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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Indiana Science Monthly flag

Vol. 3, no. 10
July 25, 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

June science news:
* Minimally invasive surgery now used in brain and heart procedures
* Sperm cells' sensitive sense of smell
* Super strings, Lorentz Symmetry violations, and thou

June science news

"In the Twinkle of a Fly" (BIOLOGY)
American Scientist
July-August 2006

EXCERPT: Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard is one of the pioneers in the groundbreaking discoveries that revealed how genes regulate the development of animal embryos. For this effort she shared the 1995 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine with Eric F. Wieschaus and Edward B. Lewis. In Coming to Life, she provides an engaging and clear summary of what developmental biologists now understand about how embryos work.

* Indiana University Bloomington evolutionary biologist Rudolf Raff reviews Nüsslein-Volhard's Coming to Life: How Genes Drive Development for American Scientist. Raff, who is generally credited with having founded the field of evolutionary developmental biology, praises the text, saying, "Nüsslein-Volhard has given us a compact, vibrant, lucid guide to modern developmental biology."


"Experts to research ID theft" (INFORMATICS)
Associated Press
June 28, 2006

EXCERPT: An alliance of businesses, colleges and federal crime fighters will combine their expertise at a new research centre that will study the problems of identity theft and fraud.

* The Center for Identity Management and Information Protection was founded by IU (specifically, the Center for Applied Cybersecurity Research), Carnegie Mellon University, Utica College, LexisNexis, Inc., IBM Corp., the U.S. Secret Service, and the F.B.I. The Utica, N.Y.-based center will unify cybersecurity researchers and help coordinate large-scale projects.


"Stephen Hawking Takes Beijing; Now, Will Science Follow?" (GENERAL SCIENCE)
New York Times
June 20, 2006

EXCERPT: Like an otherworldly emperor, Stephen Hawking rolled his wheelchair onto the stage of the Great Hall of the People on Monday, bringing with him the royalty of science and making China, for this week at least, the center of the cosmos.

* Dennis Overbye's analysis of China's scientific progress discusses a letter by IU School of Medicine immunologist Xin-Yuan Fu and 119 other Chinese-born scientists who have called for better policing of China's scientific research. Several instances of fraud in 2006 have created unease among the world's scientists and scientific publishers.
(Access to full article requires a fee)


"Time to retire the scalpel?" (MEDICINE)
Los Angeles Times
June 19, 2006

EXCERPT: The doctor sits in a darkened corner of an operating room about 10 feet from where his patient lies on a gurney. Members of his surgical team stand around the room's periphery, staring at several large, flat-screen video monitors hanging from the ceiling.

* The flexibility of the minimally invasive procedure has grown substantially in recent years. Using fewer (but better tools), surgeons can now make fewer incisions during heart and brain surgeries, and even in the removal of organs for donation purposes. IU University School of Medicine urologist Chandru Sundaram tells the LA Times' Shari Roan, "Minimally invasive surgery has increased the number of people willing to donate their kidney.",1,5628186.story


"Mixed Butterflies: Tropical species joins ranks of rare hybrids" (BIOLOGY)
Science News
Vol. 169, no. 24
June 17, 2006

EXCERPT: A South American butterfly has a checkered past, say biologists. It's one of the few animal species that seems to have arisen via a supposedly rare path: crossing two older species... A black butterfly flashing bold stripes, Heliconius heurippa, came from the natural mixing of two other Heliconius species, says Jesús Mavárez of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

* IUB evolutionary biologist Loren Rieseberg calls the Smithsonian experiments "very thorough and elegant."
(Access to the complete article requires a subscription)


"Fossil Embryos Hint at Early Start for Complex Development" (BIOLOGY)
Vol. 312. no. 5780
June 16, 2006

EXCERPT: Evidence of the earliest animals on Earth dates back about 700 million years. But the arrival time of more complex animals--those with mirror symmetry and digestive tracts, known as bilaterians -- has remained a mystery.

* A windfall of fossilized (and ancient) embryos was predicted by IU evolutionary biologist Rudolf Raff in an issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year. Raff tells Science magazine's Katherine Unger, "I'm delighted to see a paper like this because it suggests there's more to look for out there." Some scientists remain skeptical whether the formations are indeed fossils of living organisms.
(Access to the complete article may require a subscription)

IU press release:


"A Sexy Song for Stronger Spawn" (BIOLOGY)
June 14, 2006

EXCERPT: "American Idol" wannabes take note: Singing a sexy song could increase your chance of reproductive success -- if you're a canary... A new study, published in this month's issue of Ethology, suggests that canary mothers are more devoted to their young when they hear a sexy male serenade prior to reproduction.

* It may be that birdsong is the audible indicator of a bird's health and general fitness. IU Bloomington neurobiologist Roderick Suthers tells Seed magazine's Emily Anthes, "Maybe the female canaries pay attention to this particular kind of syllable because it tells them something about male quality -- if these syllables are more difficult to produce, only the most competent males could produce them."


"Study: Sperm Have Sense of Smell" (BIOLOGY)
Discovery News
June 13, 2006

EXCERPT: Like a man who whips his head around to follow a whiff of perfume, sperm cells turn their heads when they detect even the faintest of sexy female scents, according to a recent study.

* IU Bloomington chemists Stephen Jacobson and Milos Novotny have found that sperm move toward chemical attractants even when the concentration of those attractants is very low. To conduct the study, Jacobson and Novotny invented a new device that facilitates the study of chemotaxis (movement toward or away from a chemical signal).

IU press release:


"Probing the secrets of superstrings" (PHYSICS)
New Scientist
June 3, 2006

EXCERPT: An exotic type of quantum matter could help test fundamental theories of nature, such as string theory, that are beyond the reach of today's experiments.

* IUB physicist Alan Kostelecky is hopeful that experiments conducted in the vicinity of absolute zero (-273 deg C). Kostelecky tells New Scientist's Amarendra Swarup, "Any experimental evidence would be dramatic because it would provide a glimpse of physics at the deepest level."
(Access to the complete article requires a subscription)


"NASCAR Gets on Track" (MEDICINE)
May 2006

EXCERPT: With the health problems of lead contamination well documented, the Environmental Protection Agency banned leaded gasoline more than a decade ago. But NASCAR, the only major auto sport that still uses leaded fuel, allows its drivers to do so because of an exemption from the Clean Air Act.

* A study by IU School of Medicine pediatric researcher Joseph O'Neil and colleagues found elevated levels of lead in the bloodstream of NASCAR racers, pit crew, and spectators. NASCAR has decided, at long last, to remove leaded fuels from its racetracks.


* * * * 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,