Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2006)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2006.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2006

Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer detects vast polar ethane cloud on Titan
Cassini's Visual and Infrared Mapping Spectrometer (VIMS) has detected what appears to be a massive ethane cloud surrounding Titan's north pole. The cloud might be snowing ethane into methane lakes below.

Closing in on lethal heart rhythm in young athletes
Johns Hopkins experts on the genetics of a potentially lethal heart rhythm defect that runs in families and targets young athletes report they have greatly narrowed the hunt for the specific genetic mutations that contribute to the problem.

Rheumatoid arthritis and sex differences
To thoroughly investigate sex differences in RA, a team of researchers turned to families with a history of the disease among both their female and male members. The results indicate that male sex exerts a significant influence on underlying RA mechanisms, particularly the production of anti-CCP antibodies.

Smoothing the path from community colleges to four-year colleges
Nobel Laureate Bruce Merrifield and genetics pioneer and entrepreneur J. Craig Venter both got their start in community colleges -- that huge but often-underappreciated component of the United States' higher education system. Science educators will discuss innovative programs, aimed toward assisting and promoting transition from two-year colleges to four-year colleges and universities, during the September national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco.

Don't care for broccoli? A receptor gene's variation suggests an evolutionary excuse
By testing the bitterness perceived by individuals possessing different versions of the same taste receptor, researchers have obtained new evidence supporting the idea that evolution of the receptor gene has shaped avoidance of certain vegetables that can inhibit thyroid function. The findings are reported by Mari Hakala and Paul Breslin of Monell Chemical Sciences Center in Philadelphia, Pa., and appear in the Sept. 19 issue of Current Biology, published by Cell Press.

'Stress and the city': Urban birds keep cool
Ornithologists of the Max-Planck-Society demonstrate that urban birds are more resistant to acute stress than forest dwelling birds.

Firefighter radios may fail during high-temp fires
A recently NIST study shows that first responders can't rely on their unprotected handheld radios even in routine firefighting situations, much less in higher-temperature fires, where good communications are especially crucial.

Electric jolt triggers release of biomolecules, nanoparticles
Researchers have devised a way to use a brief burst of electricity to release biomolecules and nanoparticles from a tiny gold launch pad. The technique could be used to dispense small amounts of medicine on command from a chip implanted in the body.

'World's smallest controlled heat source' studies explosives at the nanoscale
Using nanometer scale analysis techniques and quantities too small to explode, researchers have mapped the temperature and length-sale factors that make energetic materials - otherwise known as explosives - behave the way they do.

Early to bed, early to rise
In an upcoming G&D paper, a team of German scientists presents a genetic basis for understanding human morning lark behavior. Dr. Achim Kramer (Charité Universitaetsmedizin Berlin) and colleagues have uncovered a genetic cause for the human familial advanced sleep phase syndrome (FASPS), which causes people to both go to sleep and wake up very early.

Scientists snap images of first brown dwarf in planetary system
Scientists using NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope have discovered and directly imaged a small brown dwarf star, 50 times the mass of Jupiter, orbiting with a planet around a sun-like star. Such an arrangement has never before been seen but might be common, the scientists say, leading to solar systems with distorted planetary orbits.

Allocating HIV drugs to South African cities would prevent the greatest number of infections
The most effective way to control the AIDS pandemic in hard-hit South Africa would be to concentrate the allocation of scarce antiretroviral drugs in urban areas. This, however, would not be the most ethical approach, according to an innovative new study.

Arctic summer ice anomaly shocks scientists
Satellite images acquired from Aug. 23 to 25 have shown for the first time dramatic openings -- over a geographic extent larger than the size of the British Isles -- in the Arctic's perennial sea ice pack north of Svalbard and extending into the Russian Arctic all the way to the North Pole.

Team depression care reduces suicidal thoughts in older adults
A new study shows that a team-based approach to treating depression in primary care can significantly reduce suicidal thoughts in older adults. The results of the study will be presented to the United States Senate Special Committee on Aging September 14, 2006, as part of National Suicide Prevention Week.

Virus may control Australia's "river rabbit"
CSIRO scientists are investigating a potential new biological control agent that could hold the key to eradicating one of the nation's most invasive aquatic pests -- carp.

Music -- the key to feeling good?
The Department of Psychology at the University of Helsinki is coordinating a wide-ranging EU-funded research project,

CIESE awarded three-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation ITEST grant
The Center for Innovation in Engineering and Science Education at Stevens Institute of Technology has been awarded a three-year, $1.2 million Information Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers grant from the National Science Foundation, to implement pre-engineering and information-technology experiences in courses and summer programs with teachers and students from schools throughout New Jersey.

IARC scientists document warm water surging into Arctic
Scientists at the University of Alaska Fairbanks International Arctic Research Center this fall documented that recent surges of warm water from the North Atlantic Ocean continue to pulse into the Arctic Ocean and are moving toward Alaska and the Canadian Basin.

FDA approves new epilepsy indication for Lamictal®
The Food and Drug Administration today approved a new use of the anti-seizure medicine Lamictal® (lamotrigine) Tablets for the treatment of one of the most serious forms of epilepsy -- Primary Generalized Tonic-Clonic (PGTC) seizures, also known as

National Science Board to meet Sept. 27-28, 2006
The National Science Board (NSB) will hold its 394th meeting Sept. 27-28, 2006, at the National Science Foundation (NSF) headquarters, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Va. This is one of NSB's regular meetings related to general national science and engineering policy issues of interest and specific NSF activities.

EO service industry maps out its future
More than 120 representatives of the European and Canadian EO value-adding sector took part in the

58 percent of older hospital patients have problems eating, 31 percent leave most of their meal
Fifty-eight percent of hospital patients over 65 have problems eating but few receive help and nearly a third leave most of their meal. Forty percent of patients are malnourished when they enter hospital and the nutritional status of 60 percent of older patients will deteriorate while they are in hospital.

Clinton Foundation joins efforts in the fight against AIDS in Ukraine
Clinton Foundation joins efforts in the fight against AIDS in Ukraine, with Elena Franchuk and Victor Pinchuk.

ESA's microsatellite playing major role in scientific studies
ESA's smallest Earth Observation satellite, Proba, is making big contributions to science with applications ranging from environmental monitoring, agriculture, forest, land use, crop forecasting, marine and coastal science, as well as biological soil crusts and solid waste landfill monitoring.

Targeting wolbachia, doxycycline reduces pathology of lymphatic filariasis
The antibiotic doxycycline has been shown to reduce the pathology of lymphatic filariasis, a disfiguring parasitical disease that afflicts over 120 million people worldwide.

OHSU research demonstrates possible health risks for children born to overeating mothers
According to the latest research from the Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), overeating during pregnancy may have significant and numerous health impacts on an unborn child. The research demonstrated that the offspring of mothers who overeat are at risk for liver and pancreas damage. Both of which can contribute to early-onset obesity and diabetes.

Voice and signature for the identification of persons
Some years ago the Department of Electronics and Telecommunications at the School of Engineering in Bilbao started joint work with a number of universities in Spain in order to design a database that would provide the biometric characteristics of hundreds of people. Currently, in order to complete the database, University of the Basque Country (UPV-EHU) researchers are focusing on analysing the voice, signatures and handwriting.

Stevens awarded US Commerce Department's Export Achievement Certificate
Stevens Institute of Technology will be presented with the Export Achievement Certificate during an October 4 workshop,

Loma Linda University research confirms antioxidant-rich pecans protect against unhealthy oxidation
A new research study from Loma Linda University shows that adding just a handful of pecans to your diet each day may inhibit unwanted oxidation of blood lipids, thus helping reduce the risk of heart disease.

New details about Alzheimer's detection, secret transmissions over public networks, more
Frontiers in Optics 2006 -- the 90th Annual Meeting of the Optical Society of America (OSA) -- will showcase a wide range of the latest research breakthroughs in optical science and engineering. The meeting will be held from October 8-12 at the Rochester Convention Center. The meeting will also celebrate 90 years of innovations in optics, feature Nobel Laureates speaking on timely global issues such as energy and will honor holography pioneer Emmett Leith.

Urgent call to action issued to protect world's most vulnerable populations from influenza pandemic
The influenza pandemic of 1918 killed more than 50 million people. In the face of the possibility that another virulent pandemic might occur, a group of international experts convened by the Johns Hopkins University is urgently calling on policymakers and public health officials to disseminate a new set of principles to better take into account the interests of those who will be the worst affected: the world's most poor and disadvantaged.

Cydonia -- the face on Mars
ESA's Mars Express has obtained images of the Cydonia region, site of the famous

Ames lab chemist receives ACS Distinguished Service Award
Robert Angelici, a senior chemist at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory and an Iowa State University Distinguished Professor of chemistry, has been selected by the American Chemical Society to receive the ACS Award for Distinguished Service in the Advancement of Inorganic Chemistry.

Imaging technology restores 700-year-old sacred Hindu text
Scientists who worked on the Archimedes Palimpsest are using modern imaging technologies to digitally restore a 700-year-old palm-leaf manuscript containing the essence of Hindu philosophy. The project led by P.R. Mukund and Roger Easton, professors at Rochester Institute of Technology, will digitally preserve the original Hindu writings known as the Sarvamoola granthas attributed to scholar Shri Madvacharya (1238-1317).

OREXIGEN reports positive 24-week results for Contrave phase III obesity treatment study
Novel approach to obesity: Orexigen therapeutics reports positive 24-week results for Contrave phase III obesity treatment study -- rationally designed combination of CNS drugs achieves greater weight loss than placebo with no indication of reaching a plateau.

MetOp launch campaign resumed
With the launch of MetOp now set for Oct. 7 at 18:28 CEST, the MetOp satellite is out of storage and preparations for launch are well underway at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Entanglement unties a tough quantum computing problem
Error correction coding is a fundamental process that underlies all of information science, but the task of adapting classical codes to quantum computing has long bumped up against what seemed to be a fundamental limitation. But a new approach by three theorists working at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering dramatically changes the rules of the game. Adding entangled photons as part of the message stream, they report in Science, opens the door to use of the entire error coding playbook.

New evidence links stellar remains to oldest-recorded supernova
Recent observations have uncovered evidence that helps to confirm the identification of the remains of one of the earliest stellar explosions recorded by humans. The new study shows that the supernova remnant RCW 86 is much younger than previously thought. As such, the formation of the remnant appears to coincide with a supernova observed by Chinese astronomers in 185 A.D.

Improving the patient experience one meal at a time
Sometimes innovation in health care takes the form of advanced imaging technology or breakthroughs in drug treatments. Sometimes it takes the form of hamburgers cut into squares and soup served in a cup.

Siberian lakes burp 'time-bomb' greenhouse gas
Frozen bubbles in Siberian lakes are releasing methane, a greenhouse gas, at rates that appear to be

Study illuminates how the plague bacteria causes disease
The bacteria responsible for the plague and some forms of food poisoning

White on white: Nation's first ever 'whiteness' survey provides new insight on race
What whites think about their own race is the focus of a first-of-its-kind national survey by researchers in the University of Minnesota's department of sociology. From a telephone survey of more than 2,000 households nationwide, results show that there is more recognition among white people of their own racial identity and the social privileges that come with it than was previously thought.

High-value chemicals produced from ethanol feedstocks could boost biorefinery economics
Biorefineries developed to produce ethanol from cellulose sources such as trees and fast-growing plants could get a significant economic boost from the sale of high-value chemicals - such as vanillin flavoring - that could be generated from the same feedstock. Revenue from these

Rutgers College of Nursing professor to be inducted into RAAA Hall of Fame
Rutgers College of Nursing faculty member Robert Atkins will be inducted into the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance (RAAA) Hall of Fame on September 30 at the Busch Campus Faculty Dining Room in Piscataway, N.J.

Rochester launches Cancer Stem Cell Research Program
The promise of cancer stem cell research has reached a critical point and the University of Rochester Medical Center is establishing itself as a leader in the field by creating a Cancer Stem Cell Research Program.

IAU names dwarf planet Eris
The International Astronomical Union announces the names Eris for the dwarf planet provisionally named 2003 UB313 and Dysnomia for its moon.

Spleen may be target of successful therapy for lupus
UCSD School of Medicine have found clues that might lead to better treatment of lupus, showing that the spleen is the likely source of cells that are the origin of the disease. Michael Karin, Ph.D., professor pharmacology in UCSD's Laboratory of Gene Regulation and Signal Transduction, led the study to be published online Sept. 14 in advance of publication in the September issue of the journal Immunity.

UCR's Douglas Altshuler to receive the 2006 George A. Bartholomew Award
Douglas Altshuler, an assistant professor of biology at UC Riverside who studies flying animals, has been selected to receive the 2006 George A. Bartholomew Award

Preeclampsia, fetal development problems may be linked to low levels of hormone
Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill ties low levels of a hormone secreted by the uterus and embryos to problems with pregnancy and fetal development. The findings also suggest that the hormone, adrenomedullin, plays a key role in maternal susceptibility to preeclampsia, a serious pregnancy complication that occurs in the third trimester. Preeclampsia affects roughly one in 15 pregnant women and is the leading cause of death among expectant mothers.

UNH space scientists to build sensor for next-generation weather satellites
With an award in excess of $10 million, scientists from the University of New Hampshire's Space Science Center have been selected to build an instrument for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's third-generation weather satellites under the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Program. 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