Last modified: Thursday, March 16, 2006
Vol. 3, no. 6
March 16, 2006
Indiana Science Monthly is a selection of recent news stories about Indiana University scientists and their research. Comments or questions about this newsletter may be directed to David Bricker, Office of Media Relations (812-856-9035 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
February science news:
* Sex is a genomic housekeeper
* Computer modelers fiddle with violin design
* Treating blood vessel damage with stem cells
* AAAS and NSF's 2006 Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge
"Spammers spin Web of deceit" (INFORMATICS)
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service
Feb. 27, 2006
EXCERPT: Spammers are trying a new way to trick you into handing over your personal information: posing as your friend... Exploiting social networking Web sites like myspace.com and facebook.com, spammers and identity thieves are making junk e-mail look like it was sent by the recipient's friend, cyber-crime experts say.
* Indiana University computer scientist Markus Jakobsson tells Justin Rocket Silverman (for KRT), "Phishing is very much on the rise and the techniques are getting more refined all the time... One new trend is using personal details to specifically target individuals. You can send a spoof e-mail that looks like it came from a bank, but you can just as easily make it look like it came from a friend." Jakobsson and the startup he co-founded, RavenWhite, have created a countermeasure to stop phishers from "pharming" and executing successful "man-in-the-middle" attacks.
IU Informatics press release:
"A Good Reason For Sex" (BIOLOGY)
EXCERPT: The question of why organisms have sex may seem trivially easy -- any mortified kid who's sat through a birds-and-bees lecture knows that it's to reproduce.
* Amos Kenigsberg looks at recent research on the origins of sexual reproduction. Kenigsberg summarizes a recent Science article by IUB biologists Susanne Paland and Michael Lynch.
IU press release:
"Health & Science: In Brief" (BIOLOGY)
Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service
Feb. 24, 2006
EXCERPT: There is nothing like sex to clean out old genomes, Indiana University researchers report in the current issue of Science... Biologists have long sought to explain the benefits of comparatively time- and energy-intensive sexual reproduction over asexual reproduction, the simple splitting of cells.
* IUB biologists Michael Lynch and Susanne Paland reported asexual lineages of Daphnia pulex appear to be young, compared to most sexual lineages. The scientists also found more deleterious mutations in asexual lines.
Not available online.
IU press release:
"Teflon-Linked Dangers May Not Stick" (MEDICINE)
Feb. 23, 2006
EXCERPT: You could almost hear a resounding clank across America this month as thousands of health-conscious cooks tossed out their Teflon non-stick cookware, following the news it might emit a suspected carcinogen.
* IU School of Medicine toxicologist and EPA advisor James Klaunig supports industry claims that the danger is minimal, possibly non-existent. He is quoted, "My understanding from experience with the [perfluorooctanoic acid] studies is that once the Teflon is produced as a coating, the PFOA is no longer available chemically. Thus it can not leach from the Teflon."
"Evolution being taught more in state, study says" (SCIENCE EDUCATION)
Feb. 21, 2006
EXCERPT: Ten years ago, high school biology teachers in Indiana spent little time teaching students about evolution... Despite controversy over the place of evolution instruction in the classroom, there's been a shift in the Hoosier state: A new study indicates teachers are devoting more, not fewer, hours to incorporating the concept of evolution into their lessons. At the same time, the study says, Indiana schools of education could improve their preparation of science teachers on the subject of evolution.
* A study by IU Ph.D. student Lisa Donnelly suggests Indiana science teachers are spending more time discussing concepts of evolution with their students. Donnelly tells freelance reporter (and College magazine Managing Editor) Anne Kibbler, "Indiana really takes evolution teaching seriously compared with other states."
"New Chemical Lows in Brain Surveillance" (NEUROSCIENCE)
Chemical & Engineering News
Vol. 84, no. 8
Feb. 20, 2006
EXCERPT: As a profoundly wrinkled, 3-lb mass with a consistency of thick custard, the brain poses a puzzle for anyone who wants to understand how this cantaloupe-sized organ can do so much.
* C&EN reporter (and former IUB graduate student) Ivan Amato examines the latest techniques in brain and nervous system study. IUB neuroscientist George V. Rebec uses voltammetric methods to measure brain ascorbate (vitamin C) levels in mice with Huntington's disease.
(Access may require a subscription)
"Do Aphrodisiacs Really Work?" (BIOLOGY)
National Geographic News
Feb. 14, 2006
EXCERPT: For thousands of years people have pursued plants, potions, scents, and stimulants believed to boost sexual desire... The world's aphrodisiacs -- named for Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty -- range from the mundane to the downright bizarre.
* Rigorous, scientific evidence is lacking on the subject. Kinsey Institute spokesperson Jennifer Bass tells NGN reporter Brain Handwerk, "It's important to know -- when it comes to everything from food to pharmaceuticals that are used for sexual attraction and arousal -- you always have to factor in a large placebo effect."
"New Stem Cell Treatment Tested for Clogged Arteries" (MEDICINE)
Feb. 13, 2006
EXCERPT: A revolutionary stem cell treatment is being tested which could prevent sores, ulcers and amputations in people with clogged arteries... An estimated one in 20 people over the age of 55 in the UK have Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD) which causes poor circulation, usually to the legs... PAD is the result of atherosclerosis...
* IU School of Medicine scientists are currently treating 10 PAD patients with stem cells in the hope that the cells will encourage blood vessel replacement and repair.
"Swedes Go High-Tech to Crack Stradivari Code" (PHYSICS/MUSIC)
Feb. 6, 2006
EXCERPT: ... Nearly 270 years after his death, the genius of violin-maker Antonio Stradivari shines brightly as ever. So elegant do his violins sound, so easily do they play and so beautiful are they to behold that most of the 650 or so that survive are famous enough to have their own names... Today, Stradivari's instruments are still coveted by great virtuosi, but even as their music has captivated generations of concertgoers, their workmanship has confounded generations of scientists and artisans. Why does a Stradivarius sound the way it does? Why has no one ever been able to duplicate it?
* Jacobs School of Music Director of String Instrument Technology Thomas Sparks welcomes a Swedish research team's approach to understanding the sweet, rich sound of Stradivarius violins. The Swedes will build a computer model of a violin and compare its virtual sound production to what they know of real-world Strad violins. Sparks tells Washington Post science writer Guy Gugliotta, "Any time somebody does acoustical research, they really refine some of the earlier theories of why these instruments work the way they do."
AAAS and NSF's 2006 Science & Engineering Visualization Challenge
From the original call for entries: "When the left brain collaborates with the right brain, science emerges with art to enhance communication and understanding of research results—illustrating concepts, depicting phenomena, drawing conclusions... The National Science Foundation and Science, published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, invite you to participate in the fourth annual Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge. The competition recognizes scientists, engineers, visualization specialists, and artists for producing or commissioning innovative work in visual communication."
You may remember documentarian Samuel Orr and IUB Biology's Roger Hangarter won first prize in the 2005 contest's "non-interactive" video category.
Deadline: MONDAY, MAY 31, 20006
More information is here:
* * * * Do you have an important and/or interesting paper in press? A major event or presentation coming up? Please contact IU Office of Media Relations science writers David Bricker at 812-856-9035, email@example.com, or Hal Kibbey at 812-855-0074, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Indiana Science Monthly is produced for internal use only. If you have received this eMail in error, or do not wish not to receive this monthly eMail, or if you have a news item for the next edition of ISM, please contact David Bricker at 812-856-9035, email@example.com.