Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2011)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2011.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2011

MU researchers use new video gaming technology to detect illness, prevent falls in older adults
Many older adults lose their independence as their health declines and they are compelled to move into assisted care facilities. Researchers at the University of Missouri and TigerPlace, an independent living community, have been using motion-sensing technology to monitor changes in residents' health for several years. Now, researchers have found that two devices commonly used for video gaming and security systems are effective in detecting the early onset of illness and fall risk in seniors.

High-performance simulation, neutrons uncover 3 classes of protein motion
Molecular motion in proteins comes in three distinct classes, according to a collaboration by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, in research reported in Physical Review Letters.

Major grant awarded for HIV prevention study in Africa
A grant of $37 million has been awarded to researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine to test new strategies to prevent HIV in African countries.

Good news plus lingering concerns for Deepwater Horizon cleanup workers
Several new studies of air and water near the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill conclude that cleanup workers may have escaped harm from one of the most worrisome groups of potentially toxic substances in the oil, according to an article in Chemical & Engineering News (CEN), ACS's weekly news magazine. But it cites concerns that another group of potentially harmful chemicals did escape from the water and could create a health hazard for cleanup workers.

High-calorie food 'looks' different to obese individuals
The number of individuals who are obese and suffer with its associated health problems has reached epidemic levels. One factor behind this is that we are constantly surrounded by high-calorie foods and/or images of these foods. Researchers have now visualized differences in the way that the brains of obese and non-obese individuals respond to visual cues of high-calorie foods.

Blood vessels from your printer
Researchers have been working at growing tissue and organs in the laboratory for a long time. These days, tissue engineering enables us to build up artificial tissue, although science still hasn't been successful with larger organs.

T cells making brain chemicals may lead to better treatments for inflammation, autoimmune diseases
Scientists have identified a surprising new role for a new type of T cell in the immune system: some of them can be activated by nerves to make a neurotransmitter (acetylcholine) that blocks inflammation. The discovery of these T cells is novel and suggests that it may be possible to treat inflammation and autoimmune diseases by targeting the nerves and the T cells.

Researchers uncover genetic link to cattle diseases
The origin of three costly cattle diseases is genetically linked, according to findings from US Department of Agriculture researchers. Scientists with the Agricultural Research Service have discovered a location on bovine chromosome 20 that is associated with the incidence of the most prevalent bacterial diseases -- pinkeye, foot rot and bovine respiratory disease (pneumonia) -- that affect feedlot cattle.

Allowing part-time surgeons may help address workforce shortage
More part-time employment for surgeons, particularly retiring older male or young female surgeons taking time off for their families, may considerably reduce the surgeon shortage in the United States by 2030, according to a study published in the September issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Gifted mathematician honored at NJIT convocation
Victor Matveev, an associate professor in the department of mathematical sciences in NJIT's College of Science and Liberal Arts, has received the honor of

JBEI identify new advanced biofuel as an alternative to diesel fuel
Joint BioEnergy Institute researchers have identified a terpene called bisabolane as a potential biofuel for replacing diesel fuel. The researchers have also engineered two strains of microbes -- a bacteria and a yeast -- that can be used in the biosynthetic production of this clean, green, renewable and domestic alternative to diesel fuel.

Chronic vulvar pain a reality for more than 100,000 women in southeast Michigan
A new study from the University of Michigan, which surveyed 2,269 women in the metro Detroit area, found that more than 25 percent of women have experienced ongoing vulvar pain at some point in their lives. However, only two percent of women sought treatment for their pain.

Scientists offer way to address 'age-old' questions
Scientists have devised a method to measure the impact of age on the growth rates of cellular populations, a development that offers new ways to understand and model the growth of bacteria, and could provide new insights into how genetic factors affect their life cycle.

Limits for mountain trail use identified
A new study on human impact to wildlife in some of Canada's most popular national parks has identified limits at which trails can be used before ecological disturbance takes place.

Prediction models help determine likelihood of erectile function after treatment for prostate cancer
The development of prediction models that included variables such as pretreatment sexual function, patient characteristics and treatment factors appear to be effective at predicting erectile function two years after prostatectomy, external radiotherapy, or brachytherapy for prostate cancer, according to a study in the Sept. 21 issue of JAMA.

South Africa's toxic legacy: Acid mine drainage threatens water supplies
In the Witwatersrand goldfields, not far from bustling Johannesburg, South Africa, more than a century of mining has left the region littered with mounds of waste and underlain by a deep underground network of abandoned mine shafts, which are gradually filling with water. Today, the mines are producing less and less gold -- and more and more sulfuric acid.

Escuti wins presidential award for young scientists and engineers
A North Carolina State University engineering professor has won the US government's top award for early-career scientists and engineers.

A guiding light for new directions in energy production
October's issue of Nature Photonics focuses on optofluidics, the study of microfluidics -- the microscopic delivery of fluids through extremely small channels or tubes -- combined with optics. In a review written by Demetri Psaltis, Dean of EPFL's School of Engineering, he and his co-authors argue that optofluidics is poised to take on one of this century's most important challenges: energy.

Compound kills highly contagious flu strain by activating antiviral protein
A compound tested by University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center investigators destroys several viruses, including the deadly Spanish flu that killed an estimated 30 million people in the worldwide pandemic of 1918.

A decade on, 9/11 rescue and recovery workers continue to suffer a high burden of
More than 50,000 rescue and recovery workers are estimated to have given assistance after the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks. Data gathered from more than 27,000 of these workers shows that this unique population continue to suffer a high burden of physical and mental illness. The findings are reported in an Article in this week's 9/11 special issue of The Lancet.

Salty water and gas sucked into Earth's interior helps unravel planetary evolution
An international team of scientists has provided new insights into the processes behind the evolution of the planet by demonstrating how salty water and gases transfer from the atmosphere into the Earth's interior.

UBC journalism project documents global pain crisis
In advance of a United Nations conference today on the global challenges of treating cancer and other diseases, the UBC Graduate School of Journalism has launched an ambitious multimedia site, the Pain Project, which documents one of the greatest challenges to treating chronic illnesses: severely constrained access to morphine.

Men with testicular cancer benefit by writing positively about the experience, Baylor study finds
Men who channeled positive thoughts into a five-week writing assignment about their testicular cancer showed signs of improved mental health afterward, in contrast to men who wrote negatively or neutrally about their condition, according to results of a Baylor University pilot study.

MAVEN mission primary structure complete
NASA's Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) mission has reached a new milestone. Lockheed Martin has completed building the primary structure of the MAVEN spacecraft at its Space Systems Company facility near Denver.

Mayo Clinic creates healthy aging and independent living lab
The Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation announced today that Best Buy is the founding consortium member of a new

Most med schools offer students poor mental health coverage, imperiling students, patients
Most US medical schools offer their students poor health insurance coverage for the treatment of mental health and substance abuse disorders, a practice that imperils the well-being of our nation's future doctors and their patients, researchers report in JAMA. In the first study of its kind, the researchers found that fewer than 22 percent of the 115 schools they studied provided their students with complete coverage, without co-pays or coinsurance, for such treatment.

Motor memory: The long and short of it
For the first time, scientists at USC have unlocked a mechanism behind the way short- and long-term motor memory work together and compete against one another.

Powered by seaweed: Polymer from algae may improve battery performance
By looking to Mother Nature for solutions, researchers have identified a promising new binder material for lithium-ion battery electrodes that could not only boost energy storage, but also eliminate the use of toxic compounds now used in manufacturing the components. Known as alginate, the material is extracted from common, fast-growing brown algae. The research, a collaboration between scientists and engineers at Clemson University and Georgia Tech, will be reported Sept. 8 in Science Express.

Vital protein complex and therapeutic possibilities revealed
Three international teams of scientists, led by researchers at the University of California San Diego, University of Michigan and Stanford University, have published a trio of papers describing in unprecedented detail the structure and workings of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), a large family of human proteins that are the target of one-third to one-half of modern drugs.

Black-white marriages increased rapidly since 1980, study finds
A new study of interracial marriages in the United States since the 1980s suggests that the racial boundary between blacks and whites continues to break down -- but is not yet close to disappearing. Marriages between African Americans and whites increased rapidly between 1980 and 2008, outpacing the rate of unions between whites and other ethnic and racial groups, including Latinos, Asian Americans and American Indians.

Handier than Homo habilis?
The versatile hand of Australopithecus sediba makes a better candidate for an early tool-making hominin than the hand of Homo habilis

Foam injections for varicose veins better for patients and cheaper, study finds
Foam injections to treat varicose veins cause less pain for patients and could save NHS money compared with a popular alternative treatment, according to researchers at Imperial College London.

'What is life?' -- Leopoldina's Annual Assembly begins in Halle
The three-day Annual Assembly of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina titled

Climatic fluctuations drove key events in human evolution
Research at the University of Liverpool has found that periods of rapid fluctuation in temperature coincided with the emergence of the first distant relatives of human beings and the appearance and spread of stone tools.

Study in Tanzania finds fishery improvements outweigh fuelwood losses
When the government of Tanzania established Saadani National Park in 2005, it enhanced protection of the coastal mangrove ecosystem from further degradation. A study by a team of URI researchers found that the new park caused a short-term negative effect on the livelihood of those who harvest mangrove trees for fuelwood but a long-term benefit to their local communities from increased fishing opportunities.

Learning and remembering linked to holding material in hands, new research shows
New research from the University of Notre Dame shows that people's ability to learn and remember information depends on what they do with their hands while they are learning.

Countdown begins for launch of Navy communications satellite
The Navy began counting down the final days to a Sept. 27 launch of its new joint tactical satellite, which will bring on-the-go communications to the battlefield. The Tactical Microsatellite (TacSat)-4, funded by the Office of Naval Research and developed by the Naval Research Laboratory, is scheduled to begin transmitting data 30 days later. The fourth-generation microsatellite is smaller and less expensive than a conventional system, providing two hours' coverage up to three times daily.

Cam-type deformities linked to MRI detected hip damage in asymptomatic young men
Hip impingement may be a risk factor of osteoarthritis of the hip. A new study reveals that the presence of an underlying deformity, known as cam impingement, is associated with hip damage in young men without any arthritis symptoms and detected using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Full findings are now published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

New TB vaccine approach shows promise in mice
An experimental vaccine composed of a genetically modified bacterium closely related to the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB) has been found to protect mice against TB infection, according to a study appearing online September 4 in the journal Nature Medicine. The research was funded in part by NIAID.

Close up look at a microbial vaccination program
Berkeley Lab researchers, using a combination of cryo-electron microscopy and 3-D image reconstruction, determined the structure of Cascade, a protein complex that plays a key role in the microbial immune system by detecting and inactivating the nucleic acid of invading pathogens. Microbial immune systems in the human microbiome play a critical role in preserving the health of their human host.

From the comfort of home, Web users may have found new planets
Since the online citizen science project Planet Hunters launched last December, 40,000 Web users from around the world have been helping professional astronomers analyze the light from 150,000 stars in the hopes of discovering Earth-like planets orbiting around them.

Time to address stimulant abuse on our campuses
Universities and colleges need to do more to protect young adults from the dangers of illicit stimulant use and to educate them about harms, argue the authors of an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

First proof in patients of an improved 'magic bullet' for cancer detection and radio-therapy
Oncologists have long sought a powerful

Researchers find novel drug target for the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder
A team of researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has identified a promising therapeutic target in the brain, serotonin 1B, that could lead to the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). This is the first evidence of a potential drug target for the condition.

'Synthetic biology' could replace oil for chemical industry
Vats of blue-green algae could one day replace oil wells in producing raw materials for the chemical industry, a UC Davis chemist predicts.

Sparing or sharing? Protecting wild species may require growing more food on less land
In parts of the world still rich in biodiversity, separating natural habitats from high-yielding farmland could be a more effective way to conserve wild species than trying to grow crops and conserve nature on the same land, according to a new study published today in the journal Science.

Protecting adolescent girls from unwanted unprotected sex
Partner abuse leads to HIV infection, and black women are most at risk. A new study at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing has found that 46 percent of African-American adolescent girls report that their partner did not use a condom the last time they had sex -- often because of partner abuse.

Scientists discover genetic mutation that causes Parkinson's disease
A large team of international researchers have identified a new genetic cause of inherited Parkinson's disease that they say may be related to the inability of brain cells to handle biological stress.

Gene flux can foretell survival for trauma patients, Princeton study finds
Princeton research reported in the Sept. 13 issue of the journal PLoS Medicine shows for the first time that people recovering from a serious injury -- regardless of age, gender or previous health -- exhibit similar gene activity as their condition changes, which doctors can use to predict and prepare for a patient's deterioration.

Captive breeding could transform the saltwater aquarium trade and save coral reefs
Marine biologists at the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute are developing means to efficiently breed saltwater aquarium fish, seahorses, plankton and invertebrates in captivity in order to preserve the biologically rich ecosystems of the world's coral reefs. These scientists believe their efforts, and those of colleagues around the world, could help shift much of the $1 billion marine ornamental industry toward entrepreneurs who are working sustainably to raise fish for the aquarium trade. 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