Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (October 1999)

Science news and science current events archive October, 1999.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from October 1999

New dinosaurs appear to be oldest yet, as reported in the 22 October issue of Science
The jaws of two of the oldest dinosaurs ever discovered and the remains of eight other prehistoric animals have been unearthed in Madagascar. The fossils provide a freeze-framed picture of life during the earliest days of dinosaurs and mammals--a picture that has been largely obscured until now.

Hutchinson Center to lead $11.5 million ovarian-cancer research consortium
The NIH has selected the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle to lead a five-year, $11.5 million investigation into the causes, prevention, early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer.

Abstemious mice offer hint at molecular target for treating alcoholism
UC San Francisco researchers have identified an enzyme that could prove to be a target for reducing the craving for, and excessive use of, alcohol - a hallmark of alcoholism.

McGill scientists find invasive species affect lake ecosystems
McGill University scientists have documented profound changes in lake ecosystems following the introduction of two exotic species, smallmouth bass and rock bass, into Canadian lakes. What's more, these changes may threaten native fish populations, particularly lake trout.

Quake control: 'shock absorbers' could minimize damage
A professor of civil engineering at Washington University in St. Louis has tested a new device on a model building set atop an earthquake-simulating

Noveau neurons are better than no neurons at all
An artificial neuron built by researchers at U.C. San Diego may be the first step toward restoring brain function in patients suffering from stroke, Alzheimer's and other neurological dysfunction.

Myc's cancer-causing joy ride more reckless than previously believed
The cancer-causing gene myc is even more powerful than scientists anticipated: Not only does the gene spur cells to grow; it also knocks out the

1999 American Heart Association 72nd Scientific Sessions kit memo
We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta. Here is some logistical information about the meeting. If you have any questions please contact any of the American Heart Association staff members listed on this memo.

UT Southwestern researchers discover structure of molecule that repairs sun and cigarette damage
The crystal structure of an enzyme that hunts down DNA damage caused by sunlight and cigarettes then snaps it up like a Venus' flytrap is described in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Harnessing the weird properties of entangled photons
Entangled photons could provide deep insights into our world that nobody, not even physicists, expected. Researchers hope to use a beam of entangled photons to light up the finest details inside delicate living cells and, on the bizarre side, to see the intimate quantum secrets of a single cell.

Neurons produced during adulthood react to stimuli
Brain cells that are produced in adult mammals respond to sexual stimuli, according to a team of biologists at the University of Massachusetts. The finding may eventually help in finding treatments for disorders such as stroke, Alzheimer's disease, and Parkinson's disease.

Scientists to discuss role of water vapor in Earth's climate system
A conference on water vapor in the atmosphere will be discussed at a conference organized by the American Geophysical Union in Potomac, Maryland, October 12-15. The most abundant greenhouse gas, water vapor plays a key role, and advances have been made in understanding it in recent years.

Normal cellular enzyme becomes marker for Alzheimer's disease
Scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health have discovered a new molecular marker for Alzheimer's disease -- a normal cellular protein called casein kinase-1 -- that piles up in nerve cells ravaged by the disease.

Jefferson researchers show melatonin's potential benefits in preventing Parkinson's damage
Melatonin could be a key to someday understanding how to treat Parkinson's disease. Scientists at Jefferson Medical College have shown in the laboratory and in test animals that melatonin is effective in preventing a particular type of brain cell damage similar to that found in Parkinson's.

Prestigious new nutrition research center being established at UNC-CH with NIH funding
To help reduce the staggering toll of unnecessary illness and premature death associated with chronic disease and to understand better the links between such diseases and nutrition, the National Institutes of Health has selected the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as home of the nation's newest Clinical Nutrition Research Unit.

New mini microwave thruster is most powerful in its class
Penn State engineers have miniaturized a satellite propulsion system they originally built with parts from a microwave oven and produced a new thruster that draws only as much electricity as a light bulb, but puts out more thrust than any system in its class.

New DNA chip method could improve cancer diagnosis
In a study reported in Friday's Science, a team of Whitehead- led researchers reports the first systematic and objective approach for identifying and classifying tumor types. This approach exploits the new technology of DNA chips and could be used to accurately diagnose cancer subtypes and also to predict clinical outcomes.

Women addicted to crack cocaine need many support services
Federal welfare-to-work programs need to provide an array of support services to women crack cocaine addicts in troubled neighborhoods if these women are expected to succeed, says a Penn State researcher.

Clemson University Genomics Institute awarded $5.1 million by USDA and NSF
The Clemson University Genomics Institute (CUGI) is leading one of two American teams in an international effort to identify all the genetic components of rice. Funded by a $5.1 million three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation, the Clemson- led team will sequence and map segments of two chromosomes in rice.

University of Michigan study finds patients and physicians encourage e-mail use
Although 40 percent of patients in a new University of Michigan study regularly use e-mail, only 14 percent of them have used it to communicate with their doctors. But 70 percent of patients surveyed -- including those without e-mail -- say they want to communicate with their health care provider via e-mail.

Each hour while they sleep, more than 26% of all Europeans stop breathing at least five times during ten seconds
A study done by a medical team at the Txagorritxu Hospital in Vitoria (Spain) found that 26.2% of the men and 28% of the women stopped breathing more than five times an hour, the threshold of what is considered

Mechanism found that appears to keep body tissues together
Scientists studying the adhesive properties of cadherin -- a protein that binds cells into soft tissue -- have found a built-in safety mechanism that may keep cells from ripping apart.

Fully endoscopic micro-surgery puts a former Jr. Olympic athlete back on the marathon trail
Thanks to state-of-the-art technology and some of the most advanced capabilities in the United States, brain surgery to remove pituitary tumors is now being done fully endoscopically and with outstanding results.

The CARDIA Study: Statement from Dr. Claude Lenfant, director, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
High fiber diets may protect against obesity and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in healthy young adults by lowering insulin levels. This is one of the findings of an analysis of particpants in the CARDIA Study (Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults), sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Just a spoonful of thiamin?
Findings about thiamin appear in the October issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. Highlights include:
  • Two neurological disorders linked through thiamin deficiency
  • One disorder can be treated with thiamin supplements, the other may be incurable
  • Heavy drinkers, anorexics and senior citizens considered at risk
  • Up to 10 percent of alcoholics in the U.S. may be affected
  • Australian cases decreasing, but thiamin may yet be added to beer

Disabled by depression - study analyzes costs, causes
Research is increasingly focusing on mental illness in the workplace. And a growing body of studies show depression is being identified as one of the most expensive occupational health costs for business. A new review of studies focuses on the factors of depression and the cost of depression in the workplace.

Right models for e-commerce -- Corn flakes & ketchup
Wharton and the London Business School professors say that Internet sales bear a striking resemblance to supermarket sales. The similarity could signal an end to explosive Web growth. The remarks are based on a paper at a convention of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®).

MIT team reports powerful tool for studying sugars
MIT researchers report a powerful new tool for studying complex sugars, materials that have recently been shown to play key roles in processes from viral infection to tissue development. The tool is a sequencing technique for determining the order of building blocks in complex sugars.

Chandra takes X-ray image of repeat offender
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has imaged Eta Carinae, the Milky Way's most luminous star. This exploding star, which also has been imaged by the Hubble Space Telescope, is huffing and puffing its way to eventual self-destruction.

National Chemistry Week helps families discover polymers, November 7-13
If you picked up a cell phone, put on cotton fabric or Teflon sports gear, changed a disposable diaper or just had lunch today, you've been putting polymers to use - and during this year's National Chemistry Week, November 7-13, families across the U.S. will have a chance to learn more about these everyday results of chemistry. Now in its 12th year, National Chemistry Week is sponsored by the world's largest scientific society, the American Chemical Society.

Depression, anxiety and stress can hinder diabetic's ability to control blood sugar
Psychological factors can have a profound effect on the ability of people with diabetes to control their blood sugar, new research shows. Among diabetic patients who learned relaxation techniques with biofeedback, those with the highest levels of depression, anxiety, and daily stress were least successful in reducing their blood sugar.

Carnegie Mellon Research Institute establishes CyberSecurity Center for business, commerce
Carnegie Mellon Research Institute has established

'The Next Big Earthquake?' Still helpful and still available from USGS
With a press run of more than three million copies,

Researchers identify enzyme essential for battle against bacteria in the intestine
Researchers have identified an enzyme essential for the body's daily battle against bacteria in the intestine and possibly in other organs such as the lung and bladder. This work might one day help drug companies design more effective drugs to combat a myriad of diseases, including gingivitis, bladder infections and cystic fibrosis.

Acoustical technology developed at CU-Boulder helps make clean water
A new University of Colorado at Boulder technology that uses an acoustical device similar to a medical ultrasound probe is providing a promising new technique to inspect the fouling of thin membranes used to purify drinking water.

AGU names new journalism award for David Perlman
A new AGU journalism award, named for David Perlman, will recognize outstanding science news stories written under deadline pressure. The existing Sullivan Award has been recast to recognize outstanding science feature writing.

A new ion channel involved in cell proliferation: evidence for its oncogenic potential
The process of cell proliferation is tightly controlled. Cancer develops when cells start to proliferate and escape that control. Scientists at the Max-Planck Institute for Experimental Medicine and the Oncology Department in Göttingen have discovered an ion channel that is capable of modifying normal cell proliferation and causes cancer (EMBO J., 15 October 1999).

NRC spin-off develops rapid sensors
IatroQuest Corporation, an Ottawa company spun off from the National Research Council (NRC), has made significant advances in developing rapid sensing and diagnostic systems for the detection and identification of chemical and biological warfare (CBW) agents.

CU study of ice-age sediment cores hint climate change on Earth could be extreme
An analysis of sediments from the subtropical Atlantic Ocean deposited during Earth's last glacial period indicate sudden temperature fluctuations were as large as those seen in the warming at the end of the last ice age, raising concerns about future climate change.

Cattails and contamination: marshy stalks hold DNA clues on pollution
A team of researchers at the University of Cincinnati has detected significant differences in the genetic diversity of common cattails in areas heavily impacted by pollution, providing evidence that cattails might be an effective indicator of environmental stress.

Depression linked to death among heart failure patients
Depressed mood is significantly related to increased mortality risk among people with congestive heart failure, say the results of a new study conducted in a Norwegian hospital outpatient cardiology practice.

Mayo Clinic study highlights importance of autopsy in Parkinson's disease diagnosis and research
A Mayo Clinic study, published in the October 12 issue of Neurology, cautions that low autopsy rates and nonrandom autopsy patterns for parkinsonism could call into question the validity of parkinsonism research.

The evolution of the sex chromosomes: step by step
No other pair of chromosomes is as diverse as the sex chromosomes. In the October 29 issue of Science, Bruce Lahn and David Page describe how the sex chromosomes became so different, evolving from a pair of identical chromosomes into X and Y in several discrete stages over 300-million years.

'Shared Space' allows users to meld virtual reality, real world
Researchers in the University of Washington's Human Interface Technology Laboratory (HIT Lab) have developed technology that allows people to straddle virtual and real worlds, gaining the benefits of virtual reality while functioning in the real world.

Why so many earthquakes lately? Who's next?
Has there been an increase in earthquakes around the world during the past three months, and is this activity a sign of more shakes to come? Why are some earthquakes so damaging, and others barely raise the dust? Those questions and many more concerning the five large earthquakes that have occurred since August 17 will be answered Tuesday morning, October 26, when four U.S. Geological Survey seismologists

3D circuits -- changing the shape of things to come
A new technology that allows 3-D electronic circuits to be moulded into plastic objects is set to change the shape of tomorrow's technology by allowing designers much greater freedom and providing excellent weight and space savings. The technology, being developed by Interconnection and Electronics Chemicals in the UK, can be used to produce products that can be assembled with lower production costs than using traditional technologies and are 100 per cent recyclable

New University of Georgia study indicates possible ancient origin for retroviruses, the class to which HIV belongs
Retroviruses use an enzyme called reverse transcriptase to copy themselves into host genomes and replicate. Only recently did scientists discover that a complex retrovirus they named Human Immunodeficiency Virus or HIV caused AIDS. A new study argues that retroviruses may have been lurking around in animal genomes for millennia.

New Chandra X-ray Observatory images reveal 'shocking' details of mysterious superstar's activity
New images of the superstar Eta Carinae by NASA's Chandra X- ray Observatory reveal a surprising hot inner core -- creating more questions than answers for astronomers.

Cedars-Sinai pediatrician to receive award for his contributions to international child health
Augusto Sola, M.D., director of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Division of Neonatology, will be honored next week in Washington D.C. by the American Academy of Pediatrics for his long-standing efforts to improve the lives of newborns and infants throughout the world, particularly in under-served areas of Central and South America. At a ceremony on Oct. 12, during the Academy's annual convention Oct. 9-13, he will receive the 1999 E.H. Christopherson Award on International Child Health.

Duke expedition to rescue rare lemurs
An expedition from the Duke University Primate Center will set out Oct. 7 to rescue extremely rare lemurs in a small, doomed patch of forest habitat in Madagascar. 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