Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2002)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2002.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2002

'Sticky mittens' give babies a head start
Duke University psychologists have discovered that fitting infants with Velcro-covered

Tiny, magnetic spheres may help overcome gene therapy hurdle
In a July article in Molecular Therapy, UF researchers report attaching the adeno-associated virus, a widely used gene carrier, to the surface of tiny manufactured balls known as microspheres, each containing a miniscule particle of iron oxide. Using a magnet placed under culture dishes, the researchers were able to coax large amounts of the microspheres to target areas of the cultures.

Scientists discover genetic defect responsible for microcephaly
An international team, led by researchers from the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), has discovered the genetic cause for a rare form of microcephaly, a devastating brain disorder that has stricken infants among the Older Order Amish for nine generations.

Free software predicts how and when steel beams will buckle
A free computer program developed by a Johns Hopkins civil engineering researcher allows designers of thin-walled structures, including buildings and bridges, to test their stability and safety before a single beam is put into place.

Endangered chimpanzees focus of urgent action
Endangered with imminent extinction, Africa's western chimpanzee is the focus of an urgent action plan to be announced Sept. 13 by an international group of scientists and government officials meeting in Abidjan. The plan will be finalized during a two-day conference at the Golf Hotel, Sept 12 and 13, with chimp conservation experts from Africa, the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Japan, France, the Netherlands, Italy and Portugal.

Calif. handgun study to fortify crime prevention efforts
UC Davis researchers are releasing a groundbreaking report that provides the first complete description of how more than 200,000 handguns are sold legally in the state each year. The study, which gives results for the state as a whole, as well as for each county and major cities, will help policymakers identify trends and develop strategies to reduce gun-related violence.

Possible new cancer therapy shrinks tumors in melanoma patients, Science authors report
A treatment that replaces most of the body's immune system with cancer fighting cells shrank the melanomas of some seriously ill patients, researchers report. The findings appear in the journal Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Single moms in poor, rural areas aren't ruled by setting
Good parenting style and a positive personal outlook can help black single mothers in poor rural areas raise children who do well in school and cope well with life in general, according to a new research.

UCSF begins distributing the first of its two embryonic stem cell lines
The University of California, San Francisco this week has begun distributing the first of its two human embryonic stem cell lines to academic researchers, increasing the opportunity for scientists around the world to study the therapeutic potential of the cells.

Flexible joints associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, researchers find
Researchers at Johns Hopkins Children's Center report that children and teens with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are three and a half times more likely to have hyperflexible joints than their healthy counterparts.

Satellite data could track vulnerable areas, terrorist threats
Orbiting 500 miles above the planet, satellites give scientists a

UK researchers develop novel treatment for fibroids
UK researchers have developed a novel method of treating uterine fibroids that allows women to be treated under local anaesthetic as outpatients. Their technique, which uses a laser guided by magnetic resonance imaging, is reported in Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal, Human Reproduction.

FDA approves INSPRA™, an aldosterone blocker for the treatment of hypertension
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted marketing approval for Pharmacia's INSPRATM (eplerenone tablets), the first agent designed to selectively block aldosterone, for the treatment of high blood pressure. INSPRA is expected to provide treatment benefits in a broad range of patients.

New test predicts pregnancy problems long before they happen
For the first time there is a test that can identify more than 90 percent of pregnant women who will develop high blood pressure months before they have symptoms that standard tests can detect.

In Laos, a rare deer is discovered alive and well, despite war and over-hunting
An isolated population of an unusual deer species known for its unique antlers has turned up in northern Lao Peoples Democratic Republic, surprising a team of scientists from the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society and the Smithsonian National Zoo's Conservation and Research Center, who thought that it had succumbed to over-hunting.

UGA study finds single moms in poor, rural areas aren't ruled by setting
Good parenting style and a positive personal outlook can help black single mothers in poor rural areas raise children who do well in school and cope well with life in general, according to a new research conducted by the University of Georgia.

New role of genes in breast cancer
An Australian twin study has uncovered that high breast density, the strongest known risk factor for breast cancer, is genetically linked.

Former insider hits out at FDA's links with pharmaceutical industry
A former senior consultant with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has criticised the American regulator's close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry. Interviewed in this week's BMJ, he attacks the FDA's decision to allow the re-marketing of a controversial drug.

Annals of Internal Medicine, tip sheet, October 1, 2002
A study of Medicare and other government records of 130,099 elderly heart attack patients found that those with kidney disease were at much higher risk for death than other elderly heart attack patients during the month following hospitalization.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute's million dollar professors
Twenty scientists at research universities nationwide will get $1 million each from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to do something innovative to make science more engaging for undergraduates.

New technique for DNA nanostructures
A new method to make very small patterns of DNA molecules on surfaces has been developed by chemists at the University of California, Davis, and Wayne State University, Detroit. The technique could allow faster and more powerful devices for DNA sequencing, biological sensors and disease diagnosis.

Spermicide gel could increase risk of HIV-1 infection
A common spermicide gel which has previously been proposed as a preventative agent against HIV-1 infection has been shown to be ineffective, according to authors of a study in this week's issue of The Lancet-and could actually increase HIV-1 transmission if used frequently.

New National Academy of Sciences report highlights health importance of nutrients found in almonds
The National Academy of Sciences, the nation's most prestigious scientific society, released a report today with new recommendations for healthy eating to reduce the risk of chronic disease, including coronary heart disease and diabetes.

New clues to help diabetes and hypoglycemia
Australian scientists have found clues to why patients with insulin-dependent diabetes are often unable to sense their need to take life-saving glucose.

Radical solutions needed to tackle NHS nursing shortage
Current government initiatives to tackle the problems of recruiting and retaining nurses may not resolve the crisis fast enough, and more radical solutions may need to be considered, say researchers in this week's BMJ.

Study on job search behavior shows certain personality traits pay off
A new study confirms what some job seekers may suspect: The more effort people put into a job search, the more likely they are to find employment even in difficult economic times. The Georgia Institute of Technology study also reveals how certain personality traits affect job-search behavior.

Preparations for terrorist attacks and natural disasters linked, says University of Colorado prof
Preparations for terrorist attacks and natural disasters are linked, said University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Dennis Mileti. And communities everywhere should consider all risks they potentially face and prepare a disaster plan that could be used to address any type of disaster, he said. In terms of physical impacts, terrorist attacks are indistinguishable from natural events such as great earthquakes or hurricanes.

Ten schools receive funds to improve access to dental care, enroll minority/low income students
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) has announced the names of 10 dental schools that will receive grants of up to $1.5 million through its

NC State chemist creates structure in amorphous materials
A chemist at North Carolina State University has made breakthrough discoveries that advance basic understandings of the nature of liquids and glasses at the atomic and molecular levels. Featured in the Sept. 26 issue of Nature, these discoveries could lead to the development of totally new materials with useful optical and electronic properties - as well as applications not yet foreseen.

Unusually small ozone hole attributed to strong upper level weather systems
Scientists from NASA and the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have confirmed the ozone hole over the Antarctic this September is not only much smaller than it was in 2000 and 2001, but has split into two separate

Geriatric provider shortage suggests health care needs to improve with age
With the baby boom generation closing in on old age, every health care professional should be trained in treating the elderly, contend three nursing professors writing in the current edition of the journal Health Affairs.

New device detects fetal brain response to light: May help prevent brain damage
For years, doctors who work in maternal and fetal medicine have had no way to detect brain activity in unborn children. Now, for the first time, researchers using a unique scanning device have shown that they can detect fetal brain activity in response to flashes of light transmitted through the mother's abdomen. With refinement, this technique may help physicians detect and prevent fetal brain damage resulting from maternal hypertension, diabetes, and other conditions.

Milk the right stuff for vines
Milk and other dairy products can be as effective as some conventional fungicides in controlling powdery mildew in vineyards, according to new research by the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Anesthesiologists' substance abuse constant despite efforts
Despite improved control of operating room medications and increased education, the rate of substance abuse among anesthesiologists remains unchanged, according to a new Duke University Medical Center survey.

Good visual presentation critical to first-rate Web sites, author says
Web users everywhere know the drill. You point your browser to a site, expecting immediate, easy access to information. Instead, you wait - and wait - and wait some more.

Undersea data network planned for Monterey Bay
Computer networks and power grids are common enough on land, but over the next three years a team of oeanographers will be extending such networks thousands of feet beneath the sea. The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently awarded grants to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), as well as the University of Washington, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, to set up an undersea data network for oceanographic research in Monterey Bay.

Clay sprays control HABS; disease may affect more than salmon
A Woods Hole Sea Grant research team is testing the use of clay to manage and control HABs while researchers in California report that a bacterium thought to only infect salmon may be more widespread than previously thought. Solving the puzzle could have significance for aquaculture industry.

Los Alamos garners six pollution prevention awards from New Mexico
Five units of Los Alamos National Laboratory and the lab's primary subcontract company have won the New Mexico Green Zia Environmental Excellence Awards for their efforts in pollution prevention and environmental excellence.

Professor develops strategies to control exotic plant species
Nearly 100 of the 1,400 non-native plants in the United States are causing significant ecological and economic problems. To minimize the damage, Jim Parkhurst, associate professor of fisheries and wildlife at Virginia Tech, has developed strategies for use by citizens and government agencies to control the exotic species invading America's ecosystems.

Annals of Internal Medicine, tip sheet, September 17, 2002
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that physicians routinely screen women over 65 for osteoporosis, a thinning of the bones that can lead to bone fracture. The Task Force did not recommend a specific screening test, but bone densitometry, also known as DEXA (dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry), is currently an accepted and widely available method for measuring bone density.

Growing evidence that commonly used medicines may delay or prevent Alzheimer's disease
Have researchers found yet another reason to take an aspirin a day? Aspirin has been found to benefit cardiac patients. Now a new study reported in the current issue of Neurology, the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, presents additional evidence that regular use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) may reduce the incidence of dementia in elderly people, but only when taken for more than two years.

No extra disease seen in chemical-exposed Gulf War veterans
Another study adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that exposure to low levels of chemical warfare agents during the Gulf War has not led to increased illness among veterans of that conflict.

Achieving success: Evaluating the federal mandate for adequate yearly progress in public schools
As school administrators seek to interpret and respond to the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, three educational researchers take issue with its mandated annual progress requirement for the nation's public schools.

Heart size and function uncoupled by researchers
Researchers have identified two proteins that play fundamental roles in heart size and function and have genetically uncoupled them, a discovery the scientists hope will lead to better treatments for those with cardiovascular disease.

Hormone replacement therapy may improve breast cancer detection and survival rate
A study of nearly 300 breast cancer patients in Oregon found that the tumors in those women, who had been receiving hormone replacement therapy (HRT), were less aggressive and easier to detect on mammograms. It also reports that HRT users had higher survival rates than nonusers.

Water world: The sequel
Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have produced the first ever action movies starring individual water molecules on a metal surface. The ending was a surprise even to the producers.

New computer system solves problems by tricking computers
A Virginia Tech researcher has come up with a computer technology he calls 'Weaves' that allows a programmer to use a code in any programming language and convert it to a form similar to object-oriented programming. Weaves teachnology is used to create a virtual world that tricks the software into thinking it is in the real world.

Re-emerging field contributes to 10,000 patents yearly
An analysis of patents issued by the U.S. Patent Office over a six-year period shows that an average of 10,000 patents a year incorporate operations research techniques like optimization and simulation, according to an article in a journal of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences (INFORMS®). The field is making a larger than anticipated impact in medicine and is central to telecommunications, the study observes.

Women who marry alcoholics
Women who marry alcoholics may have unique characteristics that influence their partner's drinking. One study compares the characteristics of women who married alcoholic men with those of women whose husbands did not develop alcoholism. Women who had married alcoholic men were less likely to be homemakers, and were more likely to smoke, misuse alcohol, and use illicit drugs themselves.

UC researchers confirm coast redwood and Douglas fir as hosts for sudden oak death pathogen
Two of California's most highly prized trees -- coast redwood and Douglas fir -- are susceptible to Phytophthora ramorum, the pathogen that causes Sudden Oak Death, University of California researchers have confirmed. 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