Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (October 2002)

Science news and science current events archive October, 2002.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from October 2002

Flyby of Annefrank asteroid to help Stardust prepare for primary mission
It will be a moment tinged in history when the Stardust spacecraft flies by Asteroid 5535 Annefrank on Friday, testing many systems and procedures to be used in a comet enounter in a little more than a year.

Evolution upset: Oxygen-making microbes came last, not first
Get ready to rewrite those biology textbooks - again. Although the

Responsibility & Blame: Psychological & Legal Perspectives
How much responsibility should any person or entity bear? Our society looks to the legal system to determine when a person or corporation is to blame for having committed bad acts. But, as the Friday, October 18, Brooklyn Law School Symposium: Responsibility & Blame: Psychological & Legal Perspectives suggests, significant psychological factors may affect the allocation of responsibility in ways that the law does not endorse or explain.

MIT model predicts birthplace of defect in a material
Defects such as cracks in a material are responsible for everything from malfunctioning microchips to earthquakes. Now MIT engineers have developed a model to predict a defect's birthplace, its initial features and how it begins to advance through the material. The model could be especially useful in nanotechnology.

The Second Conference on the History and Heritage of Scientific and Technical Information Systems
Emphasis for this conference will be on scientific and technical information systems in the period from the Second World War up through the early 1990s. Forty historians of science and technology, information scientists and scientists in other fields will be delivering papers on a wide range of topics: informatics in chemistry, biology and medicine; information developments in multi-national, industrial and military settings; biographical studies of pioneering individuals; and the transformation of information systems.

Engineers develop economical terrorist-resistant air conditioning concept
Penn State engineers have developed a terrorist-resistant air conditioning concept that they estimate costs less to install in new construction, is more energy efficient, and is cheaper to operate than the current industry standard.

Global warming has uneven effect on coastal animals
Although it is expected that populations of many organisms will move away from the equator and toward the poles to stay cool during global warming, researchers have found that the intertidal zone does not exactly fit this pattern. A study published in this week's Science Magazine indicates that there may be

UW-Madison leads $26 million study on aging
While we all age, we age in different ways. But exactly why we age differently remains much of a mystery. A new $26 million study led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, however, plans to make the reasons more clear.

Pain-relief drug may prevent lung problems, blindness in premature infants
A popular pain-relief drug may prevent lung and eye disorders common in premature infants, a UC Irvine College of Medicine study has found.

New approach to insulin treatment improves patients' lives
Training patients with diabetes to adjust their insulin doses to match their food choices, improves diabetes control and quality of life, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Moderately high homocysteine tied to stroke, Alzheimer's risk
Moderate elevations of homocysteine are associated with a more than five-fold increase in the risk for stroke and almost triple the risk for Alzheimer's disease, according to research in the October issue of Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Job loss can lead to downward spiral of depression and poor health
Job loss and its related financial strain put people at elevated risk for emotional and physical problems, according to researchers studying the consequences of being unemployed. This finding is reported on in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, published by the American Psychological Association (APA).

Despite lower CO2 emissions, diesel cars may promote more global warming than gasoline cars
Laws that favor the use of diesel, rather than gasoline, engines in cars may actually encourage global warming. Diesels can emit 25 to 400 times more mass of particulate black carbon and associated organic matter (

Beijing conference to address lung cancer crisis in China
The first international lung cancer conference to be held in China will take researchers to Beijing October 27-30. UCSF, in collaboration with the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, is sponsoring the event.

Planting time for forest trees branches out to new seasons
Most foresters hold to the straight and narrow when it comes to planting pine trees: nursery seedlings go in the ground between Dec. 1 and March 1. Period. But a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station study is branching out to show that early planting -- even as early as mid-September - can give slash pine trees a growing head start towards better survivability, thus faster regrowth on harvested or burnt areas.

NHLBI study finds improved heart failure survival
Survival from heart failure has greatly improved over the past 50 years, with the risk of dying after diagnosis dropping by about a third in men and women, or an average of 12 percent per decade. Analyzing data from the Framingham Heart Study, researchers also found that the number of new cases of heart failure dropped by about a third for women but remained unchanged for men over the past 50 years.

Correction for reporting delays and errors may lead to changes in recent cancer incidence data
Adjustment for reporting delays and errors in cancer data may result in changes in cancer incidence rates reported by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), according to a study in the October 16 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Global high-quality digital video is unveiled
The International Center for Advanced Internet Research at Northwestern University and Path1 Network Technologies, Inc. have demonstrated an innovative capability for global, high-quality, high-performance digital video at the recent international iGrid2002 Conference in Amsterdam. This experiment demonstrated high-performance, end-to-end, real-time broadcast-quality video transported uncompressed from the StarLight facility in Chicago to SARA Reken- en Netwerkdiensten, in Amsterdam.

Experimental 'gene switch' increases lifespan with no ill effects
By experimentally switching genes off or on at specific stages in an animal's lifecycle, UCSF scientists have discovered that vigor and lifespan can be significantly extended with no side effects. Many researchers believe that increasing lifespan will dampen reproduction. But the new study of the tiny roundworm commonly known as C. elegans shows that silencing a key gene only in adulthood increases longevity with no effect on reproduction.

Mild aerobic exercise no protection from osteoporosis
While day-to-day physical activities such as walking, housework and shopping may be good for your heart, they don't do much for your bones, according to a Johns Hopkins study.

Cardiac MRI provides new 3-D images of beating heart
For Karen Pressley, Duke's new Cardiovascular Magnetic Resonance Center revealed critical details of her heart that could enable her to have an angioplasty.

Walking on shaky shoes
Scientists from Boston University have shown for the first time that adding artificial random noise can improve a person's balance. The researchers hope to develop vibrating insoles that unstable walkers can wear in their shoes to stop them swaying.

Fran Visco receives Frances Williams Preston Award from Vanderbilt University
Fran Visco, president of the National Breast Cancer Coalition, is the 2002 recipient of the Frances Williams Preston Award for Breast Cancer Awareness, presented by the Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. The award is named for the president and CEO of BMI, the world's largest performing rights organization.

NIGMS center grants will spice up chemical libraries
NIGMS announces support for two centers--one at Boston University and one at the University of Pittsburgh--that will develop new methods to generate combinatorial chemical libraries. Over their 5-year lifetime, the grants together are expected to total more than $20 million. Made-to-order libraries of diverse chemical structures give scientists powerful tools to discover small molecules with a wide range of physiological properties and save the labor and expense of synthesizing individual compounds to screen.

A little blue and purple helps body fend off deadly parasites
Chagas disease, a parasitic disease that is nearly epidemic from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego, may have met its match in a simple solution of dyes, a UC Irvine study has found.

Sequenced malaria genome exposes novel drug targets
The genectic code of the malaria parasite has been cracked and is already revealing novel drug targets that could lead to effective treatment of the disease.

Survey: Medicare gets higher marks from enrollees than private insurance
Commonwealth Fund survey finds that Medicare beneficiaries are more likely than enrollees in employer sponsored plans to rate their insurance coverage as excellent and less likely to report access problems. Based on those findings, the authors conclude that Medicare reformers should be cautious when they seek to make the program work more like private insurance.

Work stress doubles risk of death from heart disease
Work stress is associated with a doubling of the risk of death from heart disease, finds a study in this week's BMJ.

Is there a link between soy formula and attention deficit disorder?
Does soy-based infant formula lead to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)? There's much speculation -- but little science -- on this association. Shedding some light on this problem, a UC Irvine-led study discovered that a mineral found in high levels in soy milk appears to be linked to behavioral problems.

Visceral fat loss after dieting is not necessarily responsible for disease risk improvements
In a comparative study of the locations in which white and African American women lost body fat with dieting, Gower et al. found that both racial groups experienced significant improvements in blood lipids and insulin sensitivity from weight loss, regardless of the location of the fat loss.

Raymond Davis Jr. wins Nobel Prize in physics
Raymond Davis Jr. of the University of Pennsylvania and Brookhaven National Laboratory is a winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in physics, the Nobel Foundation announced this morning in Stockholm. The prize was awarded in recognition of Davis' groundbreaking research into the emission of neutrinos produced by nuclear fusion reactions in the center of the sun.

$2 million federal grant to study cancer drug action
Gene Network Sciences a fledgling cancer-research company started by Cornell University graduate students and financed by Cornell business students, has been awarded a $2 million federal Advanced Technology Program grant to learn how pharmaceuticals work against parts of cancer cells.

Study shows fossil records remain stable in storm beds
Studies done by a Virginia Tech geology graduate student show that fossil records preserve their community structure through hurricanes even though one would think the heavy waves would rip up the floor and destroy the fidelity of the site.

UD researchers develop revolutionary computer interface technology
University of Delaware researchers have developed a revolutionary computer interface technology that promises to put the bite on the traditional mouse and mechanical keyboard.

Looming 'lame duck session' by U.S. Congress raises fears for the future of R&D funding
This Halloween, many in the U.S. scientific community may be seized by the fear that promised increases for research and development (R&D) won't happen this year, potentially leaving many agencies operating at 2002 levels well into the New Year.

Scientists identify role of important cancer protein
Scientists working at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS) at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Brookhaven National Laboratory have unveiled the details of an important cancer protein. The new results, which are reported in the November 1 issue of Cell, shed light on how this protein triggers tumor growth, and may provide ways to design new anticancer drugs.

Popular weed killer feminizes native leopard frogs across Midwest
Atrazine, the most popular weed killer in the U.S., has now been shown to feminize native male leopard frogs throughout the nation's Corn Belt. UC Berkeley biologists found feminized leopard frogs in all atrazine-contaminated bodies of water sampled in a swath from Utah to the Iowa-Illinois border. Developmental endocrinologist Tyrone Hayes says the herbicide, also used widely outside the country, could be a factor in amphibian declines worldwide.

Supply of medical students may not meet future demand
The supply of medical students may not meet the demands of medical school expansion in the United Kingdom, according to an editorial in this week's BMJ.

Protein patterns in blood may predict prostate cancer diagnosis
Patterns of proteins found in patients' blood serum may help distinguish between prostate cancer and benign conditions, scientists from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) report today in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

UIC chemists identify compound that inhibits cell migration
A high-throughput assay developed at University of Illinois-Chicago has led to discovery of a small organic compound that shows ability to inhibit cell migration.

Agreements for industry-sponsored clinical trials often fail to protect researchers' independence
Academic medical centers frequently engage in industry-sponsored research that fails to adhere to international guidelines established to protect the integrity of research and the rights and interests of academic investigators, according to a study published in the Oct. 24, 2002 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Antibiotics not always beneficial for childhood ear infections
More children are treated in the U.S. with antibiotics for inflammation of the middle ear, or otitis media, than any other child health problem. More than five million cases are diagnosed every year. But now, a scholarly review of over one hundred studies by a U.Va. pediatrician concludes that antibiotics help only one in eight children with ear infections.

Amanda Fisher receives EMBO Gold Medal
Amanda Fisher, group head at the MRC Clinical Science Centre, London (U.K.), is this year's winner of the EMBO Gold Medal. This prestigious prize is awarded by EMBO in recognition of Amanda Fisher's outstanding work on nuclear organization and gene expression as well as for her research on the molecular characterisation of the AIDS virus (HIV). Amanda Fisher will receive the award at the EMBO Members Meeting

Astronomers discover the wake of a planet around a nearby star
An international team of astronomers today report the discovery of a huge distorted disk of cold dust surrounding Fomalhaut - one of the brightest stars in the sky. The most likely cause of the distortion is the gravitational influence of a Saturn-like planet at a large distance from the star tugging on the disk. This provides some of the strongest evidence so far that Solar Systems similar in size, or even bigger than our own, are likely to exist.

Disabled seniors formerly on SSDI hit hardest by drug costs
Spending on prescription drugs increased more than 60 percent over three years for two million disabled Medicare recipients over 65 who were formerly on Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), a recent study has shown.

Sex-based differences in environmental exposures and health
On Oct. 15, the Society for Women's Health Research is bringing together experts to explore implications of sex differences in environmental exposures. The goal of the meeting,

Diadvantaged youth less likely to volunteer as teens, study finds
Children who grow up in poverty and in single-parent homes are less likely to volunteer as adolescents, a new study suggests. However, some factors, such as involvement in school and church groups, seem to be routes by which disadvantaged children learn prosocial behaviors such as volunteering. The research is important because most studies of disadvantaged youth focus on their negative behaviors, such as delinquency and early childbearing.

Clinical Trials Litigation: Legal & Ethical Issues in Human Subjects Research
On Thursday, October 3, Brooklyn Law School's Center for Health Law and Policy will present a program that examines the legal and ethical questions surrounding the safety of human subjects in clinical research projects while examining the status of exisiting litigation.

Scientists tackle the question: 'What will it really take to stop global warming?'
A team of researchers, led by Martin Hoffert at New York University, has conducted what may be the first comprehensive study of non-carbon-dioxide-producing energy sources to evaluate how to stabilize the Earth's climate while meeting the world's energy needs. The study, to be published Science, found that no existing alternative energy source, nor combination of sources, currently exists that could adequately replace the energy produced by fossil fuels.

High school science teachers translate the latest research into classroom activities, lessons
As part of this project to bring the new field of nanoscience into the high school science curriculum, high school biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, and mathematics worked with Virginia Tech faculty members and graduate students on a project that is using new adaptations of the atomic force microscope to increase knowledge of microbe/mineral interactions important to groundwater research. 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