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David Bricker
IU Media Relations

Last modified: Thursday, August 31, 2006

Indiana Science Monthly flag

Vol. 3, no. 11
August 31, 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

July science news:
* Lilly Library exhibition is puzzling, but that's the point
* Marijuana may not merely suppress pain but cause it, too
* Bacteria shapes are bewilderingly diverse

* Bloomington's first "science cafe" to convene September 14
* New policies and procedures for multiple PIs

July science news

"Scientists still hunt for Columbus ships" (ARCHAEOLOGY)
United Press International
July 31, 2006

EXCERPT: U.S. archaeologists say they might be closer to finding some of the lost ships of Christopher Columbus.

* Indiana University Bloomington underwater archaeologist Charles Beeker has excavated a number of important wreckage sites on either side of our continent. The director of the Office of Underwater Science and Educational Resources at HPER tells United Press International, "The discovery of a Columbus shipwreck, let alone the finding of the flagship Mariagalante, would be a tremendous contribution to maritime archaeology."


"Medical cannabis is a blunt tool" (NEUROSCIENCE)
New Scientist
July 29, 2006

EXCERPT: If anecdotes and ancient medicine are to be trusted, cannabis is a wonder drug. Yet results of clinical trials have been mixed and its use in modern medicine remains limited. Now it seems the reasons may be practical as much as political and cultural: there are fundamental problems with how our bodies respond to the stuff.

* IU Bloomington neuroscientist J. Michael Walker recently presented work to the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies suggesting marijuana doesn't only kill pain, it also stimulates it.
(Access to the full article requires a subscription)


"Alchemy Takes On New Luster" (CHEMISTRY/HISTORY OF SCIENCE)
Chemical & Engineering News
Vol. 84, no. 35
July 26, 2006

EXCERPT: To most people, the word "alchemist" conjures an image of a dank, medieval laboratory with a bearded initiate pursuing the futile, magical ambition to convert lead into gold. But not to those at the International Conference on the History of Alchemy & Chymistry, which took place last week at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. To the diverse group of scholars who shared their latest historical discoveries about alchemy and early chemistry, that stereotype is dead wrong. They want it to give way like a disproved scientific theory.

* C&E News editor and former IU Bloomington journalism student Ivan Amato surveys the field of alchemy, or more accurately, the history of alchemy. IUB History and Philosophy of Science Professor William R. Newman is among a small group of historians and scientists who believe the field once considered a bane to rational thought was an influencing force in the birth of science.
(This article can be viewed from computers on IU campuses)


"'Polypill' Could Slash Diabetes Risks" (MEDICINE)
Journal of the American Medical Association
Vol. 296, no. 4
July 26, 2006

EXCERPT: A daily cocktail of inexpensive drugs for individuals with diabetes could save 1.2 million lives, prevent 4.5 million myocardial infarctions, reduce cases of renal failure by 600 000, and result in 1 million fewer cases of blindness or eye surgeries over the next 30 years, said Robert A. Rizza, MD, president of the American Diabetes Association (ADA) at the organization's annual meeting in June.

* An examination of recent advances in diabetes research refers to a recent IU School of Medicine study of bariatric (obesity-related) surgery patients. Bariatric surgery is currently a treatment option for type 2 diabetes patients. The study of 20 patients, led by physiologist Lauren Bell, suggests the surgery has a negative effect on bone health.
(This article can be viewed from computers on IU campuses)


"Celebrating Puzzles, in 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 Moves (or So)" (MATHEMATICS)
New York Times
July 25, 2006

EXCERPT: ... Scott Kim, who writes a puzzle column for Discover magazine, said this was the first time a major collection of puzzles would be available in an academic setting. ''Puzzles have always interested scientists and engineers,'' Mr. Kim said. ''Many popular things, such as comic books, eventually become subjects for scholarly and academic study. Puzzles are on that cusp right now" ...

* An unusual exhibit of puzzles at IU Bloomington's Lilly Library has attracted the attentions of mathematicians, logicians, as well as civilians who enjoy a spectacle and challenge.
(Access to the full article requires a fee)


"Scientists study bacterial shapes" (BIOLOGY)
United Press International
July 18, 2006

EXCERPT: Bacteria appear in myriad shapes and sizes and now U.S. scientists say they've answered the form-function question for one bacterium.

* IUB biologist Yves Brun and colleagues believe they are the first to explain the evolutionary significance of stalks produced by the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus.
(Access to the complete article may require a subscription)

IU press release:


"Dealing With Data Deluge" (CHEMISTRY/INFORMATICS)
Chemical & Engineering News
Vol. 84, no. 29
July 17, 2006

EXCERPT: If you prefer blogs over beakers and would rather work with data than generate them at a lab bench, then a career in chemical information may be the path for you. People employed in chemical information use their techie tendencies and chemistry know-how to help scientists find, analyze, and manage data.

* Indiana University is one of three universities named as providing academic degrees in cheminformatics. MIT and the University of Scheffield (England) are the other two.
(This article can be viewed from computers on IU campuses)


"A Tale of Two Drugs Hints at Promise for Genetic Testing" (MEDICINE)
New York Times
July 11, 2006

EXCERPT: A decade or so ago, when the revolution in genetics was getting under way, the air was heady with promises... Gene tests, scientists predicted, would become an integral part of drug prescribing. No longer would patients find out too late that a drug did not work for them. No longer would they have to wait to see if they had side effects to one drug before switching to another.

* IU School of Medicine geneticist and pharmacologist David Flockhart believes medicine is on the verge of being able to screen patients for drug efficacy on the basis on the patients' genetic backgrounds. ''We are sitting here on the edge of a very significant improvement," Flockhart tells the New York Times' Gina Kolata.
(Access to the full article requires a fee)

NPR's Joanne Silberner also covered the story:


"New site allows users to zoom in on Indiana" (GEOLOGY/GEOGRAPHY)
Associated Press
July 7, 2006

EXCERPT: A new interactive Web site featuring high-resolution aerial photographs of Indiana allows users to zoom in on roads, lakes, fields and even cars in driveways... Indiana University and the Indiana Geological Survey host the site which includes information that can be used by planners, businesses and anyone who wants to see an aerial picture of their neighborhood. The site also includes transportation, elevation and water information.

* The map resource hosted by the Indiana Geological Survey allows users to learn more about the natural and man-made structures in their state. The AP adapted the article from one written by the Bloomington Herald-Times' Steve Hinnefeld.

(Not available online)


"When Testosterone Turns Toxic" (BIOLOGY)
Vol. 27, no. 7
July 2006

EXCERPT: Does an extra dose of testosterone pay long-term dividends? A higher level of the hormone increases sex drive and attractiveness of males, leading to more offspring and increased evolutionary fitness; it also weakens the immune system, amplifies stress, and encourages recklessness, increasing the risk of departing the gene pool altogether.

* A group of researchers including IUB animal behaviorist Ellen Ketterson is studying the costs and benefits of testosterone. This regular column in Discover magazine walks readers through a selected academic paper.



Bloomington's first "science cafe" to convene September 14
IU Bloomington staff member and alumna Erika Biga has organized a monthly "science cafe" that is meant to provide an interface between IU researchers and the general (and scientifically curious) public. The first cafe will be held on Thursday, September 14, at Borders bookstore on 3rd St., from 7:00 - 8:30 p.m. The featured speaker is atmospheric chemist Philip S. Stevens, who will discuss the latest in the global warming debate. More information can be found at:

New policies and procedures for multiple PIs
The IU Research News E-Mail Service recently reported that all Federal research agencies are currently preparing for the implementation of policies and procedures to formally allow more than one Principal Investigator on individual research awards. This presents a new and important opportunity for investigators seeking support for projects or activities that clearly require a "team science" approach. The multiple-PI option is targeted specifically to those projects that do not fit the single-PI model, and therefore is intended to supplement, and not to replace, the traditional single PI model. Information about the NIH, NSF and IU implementation of Multiple Principal Investigators is available at:


* * * * 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,