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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Indiana Science Monthly flag

Vol. 3, no. 3
Dec. 9, 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

November science news:
* The egalitarian search engine
* Mapping human thought
* Bad manners by the bedside

November science news

"When the Doctor Is In, but You Wish He Wasn't" (MEDICINE/ETHICS)
New York Times
Nov. 30, 2005

EXCERPT: Joanne Wong's doctor correctly figured out what was wrong with her. But he would not tell her... Ms. Wong had come across a bane of the medical profession: the difficult doctor. These doctors may be arrogant or rude, highhanded or dismissive. They drive away patients who need help, and some have been magnets for malpractice claims.

* Many doctors have a bedside manner that lacks... sophistication. Patients rarely speak up, however -- even patients who are doctors themselves. Indiana University School of Medicine Professor of Medicine and Geriatrics Richard Frankel tells New York Times reporter Gina Kolata, ''You hear their sad story... 'and then you ask, 'Well, did you say anything to the person who was offensive to you or treated you poorly?' Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time the answer is no.''


"Research Labs Experiencing Budget Woes" (GENERAL SCIENCE)
New York Times
Nov. 27, 2005

EXCERPT: Money is tight, say Long Island's premier research facilities, Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, and it is about to get tighter.

* U.S. government cutbacks on science funding are forcing some universities and research institutes to delay payouts to foreign equipment suppliers. The delays may be damaging Americans' credibility overseas. IUB physicist Steven Vigdor tells New York Times reporter Natalie Canavor, "'Much of the equipment was funded by a Japanese research institute... the government makes these sudden decisions that delay the payoff, the message to international partners is extremely negative.''
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"Complex Shapes Up" (CHEMISTRY)
Chemical & Engineering News
Vol. 83, no. 47
Nov. 21, 2005

EXCERPT: By combining ion mobility measurements and mass spectrometry, researchers have obtained information about a protein complex's shape and stoichiometry from a single analysis of the complex in the gas phase.

* IUB Chemistry Chair David Clemmer evaluated the discovery for C&EN reporter Celia Arnaud, saying, "The ability to rapidly assess the shapes of protein assemblies by mass spectrometry will open up many new approaches for understanding higher order structure."
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"Search engines might increase traffic to less popular sites" (INFORMATICS)
The Economist
Nov. 19, 2005

EXCERPT: The winner takes all, it is widely supposed in computing circles. Indeed, geeks have coined a word, "Googlearchy", for the way in which search engines encourage web traffic towards the most popular sites. The belief that search engines make popular websites ever more popular, at the expense of other pages, is now being challenged by research.

* According to a study by Indiana University Bloomington and Bielefeld University (Germany), search engines like Google appear to increase traffic to lesser known (but legitimate) Web sites.


"Perception gene' is genetically tracked" (BIOLOGY)
United Press International
Nov. 15, 2005

EXCERPT: A gene thought to influence perception and susceptibility to drug dependence is reportedly expressed more readily in human beings than in other primates... And that difference, say Indiana University-Bloomington researchers and scientists at three other academic institutions, coincides with the evolution of our species.

* The gene encodes prodynorphin, a precursor molecule of the neurotransmitters alpha-endorphin, dynorphin A, and dynorphin B, collectively called opioids because their action is similar to stimulatory effects caused by the drug opium. IUB biologist Matthew Hahn and Duke University researches collaborated.

IU press release:


"NASA taps IU Cyclotron to help in space research" (PHYSICS)
Associated Press
Nov. 13, 2005

EXCERPT: Scientists at the Indiana University Cyclotron will take part in NASA research into the effects cosmic rays and solar storms could have on astronauts during extended space missions such as a journey to Mars... Paul Sokol, the cyclotron's director, said little is known about how radiation from solar storms might affect space travelers whose bodies have been weakened by months at zero gravity.

* IU School of Medicine immunologists and hematologists will also be involved with the project


"The word: Connectome" (NEUROSCIENCE)
New Scientist
Issue 2525
Nov. 12, 2005

EXCERPT: The human brain is a fantastic maze of connections, a vast network of networks that circulates information and determines how we think and act. One of the many big puzzles left in neurology is working out which parts of the brain are connected - and how the networks function... That's why top neuroscientist Olaf Sporns of Indiana University at Bloomington and his team are hoping for some lively debate about their new blueprint to map those connections. Sporns is calling it "the human connectome" after the billion-dollar human genome project, but it's bound to be far more sophisticated.

* Models of cognition are becoming increasingly sophisticated thanks, in part, to the mapping of neural connections in model organisms.
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"Cicada Invasion: Award-Winning Film Records Astonishing Bugs" (BIOLOGY)
National Geographic Kids
Nov. 10, 2005

EXCERPT: The bugs pour out of the ground like a bubbling spring alive with energy, millions and millions of them clawing up through the dirt in the darkness of night. Sound like a science fiction movie? ... Actually the amazing film Return of the 17-Year Cicadas shows the life cycle of cool insects that spend most of their lives underground, emerging every 17 years to mate and create a new generation over a few weeks.

* If you haven't seen IUB biologist Roger Hangarter and documentarian Samuel Orr's winning entry, see the link in the article below.

IU press release:


"Little Change In Hiring For New Graduates" (CHEMISTRY)
Chemical & Engineering News
Vol. 83, no. 45
Nov. 7, 2005

EXCERPT: Chemists who are ready to enter the workforce or change jobs-and who are hoping that the industry has finally made a recovery and is hiring in earnest again-may be disappointed in the coming months. Many of the industry representatives and university chemistry department heads C&EN talked to about the 2005-06 hiring season said they predicted hiring levels for new chemists will roughly mirror those of last year or be slightly reduced. That's not good news, as last year's employment situation showed little sign of recovery from the prolonged downturn that has been affecting chemical hiring for years now.

* C&EN reporter Aalok Mehta reviews job prospects for the nation's chemistry graduates. Of IUB grads, Chemistry Chair David Clemmer tells Mehta, "I think in general that it's still a pretty good market for our people," he says. "I do think it may have slipped a little bit from last year, but I don't know anyone having trouble finding a job... Everybody got good positions" last year, he says. "We had people who had a range of different offers. But for others, offers didn't come as quickly. And maybe searches are taking a little bit longer."
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New Scientist
Issue 2524
Nov. 5, 2005

EXCERPT: The infant crawls across a floor strewn with blocks, grabbing and tasting as it goes, its malleable mind impressionable and hungry to learn. Before my eyes it is already adapting, discovering that the striped blocks are yummy and the spotted ones taste bad... Its exploration is driven by instincts: an interest in bright objects, a predilection for tasting things, and an innate notion of what tastes good. This, after all, is how babies explore the world and discover that pink, perky objects exist, and that they produce milk. Hands-on exploration moulds their billions of untrained brain cells into a fully functioning brain.

* IUB cognitive scientist Olaf Sporns has proposed a conceptual mapping of the human brain using information from the Human Genome Project.
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* * * * 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,, or Hal Kibbey at 812-855-0074,

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,