Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 1996)

Science news and science current events archive September, 1996.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 1996

How Birds Sing
In a finding with implications to human speech acquisition, University of Chicago researchers have shown how a birdâs brain controls singing and demonstrated for the first time that structures higher up in the brain directly control the more abstract information, while the component bits are managed by lower brain centers

Safer Wireless Antennas Receive Patent
Antennas for hand-held radios and cellular phones can be safer and perform better, Virginia Tech electrical engineer Warren Stutzman has demonstrated. Stutzman has received a patent (July 30, 1996 #5,541,609) for a high-performance, low radiation-hazardantenna for hand-held devices operating at 1900 megahertz (MHz) and above. These frequencies are now being pioneered to provide more communications to supplement the crowded cellular telephone bands that operate at 800 MHz.

Mountains Play Major Role In Midwestern Winters
Mountains play a loftier role in the earth's weather than once thought. In fact, the interaction between mountain ranges and the jet stream may be the primary factor in determining where severe winter storms drop their loads of snow and ice, a University of Illinois researcher says.

Drug For Mutiple Sclerosis Recommended For FDA Approcal
The FDA Advisory Panel met September 19, 1996 an voted unanimously to recommend a drug for approva which comes from the research by Profs Michael Sela Ruth Arnon and Dr. Dvora Teitelbaum of the Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel

Scientists Make Progress Against Bone Disease
An apparently harmless mutation in a gene that helps control the level of calcium in the blood may eventually be used to identify people with an increased risk of osteoporosis and other hormone-related bone diseases, a Johns Hopkins study suggests.

Boom In Natural Medicine Pushes Saw Palmetto Into Agricultural Big Time.
Florida's next cash crop could come straight out of the wilds of South Florida, where the common saw palmetto grows. Researchers at the University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say the plants berries some day could even rank among the state's top agricultural commodities

Tacrolimus Stops Rejection Of Kidney Transplants
Tacrolimus (FK506) can reverse refractory rejection of transplanted kidneys in 75% of cases says a report from 13 of the country's leading transplant centers. This therapy may reduce the 10 to 15 percent of kidneys that are lost to uncontrollable rejection to only two to four percent, a significant advance

What Makes Tics Tick? Clues Found In Tourette Twins' Caudates
For the first time, scientists have a neurobiological explanation for the variation in severity of tics in Tourette Syndrome. Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health have traced such symptom differences to

Harvard, Duke Researchers Discover 'Off-switch' Inside Human Cells
Researchers from Harvard University and the Duke University Comprehensive Cancer Center have discovered evidence for a new kind of

Bottom Layer Of Earth's Mantle May Be Partially Molten, According To Seismic Evidence
A peculiar type of seismic wave has unveiled a major surprise deep within the earth: The base of the planet's mantle, long assumed hard as a rock, instead may be partially molten. Researchers at UC Santa Cruz studied seismic waves that skim along the sharp boundary at earth's outer core.

NHLBI Asthma News
An NHLBI study ends debate about beta-agonists, showing that for people with mild asthma, using beta-agonists as-needed is safe and effective. A second study provides recommendations for eliminating the financial and health system barriers that prevent people with asthma from getting the most optimal care

Hershey Wins New Artificial Heart Contract
Penn State's electromechanical artificial heart is closer to beating inside a human chest, thanks to $7.7 million federal contract awarded this month. Penn State's artiifical heart is expected to save thousands of lives when it becomes available. Patients requiring a heart replacement, as many as 50,000 per year, could be implanted with the artificial heart, according to prinicipa investigator Gerson Rosenberg, Ph.D.

Study Shows Songbirds Switch From Bugs To Berries To Fuel Fall Migration
A new study by a Brown University researcher suggests that a dietary switch from insects to berries allows songbirds to accumulate fat for their fall migration and that migrating songbirds seek out sites where berries areabundant. Coastal shrublands, critical in providing that fruit-rich diet, are under intense development pressure.

Faucets That Drip Automatically Could End Burst Pipes In Winter
Every home should have some leaky faucets, say University of Illinois researchers who have invented one. Especially homes in the American South, where such a design would help whenever freezing temperatures threatened to burst water pipes.

OHSU Scientists Discover Potassium Channel Important In Mental Concentration
Scientits have discovered a new family of molecules that play a key role in regulating how we pay attention. Their findings appeared in the Sept. 20, 1996 issue of Science and pave the way for the design of drugs to mitigate a wide array of mental and movement disorders including schizophrenia, epilepsy and myotonic dystrophy

Experiment Proves New Weather-Data Collecting Technique
Government, university and private industry partners who 17 months ago launched their small radio-signal receiver into Low Earth Orbit say it proves that the existing network of 24 Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites offers tremendous opportunity for global weather predicition and climate change research

Harvard Researchers Find One of Brain's Molecular Mapmakers
The first demonstration of a moleculeÕs specific role in forming neural maps in the embryonic brain is reported in the September 6 issue of Cell by a Harvard Medical School researcher and his colleagues

Global Neighborhood Watch
A global monitoring system which includes stations from the National Science Foundation (NSF)âs global seismic network is on a global ãneighborhood watch.ä The United States this week signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which will be verified through an International Monitoring System.

Duke Ecologist Says Logging Is Creating 'Mahogany Deserts'
In findings with implications for the future of a commercially-important tropical wood, Duke University ecologist Laura Snook has discovered that seedlings of American mahogany trees seem to become successfully established only on open land

Brain Reprograms Quickly For Altered Gravity Environments
Contradicting assumptions that Earth gravity is hard-wired into the central nervous system, the human brain is surprisingly competent at reprogramming movement and orientation in altered gravity environments

Physicians Campaign Doomed Practice Of Midwifery
Why and how did midwives disappear from the United States by 1930? Many reasons have been given, the most recent one being that the medical profession used the illegality of abortion and scandal in the press to restrict their competitors. So says ascholar who has examined the way midwives and abortion became linked in the Progressive Era.

Tiny Lab Twisters May Hold Clues To Early Detection Of Tornadoes
University of Colorado at Boulder researchers are comparing sound waves from tiny laboratory tornadoes with those from full-sized Front Range twisters, a project that could lead to the development of better tornado warning systems

National Jewish Researchers Find Regular Use of Inhaled Beta-Agonist is
Safe, but Doesn't Stop Mild Asthma Symptoms More Effectively Than Using Medica People who use beta-agonists on a regular schedule to control mild asthma symptoms receive no greater benefit than people who use beta-agonists only to control asthma symptom

Study Shows Suicide A Greater Danger To Police Officers Than Homicide
Police officers are eight times more likely to die by their own hand than by homicide and take their own lives at a much higher rate than other municipal employees, a study by University at Buffalo epidemiologists has shown. The study was reported in American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

NeXstar Pharmaceuticals' AmBisome Is Subject Of Two Talks At ICAAC
Data from two multicenter, controlled clinical trials with AmBisome (liposomal amphotericin B) will be presented at ICAAC. These data show that AmBisome is more effective and far safer than conventional amphotericin B in the treatment of HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis and invasive aspergillosis

New Corn Germplasm Lines Fend Off Two Key Nematode Pests
Disaster awaits nematodes that try to feed and house their eggs in the roots of new lines of resistant corn, U.S. Department of Agriculture researchers said. Now available to plant breeders, the resistant plants cause worms hatched from eggs deposited in their roots to die quickly or take longer to mature.

Ancient Ashes Throw New Light On Prehistoric Lifestyles
Ancient ashes can now be recognized and analyzed fo the first time, thanks to a discovery by a Weizman Institute researcher reported in the current issue of the Journal of Archeological Science. The finding i expected to shed new light on the ways primitiv humans used fire, and their lifestyles and environment

Gene Associated With Alzheimer's Disease Can Protect Brain Cells
A protein made by a gene called apolipoprotein E (apoE) protects cultured nerve cells from the damaging effects of a form of oxygen molecules known to contribute to Alzheimer's disease, report scientists from The Rockefeller University. The findings, published in the September Nature Genetics, reveal a previously unknown function of apoE and may lead researchers to new therapies to treat Alzheimer's disease

Returning Astronaut Expected To Weave And Wobble When She Hits The Ground
On Sept. 26, when astronaut Shannon Lucid returns from 188 days in space, she may wobble a bit when she takes her first steps at Kennedy Space Center. And, she may have difficulty standing up

Virtual Screening For Colon Cancer
Biomedical engineers are using virtual reality imaging to develop a colon cancer screening test that is more comfortable, convenient and less expensive than the standard exam, which many Americans avoid.

NASA Turns Over Satellite Operations To UC Berkeley
NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and UC Berkeley's Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics have forged an innovative partnership that for the first time would transfer day-to-day operations of one of NASA's satellites to a university

Scarcity Of Illinois Prairie Chickens Tied To Lack Of Genetic Diversity
An endangered grasslands bird species that the state of Illinois is attempting to save the greater prairie chicken used to part of the stronger populations in other Midwest states but has been weakened by a loss of genetic diversity. The findingsprovide hope for success for the state's efforts under way to introduce birds from the other Midwest populations into nests in two Southern Illinois counties.

Cincinnati Bridge Becomes National Safety Test Site
An abandoned bridge near the University of Cincinnati campus has become a national test site for engineers trying to determine when highway bridges are no longer safe. Three new sensing and monitoring technologies are already being used on the bridge, including a novel photographic system which is both portable and relatively inexpensive

UT Southwestern physicians to test oral insulin to prevent type I diabetes
UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas physicians will soon begin testing a new oral insulin capsule to determine if it can prevent or delay insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, or type I diabetes, as part of a nationwide clinical study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health

Cornell Materials Scientists Smooth Out Atomic Wrinkles On The Surface Of Silicon Wafers
Cornell scientists have devised a novel way to smooth out the

Hurricane Research: Engineers Seek Secrets to Safer Structures
Hurricanes and other wind storms injure and kill, and cause billions of dollars in property damage every year across the U.S. Engineers and scientists seek more knowledge of construction designs and materials, the interaction of wind and structures, andthe structure of wind itself

Global Change Research Should Focus On Rainfall, Not Temperature
Climate change researchers are focused too much on temperature change and should be more concerned with predicting variations in rainfall patterns, says an internationally recognized expert on global change. University of Arizona hydrologist Jim Shuttleworth suggests some key quesitons and policy actions for the U.S. Global Change Research Program

Purdue Researchers Build Ultrasmall Electrical Device
A group of Purdue University researchers has for the first time created a structure - made from tiny clusters of gold atoms - that conducts electricity by allowing electrons to

Prairie Study Documents Catastrophic Loss Of Species
Surveying the few remaining patches of what was once a vast prairie, scientists have found disturbing evidence that prairie plant species are disappearing at a pace that will all but erase native prairies from the landscape within decades

Key Molecular Player In Origin Of Life Seen In Atomic Detail For First Time
A team of U.S. researchers has cracked the three-dimensional atomic structure of a large molecule of the genetic material RNA, a feat that has implications both for the origins of life and for future biomedical research.

Men, As Well As Women, Benefit from Glass Ceiling Action In Academic Medicine
Somewhat ironically, men, as well as women, benefit from aggressive programs designed to remove career obstacles for women in academic medicine and science, according to a study by Johns Hopkins researchers.

Michigan's Antrim Shale Is Full Of Bugs, Say U-M Geologists
Research on the Antrim Shale deposits in northern Michigan shows that, under the correct conditions, microbial activity can generate significant volumes of natural gas in organic- rich shales at shallow depths between 300 and 1,800 feet. Published in theSept. 12 issue of Nature

Teaching Old Watchdogs New Tricks
A Kansas State University analytical chemist wants to scrub the persistent problem of too-high pesticide residues on Central American fruits and vegetables shipped to the United States. Cliff Meloan, chemistry professor emeritus, is editor of a 500-page

Study On Aneurysm Formation Points To Enzyme Activity
A study of aneurysm patients showed a significant increase of activity involving an enzyme called gelatinase. This enzyme, researchers say, might be the key to understanding the formation of aneurysms and eventually developing a method to predict them

Natural Gas Evaluation Technology
Several Asian nations are extremely interested in new technology to evaluate deep natural gas resources, developed at the University of Wyoming's Institute for Energy Research (IER). Ron Surdam, UW geology professor and IER director, recently toured Asia as a distinguished lecturer for the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG).

Newly Discovered Bacteria Produce Magnetic Material
Novel bacterial that produce magnetic material and could remove heavy metals from contaminated soils and groundwater have been discovered by microbiologists from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Alaska's R&D Programs Face Unprecedented Cuts Under Proposed Federal Budget Plans
Alaska's dependence upon federal funding for research may be significantly impacted under proposed reductions to federal R&D programs, according to a new report by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)

Gut Microbes Have Surprising Powers Of Communication, Study Finds
Bacteria that make their home in the gut have unsuspected powers of communication that can influence their environment, a new study finds. Intestinal cells respond by making a favorite food for the microbes, researchers in St. Louis and Stockholm report in the September 6 issue of Science.

New Clues To Origin Of Life Could Benefit Genetic Engineering: 3-D Structure Of A Large Portion Of An RNA Enzyme Solved
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? A possible solution to this ancient evolutionary riddle is found in a single class of molecules that appears to have functioned figuratively as both chicken and egg early in the evolution of life, perhaps evenproviding the first method for primitive cells to reproduce

UT Southwestern researchers identify important bone cancer gene
The discovery of a gene associated with a rare bone disorder, hereditary multiple exostoses, presents researchers with a host of questions about the gene and its possible role as a tumor suppressor. Researchers from UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas report the identification of the second gene associated with the disease -- EXT2, on chromosome 11

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