Last modified: Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Vol. 2, no. 5
Feb. 2, 2005
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 email@example.com).
January science news:
* Early hominid fossils unearth humanity's past
* Some antidepressants lower tamoxifen's efficacy
* Laws on sending mutant stocks fly in the face of fairness
* IU, NSF unveil beautiful, functional new Web sites
* Need 2-D or 3-D graphics for your book, article or paper? Ask Seyet LLC, NASA, or NSF for help
"Seeking Better Web Searches" (INFORMATION SCIENCE)
EXCERPT: In less than a decade, Internet search engines have completely changed how people gather information. No longer must we run to a library to look up something; rather we can pull up relevant documents with just a few clicks on a keyboard. Now that "Googling" has become synonymous with doing research, online search engines are poised for a series of upgrades that promise to further enhance how we find what we need.
* This excellent eight-page article by Indiana University Bloomington computer scientist Javed Mostafa explains how Internet search engines work -- and how they can be improved. Mostafa is the Victor H. Yngve Associate Professor of Information Science in the School of Library and Information Science.
(Access to the full article requires a subscription)
"Pieces of an Ancestor: African site yields new look at ancient species" (ANTHROPOLOGY)
Vol. 167, no. 4
Jan. 22, 2005
EXCERPT: New fossil discoveries in eastern Africa offer a rare glimpse of one of the oldest members of humanity's evolutionary family. More than 4 million years ago, this upright-walking hominid -- dubbed Ardipithecus ramidus -- lived in an area that contained a patchwork of habitats populated by a wide variety of animals, say anthropologist Sileshi Semaw of Indiana University's CRAFT Stone Age Institute in Gosport and his colleagues.
* The discovery of fossils from nine individuals of an early hominid species received broad, international coverage last month. IU CRAFT (Center for Research into the Anthropological Foundations of Technology) research scientist Sileshi Semaw runs a productive dig site near Gona, in northern Ethiopia. Semaw's research is funded by the Leakey Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the National Geographic Society.
(May require a subscription)
IU press release:
NSF press release:
"US forests cost-effective vs global warming -- study" (ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE)
Jan. 19, 2005
EXCERPT: The cost of using forests to remove greenhouse gases from the air could be about the same as cutting pollution with fuel switching or energy efficiency improvements, according to a new report from the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.
* School of Public and Environmental Affairs (IUB) Professor Ken Richards and Harvard University economist Robert Stavins recently published a report showing that natural (and possibly planted) forests make cost-effective carbon sinks. The researchers argue that forests should be a part of any U.S. policy meant to reduce greenhouse gases and pollutants. Their study was funded by Pew Charitable Trusts.
"Postal rule puts fly in research ointment" (BIOLOGY)
Jan. 17, 2005
EXCERPT: In incubation rooms filled with the smell of cornmeal and molasses, Indiana University biologists nurture millions of fruit flies from squirming larvae to winged adults... These gnat-like insects -- pests in many Americans' kitchens -- are the sole product of what's considered the world's most comprehensive repository for mutant fruit fly strains beloved by genetics researchers.
* International laws that regulate the distribution of fruit fly stocks across U.S. borders are of capital interest to Bloomington Drosophila Stock Center staff... and to a world of Drosophila scientists who depend on the BDSC's vast collection of mutants. IUB research scientist and BDSC Co-director Kevin Cook tells Associated Press reporter Rick Callahan, "We can't stop supplying scientists with the things they need to do their research. At the same time, we don't want to be in violation of the law."
"Anti-depressant drugs 'make breast cancer treatments less effective'" (MEDICINE)
Jan. 12, 2005
EXCERPT: Thousands of breast cancer patients who take Prozac and other drugs to counter depression are being warned that the treatment can make their anti-tumour medication less effective... A study by doctors from hospitals in America has found that Prozac and Seroxat both react negatively with tamoxifen, the drug which is given to women to prevent a recurrence of breast cancer, and prevent it working to its full capacity.
* IU School of Medicine clinical pharmacologist David Flockhart and colleagues at the University of Michigan and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions found that the commonly administered cancer drug tamoxifen tends to be less effective when a patient uses a class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. While the biochemical cause of tamoxifen's reduced efficacy is not known, metabolite competition at receptor binding sites seems likely.
IUSM press release:
"Noted Psychologist Esther Thelen" (PSYCHOLOGY)
Jan. 2, 2005
EXCERPT: Esther Thelen, 63, a prominent developmental psychologist who studied how the brains of human babies help them move, learn and generally function, died Dec. 29 at a hospital in Bloomington, Ind. She had cancer.
* IUB psychologist Esther Thelen was a major force in the world of developmental psychology. But she was also a force locally. Among her philanthropic activities on and off campus, Thelen always did what she could to encourage women and young girls to consider careers in science.
"Lasers test Einstein's theory one century on" (PHYSICS)
Jan. 1, 2005
EXCERPT: Tests of special relativity always attract interest, and they are likely to do so especially during 2005 -- the centenary of the publication of Albert Einstein's first paper on the subject, and the World Year of Physics. Special relativity is in any case a hot topic, with speculation that something might be wrong with Lorentz invariance...
* IUB physicist Alan Kostelecky has developed an experimental model that will allow scientists to determine whether an apparent flaw in Einsteinian relativity theory exists.
"Itty-bitty Chip Stirs Privacy Debate" (INFORMATICS)
Dec. 25, 2004
EXCERPT: As many as 2,000 people in the world are walking around with rice-size chips under their skin that can allow others to find out a great deal of information about them... Want to know if the individual has had his gallbladder removed, or has a pacemaker? Want to make sure the person handing you a credit card really is who he says he is?
* Radio frequency ID (RFID) technology has arrived, and so has earnest ethical debate over its use. As yet, only one brand of the subcuticular microchip and transmitter exists -- VeriChip. School of Informatics (IUB) cybersecurity expert L. Jean Camp tells Vincent Schodolski, the Chicago Tribune's Los Angeles bureau chief, "If I wanted to steal your identity under this model, it appears [all] I would have to do is get an RFID reader for a few hundred dollars. I could then read your VeriChip ID as you walk past."
(Thanks to the School of Informatics for hosting this article.)
IU, NSF unveil beautiful, functional new Web sites
In response to a directive from IU Vice President for Research Michael McRobbie, the IU research portal has been reworked extensively. The new site retains the old site's reliable functionality -- but incorporates new information in a way that not only serves IU researchers' most urgent needs -- it also celebrates their scholarly output. Many people contributed to the Web site's rebirth, but special credit is owed OVPR's Sherry Fisher. Sherry solicited and organized input from IU faculty and staff, united sometimes-disagreeable personnel from numerous university divisions, turned comments into usable information, oversaw improvements to the Web pages' architecture... all the while maintaining her high standards.
Research at Indiana University: http://research.indiana.edu
The National Science Foundation launched its own new Web site this weekend. Information for grantees, prospective grantees, and university administrators is easily accessible, as before. But the site is a lot more fun to look at now, and more informative too, I think. Sensing a change in the way journalists and the general public get their science information, NSF's Office of Legislative and Public Affairs plans to use the Web extensively for media communications and multimedia educational projects.
National Science Foundation: http://www.nsf.gov
Need 2-D or 3-D graphics for your book, article or paper? Ask Seyet LLC, NASA, or NSF for help
Sure, you may know your way around Photoshop and Excel, but can you render your favorite phage or Mesozoic stratum in 3-D? Or produce a video of pi bonds breaking and reforming?
If you find a picture can explain a phenomenon better than textual description and bar charts can, consider hiring a graphic artist. If the research you are communicating is funded by NSF or NASA, you're in luck -- both organizations have their own staffs of professional graphic artists who may be able to work with you for free or at low cost. For more information, please contact the program officer administering your grant.
NSF and NASA are unusual -- most funding agencies do not have such artistic leanings. But never fear. A number of private artists who specialize in scientific images exist, and one is in Indiana.
Seyet LLC, in W. Lafayette, Ind., is a company that specializes in scientific still images and video. Rates for visualizations range from $1,000 - $80,000, depending on the level of detail, the number of datasets that must be imported, and other factors. Seyet's James Bartek tells me his staff usually find a way to tie the cost of an art project to a researcher's grant or to a grant supplement.
An example of Seyet's work is here: http://www.seyet.com/t4phage/
* * * * 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, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Hal Kibbey at 812-855-0074, email@example.com.
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