Brightsurf Science News & Current Events Archive (September 2015)

Science news and science current events archive September, 2015.

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Top Science News & Current Event Articles from September 2015

GI side effects of chemotherapy reduced in mice by targeting gut microbes
The blame for some of chemotherapy's awful side effects may lie with our gut microbes, early evidence suggests. As chemotherapy drugs are eliminated from the body, bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract can latch onto them and transform them into toxic species that cause severe diarrhea. In Chemistry & Biology researchers present ways to shut down the ability of GI microbes to convert chemotherapy drugs in mice as a first step to helping cancer patients.

Scientists simulate Earth's middle crust to understand earthquakes
Researchers have for the first time been able to measure a material's resistance to fracturing from various types of tectonic motions in the Earth's middle crust, a discovery that may lead to better understanding of how large earthquakes and slower moving events interact. The University of Texas Institute for Geophysics (UTIG), research unit of the Jackson School of Geosciences, spearheaded the discovery. The study was published in the September edition of Nature Geoscience.

Making nanowires from protein and DNA
Using computational and experimental methods, researchers at Caltech have developed a technique for creating so-called protein-DNA nanowires -- a hybrid biomaterial that could have important applications.

Reproducible neuroscience with real tango
Most neuroscientific studies rely on a single experiment and assume their findings to be reliable. However, the validity of this assumption needs to be tested before accepting the findings as the ground truth. Indeed, the lack of replication studies in addition to the inconsistency of neuroimaging findings severely limits the advancement of knowledge in the field of neuroscience, all of which has recently become a hot topic within the neuroscientific community.

Smokers at higher risk of losing their teeth, research shows
A new study has confirmed that regular smokers have a significantly increased risk of tooth loss. Male smokers are up to 3.6 times more likely to lose their teeth than non-smokers, whereas female smokers were found to be 2.5 times more likely.

Researchers develop a method for controlling gene activation
University of Helsinki researchers have developed a new method which enables the activation of genes in a cell without changing the genome. Applications of the method include directing the differentiation of stem cells. The research was published in the Stem Cell Reports journal.

Stanford scientists help discover Pacific bluefin tunas' favorite feeding spots
Stanford scientists devises a new methodology for measuring how and when ocean predators consume prey, and identify the Pacific bluefin's favorite hot spots, information that can inform conservation strategies.

Tiny silica particles could be used to repair damaged teeth, research shows
Researchers at the University of Birmingham have shown how the development of coated silica nanoparticles could be used in restorative treatment of sensitive teeth and preventing the onset of tooth decay.

World has lost 3 percent of its forests since 1990
The globe's forests have shrunk by three per cent since 1990 -- an area equivalent to the size of South Africa -- despite significant improvements in conservation over the past decade.

NASA identifies Tropical Storm Dujuan's strongest side
The RapidScat instrument that flies aboard the International Space Station is an important tool for forecasters because it identifies where the strongest winds are located in a tropical cyclone when it is over open waters. RapidScat saw that Tropical Storm Dujuan's strongest side was in the southeastern quadrant.

Air pollution and traffic linked to deaths and organ rejection in lung transplant patients
Researchers have shown for the first time that lung transplant patients in Europe who live on or near busy roads with high levels of air pollution are more likely to die or to experience chronic organ rejection, than those living in less polluted areas.

UT Arlington computer scientist's research would make robots more observant
A University of Texas at Arlington engineer is seeking ways to program robots by having them observe a human performing a particular task, then imitate it to complete the same objective.

Energy use feedback key to unlocking savings, if used wisely
Using feedback that incorporates goals or incentives and leverages new media and technology appears to be the best way to get people to cut back on their energy use, according to researchers who analyzed dozens of studies on feedback's effectiveness in energy conservation. The research appears in the journal Psychological Bulletin, which is published by the American Psychological Association.

Mobile phone records may predict epidemics of mosquito-borne dengue virus
A new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers finds cell phone records can predict the geographical spread and timing of dengue epidemics. Utilizing the largest data set of cell phone records ever analyzed to estimate human mobility, the researchers developed an innovative model to predict epidemics and provide early warning to policy makers.

Switzerland best place in the world for older people to live
Switzerland is the best place in the world for older people to live, closely followed by Norway and Sweden, according to a new report from HelpAge International, working in partnership with the University of Southampton. The Global AgeWatch Index assesses the social and economic well-being of the older population in 96 countries around the world.

Scientists win $6.4 million to probe smell navigation
A team of scientists, including a UC Berkeley pioneer in odor mapping, has received a $6.4 million grant from the National Science Foundation to dig deeper into how humans and animals navigate by using their sense of smell and converting odors into spatial information.

Immune system may be pathway between nature and good health
Research has found evidence that spending time in nature provides protections against a startling range of diseases, including depression, diabetes, obesity, ADHD, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and many more. How this exposure to green space leads to better health has remained a mystery. After reviewing hundreds of studies examining nature's effects on health, University of Illinois environment and behavior researcher Ming Kuo believes the answer lies in nature's ability to enhance the functioning of the body's immune system.

Growing up on a farm provides protection against asthma and allergies
Researchers at VIB, a leading life sciences institute in Flanders, Belgium, and Ghent University have successfully established a causal relationship between exposure to so-called farm dust and protection against asthma and allergies. This breakthrough discovery is a major step forward towards the development of an asthma vaccine. The results of the research were published in the leading journal Science.

Plant pest reprograms the roots
Microscopic roundworms (nematodes) live like maggots in bacon: They penetrate into the roots of beets, potatoes or soybeans and feed on plant cells, which are full of energy. But how they do it precisely was previously unknown. Scientists at the University of Bonn together with an international team discovered that nematodes produce a plant hormone to stimulate the growth of feeding cells in the roots. These cells provide the parasite with all that it needs.

New cathode material creates possibilities for sodium-ion batteries
John Goodenough, the inventor of the lithium-ion battery, and his team have identified a new cathode material made of the nontoxic and inexpensive mineral eldfellite for sodium-ion batteries.

UM scientist earns grant to study carbon across North America
University of Montana researcher Ashley Ballantyne recently was awarded a nearly $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to study ecosystem carbon production and consumption across North America.

Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative unveils new plan for neglected patients
After having built the world's largest drug development pipeline for the most neglected diseases, the Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative has unveiled plans for a more flexible, dynamic portfolio approach, integrating various operating models to better respond to the needs of patients, notably in low- and middle-income countries. The plan also paves the way for new diseases to be taken up in DNDi's portfolio.

Many top academics and professors serve on US healthcare company boards, reveals research
Nearly one in 10 healthcare company board positions are held by top academics from many of the most renowned medical and research institutions in the United States, finds a new study published in The BMJ this week.

Study finds association between energy drinks and traumatic brain injury in teens
Teens who reported a traumatic brain injury in the past year were seven times more likely to have consumed at least five energy drinks in the past week than those without a history of TBI, according to a study published today in PLOS ONE.

Our brain's secrets to success?
We owe our success -- both as a species and as individuals -- to features of our brain that are just now beginning to be understood. One new study suggests how our primate brain's outer mantle, or cortex, was able to expand as much as 1,000-fold through evolution. Another links personal success -- such as high education and income levels and life satisfaction -- to increased chatter between key brain areas when we're not doing anything in particular.

Mutation protects plants against harmful explosive, TNT
Researchers have identified a mutation in plants that allows them to break down TNT, an explosive that has become highly prevalent in soil in the last century, particularly at manufacturing waste sites, mines, and military conflict zones.

Having the 'right' connections only gets you so far
Working with a highly reputable corporate leader helps managers get promoted to senior positions in the short term, but such a career boost is balanced in the longer-term as competitive job markets, including professional sports, punish those managers who initially benefited.

Electronic reminders keep TB patients on track with medication in China
Giving electronic reminders to tuberculosis patients in China can reduce the amount of medication doses they miss by half, according to new research from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and the National Center for Tuberculosis Control and Prevention in China.

California sage-grouse remain genetically diverse... for now
Genetic diversity is essential for a species to be able to adapt to environmental change, and when a population is divided into small, isolated fragments, that can spell trouble. To determine whether the genetic diversity of Northern California's fringe population of sage-grouse is suffering as a result of habitat loss, researchers spent three years collecting blood samples from birds on their breeding grounds.

Mobile apps and online reviews influence consumer behavior
Mobile apps are changing the way brands connect with consumers and have the potential to boost a company's bottom line. According to a new Iowa State University study, there is a direct link between app use and purchase activity -- the more engaging the app, the more customers will spend. In a related study, researchers also examine the effect of negative online reviews.

What powers the pumping heart?
Researchers at the Ted Rogers Centre for Heart Research have uncovered a treasure trove of proteins, which hold answers about how our heart pumps -- a phenomenon known as contractility.

Are American schools making inequality worse?
Schooling plays a surprisingly large role in short-changing the nation's most economically disadvantaged students of critical math skills, according to a study published today in Educational Researcher, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Educational Research Association.

UTHealth researcher awarded CDC grant to study Chagas disease in Texas
A researcher at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health was awarded a five-year, $544,329 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct outreach and education on Chagas disease in South Texas.

Untangling the mechanics of knots
Researchers at MIT and Pierre et Marie Curie University in Paris have analyzed the mechanical forces underpinning simple knots, and come up with a theory that describes how a knot's topology determines its mechanical forces.

The sweet smell of success
Writing in the International Journal of Trade and Global Markets, Shuvam Chatterjee of the Regent Education & Research Foundation, in Dhakuria, India, discusses the concept of 'olfactory branding' and how in some settings, such as the hotel lobby, it can supplant or augment the more traditional audiovisual marketing signals.

Species extinction can doom parasites important for ecosystem health
The effects of an animal population's extinction may echo beyond the original species, new University of Georgia research finds. Loss of a population could ultimately result in the extinction of parasites -- which are critical for a healthy ecosystem. UGA researchers focused this particular study on a Brazilian fish community and their associated parasites.

Some forms of dizziness after getting up may signal bigger problems
People who get dizzy several minutes after standing up may be at risk of more serious conditions and even an increased risk of death, according to new research published in the Sept. 23, 2015, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

Newcastle University stem cell spin-out secures investment
Life-science start-up Newcells Biotech Ltd has successfully secured seed investment to build a provision of products and services using stem cells for drug discovery and development targeting pharmaceutical, biotechnology and academic customers.

Underdetection, not overdiagnosis, is the real problem in breast cancer screening
While screening mammography has a well-established history of reducing death from breast cancer and enabling earlier detection of breast disease, questions regarding overtreatment and overdiagnosis have entered the screening debate. A new review article discusses the topics of overdiagnosis and overtreatment and the role of providers and technology to address the issues in the context of population health. The article appears in a new supplement to Population Health Management.

Dynamic braces for kids with scoliosis now in development
A team led by Sunil Agrawal, professor of mechanical engineering and of rehabilitation and regenerative medicine at Columbia Engineering, has won a $1 million grant from the NSF's National Robotics Initiative to develop a dynamic spine brace that is more flexible than the rigid braces now in use for treatment of scoliosis.

Cosmic recycling
Dominating this image is part of the nebula Gum 56, illuminated by the hot bright young stars that were born within it. For millions of years stars have been created out of the gas in this nebula, material which is later returned to the stellar nursery when the aging stars either expel their material into space or eject it as supernova explosions. This image was taken with the MPG/ESO 2.2-meter telescope in Chile.

Eating a lot of fish may help curb depression risk -- at least in Europe
Eating a lot of fish may help curb the risk of depression -- at least in Europe -- suggests a pooled analysis of the available evidence, published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.

Strokes in children linked to infections, inadequate vaccinations
Children who have suffered recent infections or have not received most or all of their vaccinations are at a higher risk for stroke. The findings conceivably will be seminal in drafting further stroke prevention strategies.

Large parks key to city success
Cities should feature compact development alongside large, contiguous green spaces to maximize benefits of urban ecosystems to humans, research led by the University of Exeter has concluded.

NSF awards Lehigh engineering $5 million for natural hazards research facility
Lehigh University has received a five-year, $5 million award from the National Science Foundation to support the operation and maintenance to perform research using the unique experimental facilities located on the Lehigh Campus at the ATLSS (Advanced Technology for Large Structural Systems) Research Center.

Lean and safe industry
Lean manufacturing involves minimizing expenses by attempting to eradicate waste, waste of materials, energy, and human resources. But, if lean efforts are at the cost of safety then that is a bad thing for any company, research in the International Journal of Lean Enterprise Research emphasizes.

Sequencing DNA in the palm of your hand
During the investigation, crew members will sequence the DNA of bacteria, bacteriophage (a virus that infects and replicates within a bacterium) and rodents from samples prepared on Earth that have known genomic characteristics. Researchers on Earth also will run synchronous ground controls to evaluate how well the hardware is working.

GW participates in landmark study; blood pressure management can reduce heart disease death
Dominic Raj, M.D., director of the Division of Renal Diseases and Hypertension and professor of medicine at the George Washington University, participated in a multi-site landmark study finding cardiovascular disease morbidity is significantly reduced through intensive management of high blood pressure.

New findings shed light on fundamental process of DNA repair
Scientists have identified a new component of the molecular machinery a cell uses to repair damaged DNA. The discovery adds important knowledge about a fundamental life process that protects from diseases such as cancer.

Blood tests reveal early signs of CVD risk in obese African-American teens
Obese African-American teens, particularly girls, may have immune system changes that can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in adulthood. Taking steps to control weight early in life may reduce inflammation and its negative effects on the cardiovascular system. Blood tests are a possible new preventive tactic to identify teens who are at high risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

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