Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2013)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2013.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2013

'Guns do not make a nation safer,' say doctors
A new study reports that countries with lower gun ownership are safer than those with higher gun ownership, debunking the widely quoted hypothesis that guns make a nation safer. Researchers evaluated the possible associations between gun ownership rates, mental illness, and the risk of firearm-related death by studying the data for 27 developed countries. Their findings are published in the current issue of The American Journal of Medicine.

Making cars that are lightweight and crash-safe
Lightweight or crash-safe -- must it always be a trade-off for auto makers? The answer is no. With a new lightweight construction technology, researchers are making it possible to do both. The result is less fuel consumption and lower manufacturing costs.

Undervaccination appears associated with increased risk of whooping cough
Undervaccination with the diptheria, tetanus toxoids and acelluar pertussis (DTaP) vaccine appears to be associated with an increased risk of pertussis (whooping cough) in children three to 36 months of age, according to a study by Jason M. Glanz, Ph.D., of the Institute for Health Research at Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Denver.

Darwin's dilemma resolved: Evolution's 'big bang' explained by 5x faster rates
The incredible burst of innovation in animals' body plans and habits during the Cambrian explosion, between 540 and 520 million years ago, can be explained by a reasonable uptick in evolutionary rates. The discovery, based on the first rigorous estimates of early evolutionary rates in arthropods, shows that evolution's

Rim Fire update Sept. 02, 2013
The Rim Fire in and around Yosemite National Park, which began on Aug. 17, 2013 is now the fourth largest fire in California's history.

Cognitive enhancers don't improve cognition, function in people with mild cognitive impairment
Cognitive enhancers -- drugs taken to enhance concentration, memory, alertness and moods -- do not improve cognition or function in people with mild cognitive impairment in the long term, according to a new study by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital.

Translating nature's library yields drug leads for AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer's disease
An ingredient in a medicinal tea brewed from tree bark by tribal healers on the South Pacific island of Samoa -- studied by scientists over the last 25 years -- is showing significant promise as a drug lead in the long-sought goal of eliminating the AIDS virus from its sanctuaries in the body and thus eradicating the disease, a scientist said here today.

Red cedar tree study shows that Clean Air Act is reducing pollution, improving forests
A collaborative project involving a Kansas State University ecologist has shown that the Clean Air Act has helped forest systems recover from decades of sulfur pollution and acid rain. The research team spent four years studying centuries-old eastern red cedar trees, or Juniperus virginiana, in the Central Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia.

Cybersecurity researcher joins the ranks of the 'brilliant'
Polytechnic Institute of New York University's Justin Cappos joins an elite group of 10 young researchers named by Popular Science magazine as this year's

2008 economic crisis could be to blame for thousands of excess suicides worldwide
In a paper published today on, researchers are suggesting that the 2008 global economic crisis could be to blame for the increase in suicide rates in European and American countries, particularly among males and in countries with higher levels of job losses.

Capturing brain activity with sculpted light
Scientists at the Campus Vienna Biocenter (Austria) have found a way to overcome some of the limitations of light microscopy. Applying the new technique, they can record the activity of a worm's brain with high temporal and spatial resolution, ultimately linking brain anatomy to brain function. The journal Nature Methods publishes the details in its current issue.

Second annual Golden Goose Award ceremony honors odd research with major societal benefits
Seven researchers, including two Nobel Prize winners, will be honored today at the second annual Golden Goose Award ceremony, celebrating researchers whose seemingly odd or obscure federally funded research turned out to have a significant impact on society. The awardees will be honored at a ceremony on Capitol Hill, where they will receive their awards from a bipartisan group of Members of Congress.

Southern Ocean sampling reveals travels of marine microbes
By collecting water samples up to six kilometers below the surface of the Southern Ocean, UNSW researchers have shown for the first time the impact of ocean currents on the distribution and abundance of marine micro-organisms. Twenty-five samples were collected across a 3,000 kilometer stretch of ocean and genetic sequencing of the microbial DNA in each sample was carried out. The research, published in Nature Communications, shows that microbial communities that are connected by ocean currents are more similar to each other.

Bringing coral reefs back from the brink
Shocks caused by climate and seasonal change could be used to aid recovery of some of the world's badly-degraded coral reefs, an international team of scientists has proposed. A new report by Australian and Swedish marine scientists in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment suggests that it may be possible to restore living coral cover to a badly-degraded reef system -- though not easy.

Almac Discovery and Queen's launch £13M cancer drug discovery partnership
A new £13 million partnership to accelerate cancer-focused drug discovery in Northern Ireland has been launched by Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster MLA. As part of the project, Queen's and Almac Discovery have announced the scheduling of a phase one clinical trial for ovarian cancer, involving the first novel cancer drug fully developed in Northern Ireland.

Depletion of 'traitor' immune cells slows cancer growth in mice
Scientists at the University of Washington have developed a strategy to slow tumor growth and prolong survival in mice with cancer by targeting and destroying a type of cell that dampens the body's immune response to cancer. The researchers published their findings the week of Sept. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The failing freezer: How soil microbes affect global climate
The US Department of Energy has awarded $3.9 million to an international collaboration led by UA ecologists Scott Saleska and Virginia Rich. The researchers are studying how microbes release greenhouse gases as they access nutrients in permafrost soils that are thawing under the influence of a warmer climate.

Better hygiene in wealthy nations may increase Alzheimer's risk
New research has found a 'very significant' relationship between a nation's wealth and hygiene and the Alzheimer's 'burden' on its population. High-income, highly industrialized countries with large urban areas and better hygiene exhibit much higher rates of Alzheimer's.

Drug patch treatment sees new breakthrough
This new flexible patch treatment can quicken drug delivery time while cutting waste, and can likely minimize side-effects in some cases, notable in vaccinations and in cancer therapy.

Study upholds hyaluronic acid injection safety, efficacy profile in reducing knee OA pain
A new meta-analysis of 29 randomized studies involving more than 4,500 patients with knee osteoarthritis found that intra-articular hyaluronic acid (HA) injections provided significant improvement in pain and function compared to saline injections. The results are in contrast to the findings from other recent studies that reviewed HA products not approved by the FDA for use in the US.

Huda Y. Zoghbi, M.D. to receive the 2013 Pearl Meister Greengard Prize
The Rockefeller University announced today that Huda Y. Zoghbi, M.D., will receive the 10th annual Pearl Meister Greengard Prize -- one of the world's preeminent honors recognizing outstanding achievements by women in science.

Virginia Tech Carilion researchers find surprising relationships in brain signaling
Researchers from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute recently got a surprise after performing what they assumed to be a routine experiment in neurodevelopment. It was thought that taking away the receptors for an important glycoprotein called Reelin would hinder a developing brain the same way as taking away Reelin itself. The results, however, revealed major differences, indicating that both Reelin and its receptors have more roles than anyone knew.

Pacific flights create most amount of ozone
The amount of ozone created from aircraft pollution is highest from flights leaving and entering Australia and New Zealand, a new study has shown.

Researchers identify a switch that controls growth of most aggressive brain tumor cells
Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center have identified a cellular switch that potentially can be turned off and on to slow down, and eventually inhibit the growth of the most commonly diagnosed and aggressive malignant brain tumor.

Singapore scientists discover new RNA processing pathway important in human embryonic stem cells
Scientists at A*STAR's Genome Institute of Singapore, in collaboration with their counterparts from Canada, Hong Kong and US, have discovered a protein mediator SON plays a critical role in the health and proper functioning of human embryonic stem cells. This finding was reported on 8th Sept. 2013 in the advanced online issue of the prestigious science journal Nature Cell Biology.

University of Tennessee nursing professors aim to prepare Appalachian region for the worst
Nursing professors in the Global Disaster Nursing program are working with architecture and environmental engineering professors, law enforcement professionals, graduate students and Clay County community partners to improve Clay County, Kentucky's community wellness and disaster preparedness.

Breast conserving treatment with radiotherapy reduces risk of local recurrence
Results of EORTC trial 10853 appearing in the Journal of Clinical Oncology show that breast conserving treatment combined with radiotherapy reduces the risk of local recurrence in women with ductal carcinoma in situ.

Tiny bottles and melting corks: Temperature regulates new delivery system for drugs and fragrances
Microscopic, bottle-like structures with corks that melt at precisely-controlled temperatures could potentially release drugs inside the body or fragrances onto the skin, according to a recently published study.

Federal grant of $275,000 funds study of young adult attitudes toward flavored tobacco
Dr. Kymberle Sterling, assistant professor in the School of Public Health at Georgia State University, has received a two-year, $275,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to study how young adult smokers perceive the risk of smoking flavored little cigars and cigarillos, which the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate.

American Chemical Society presidential symposium: Innovation and entrepreneurship
An historic shift is occurring in traditional innovation in chemistry -- which touches more than 96 percent of all the world's manufactured goods -- away from large companies and toward smaller entrepreneurs and startups. Amid that new landscape for transforming ideas and inventions into goods and services, the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, today hosts a special symposium on innovation and entrepreneurship at its 246th National Meeting & Exposition.

Synthetic speech system puts a dampener on noisy announcements
Public announcements in noisy places -- such as railway stations, airports, or sports venues -- could become quieter and clearer in future, thanks to new research.

University of Maryland researchers studying vaccine to prevent potential bird flu pandemic
Scientists at the University of Maryland School of Medicine's Center for Vaccine Development are part of nationwide vaccine research aimed at protecting adults from a new and virulent strain of avian influenza virus. The virus, called H7N9 influenza virus, emerged in China last spring. The study, sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health, will help prepare for the possibility of a global pandemic.

5 Washington organizations make joint grant
A product development team at the University of Washington will receive $390,000 from five organizations dedicated to fostering technology commercialization in Washington.

Sorting out top-class wines
No vintners want their wine to have a bitter note to it. Now, new sorting equipment with optical recognition can guarantee this is never the case. The machine sorts the harvest into quality grades -- sparing winemakers laborious manual work.

UC Davis study applies timely cost-effectiveness analysis to state breast cancer screening program
When public health budgets are constrained, mammography screening should begin later and occur less frequently, a cost-effectiveness analysis for California's Every Woman Counts program concludes.

New NIH-funded resource focuses on use of genomic variants in medical care
Three new grants from the National Institutes of Health totaling more than $25 million over four years will help three research groups to develop authoritative information on the millions of genomic variants relevant to human disease and the hundreds that are expected to be useful for clinical practice.

Wormlike hematite photoanode breaks the world-record for solar hydrogen production efficiency
A research team of Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, South Korea, developed a

Sensor-augmented insulin pump therapy reduces rate of severe hypoglycemic events
Use of an insulin pump with a sensor that suspends insulin delivery when blood glucose falls below a set threshold reduced the rate of severe and moderate hypoglycemia among patients with type 1 diabetes and impaired awareness of hypoglycemia, according to a study in the Sept. 25 issue of JAMA.

Ultra-fast electrons explain third radiation ring around Earth
In the already complicated science of what creates -- and causes constant change in -- two giant doughnuts of radiation surrounding Earth, researchers have added a new piece of information: Some of the electrons reach such enormous energies that they are driven by an entirely different set of physical processes. These results were published in a paper in Nature Physics on Sept. 22, 2013.

JCI early table of contents for Sept. 24, 2013
This release contains summaries, links to PDFs, and contact information for the following newsworthy papers to be published online, Sept. 24, 2013, in the JCI: Hereditary spastic paraplegia development associated with changes in endoplasmic reticulum, Maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance in the kidney,Development of autoimmunity in patients with common variable immune deficiency, A link between zinc transport and diabetes, and more.

Keep stricter audit committee standards flexible, argues new study from the University of Toronto
Independent, financially-literate audit committees lead to higher firm values and less diversion of resources by management, shows a new study by researchers at the University of Toronto. But the paper, which looked at small companies that voluntarily adopted standards required of larger companies, also says it's important for regulators to stay flexible around rules requiring high-quality audit committees, particularly for smaller firms that may be hurt by expensive director compensation costs.

New password in a heartbeat
Researchers at Rice University propose a system to prevent cyberattacks on pacemakers, defibrillators and other devices that use wireless communications.

Stress protein expression in early phase spinal cord ischemia/reperfusion injury
Spinal cord ischemia/reperfusion injury is a stress injury to the spinal cord. Therefore, research on the expression of stress-related protein in neurons could be of great significance for the pathological mechanism and control measures for spinal cord ischemia/reperfusion injury.

Western University scientists discover a novel opiate addiction switch in the brain
Neuroscientists at Western University have made a remarkable new discovery revealing the underlying molecular process by which opiate addiction develops in the brain. Opiate addiction is largely controlled by the formation of powerful reward memories that link the pleasurable effects of opiate-class drugs to environmental triggers that induce drug craving in individuals addicted to opiates. The research is published in the Sept. 11th issue of The Journal of Neuroscience.

Study finds men are more likely to develop physical illness than women
Men were more likely to develop a physical illness than women during a 10-year period studied by researchers at St. Michael's Hospital.

Life purpose buffers negative moods triggered by diversity
Being in the minority in an ethnically diverse crowd is distressing, regardless of your ethnicity, unless you have a sense of purpose in life, reports a Cornell University developmental psychologist.

Inner ear hair cell regeneration: A look from the past to the future
Since Moffat and Ramsden for the first time discovered the possibility of the auditory system in humans in 1977, over the last two decades, great progress has been made in physiopathological research on neurosensory hearing loss.

Study reveals new insight into how cheetahs catch their prey
A new research study has revealed that the cheetah, the world's fastest land animal, matches and may even anticipate the escape tactics of different prey when hunting, rather than just relying on its speed and agility, as previously thought.

Functioning 'mechanical gears' seen in nature for the first time
Previously believed to be only man-made, a natural example of a functioning gear mechanism has been discovered in a common insect -- showing that evolution developed interlocking cogs long before we did.

Ohio State and Microlin Bio Inc. to bring transformational cancer discoveries to patients
Ohio State University today announced an exclusive world-wide agreement with Microlin Bio Inc., licensing a large portfolio of Ohio State's groundbreaking cancer discoveries. The portfolio includes nearly 100 issued and pending microRNA patents that could lead to entirely new, more effective and more targeted ways to diagnose and treat prostate, ovarian, colon and lung cancers. Additionally, Microlin Bio Inc. has licensed a novel nucleic acid delivery technology to deliver these transformational therapies to cancer cells. 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