Monday, April 30, 2012

Phys.Org Newsletter Monday, Apr 30

Dear Reader ,

Here is your customized Newsletter for April 30, 2012:

Spotlight Stories Headlines

- Mine study demonstrates how quickly bacteria can evolve
- SNOPA to employers seeking passwords: Access denied
- Scientists discover new kind of blue-green algae with carbonates in their cells
- Not all altruism is alike, says new study
- Test result written in blood
- Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
- NASA's Chandra sees remarkable outburst from old black hole
- Research breakthrough takes supercomputing out of the lab
- Multitasking may hurt your performance, but it makes you feel better
- Video games can teach how to shoot guns more accurately and aim for the head
- Electric charge disorder: A key to biological order?
- Conquering LED efficiency droop
- Molecular spectroscopy tracks living mammalian cells in real time as they differentiate
- Get your rotor runnin': Flexrotor program takes off for next phase (w/ Video)
- Jarid2 may break the Polycomb silence

Space & Earth news

London 2012 Olympics: New technology will be used to measure impact of extra traffic
University of Leicester researchers are set to use new technology they have developed to monitor the impact of increased traffic on pollution levels in London during the Olympics.

Orbital crew vehicle tested in Texas A&M's low-speed wind tunnel
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Space Systems has successfully completed wind tunnel testing of a scale model of the Dream Chaser® orbital crew vehicle in the Oran W. Nicks Low Speed Wind Tunnel at Texas A&M University.

Investors play a crucial role in sustainable palm oil
WWF is urging investors to do more to promote sustainable palm oil, backed by findings from a new survey released during a high-level meeting of investors and producers in Singapore.

Agroforestry is not rocket science but it might save DPR Korea
There is more going on in DPR Korea than rocket science: local people in collaboration with natural resources scientists are taking control of their food supply through agroforestry. This is according to a report published in Agroforestry Systems journal.

Student-devised process would prep Chinese shale gas for sale
A team of Rice University students accepted a challenge to turn shale gas produced in China into a range of useful, profitable and environmentally friendly products and did so in a cost-effective manner.

Prof explores universe through gravity lens studies
( -- The National Science Foundation recently awarded Dr. Mustapha Ishak-Boushaki, associate professor of physics at UT Dallas, a $222,000 research grant for his investigations of the gravitational lensing technique used to study the nature of the universe.

Modern hybrid corn makes better use of nitrogen, study shows
( -- Today's hybrid corn varieties more efficiently use nitrogen to create more grain, according to 72 years of public-sector research data reviewed by Purdue University researchers.

From decade to decade: What's the status of our groundwater quality?
There was no change in concentrations of chloride, dissolved solids, or nitrate in groundwater for more than 50 percent of well networks sampled in a new analysis by the USGS that compared samples from 1988-2000 to samples from 2001-2010. For those networks that did have a change, seven times more networks saw increases as opposed to decreases.

Old maps and dead clams help solve coastal boulder mystery
Perched atop the sheer coastal cliffs of Ireland's Aran Islands, ridges of giant boulders have puzzled geologists for years. What forces could have torn these rocks from the cliff edges high above sea level and deposited them far inland?

Yellowstone 'super-eruption' less super, more frequent than thought
The Yellowstone "super-volcano" is a little less super—but more active—than previously thought.

X-ray quasars, and a distance record
Quasars are thought to be galaxies whose bright nuclei contain massive black holes around which disks are actively accreting matter. The accretion process releases vast amounts of energy, often including a wind, and as a result quasars are among the most powerful energy sources known. Because they are so bright, quasars can be seen even when they are very far away, and this combination of being both highly energetic and located at cosmological distances makes them appealing to astronomers trying to figure out the nature of galactic center black holes (our own Milky Way has one) and the conditions in the early universe that prompt these monsters to form.

The mystery of Venus' ashen light
May is the best time to try and spot one of the most enduring unsolved mysteries in our Solar System. Ashen Light is a faint glow allegedly seen on the unlit portion of Venus, during its crescent phase, similar to the earthshine often observed on the Moon, though not as bright. It is more commonly observed while Venus occupies the evening sky, as now, than when it is in the morning sky. But no one really knows for sure what causes it.

SpaceX Falcon 9 Set for Critical Engine Test Firing on Monday, April 30
On Monday, April 30, SpaceX (Space Exploration Technologies) is all set to conduct a critical static engine test fire of the Falcon 9 rocket at the firm’s launch pad on Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Record-breaking radio waves discovered from ultra-cool star
Penn State University astronomers using the world's largest radio telescope, at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, have discovered flaring radio emission from an ultra-cool star, not much warmer than the planet Jupiter, shattering the previous record for the lowest stellar temperature at which radio waves were detected.

Arabic records allow past climate to be reconstructed
Corals, trees and marine sediments, among others, are direct evidence of the climate of the past, but they are not the only indicators. A team led by Spanish scientists has interpreted records written in Iraq by Arabic historians for the first time and has made a chronology of climatic events from the year 816 to 1009, when cold waves and snow were normal.

Old star, new trick
The Big Bang produced lots of hydrogen and helium and a smidgen of lithium. All heavier elements found on the periodic table have been produced by stars over the last 13.7 billion years. Astronomers analyze starlight to determine the chemical makeup of stars, the origin of the elements, the ages of stars, and the evolution of galaxies and the universe.

Researchers develop rapid test strips for bacterial contamination in swimming water (w/ Video)
Urban beach closures due to coliform outbreaks have become disturbing signs of summer, yet water-testing technology has never been fast enough to keep up with changing conditions, nor accessible enough to check all waters.

NASA's Chandra sees remarkable outburst from old black hole
An extraordinary outburst produced by a black hole in a nearby galaxy has provided direct evidence for a population of old, volatile stellar black holes. The discovery, made by astronomers using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, provides new insight into the nature of a mysterious class of black holes that can produce as much energy in X-rays as a million suns radiate at all wavelengths.

Rogue stars ejected from the galaxy are found in intergalactic space
It's very difficult to kick a star out of the galaxy.

Technology news

Thai web editor faces 20 years for 'royal insults'
A Thai web editor facing decades behind bars over remarks about the monarchy posted by other people on her website said she still hopes to be acquitted ahead of a closely-watched verdict this week.

Yahoo to double Olympics presence in London
(AP) -- Yahoo plans to double its Olympics presence this summer as it aims to be the Games' top website for the fourth straight year.

Pepsi partners with Twitter for online concerts
(AP) -- PepsiCo Inc. is tweeting to a new generation of music lovers.

Portable gas sensors improve atmospheric pollution measurements
Different types of compact, low-power portable sensors under development by three independent research groups may soon yield unprecedented capabilities to monitor ozone, greenhouse gases, and air pollutants. The three teams will each present their work at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO: 2012 ), to be held May 6-11, in San Jose, Calif.

Honda unveils demonstration test house that features Honda Smart Home System
Honda Motor Co., Ltd. today unveiled a house Honda built in the city of Saitama, Japan, for the demonstration testing of the Honda Smart Home System (HSHS). The house features HSHS, which comprehensively controls in-house energy supply and demand, and helps manage both the generation and consumption of energy for the home such as heat and electricity, while utilizing mobility products. HSHS is also designed to enable users to secure their own supply of energy and mobility in a time of disaster.

1Q US home video spending up 2.5 percent
(AP) -- American spending on home videos rose 2.5 percent to $4.45 billion in the first quarter as the increasing popularity of subscription streaming plans and Blu-ray discs made up for falling DVD sales.

Researchers develop new method to measure IT quality
Researchers at the University at Buffalo School of Management have proposed a better way of measuring the capabilities of IT service providers in a study recently published in IEEE Transactions on Engineering Management.

Better information empowers electricity consumers
( -- Meters displaying live data on home electricity consumption have become commonplace in recent years, but researchers are now seeking ways to deliver even more useful information to householders.

Domino Theory: Small steps can lead to big results
( -- What if you could make a world-changing impact with one small act? Would you be more inclined to take that first step if you knew your action would gain momentum when aligned with the actions of others?

Researchers develop system to help prevent construction accidents and materials falling from buildings
( -- Construction management experts at the University of Calgary's Schulich School of Engineering have developed a system that employs remote sensing technology to improve safety on construction sites by using tracking tags to monitor movements in real-time. Knowing the precise location of people, equipment and building materials will reduce accidents and could also help prevent materials from being placed too close to edges where they could fall.

Nokia uses 'white spaces' technology for indoor positioning (w/ Video)
Scott Probasco is roaming the floor of the hanger at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, with a Nokia N9 attached to a small box. He passes Concorde, turns right at a World War One bi-plane and pauses underneath a sea rescue helicopter suspended from the ceiling.

New study reveals a hidden nuclear history
On the week of the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the first-ever study of nuclear engineers has shown how they were shaped by secrecy and shifting goals. First defined by the Second World War’s Manhattan Project, they marked out a new field described as a ‘strange journey through Alice in Wonderland’ and ‘What Buck Rogers reads about when he reads’.

Tackling contamination with minimal water and energy consumption
EU-funded researchers developed technology for a dry pre-cleaning as an alternative to the water- and energy-intensive decontamination process currently used by the medical and food industries.

China censors squelch web searches in activist case
Chinese censors Monday blocked web searches of a host of terms related to blind activist Chen Guangcheng, from his name to "Shawshank Redemption", the prison-break film being compared to his case.

Maintaining bridges on a budget
What if there was a way to vastly improve the safety, durability and sustainability of bridges across North America without increasing spending? This was the question Saleh Abu Dabous set out to answer when he began his PhD at Concordia. "I was looking for an applied way to do research — something that would have an impact on society and improve the current situation," he remembers.

UK court tells service providers: Block Pirate Bay
(AP) -- Britain's High Court has ordered the country's Internet service providers to block file-sharing website The Pirate Bay, the U.K.'s main music industry association said Monday.

Racial profiling at US airports? Here's an app for that
Travelers who suspect they have been victims of racial profiling by security screeners at US airports can now lodge a complaint in minutes, thanks to a smartphone application released on Monday.

Engineers scale-up production of biopolymer microthreads
Development of new therapies for a range of medical conditions—from common sports injuries to heart attacks—will be supported by a new production-scale microthread extruder designed and built by a team of graduate students and biomedical engineering faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI).

Comparing apples and oranges
Every year, U.S. supermarkets lose roughly 10 percent of their fruits and vegetables to spoilage, according to the Department of Agriculture. To help combat those losses, MIT chemistry professor Timothy Swager and his students have built a new sensor that could help grocers and food distributors better monitor their produce.

Wind farms lift the temperature in their region
Wind turbines can modify the local climate by warming the atmosphere, according to a study that revealed an increase in temperature of 0.72 degrees over a region of Texas where four large wind farms have been built.

Graduation year drives Facebook connections for college grads
Are you connected to college friends on Facebook? Research from North Carolina State University shows that these social networks tend to form around graduation year or university housing – rather than other interests.

Conquering LED efficiency droop
WASHINGTON, April 30--Like a coffee enthusiast who struggles to get a buzz from that third cup of morning joe, light-emitting diodes (LEDs) seem to reach a point where more electricity no longer imparts the same kick and productivity levels-off. Now a team of researchers from California and Japan has devised a new design for green and blue LEDs that avoids much of this vexing efficiency droop. The findings will be presented at the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO: 2012), taking place May 6-11 in San Jose, Calif.

Get your rotor runnin': Flexrotor program takes off for next phase (w/ Video)
Part helicopter, part airplane, the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Flexrotor vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) enters the next development phase April 30 in delivering improved maritime surveillance capability.

A 100-gigbit highway for science
Climate researchers are producing some of the fastest growing datasets in science. Five years ago, the amount of information generated for the Nobel Prize-winning United Nations International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report was 35 terabytes—equivalent to the amount of text in 35 million books, occupying a bookshelf 248 miles (399 km) long. By 2014, when the next IPCC report is published, experts predict that 2 petabytes of data will have been generated for it—that's a 580 percent increase in data production.

What online social networks may know about non-members
( -- What can social networks on the internet know about persons who are friends of members, but have no user profile of their own? Researchers from the Interdisciplinary Center for Scientific Computing of Heidelberg Univer­sity studied this question. Their work shows that through network analytical and machine learning tools the relationships between members and the connection patterns to non-members can be evaluated with regards to non-member relationships. Using simple contact data, it is possible, under certain conditions, to correctly predict that two non-members know each other with approx. 40 percent probability.

SNOPA to employers seeking passwords: Access denied
( -- A Bill has been introduced in Washington to stop employers and schools from demanding access to people’s social network accounts. On Friday, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) presented SNOPA, which stands for the Social Networking Online Protection Act. Under SNOPA, employers can’t ask current workers or new job applicants for access to their social networking accounts. If employers ignored the ruling they would pay $10,000 as civil penalty. The ban on such information demands would also apply to schools.

Medicine & Health news

Lymphoma therapy could deliver a double punch
B cell lymphomas are a group of cancers of that originate in lymphoid tissue from B cells, the specialized immune cell type that produces antibodies. The development of B cell lymphoma is associated with several known genetic changes, including increased expression of MYC, a transcription factor that promotes cell growth and division.

2 drugs better than 1 to treat youth with type 2 diabetes
A combination of two diabetes drugs, metformin and rosiglitazone, was more effective in treating youth with recent-onset type 2 diabetes than metformin alone, a study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has found. Adding an intensive lifestyle intervention to metformin provided no more benefit than metformin therapy alone.

Image share project gives patients and physicians anytime, anywhere access to medical images
Patients can successfully pull their medical images from the "cloud" making it faster for them to distribute them to their physicians regardless of where those physicians might be, according to a preliminary report of an image share project that involves five different academic institutions.

Study examines benefit of follow-up CT when abdominal ultrasound inconclusive
About one-third of CT examinations performed following an inconclusive abdominal ultrasound examination have positive findings, according to a study of 449 patients at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Radiologists rank themselves as less than competent on health policy issues
Radiologists classify themselves as less competent than other physicians regarding knowledge of patient imaging costs and patient safety, a new study shows.

Breastfeeding is associated with a healthy infant gut
Early colonization of the gut by microbes in infants is critical for development of their intestinal tract and in immune development. A new study, published in BioMed Central's open access journal Genome Biology, shows that differences in bacterial colonization of formula-fed and breast-fed babies leads to changes in the infant's expression of genes involved in the immune system, and in defense against pathogens.

MR enterography is as good or better than standard imaging exams for pediatric Crohn's patients
MR enterography is superior to CT enterography in diagnosing fibrosis in pediatric patients with Crohn disease and equally as good as CT enterography in detecting active inflammation, and a new study shows.

One-third of adult Americans with arthritis battle anxiety or depression
Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that one-third of U.S. adults with arthritis, 45 years and older, report having anxiety or depression. According to findings that appear today in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal published by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), anxiety is nearly twice as common as depression among people with arthritis, despite more clinical focus on the latter mental health condition.

How to know when a 'rash' is serious? video chat!
Rose Ferrara looks as spry at 97 as some people do at 77, but if a health concern arises outside of a regularly scheduled doctor’s appointment she would rather not leave her comfortable home to get evaluated. A University of Rochester Medical Center research project that uses telemedicine for senior citizens seems made-to-order.

Research suggests breast-fed infants metabolize perchlorate
A group of infants and mothers tested at The University of Texas at Arlington have given researchers another reason to extol the unique properties of breast milk.

Telemedicine vision for remote eye care
(Medical Xpress) -- Optometrists from Flinders University will soon be able to diagnose and manage eye diseases in rural and remote communities – all from the comfort of their computer chair.

Cancer patient gets new lease on life through clinical trial
Arizona resident Evelyn Sorensen is in a far different place today than she was six months ago, thanks to a cutting-edge cancer clinical trial being conducted at the Virginia G. Piper Cancer Center at Scottsdale Healthcare in partnership with the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen).

Scientists uncover exciting lead into premature ageing and heart disease
Scientists have discovered that they can dramatically increase the life span of mice with progeria (premature ageing disease) and heart disease (caused by Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy) by reducing levels of a protein called SUN1. This research was done by A*STAR’s Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) in collaboration with their partners at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in the United States and the Institute of Cellular and System Medicine in Taiwan. Their findings were published in the prestigious scientific journal, Cell, on 27th April 2012 and provide an exciting lead into developing new methods to treat premature aging and heart disease.

There's something healthy in the state of Denmark
The people of Denmark are not only concerned about what they eat, but they are willing to pay more tax to eat healthier and make more informed eating choices. The results of this study come at a time when healthy eating and increasing rates of obesity are becoming a major concern for people the world over. Despite this concern, however, government policy actions have rarely been evaluated. The findings are an outcome of the EU-funded EATWELL ('Interventions to promote healthy eating habits: evaluation and recommendations') project, which has received EUR 2.5 million under the 'Food, agriculture and fisheries, and biotechnology' (KBBE) Theme of the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7). EATWELL is looking into a variety of European policies aimed at reducing obesity and the lengths people would go to become healthy.

Parents important in steering kids away from sedentary activities
Parents can have a significant impact in steering young children away from too much time spent in sedentary pursuits. This new study, in the American Journal of Health Promotion, found this effect in Hispanic families, whose children are more likely to be sedentary than non-Hispanic white children and who are also especially vulnerable to becoming overweight or obese.

Three fears may discourage colorectal cancer screening
New research about why people forego colorectal cancer (CRC) screening suggests that three fears play a significant role; fear of embarrassment, fear of getting AIDS and fear of pain may make some seniors skip the potentially lifesaving tests.

New research expands understanding of psychoactive medication use among children in foster care
A few months after the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on the use of psychoactive drugs by children in foster care in five states, a national study from PolicyLab at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia describes prescription patterns over time in 48 states. The updated findings show the percentage of children in foster care taking antipsychotics--a class of psychoactive drugs associated with serious side effects for children-- continued to climb in the last decade. At the same time, a slight decline was seen in the use of other psychoactive medications, including the percentage of children receiving 3 or more classes of these medications at once (polypharmacy).

Mayo Clinic completes implementation of new SCC Soft Computer laboratory information system
Mayo Clinic today announced that it has completed a multiyear implementation of a new laboratory information system for the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology and Mayo Medical Laboratories. The new system, which connects Mayo laboratories in Arizona, Minnesota and New England, was developed in collaboration with SCC Soft Computer of Clearwater, Fla.

New study finds gender, racial/ethnic disparities in general surgery board certification
An analysis of a national cohort of recent medical school graduates may provide insight into why women and graduates of some minority groups are relatively underrepresented among general surgeons, particularly those certified by the American Board of Surgery (ABS). The researchers found that general surgery graduate trainees in selected pop-ulation groups are more likely to go off the general surgery career path and into other medical specialties or, if they remain in surgery, are more likely not to complete the surgery board-certification process, according to a report published in the May issue of the Journal of the American College of Surgeons.

Regional variation in rates of cardiac procedures on the rise in Michigan
Regional differences in rates of cardiac procedures have increased in Michigan over the past decade—not fully explained by differences in health risk factors, heart attack or cardiac mortality rates—according to a report released today by the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT). The report compares the state's hospital referral regions (HRRs) using claims data from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan's (BCBSM's) under-65 commercial subscribers and Medicare data from The Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care in Michigan.

Cost study shows timing crucial in appendectomies
Removing a child's ruptured appendix sooner rather than later significantly lowers hospital costs and charges, according to a recently published study.

Magnetic resonance imaging with side effects
Great care should be taken when performing magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients with a cardiac pacemaker. Henning Bovenschulte and his co-authors review recent findings in the latest issue of Deutsches Ärzteblatt International (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2012; 109[15]: 270-5).

The antibiotic, amoxicillin-clavulanate, before a meal may improve small bowel motility
The common antibiotic, amoxicillin-clavulanate, may improve small bowel function in children experiencing motility disturbances, according to a study appearing in the June print edition of the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition from Nationwide Children's Hospital.

Only 1 in 5 bike share cyclists wears a helmet
A national rise in public bike sharing programs could mean less air pollution and more exercise, an environmental and health win-win for people in the cities that host them, but according to researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, more than 80 percent of bike share riders are putting themselves at significant health risk by not wearing helmets.

System helps public health officials identify priorities to better allocate resources
As the United States grapples with health care reform, much attention has focused on the importance of preventative health care. Now, a researcher at the University of Missouri has developed a system that could help public health care organizations determine the best method of allocating resources by prioritizing health risk factors and conditions – in some cases before these conditions become major health problems.

Avastin and Lucentis are equivalent in treating age-related macular degeneration
At two years, Avastin (bevacizumab) and Lucentis (ranibizumab injection), two widely used drugs to treat age-related macular degeneration (AMD), improve vision when administered monthly or on an as needed basis, although greater improvements in vision were seen with monthly administration for this common, debilitating eye disease, according to researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Poorer quality of life for gay men and minorities after prostate cancer treatment: What are we missing?
To improve the quality of life in gay men and minorities treated for prostate cancer, a greater awareness of ethnic and sexual preference-related factors is needed to help men choose a more-suitable treatment plan, researchers from Thomas Jefferson University Hospital conclude in a literature review published May 1 in Nature Reviews Urology.

Culturally tailored program helps Mexican-American women lose weight
Mexican-American women who participated in a culturally tailored weight management program lost weight, reduced their fat and sugar consumption and improved their eating habits according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health. At the end of the year-long De Por Vida ("For Life") program, the women had lost an average of nearly 16 pounds.

Parents cheer autism-friendly 'Mary Poppins'
(AP) -- The afternoon performance of "Mary Poppins" was marked by loud yips, shouts and moans - and that was just fine.

Equal access to care helps close survival gap for young African-American cancer patients
A new analysis from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital adds to evidence that equal access to comprehensive treatment and supportive care typically translates into equally good outcomes for most young African-American and white cancer patients.

The bright side of death: Awareness of mortality can result in positive behaviors
Contemplating death doesn't necessarily lead to morose despondency, fear, aggression or other negative behaviors, as previous research has suggested. Following a review of dozens of studies, University of Missouri researchers found that thoughts of mortality can lead to decreased militaristic attitudes, better health decisions, increased altruism and helpfulness, and reduced divorce rates.

Researchers question pulling plug on pacifiers
Binkies, corks, soothers. Whatever you call pacifiers, conventional wisdom holds that giving them to newborns can interfere with breastfeeding.

Starting a family does not encourage parents to eat healthier
It is often thought that starting a family will lead parents to healthier eating habits, as they try to set a good example for their children. Few studies, however, have evaluated how the addition of children into the home may affect parents' eating habits. Changes in family finances, the challenges of juggling schedules, or a child's eating preferences may influence how a family eats. In one of the first longitudinal studies to examine the effect of having children on parents' eating habits, researchers have found that parenthood does not lead to healthier diets. The research is published online today in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Newer, more expensive psoriasis drugs only slightly more effective than older therapies under real world conditions
More expensive biologic treatments for psoriasis were only marginally more effective than standard treatments, according to a new study led by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Researchers found that previously reported response rates from randomized controlled trials were higher than results in a clinical, real-world setting. The research was published in the Archives of Dermatology, one of the JAMA/Archives Journals.

Overlooked nighttime spikes on EEGs may reflect an underlying brain injury
Children with developmental delay or autism may have unrecognized epilepsy-like brain activity during sleep, report researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital. These nighttime electrical spikes, detectable only on EEGs, occur even in some children without known epilepsy and appear to result from early strokes or other early life injuries to the developing brain, the study found. Results were published online April 25 by the journal Neurology.

Diamond implants are forever
Artificial retina implants for treating neurodegenerative diseases and blindness were developed by the EU-funded 'Diamond to retina artificial micro-interface structures' (Dreams) project.

Obesity affects job prospects for women, study finds
Obese women are more likely to be discriminated against when applying for jobs and receive lower starting salaries than their non-overweight colleagues, a new study has found.

Vitamin D supplements may protect against viral infections during the winter
Vitamin D may be known as the sunshine vitamin, but a new research report appearing in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows that it is more than that. According to the report, insufficient levels of vitamin D are related to a deficiency in our innate immune defenses that protect us from infections, neoplasias or autoimmune diseases. Since vitamin D levels decrease during autumn and winter when days are shorter and sunlight is relatively weak, this may explain why people are more prone to viral infection during these times. It also suggests that vitamin D supplementation, especially in older populations, could strengthen people's innate immunity against viral infections.

Scientists discover enzyme that could slow part of the aging process in astronauts -- and the elderly
New research published online in the FASEB Journal suggests that a specific enzyme, called 5-lipoxygenase, plays a key role in cell death induced by microgravity environments, and that inhibiting this enzyme will likely help prevent or lessen the severity of immune problems in astronauts caused by spaceflight. Additionally, since space conditions initiate health problems that mimic the aging process on Earth, this discovery may also lead to therapeutics that extend lives by bolstering the immune systems of the elderly.

Key protein's newly discovered form and function may provide novel cancer treatment target
Research led by St. Jude Children's Research Hospital investigators suggests that safeguarding cell survival and maintaining a balanced immune system is just the start of the myeloid cell leukemia sequence 1 (MCL1) protein's work.

A new drug to manage resistant chronic pain
Neuropathic pain, caused by nerve or tissue damage, is the culprit behind many cases of chronic pain. It can be the result of an accident or caused by a variety of medical conditions and diseases such as tumors, lupus, and diabetes. Typically resistant to common types of pain management including ibuprofen and even morphine, neuropathic pain can lead to lifelong disability for many sufferers.

Keep your fruit close and your vegetables closer
College students wishing to eat healthier may want to invest in a clear fruit bowl says a recent article published in Environment and Behavior (published by SAGE). The new study found that when fruits and vegetables are within arm's reach, students are more likely to eat them. Furthermore, making fruit and vegetables more visible increases the intake of fruit, but the same does not hold true for vegetables.

Researcher develops non-toxic dandruff shampoo
Dandruff sufferers now have a non-toxic product to treat the condition, says a researcher at Georgia Health Sciences University.

Protein heals wounds, boosts immunity and protects from cancer
Hans Vogel, a professor in the biological sciences department, is the guest editor of a special issue of the journal Biochemistry and Cell Biology that focuses on lactoferrin, an important iron-binding protein with many health benefits.

Study seeks to improve stroke outcomes by optimizing blood glucose control
About 40 percent of ischemic stroke patients arrive at the hospital with high blood glucose levels that can worsen their brain damage, say physicians working to stop the additional loss.

Pesticide exposure linked to brain changes: study
When pregnant women are exposed to moderate levels of a common pesticide, their children may experience lasting changes in brain structure linked to lower intelligence, a US study said Monday.

Antimicrobial resistance for common urinary tract infections drug increases five fold since 2000
WASHINGTON, District of Columbia (April 30, 2012) – In a surveillance study of over 12 million bacteria, investigators at The George Washington University and Providence Hospital found E. coli antimicrobial resistance to ciprofloxacin, the most commonly prescribed antimicrobial for urinary tract infections in the U.S., increased over five-fold from 2000 to 2010. In addition, nearly one in four isolates in 2010 were resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim®), the second most commonly prescribed drug for this infection. This research was published in the April edition of the journal, Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

WHO growth curves offer no distinct advantage over CDC measures
Several medical organizations have recently recommended that doctors switch from using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) growth curves to the World Health Organization (WHO) growth curves to better determine overweight and obesity in children in Canada aged 5 years. However, a study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) shows no advantage in using one over the other.

Study shows halting an enzyme can slow multiple sclerosis in mice
Researchers studying multiple sclerosis(MS) have long been looking for the specific molecules in the body that cause lesions in myelin, the fatty, insulating cells that sheathe the nerves. Nearly a decade ago, a group at Mayo Clinic found a new enzyme, called Kallikrein 6, that is present in abundance in MS lesions and blood samples and is associated with inflammation and demyelination in other neurodegenerative diseases. In a study published this month in Brain Pathology, the same group found that an antibody that neutralizes Kallikrein 6 is capable of staving off MS in mice.

Synthetic stool a prospective treatment for C. difficile
A synthetic mixture of intestinal bacteria could one day replace stool transplants as a treatment for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile). C. difficile is a toxin-producing bacteria that can overpopulate the colon when antibiotics eradicate other, naturally protective bacteria living there.

A middle-ear microphone
(Medical Xpress) -- Cochlear implants have restored basic hearing to some 220,000 deaf people, yet a microphone and related electronics must be worn outside the head, raising reliability issues, preventing patients from swimming and creating social stigma.

Devastating disease provides insight into development and death of motor neurons
Researchers at UCLA have been searching for the cause of a rare disease that virtually no one has ever heard: PCH1, or pontocerebellar hypoplasia type 1, which attacks the brain and the spine.

Scientists identify brain circuitry associated with addictive, depressive behaviors
(Medical Xpress) -- Scientists at the UCSF-affiliated Gladstone Institutes have determined how specific circuitry in the brain controls not only body movement, but also motivation and learning, providing new insight into neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease — and psychiatric disorders such as addiction and depression.

Multitasking may hurt your performance, but it makes you feel better
People aren't very good at media multitasking - like reading a book while watching TV - but do it anyway because it makes them feel good, a new study suggests.

Video games can teach how to shoot guns more accurately and aim for the head
Just 20 minutes of playing a violent shooting video game made players more accurate when firing a realistic gun at a mannequin – and more likely to aim for and hit the head, a new study found.

Highly religious people are less motivated by compassion than are non-believers
"Love thy neighbor" is preached from many a pulpit. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, suggests that the highly religious are less motivated by compassion when helping a stranger than are atheists, agnostics and less religious people.

Test result written in blood
(Medical Xpress) -- In the book "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" by J. K. Rowling, Harry writes a question in Tom Riddle’s diary—and a written answer appears. Australian researchers were inspired by the idea of paper that writes on itself. In the journal Angewandte Chemie, they have introduced a blood test that indicates blood type in plain text.

How human cells 'hold hands'
University of Iowa biologists have advanced the knowledge of human neurodevelopmental disorders by finding that a lack of a particular group of cell adhesion molecules in the cerebral cortex -- the outermost layer of the brain where language, thought and other higher functions take place -- disrupts the formation of neural circuitry.

Bilingualism fine-tunes hearing, enhances attention
A Northwestern University study that will be published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) provides the first biological evidence that bilinguals' rich experience with language in essence "fine-tunes" their auditory nervous system and helps them juggle linguistic input in ways that enhance attention and working memory.

How does the immune system fight off threats to the brain?
Like a police officer calling for backup while also keeping a strong hold on a suspected criminal, immune cells in the brain take a two-tier approach to fighting off a threat, new research from the University of Michigan Health System finds.

High-strength silk scaffolds improve bone repair
Biomedical engineers at Tufts University's School of Engineering have demonstrated the first all-polymeric bone scaffold material that is fully biodegradable and capable of providing significant mechanical support during repair. The new technology uses micron-sized silk fibers to reinforce a silk matrix, much as steel rebar reinforces concrete. It could improve the way bones and other tissues are repaired following accident or disease.

Biology news

Impaired recovery of Atlantic cod -- forage fish or other factors?
In a rapid communication just published in the Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, biologist Douglas Swain of the Gulf Fisheries Centre and Robert Mohn, emeritus scientist, at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography present findings that suggest the delay in recovery of Atlantic cod on the eastern Scotian Shelf could be attributed to increased predation by grey seals or other governing factors and not the effect of forage fish as previously thought.

24 new species of lizards discovered on Caribbean islands are close to extinction
In a single new scientific publication, 24 new species of lizards known as skinks, all from islands in the Caribbean, have been discovered and scientifically named. According to Blair Hedges, a professor of biology at Penn State University and the leader of the research team, half of the newly added skink species already may be extinct or close to extinction, and all of the others on the Caribbean islands are threatened with extinction. The researchers found that the loss of many skink species can be attributed primarily to predation by the mongoose -- an invasive predatory mammal that was introduced by farmers to control rats in sugarcane fields during the late nineteenth century. The research team reports on the newly discovered skinks in a 245-page article to be published on 30 April 2012 in the journal Zootaxa.

Bioluminescent technology for easy tracking of GMO
It is important to be able to monitor genetically modified (GM) crops, not only in the field but also during the food processing chain. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal BMC Biotechnology shows that products from genetically modified crops can be identified at low concentration, using bioluminescent real time reporter (BART) technology and loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). The combination of these techniques was able to recognise 0.1% GM contamination of maize, far below the current EU limit of 0.9%.

Australia to protect most vulnerable koalas
Australia moved on Monday to protect its most vulnerable koalas, listing the much-loved furry tree-dwellers as a threatened species in parts of the country.

Beetles chomping their way through salt cedar at Lake Meredith
Dr. Jerry Michels, a Texas AgriLife Research entomologist in Amarillo, is hopeful this will be the year major defoliation occurs on salt cedar that lines the banks of the waterways leading into Lake Meredith.

Antarctic albatross displays shift in breeding habits
A new study of the wandering albatross -- one of the largest birds on Earth -- has shown that some of the birds are breeding earlier in the season compared with 30 years ago.

Science fair winner publishes new study on butterfly foraging behavior
University of Florida lepidopterist Andrei Sourakov has spent his life's work studying moths and butterflies. But it was his teenage daughter, Alexandra, who led research on how color impacts butterflies' feeding patterns.

Orangutans harbor ancient primate Alu
Alu elements infiltrated the ancestral primate genome about 65 million years ago. Once gained an Alu element is rarely lost so comparison of Alu between species can be used to map primate evolution and diversity. New research published in BioMed Central's open access journal Mobile DNA has found a single Alu, which appears to be an ancestral great ape Alu, that has uniquely multiplied within the orangutan genome.

Tiny wasp may hold key to controlling kudzu bug
University of Georgia researcher John Ruberson is looking for natural enemies of the kudzu bug in an effort to fight the pest's spread across the Southern states. A tiny Asian wasp may be the best option.

Earthquake model explains Hydra's regenerative prowess
When the Greek hero Hercules sliced through one of the Lernaean Hydra's nine heads, two grew back in its place. This mythical creature's real life counterparts, a genus of tiny cylindrical animals known as Hydra, have equally impressive regenerative powers, prompting physicists to adapt a computer model to unlock these animals' secrets.

In search of the 'lost ladybug'
Leah Tyrrell wants to make something clear: She does not wear ladybug sweatshirts. She does not carry her belongings in ladybug bags, shelter from the rain beneath a ladybug-shaped umbrella, or take notes with pens decorated with little ladybugs.

A new glimpse into ancient human history
Analyzing DNA from four ancient skeletons and comparing it with thousands of genetic samples from living humans, a group of Scandinavian scientists reported that agriculture initially spread through Europe because farmers expanded their territory northward, not because the more primitive foragers already living there adopted it on their own.

FANCM plays key role in inheritance
Scientists of KIT and the University of Birmingham have identified relevant new functions of a gene that plays a crucial role in Fanconi anemia, a life-threatening disease.

Not all altruism is alike, says new study
( -- Not all acts of altruism are alike, says a new study. From bees and wasps that die defending their nests, to elephants that cooperate to care for young, a new mathematical model pinpoints the environmental conditions that favor one form of altruism over another.

Why bigger animals aren't always faster (w/ Video)
New research in the journal Physiological and Biochemical Zoology shows why bigger isn't always better when it comes to sprinting speed.

Jarid2 may break the Polycomb silence
Historically, fly and human Polycomb proteins were considered textbook exemplars of transcriptional repressors, or proteins that silence the process by which DNA gives rise to new proteins. Now, work by a team of researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research challenges that dogma.

Courtship in the cricket world
Everyone wants to present themselves in the best light - especially when it comes to finding a partner. Some rely on supplying honest information about their attributes while others exaggerate for good effect. A new study by researchers at the University of Bristol, published in PNAS, has discovered how male crickets could use similar tactics to attract a mate.

Darwinian selection continues to influence human evolution
New evidence proves humans are continuing to evolve and that significant natural and sexual selection is still taking place in our species in the modern world.

Mine study demonstrates how quickly bacteria can evolve
( -- Two Earth and environmental scientists from the University of California have found that by observing bacteria in situ in an abandoned mine in northern California, they have, as they describe in their paper published in the journal Science, been able to observe how quickly a single nearly undisturbed species of bacteria has evolved in the wild.

Scientists discover new kind of blue-green algae with carbonates in their cells
( -- Researchers studying organisms in Mexico's Lake Alchichica have discovered a new species of cyanobacterium that unlike any other ever found, has bony, intracellular carbonates. Up till now, specimens with such mineral deposits in their systems have, as the team explains in their paper published in the journal Science, had them on the outsides of their cells.

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1 comment:

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