Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 1998)

Science news and science current events archive September, 1998.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 1998

NIAID Announces Funding For 12 Centers For AIDS Research
NIAID, along with five other NIH Institutes, has awarded more than $13 million for first-year funding for 12 Centers for AIDS Research across the United States. The grants will provide three to five years of continued support for the Centers, which are based at leading AIDS research institutions around the country.

Energy Burst From An X-Ray Star Disturbed Earth's Environment
An intense gamma-ray burst that reached earth on the night of August 27th had a significant effect on Earth's ionosphere, report Stanford researchers. It is the first time that a significant change in Earth's environment has been traced to energy from a distant star.

NIEHS And U.C. Davis Researchers Find Protein That May Be Key To Non-Hormonal Family Planning And Treatment Of Infertility
Researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and U.C. Davis report that one of the body's approximately 70,000 proteins, called fertilin-beta, is essential for bringing together sperm and egg for fertilization.

Evidence For Earliest Maritime-Based Societies In The Americas Reported In Science Magazine
Researchers have found what appears to be the oldest evidence of maritime-based societies in the New World. These findings the coast of Peru extend the South American record of maritime exploitation by a thousand years to the time when much of the New World was probably first occupied. This news release is also available in Spanish.

School Breakfast Participation Leads To Academic, Psychosocial Improvements
A new study by researchers from the Massachusetts General Hospital and other institutions supports to traditional beliefs about the importance of a good breakfast. The report finds that children who increase their participation in school breakfast programs show improvement on a wide range of measures of social and academic functioning

Fossil Evidence Of Worms Over One Billion Years Old Reported In Science
Researchers have discovered what appears to be evidence of worm-like animals in rocks that are over 1 billion years old--about twice as old as any other evidence for multicellular life yet discovered. This news release is also available in German.

Powerful computers advance fusion research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) report a major advance in the computer modeling of fusion plasmas in the September 18 edition of Science. The new results were obtained utilizing the Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) capabilities of the DOE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, California.

Preparation Pays Off In Puerto Rico -- USGS River Data Keeps Flowing
Electricity may be out and communication lines cut off by the tremendous winds and torrential rains of Hurricane Georges, but thanks to good foresight in

USGS Finds Fungus To Be A Cause Of Fish Lesions In Chesapeake
While Pfiesteria remains the primary cause of fish kills in the Chesapeake, North Carolina and other estuaries, a fungus seems to be primarily responsible for lesions in menhaden fish of the Chesapeake Bay.

Miniaturized Shock Waves Can Study Molecular Dynamics
A new procedure for investigating materials under extreme conditions using laser-driven shock waves has been developed at the University of Illinois. The miniature shock waves, safe and efficient, can be used to study fundamental processes at the molecular level.

Treatment Of Irregular Heartbeat Saves Money And Prevents Stroke In Older People
Using a blood-thinning drug to treat people who have an irregular heartbeat is not only medically effective, but also cost-effective, according to a study in this month's Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association.

International Conference Addresses Drug-Resistant TB Epidemic Ravaging Russia
International Workshop on TB Epidemic in Russia on Sept. 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. (2 a.m.-9 a.m. E.D.T.) at the Moscow Academy of Sciences. A press backgrounder will be held Sept. 4 in Moscow, 9 a.m. (1 a.m. E.D.T.). Press can attend both events via phone or in person.

New Technique Reveals Identity Of Near-Neighbor Atoms
In a development that holds much promise for future studies of surfaces and interfaces in solid materials, including magnetic, environmental, and biological systems, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have successfully tested a method that not only directly determines the identity of a specific atom in a sample, but also directly determines the identities of its neighbors.

University of Florida Study Shows Self-Perception Influences Athletic Performance
In a project that applied methods previously used only in classroom settings, a team headed by Professor Robert Singer found that changing people's attributions, or how they think about themselves, influenced their performance in sports tasks they sought to learn.

Very Low Levels Of Estrogen May Effectively Prevent Fractures In Women Without Causing Negative Effects
In a recent University of California San Francisco study, researchers found that very low levels of estrogen--much lower than women currently achieve from taking hormone supplements--may prevent bone fractures in postmenopausal women without causing adverse effects associated with estrogen therapies, such as uterine cancer and bleeding.

Envisioning Ions With INEEL-Developed Simulation
A program written by Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory scientist Dave Dahl is helping solve mysteries from this side of the Solar System to its far reaches. Three instruments now hurtling toward Saturn aboard the spacecraft Cassini will analyze cosmit dust and the atmosphere of Titan, Saturn's largest moon.

Ammonia From The Earth's Deep Oceans: A Key Step In The Search For Life's Origins
New high-pressure experiments at Carnegie's Geophysical Laboratory reveal that unexpected chemical reactions occur in deep hydrothermal vents of the sea. There, catalyzed by iron- bearing minerals, nitrogen is readily converted to ammonia. This reaction is one of the necessary first steps for life to begin.

Children need their own dietary guidelines, say experts
When it comes to dietary needs, children are not miniature adults.

Data Support Idea That Zinc Plays Key Role In Fight Against Anorexia
People who don't consume zinc may become seriously anorexic, with little desire and even a repulsion for eating. For many young, weight-conscious women, and often the elderly, not eating becomes a state of mind and is considered a serious psychiatric disorder. A series of projects involving food intake and zinc deficiency at the University of Illinois are unwrapping the biological-brain mystery.

Heavy Metal Hit Parade Could Point Scientists To Source Of Gamma-Ray Bursts
A powerful new instrument could point scientists to the source of mysterious, cosmological, gamma-ray bursts.

Galileo Finds Source Of Jupiter's Rings
Jupiter's intricate, swirling ring system is formed by dust kicked up as interplanetary meteoroids smash into the giant planet's four small inner moons, according to scientists studying data from NASA's Galileo spacecraft. Images sent by Galileo also reveal that the outermost ring is actually two rings, one embedded within the other.

Bypass Surgery And Angioplasty Equally Safe For Women And Men, Finds New Study
In surprising contrast to previous research, new findings from a major clinical trial supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) reveal that women undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery (CABG) or balloon angioplasty procedures to improve blood flow to the heart survive just as well as men.

Promiscuous Plants May Spread Genes To Weeds
Crops engineered to contain genes that give them resistance to pests or the ability to produce lots of seeds, could pass these genes to their weedier cousins producing hybrid strains of super-weeds, says Joy Bergelson, assistant professor of ecology and evolution at the University of Chicago.

Managed Care Symposium Sponsored By Society Of Actuaries Examines HEDIS, Stakeholders' Views
Is quality really HMO members' Number 1 concern? How can managed care effectiveness be measured given the widely varying views of stakeholders? What are the pluses and pitfalls in one such tool, HEDIS? These are among the questions addressed at the Society of Actuaries symposium,

New Study Highlights Hazards On Hormone Disrupting Chemicals
A new report gives a basis for the differencies in sexual development between different organisms and the role of hormones. The aim is to explain the role of chemicals with regard to endocrine disrupting properties in different organisms.

Coal Slurry Studies Have Applications Closer To The Heart
Little did a CWRU engineering professor know that his open heart surgery and aortic valve replacement would have a major impact on his research. Nor did he realize that a graduate student's use of laser diagnostic techniques he developed to study coal slurries might be applied to blood flow in an artificial heart.

HHMI Grant Boosts Life Sciences Education, Outreach
A comprehensive University of Illinois program geared for the education of undergraduate students in the life sciences and fostering community outreach has received a $1.6 million grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Study Shows First Significant Genetic Evidence For Schizophrenia Susceptibility
A 15-year study in more than 100 families and 1,000 subjects provides the first reliable evidence of genetic susceptibility to schizophrenia, within a stretch of DNA on human chromosome 13. The association of DNA with the susceptibility to the disease, reported by a Johns Hopkins- led international team, is the first such linkage to meet stringent statistical standards.

University Of California-San Francisco Researchers Report Test That Detects Prion Diseases, Illuminates Novel Findings About Infectious Prions
Researchers at The University of California San Francisco report that they have developed a highly sensitive, rapid technique for detecting the infectious agents that cause prion diseases. And they said they expect the assay will ultimately be useful for detecting prions causing

The Use Of Antimicrobial Drugs In Developing Countries Must Be Limited To Avoid Producing Untreatable Diseases
Professor Hart from the University of Liverpool and Dr Kariuki of the Kenya Medical Research Institute review the progress of antibacterial resistance in diseases including pneumococcal meningitis, tuberculosis and typhoid fever. They conclude that there must be improved surveillance of resistance, better regulation of antimicrobial drugs to increase their usefulness, and better education of medical personnel, veterinarians and the public to encourage more appropriate use of these drugs.

Levitated Locomotion To Space
NASA's Advanced Space Transportation Program at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is developing magnetic levitation technologies that could reduce the cost of going to space so dramatically that everyday people could leave the planet.

New Optical Detector Could Revolutionize Astronomy
Physicists at Stanford have developed a new optical detector so sensitive that it can clock the arrival of a single particle of light and measure its energy with exceptional precision. When applied to light coming from celestial objects, the device could have a revolutionary impact on optical astronomy.

Psychological Effects Of South Africa's Truth Commission
Widespread human rights abuses in apartheid-era South Africa have been extensively detailed, most recently in hearings conducted by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). However, what is the psychological effect of testifying before the TRC among victims of human rights abuses?

Living Bone Created By University of Toronto Researchers
Three-dimensional living bone created by University of Toronto researchers could one day replace conventional bone grafting techniques.

Researchers Offer DOD New Hazardous Waste Clean-Up Methods
The Department of Defense (DOD) should consider applying several new technologies to cleaning up hazardous wastes, researchers recommend in a report summarizing the results of a four-year project. In some cases the technologies are faster, cheaper and more effective than current methods.

Screening In Women Army Recruits Shows High Chlamydia Infection Rates
Nearly one in 10 female new recruits in the Army is infected with Chlamydia trachomatis, according to a study reported in today's New England Journal of Medicine. Left untreated, this Chlamydia infection causes a sexually transmitted disease (STD) that often ends in infertility.

Robotic Telescope Sheds Light On Cosmic Microwave Background
For the past nine months, astronomers have been imaging the southern heavens in hydrogen-alpha light every night while keeping their day jobs, and without losing any sleep. Thanks to a new robotic telescope installed at Cerro Tololo Inter- American Observatory in Chile, the tedium of sky mapping is handled autonomously.

NIEHS Finds Protein That Counteracts Inflammation And Wasting That May Target Rheumatoid Arthritis And Crohn's Disease
Scientists at NIEHS have identified a protein which may help in the quest for drugs to fight inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, physical wasting, and graft-versus-host disease. The protein may help counteract the ill effects when the body produces excessive amounts of another protein key to fighting infection.

Study Shows Potential For Quelling AIDS Nerve Pain
A recent multicenter trial shows a natural factor that encourages nerve growth may bring relief from one of the more common effects of HIV infection: sensory neuropathy. The study, led by Johns Hopkins researchers, is supported by the AIDS Clinical Trials Group at the National Institutes of Health.

National Science Board To Solicit Input On Developing Human Capital And Building Science And Engineering Infrastructure
The National Science Board (NSB) will hold a public hearing in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on October 7, hosted by the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras. The hearing will focus on exemplary efforts of the Commonwealth to connect K-12 and higher education systems and develop human capital in science, mathematics and engineering.

Alzheimers Disease Could Soon Be Treated With Nose Drops
Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative disorders could soon be treated with nose drops. Researchers in Minnesota say that the nasal passage holds great promise for delivering drugs to the brain, as olfactory nerves provide a direct link between the brain and the outside world.

Pitt Neuroscientists Uncover Mechanism For Neuron Death, Counter Long-Held Assumptions About This Process
Calcium flow into mitochondria triggers the death of neurons exposed to glutamate, which proves toxic when overproduced in brain injury and stroke. This finding, in the September issue of Nature Neuroscience, derails a long-held assumption that high concentrations of calcium within a cell's cytoplasm -- not in mitochondria -- causes cell death.

Johns Hopkins University Center To Expand Role Of Robots, Computers In Surgery
NSF is committing $12.9 million to a new center, headed by engineers at Johns Hopkins, to develop computer-linked surgical systems and robots.

Antioxidant Action Of Vitamin E Significantly Reduces Heart Disease In Mice
In mice genetically manipulated to develop atherosclerosis, scientists have for the first time conclusively demonstrated that vitamin E confers potent protection from the disease. Atherosclerotic damage to cardiovascular tissues was limited by about 40 percent in at-risk mice receiving doses of the vitamin for only 16 weeks.

University Of California-San Francisco (UCSF) Translational Symposium, September 10, To Focus On HIV Breakthrough And Immune Function
UCSF will sponsor its 4th Annual Translational Research Symposium for HIV investigators on Thursday, September 10.

Evidence Mounts Against Maintstream Dogma In Embryology, Could Shed New Light On Neurological Defects
Scientists from the Carnegie Institution, Vanderbilt University, and the National University of Singapore report new evidence suggesting that the cyclops gene plays a critical role in floor plate development, and that the floor plate starts developing earlier than was thought. The results may help researchers better understand the syndrome known as holoprosencephaly.

Global Climate Change Conference To Explore Science And Ethics
The roles of science, religion, and economics in developing policies on global climate change will be explored by scientific, religious, and corporate leaders at a two-day conference. The conference, sponsored by the AAAS Program on Dialogue Between Science and Religion, will outline the scientific evidence regarding global climate change and opportunities to respond to ethical, religious, and economic challenges. The panelists will also review the Kyoto Protocol and its political prospects.

The Swissair Disaster Has Revealed A Gaping Hole In The Rules On Black Boxes
Last month's crash of Swissair flight 111 off Halifax, Nova Scotia, has revealed a disturbing flaw in the rules governing black box flight recorders. The final six minutes of voice and flight data are missing due to a loss of power. Safety experts are now calling for a change in regulations to ensure that recorders always have a battery back-up.

Turning "Unrecyclable" Waste Into Plastic Products
Often recyclers are left with an unpleasant pile of dark rank smelling scrap yard shredder waste that refuses to transform into anything intrinsically useful. But now researchers at the University of Warwick have found a way of using this unpleasant residue to form the basic structure of everyday plastic containers and components.

Study: Behavioral Problems Can Follow Shortness, Growth Hormones Could Help
The largest, most comprehensive study of behavior ever done in short children has uncovered a strong link between shortness and behavioral adjustment problems, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say.

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