and human nutrition.

Brain imaging differences in infants at genetic risk for Alzheimer's
Researchers at Brown University and Banner Alzheimer's Institute have found that infants who carry a gene associated with an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease tend to have differences in brain development compared to infants who do not carry the gene. The findings do not mean that these infants will get Alzheimer's, but they may be a step toward understanding how this gene confers risk much later in life.

It's like a party in the atmosphere!
The Space Test Program-Houston 4-FireStation investigation, also simply known as FireStation, will orbit the Earth for a year attached to the outside of the space station. This instrument collects data as it flies over thunderstorms, taking aim at the exciting energy exhibit to help scientists answer burning questions involving the relationship between lightning and gamma rays.

Hands off -- please
Behavioral biologists conducting research in the field often depend on state-of-the-art techniques. Consequently, damage to or theft of technical equipment represents a dramatic financial and scientific loss. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen decided to find out whether the information content and tone of labels attached to the equipment could reduce the incidence of vandalism. In total 60 equipment dummies were distributed in four public parks in Munich. The researchers found that a friendly, personal label reduced the interaction of people with the equipment in comparison with neutral or threatening labels.

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