Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (October 2006)

Science news and science current events archive October, 2006.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from October 2006

AGU journal highlights -- Oct. 26, 2006
The following articles are included in the upcoming issue of Geophysical Research Letters, including Manmade aerosols impact Southern Hemisphere oceanic circulation; Modeling turbulence in the lower troposphere; Optically thin cirrus clouds can significantly influence energy budget calculations in the tropics; Is the polar mesopause higher and warmer?; A new hurricane wind retrieval algorithm for Synthetic Aperture Radar images, and First tomographic image of ionospheric outflows.

Political scientists' models predict Democratic takeover of House of Representatives
Election forecasting models completed by political scientists months before recent events predict significant Democratic gains in the 2006 midterm elections, including a likely 22 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 2-3 seats in the U.S. Senate. The predictions appear in the October 2006 issue of PS: Political Science and Politics, a journal of the American Political Science Association, and are available online.

New study explores role of theater in Maya political organization
Magnificent stone sculptures of Classic Maya culture (AD 250-900) have long fascinated archaeologists and the general public alike. But what did the scenes depicted in these monuments mean in their society? In an article to appear in the October 2006 issue Current Anthropology, Takeshi Inomata (University of Arizona) argues that these images commonly show acts of public performance conducted by rulers, revealing the prominent role which state theater played in Maya political organization.

AGU Fall Meeting abstracts and sessions now online, Gore to speak
All 1,120 sessions and 13,023 abstracts for 2006 Fall Meeting have been posted on the AGU Web site and are fully searchable. (Both figures represent an increase of more than 15 percent over 2005 Fall Meeting.) Former Vice President Al Gore will speak on

Stroke symptoms common among general population
As many as 18 percent of adults who have no history of stroke report having had at least one symptom of stroke, according to results of a large national study published in the October 9 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Springer expands life science program with In Vitro journals
Springer has entered into a partnership with the Society for In Vitro Biology and the International Association for Plant Biotechnology to publish their journals In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology -- Animal and In Vitro Cellular and Developmental Biology -- Plant. Springer will assume publication of these key journals in January 2007.

First evidence to show elephants, like humans, apes and dolphins, recognize themselves in mirror
Elephants have joined a small, elite group of species -- including humans, great apes and dolphins -- that have the ability to recognize themselves in the mirror, according to a new research finding. Mirror self-recognition in elephants, previously predicted due to their well-known social complexity, is thought to relate to empathetic tendencies and the ability to distinguish oneself from others, a characteristic that evolved independently in several branches of animals, including primates such as humans.

Salmon farms kill wild fish, study shows
New research confirms that sea lice from fish farms kill wild salmon. Up to 95 percent of the wild juvenile salmon that migrate past fish farms die as a result of sea lice infestation from the farms. The results of the research have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

Immune cell communication key to hunting viruses, Jefferson immunologists show
Immunologists have used nanotechnology to create a novel

Anxiety disorders linked to physical conditions
Anxiety disorders appear to be independently associated with several physical conditions, including thyroid disease, respiratory disease, arthritis and migraine headaches, according to a report in the Oct. 23 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. This co-occurrence of disorders may significantly increase the risk of disability and negatively affect quality of life.

The Lancet assesses the five candidates running for the next executive director of the Global Fund
Three of the five candidates running for the job of the next executive director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria lead the field, with the edge going to one, according to an editorial in this week's issue of the Lancet.

Novel laboratory model reveals clues to how blood starts clotting
Researchers at the University of Chicago have crafted a simple model for predicting when and where hemostasis -- the technical term for blood clotting -- will occur. The microfluidic system that they created focuses on the interactions between blood and surfaces patterned to trigger blood clotting. It allows the researchers to separately monitor clotting in both blood plasma and a chemical model.

Animals resistant to drunken behavior offer clues to alcoholism's roots
Animals with a remarkable ability to hold their liquor may point the way toward the genetic underpinnings of alcohol addiction, two separate research teams reported in the October 6, 2006 issue of the journal Cell. Earlier studies have shown that people with a greater tolerance for alcohol have a greater risk of becoming alcoholics, according to the researchers.

Heart transplant from organ donor with hepatitis C associated with decreased survival
Heart transplant patients who receive a donor heart from a person with hepatitis C have a lower rate of survival, according to a study in the Oct. 18 issue of JAMA.

Heavy, chronic drinking can cause significant hippocampal tissue loss
The hippocampus, a brain structure vital to learning and memory, is likely vulnerable to damage from heavy and chronic alcohol consumption. A new study has found a reduction in total hippocampus volume among alcoholics. This suggests that heavy drinking can cause significant hippocampal tissue loss.

Cause of nerve fiber damage in multiple sclerosis identified
Researchers have identified how the body's own immune system contributes to the nerve fiber damage caused by multiple sclerosis, a finding that can potentially aid earlier diagnosis and improved treatment for this chronic disease.

Key molecular signaling switch involved in allergic disease identified
A research team has identified a key enzyme responsible for triggering a chain of events that results in allergic reaction, according to new study findings published online this week in Nature Immunology.

Phase diagram of water revised by Sandia researchers
Supercomputer simulations by Sandia researchers have significantly altered the theoretical diagram universally used by scientists to understand the characteristics of water at extreme temperatures and pressures. The new computational model also expands the known range of water's electrical conductivity.

EU grants 2.5 million euros for research on childhood gut infections in Latin America
Leading experts from four European countries and five Latin American countries have teamed up to investigate the effects of gut infections on growth and development in young children. The four-year project called

The American Legacy Foundation and Mayo Clinic announce collaboration to reduce smoking rates
The American Legacy Foundation and Mayo Clinic announced today their first collaboration together, to marry the expertise of the Mayo Clinic's Nicotine Dependence Center and the American Legacy Foundation's public health and marketing acumen to help smokers who want to quit to be successful.

New bird discovered on unexplored Columbian mountain
A new bird to science was recently discovered on an unexplored mountain range in northern Columbia by a team supported by the BP Conservation Programme. It was named

Method could help carbon nanotubes become commercially viable
Carbon nanotubes are intriguing new materials, but a fundamental problem relating to their synthesis has limited their widespread commercial use. Current methods for synthesizing the materials produce mixtures of tubes that differ in their diameter and twist. Now Northwestern University researchers have developed a new method for sorting single-walled carbon nanotubes. The method works by exploiting subtle differences in the buoyant densities of carbon nanotubes as a function of their size and electronic behavior.

New minority fellowships tackle shortage of physicians from hardest-hit communities
The leading organization of HIV care providers has created clinical fellowships designed to encourage physicians from some of the most-affected communities to enter the field of HIV care. The HIV Medicine Association (HIVMA) Minority Clinical Fellowship Program will offer African American and Latino physicians the opportunity to gain clinical experience and expertise in HIV care.

First global study of sexual behavior
The second paper in the Lancet Online/Series presents the results of the first global analysis of sexual behavior data.

Scientists find major susceptibility gene for Crohn's disease
Researchers report the discovery of a new genetic link to Crohn's disease. Mutations of a gene, which codes for a receptor in a major inflammatory pathway, are strongly associated with Crohn's, they found. Surprisingly, one type of mutation appears to confer significant protection, prioritizing a crucial target for drugs that might better manage Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. More than 1 million Americans have Crohn's or colitis, known collectively as inflammatory bowel disease.

Groups and grumps: Study identifies 'sociality' neurons
A University of California, San Diego study has for the first time identified brain cells that influence whether birds of a feather will, or will not, flock together. The research demonstrates that vasotocin neurons in the medial extended amygdala -- which are present in most animals, including humans -- respond differently to social cues in birds that live in colonies compared to their more solitary cousins.

Women with mental disorders less likely to have mammograms
Women with mental disorders are less likely to have screening mammograms than women without mental illness, although the nature of the mental illness does play a role. Prior to this study, little was known about whether the type or severity of mental illness influences receipt of preventive services such as mammograms.

Cluster muscles back from deep hibernation
On September 15, flight controllers at ESA's Space Operations Centre watched tensely as

Experimenters at Fermilab discover exotic relatives of protons and neutrons
Scientists of the CDF collaboration at the Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory announced today (October 23, 2006) the discovery of two rare types of particles, exotic relatives of the much more common proton and neutron.

Grape seed extract halts cell cycle, checking growth of colorectal tumors in mice
Chemicals found in grape seeds significantly inhibited growth of colorectal tumors in both cell cultures and in mice, according to researchers who have already demonstrated the extract's anti-cancer effects in other tumor types.

Overweight children at increased risk for adult cardiovascular diseases
Research published today in Journal of the CardioMetabolic Syndrome (JCMS) presents data supporting that adult diseases, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes and sleep apnea are now recognizable in childhood. The underlying link between them is a disorder of insulin resistance, which is worsened by childhood obesity. The annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that about one-third of U.S. children today, about 25 million, are overweight or at risk of becoming overweight.

ESA's Planck satellite builds on Nobel Prize-winning science
The 2006 Nobel Prize for physics has been awarded to Americans John C. Mather and George F. Smoot for their work on NASA's 1989 Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite. In 2008, ESA's Planck satellite will be launched and will build on this award-winning legacy by showing cosmologists new details of the Universe's origins.

UC Davis at forefront of national initiative to transform research to improve human health
The National Institutes of Health today named UC Davis as part of a national consortium that will transform how clinical and translational research is conducted, enabling researchers to provide new treatments more efficiently and quickly to patients.

New evidence finds an association between periodontal disease and stroke
People missing some or all of their teeth or who have significant loss of bone and tissue surrounding their teeth may be at an increased risk for having a stroke, according to a new study that appeared in the October issue of the Journal of Periodontology (JOP).

Towards predicting late-stage radiation toxicity
Radiation is a brutal and in many cases necessary part of cancer therapy. A small fraction of patients develop severe late radiation toxicity, months or years after their treatment. A new study now suggests that in the future scientists might be able to tell who is at higher risk for such late toxicity and adjust treatments accordingly.

Rutgers College of Nursing to host Preparing for Natural Disasters Forum November 3
Michael S. Beeman, national preparedness division director and acting director for response and recovery division for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region II, will speak about national preparedness for natural disasters at the Third Annual Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases sponsored by the Nursing Center for Bioterrorism and Emerging Infectious Diseases Preparedness in collaboration with the Center for Professional Development at the College of Nursing at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Social medicine in the 21st century
This week PLoS Medicine publishes a unique collection of articles devoted to social and cultural aspects of medicine, featuring some of the leaders in the field, such as Paul Farmer, David Satcher, Arthur Kleinman, Leon Eisenberg, Nancy Scheper-Hughes and Rafael Campo. The entire collection will be freely available and linked to from the PLoS Medicine homepage.

First Quantum Grant to fund stem cell repair of damage from stroke
The National Institutes of Health's inaugural Quantum Grant has been awarded to researchers in Texas and Britain who plan to regenerate damaged brain cells and blood vessels for the treatment of stroke. The $2.9 million award supports stem cell research in neuro-vascular regeneration. The team plans to grow new brain tissues that can be placed into stroke patients to provide a source of neural and vascular cells that can repair injured tissues.

Adolescent brains are insensitive to alcohol for a short time, but at great cost
Adolescent brains can compensate for some of alcohol's effects, including intoxication and hangover. New findings indicate they are also less impaired by alcohol's effects on social inhibition. However, this ability to have more drinks per occasion will also likely lead to alcohol abuse.

UCLA musicology professor sings praises of America's musical theater
Raymond Knapp, the chair of UCLA's cutting-edge department of musicology, is publishing the second and final volume of his award-winning survey of the American musical, an art form that has been

Flies in a spider's web: Galaxy caught in the making
New Hubble images have provided a dramatic glimpse of a large massive galaxy under assembly as smaller galaxies merge. This provides the best demonstration so far that large massive galaxies form by merging smaller ones.

NSF awards Temple $3.5 million to establish Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center
With an eye toward helping educate children and prepare the technological workforce needed to compete in today's global society, the National Science Foundation has awarded Temple University a two-year, $3.5-million grant to establish a Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center.

Researchers discover misfolded protein clumps common to dementia, Lou Gehrig's disease
Scientists funded by the National Institute on Aging have identified a protein common to two neurodegenerative diseases -- frontotemporal dementia and Lou Gehrig's disease. This discovery suggests that these diseases might share a common pathological process.

Shrinking ponds signal warmer, dryer Alaska
A first-of-its kind analysis of 50 years of remotely sensed imagery from the 1950s to 2002 shows a dramatic reduction in the size and number of more than 10,000 ponds in Alaska. The analysis, by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists and published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research, indicates that these landscape-level changes in arctic ponds are associated with recent climate warming in Alaska and may have profound effects on climate and wildlife.

Women's math performance affected by theories on sex differences: UBC researchers
Women perform differently on math tests depending on whether they believe math-related gender differences are determined by genetic or social differences, according to University of British Columbia researchers.

News tips from ACS Chemical Biology
In this issue of ACS Chemical Biology, issue we learn about a new technique to study how proteins interact in the cell, we report on a small molecule that binds to a specific thyroid hormone receptor and controls its activity, and we learn how to enhance an antibiotic so that it can no longer be pumped out of a bacterial cell. Other highlights in this issue include finding peptide-based modulators of signaling G Proteins.

Living laboratory found on shoreline statues
Liverpool scientists have discovered an unlikely habitat on a Merseyside beach that has provided a new home for marine life.

Physicians have cure for senior's medication bill woes
A recent study directed by Mount Sinai School of Medicine suggests that seniors with low incomes or no prescription coverage were less likely to use generic cardiovascular drugs than more affluent seniors and those with prescription drug coverage. The study, which appears in the October 2006 issue of the American Journal of Managed Care, is the first nationally representative study that examines the association of income and prescription drug coverage with generic medication use by Medicare beneficiaries.

IEEE-USA president cites need for high-tech national strategy on offshoring
Because the offshoring of U.S. engineering and other high-skill jobs to developing countries is increasing, America needs a coordinated national strategy to maintain its technological leadership and promote job creation, IEEE-USA President Ralph W. Wyndrum Jr. said at the National Academy of Engineering today.

Genetic disorder linked to rapid lung function decline in some World Trade Center rescue workers
New research presented at CHEST 2006, the 72nd annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, shows a rare genetic disorder known as alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may predispose patients to developing lung conditions, but a new rapid-response test could help identify patients with the deficiency before significant lung damage has occurred. 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