Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2003)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2003.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2003

Researchers develop a 'smart' payment card that can easily be programmed to restrict spending
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have one-upped

UB engineer creates software to detect and find leaks in International Space Station
A new software system designed by a University at Buffalo aerospace engineer will help NASA detect and find air leaks in the International Space Station.

ITA to AMA: Taxing tanning sends wrong health message to teens
The editorial in today's issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine calling for a 'teen indoor tanning tax' sends absolutely the wrong message to teenagers and their parents. We could not disagree more,

US air transportation system 'in peril' - report
A report released yesterday by the National Research Council found that the nation's air transportation system is

Immune alarm system can both amplify and silence alerts, scientists find
The immune system mobilizes one of the body's most important defensive systems -- the immune system cells known as T lymphocytes -- when T cells bump against another type of immune system cell, the antigen-presenting cell. Proteins on the surface of both cells reorganize and interact at the point of contact.

PET scans show cigarette smoke affects peripheral organs
Smoking cigarettes can directly and often fatally damage the lungs. But new research shows that cigarette smoke also decreases levels of a critical enzyme (MAO B) in the kidneys, heart, lungs, and spleen.

New test can identify patients who may suffer serious late toxicity from radiotherapy
Radiotherapists in Switzerland have developed a fast test that can be used immediately on patients to discover whether they are likely to suffer serious late onset side effects from radiation.

Afghanistan's health challenge
The reconstruction of Afghanistan's health-care infrastructure 'has the potential to serve as a blueprint for the post-conflict reconstruction for other nations' concludes this week's editorial. At a time when global media attention is focused on the instability of Iraq, Afghanistan is quietly developing health-care policies that could have considerable positive impact on its 25 million inhabitants.

A picture perfect test of well-being: Graphic assessment tool tunes into life satisfaction
After working at it for the past decade, gerontologist and Dean of the Decker School of Nursing Sarah Gueldner has led a team of colleagues from institutions the world over in the development of a unique research tool to quantifiably measure almost anyone's sense of well-being.

ORNL earns top Southeastern laboratory technology transfer award
Robust wireless technologies for extreme-environment communications--developed by the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory--received the Excellence In Technology Transfer Award of the Year during the annual awards dinner of the Southeastern Region of the Federal Laboratory Consortium Sept. 18 in Charleston, S.C.

NSF grant to ORNL is big step toward national cyberinfrastructure
Researchers from around the nation will have access to some of the world's finest scientific tools because of a $3.9 million grant from the National Science Foundation to the Center for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Canopy raft, canopy crane, canopy bubble, Ikos tree house in Panama
Of the 10 million plus species thought to exist on this planet, a mere 2 million are known to science. Others dwell in inaccessible locations--deep sea vents or hard-to-reach tropical treetops. To collect the best information available to date on tropical forest insects and their habitats, thirty researchers will use state-of-the-art canopy access techniques to sample nine 400m2 patches of Panamanian rainforest from September 22-October 31, 2003.

SPR Annual Meeting features newsworthy discoveries
The annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research is widely regarded as a leading forum for presentations on cutting-edge research on the connections between the physiological and psychological aspects of behavior. The 43rd annual SPR meeting will be October 29 - November 2, 2003 in Chicago.

Male injecting-drug users at greater risk of drug-related death
A study of injecting-drug users in Scotland in this week's issue of THE LANCET highlights how men-and all injectors over 34 years of age-have the highest drug-related mortality risk. The study also focuses on the need for drug-related deaths to be assessed in relation to the estimated number of injecting-drug users (rather than overall population data) for reliable conclusions to be drawn about regional or age-related drug-related mortality risk.

University of Minnesota study finds people are consuming less trans-fatty acids
People are eating less trans-fatty acids than they were two decades ago, according to research conducted at the University of Minnesota published in this month's Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

Stanford researchers study new antiviral approach to protect women from HIV
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found in laboratory experiments a potentially novel way to prevent HIV infections in women. They've discovered that bacteria that naturally live in the body can be genetically enhanced for potent antiviral activity. Modifications to this unique approach could lead to bacteria programmed to prevent infections from other sexually transmitted diseases or even respiratory viruses.

Victoria Hale of Institute for OneWorld Health Named Fellow by International Women's Forum
The Institute for OneWorld Health, the first nonprofit pharmaceutical company in the United States, today announced that CEO Victoria Hale, Ph.D., has been named a Leadership Foundation Fellow for 2003-2004. Hale is one of 14 women selected from a field of more than 50 finalists from all over the world. OneWorld Health's experienced team of pharmaceutical scientists uncovers promising drug candidates and advances them through clinical trials and regulatory approval to treat the poorest people in the developing world.

Researchers urge caution over using ginseng in early pregnancy
Researchers from Hong Kong have warned that women should be cautious about using the herbal remedy ginseng in the early stages of pregnancy according to a report in the latest issue of Human Reproduction.

New Chemistry software automatically generates computer code
A new software tool promises to aid scientists whose research has forced them to lead double lives -- as computer programmers. The tool, called the Tensor Contraction Engine (TCE), automatically generates the computer code that chemists, physicists, and materials scientists need to model the structure and interaction of complex molecules, saving them weeks or even months of work.

Fruit odors lure some flies to evolve into new species
Scientists at Cornell University's New York State Agricultural Experiment Station say some flies find their host plant through specific blends of fruit odors. As a result, two races of maggot no longer interbreed, the first step in the evolution of a new species.

Lost manufacturing jobs may be gone for good, U-M economist says
Despite new initiatives by the Bush administration to address long-time job declines in U.S. manufacturing, a University of Michigan economist says the outlook for American factory jobs remains bleak.

The American Academy of Microbiology releases report
A new report from the American Academy of Microbiology (AAM), entitled

Fruit fly pheromone receptor first ever discovered linked to specific sexual behavior
For the first time in any animal, Duke University Medical Center researchers have linked a single pheromone receptor in the fruit fly to a specific sexual behavior.

Neighborhood residence tied to mental health
A new study of an innovative federal housing program found that parents who moved to neighborhoods with low levels of poverty reported significantly less mental distress than parents who remained in high-poverty areas.

COX-2 inhibitors and renal damage in obesity-related Type II diabetes
Taken as a whole, new findings suggest that COX-2 inhibitors may be beneficial for the prevention of renal damage in obesity-related Type II diabetes.

Nanoscale model catalyst paves way toward atomic-level understanding
In an attempt to understand why ruthenium sulfide (RuS2) is so good at removing sulfur impurities from fuels, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory have succeeded in making a model of this catalyst -- nanoparticles supported on an inert surface -- which can be studied under laboratory conditions.

Bacterial relationships revealed
Rather than keeping their genes in the family, bacteria often exchange genetic material with totally unrelated species. That is why skeptics doubted that researchers could ever work out the evolutionary history of bacteria. But now, thanks to a new analytical approach that makes use of sequenced bacterial genomes, Nancy Moran and colleagues at the University of Arizona demonstrate that constructing a bacterial family tree is indeed possible.

Cells' ability to live without oxygen give clues for treating major diseases
Some cells in the kidney can not only survive without sufficient oxygen, but actually begin stretching and multiplying to make up for their fallen brethren, says a Medical College of Georgia researcher.

Astrophysicists discover massive forming galaxies
A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory astrophysicist, in collaboration with international researchers, has found evidence for the synchronous formation of massive, luminous elliptical galaxies in young galaxy clusters.

Don't drink the water: Texas A&M researcher conducting study of polluted Mexican lake
Finding clean, fresh water can often be a problem. If it's Mexico City, with its population of 20 million people and a history as one of the world's most polluted areas, finding drinkable water can be more than just a problem - it can be a matter of life and death. A Texas A&M University at Galveston researcher is trying to help by conducting an extensive study of one of the lakes in Mexico City.

Harvard Medical School launches new department to study human biology at the level of whole systems
Harvard Medical School today makes a significant commitment to the emerging field of systems biology in announcing the creation of the Department of Systems Biology (DSB), one of the first department-level systems biology programs in the nation. Systems Biology seeks to build from our current knowledge of genetic and molecular function to an understanding of how a whole cell works as a system and from there to multi-cellular systems such as organs and whole animals.

Ceramics reinforced with nanotubes
A ceramic material reinforced with carbon nanotubes has been made by materials scientists at UC Davis. The new material is far tougher than conventional ceramics, conducts electricity and can both conduct heat and act as a thermal barrier, depending on the orientation of the nanotubes.

U of MN researchers find genetic variations may predict treatment responses for myeloma
Researchers from The Cancer Center at the University of Minnesota have demonstrated that variations in genes may determine the outcome and toxicity of treatments for myeloma cancer patients. The findings support thinking that physicians may optimize care by adjusting treatment according to a patient's specific genetic condition. The findings will be presented September 15, 2003 at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)-sponsored specialty meeting on

Did a gamma-ray burst devastate life on Earth?
A burst of gamma-rays may have caused one of Earth's most devastating mass extinctions, 443 million years ago. By looking at the pattern of fossil trilobites, American astrophysicists and palaeontologists say they have found evidence that a gamma-ray burst aimed straight at Earth had a devastating effect at this time - the end of the Ordovician period.

Study shows critical role for steroids in insect embryonic development
A study conducted by University of Utah genetics researchers shows that the steroid hormone ecdysone controls an important phase in the embryonic development of insects, providing an unexpected parallel with the role of the hormone in controlling metamorphosis. The study's findings also give scientists new insights into how steroids control maturation in higher organisms.

Mayo Clinic study reveals new fathers struggle with obsessional thoughts too
Both fathers and mothers have distressing thoughts after the birth of a baby, according to a new Mayo Clinic study published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.

National lab trains U. S. customs agents against WMD
Scientists at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory will train U.S. Customs and Border Protection inspectors to identify and halt smuggling of weapons of mass destruction during a special training course this week in Richland. The course marks the start of a second year for the training program, which is being conducted by PNNL with the newly created Department of Homeland Security's Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.

Discovering new regulators of the immune system
In an attempt to find new regulators of the immune system, a team of researchers at Rigel Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have created a successful method for discovering molecules that are involved in signalling pathways. As published this week in the Journal of Biology, the team conducted a functional genome-wide screen and discovered novel modulators of T-cell receptor signalling that could aid in the development of drugs that target the immune response.

Molecule identified that contributes to essential cell functioning process
New research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has identified a cellular enzyme that helps regulate the synthesis of proteins essential to cell functioning throughout the life of the organism.

New study of obesity, genes and socio-economic status uses individual growth curves
The approach to measuring obesity is unique in two ways: first, data come from a longitudinal study of more than 620 participants who have annually provided key body measurements for a decade; second, statistical growth curve modeling is used to describe the development of body fat measures of individuals and examine how the growth curves differ by race, sex, socio-economic status, and genetic make-up.

Chronic drinking increases cortisol during intoxication and withdrawal
Cortisol, a

Tai Chi class boosts shingles immunity
Chi class saw immunity factors that suppress shingles soar 50 percent. Appearing in the September edition of the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, findings of the randomized, controlled clinical trial are the first to demonstrate a positive, virus-specific immune response to a behavioral intervention.

Transplantation of embryonic pancreatic tissue controls Type 1 diabetes in rats
When researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis transplanted early embryonic pancreatic tissue into the abdomens of adult rats with type I diabetes, the animals developed organs that produced insulin and controlled blood-sugar levels. The animals were cured of their diabetes for the duration of the experiment, which lasted 15 weeks.

Health disparities between racial groups affect joblessness
Health disparities based on racial and ethnic identity account for a significant portion of the differences in employment rates between certain minorities and whites. However, once people are employed, those disparities have minimal effect on income, according to a study published in the September issue of the Milbank Quarterly.

AIDS development can be monitored and predicted
A potentially less expensive tracking HIV tracking device may be beneficial to people with HIV and their phsicians. Researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that a decline in the total lymphocyte counts (TLC) and hemoglobin (Hgb) concentration in the blood may be used to monitor a patient's disease status.

Louis Leakey Centennial Tribute
Dozens of the world's leading anthropologists, geologists, biologists and evolutionary scientists - including Meave and Louise Leakey - will mark the 100th anniversary of Louis Leakey's birth at a two-day Centennial Tribute presented by The Leakey Foundation and held at The Field Museum Oct. 10-11. As well as tracing the Leakey legacy, this remarkable weekend will also review the latest discoveries and current thinking in the dynamic field of human origins.

Other highlights in the September 17 issue of JNCI
Other highlights of the September 17 issue of JNCI include a study on PSA doubling time and risk of death from prostate cancer, a study examining risk factors for esophageal and gastric cancers, a study suggesting that the รก-tocopherol may play a role in the development of esophageal and gastric cancers, a study examining antisense inhibition in mouse models of neuroblastoma, and a commentary on the design of dual-label microarrays.

Study finds obesity not associated with efficacy of tamoxifen for early-stage breast cancer
Obesity is not associated with an increased risk of recurrence among women with early-stage, hormone-responsive breast cancer and does not appear to decrease the effectiveness of the drug tamoxifen, according to a study in the October 1 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

International scientific body calls for ban on human reproductive cloning
More than 60 science academies from every continent in the world have called on the United Nations to adopt a ban on human reproductive cloning. The statement was issued by the InterAcademy Panel on International Issues (IAP), a body representing scientific academies worldwide. In the same statement, however, the science academies say that therapeutic cloning should be exempt from the ban.

New technology helps fire managers anticipate smoke problems
BlueSkyRAINS is a technology that allows fire professionals and ordinary citizens to coordinate outdoor activities around fire operations. It is currently being used daily by incident command teams for about 100 wildfires in the Western States.

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