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New center to enhance research into infectious diseases

Monday, November 30, 2009

The University of Queensland (UQ) has enhanced its position as a leading center for biological and health science research, with the opening of a new research center focused on infectious diseases.

The Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDR) brings together 10 high performing research groups from the University's School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences.

Each group is involved in various areas of infectious disease research, including microbial pathogenesis, microbial genomics, pathogen recognition, and structural microbiology.

Center Director Professor Alexander Khromykh said the strength of the center would be the international reputation of its group leaders, who had an extensive network of collaborations with leading national and international research groups and biotechnology companies.

“By assembling these established and internationally recognized groups, the Center has already become a leader in infectious disease research,” he said.

“It will also be able to grow through the attraction of additional group leaders in infectious disease research from both within Australia and overseas."

One such leader that the Center has already been able to attract to UQ is Professor Mark Walker from the University of Wollongong, who will be taking on a leadership role in the coming months.

“I'm going to be joining The University of Queensland in March and will be bringing some projects in bacterial pathogenesis and vaccine development,“ Professor Walker said.

“The thing I am most looking forward to is being able to collaborate with a wide variety of scientists and researchers from such a broad range of fields involved in the research of infectious disease.”

The Center will use an integrative approach to conduct basic research and produce new and improved approaches to the detection, treatment and prevention of microbial infections.

This will involve close interactions with researchers across UQ, including the IMB, AIBN and Diamantina Institutes as well as the UQ Center for Clinical Research.

"We will be looking at emerging viral infections affecting both our communities and those overseas, such as dengue virus and influenza virus and childhood respiratory infections,” Professor Khromykh said.

“A large emphasis will also be given to major bacterial pathogens such as pneumococcus and uropathogenic E. coli.”


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Source: University of Queensland
Time Stamp: 11/30/2009 at 2:34:41 AM UTC

Arthur D. Code, Pioneering Space Astronomer, Dies

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Arthur D. Code, whose lifelong love of the stars and the night sky led to a meteoric career in astrophysics, died in Madison, Wis., on March 11 after a long illness. He was 85.

The cause of death was a long-standing pulmonary condition, according to his family.

Code, who spent more than 40 years on the University of Wisconsin-Madison faculty, was a pioneer in space astronomy, leading initiatives to put astronomical telescopes and other instruments in space above the obscuring influence of the Earth's atmosphere. Long before the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope, Code built orbiting observatories and connived tirelessly to get telescopes into space, in one project placing a cigar box-sized photometer aboard an X-15, the rocket-powered planes of the early 1960s that were the first aircraft to fly high enough to pierce the atmosphere and soar, albeit briefly, in space.

In a long and distinguished career, Code would go on to build the world's first successful orbiting observatory, the Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, launched in 1968, and help establish the Space Telescope Science Institute as its founding acting-director. He also developed and operated a sophisticated space-shuttle-borne ultraviolet telescope known as WUPPE (Wisconsin Ultraviolet Photopolarimeter Experiment) in 1990 and 1995 as part of NASA's Astro missions. Code also founded UW-Madison's Space Astronomy Laboratory, a lab responsible for building intricate, but rugged, telescopes and instruments to fly in space.

"Art's career paralleled the advancement of space exploration, and his vision and brilliance contributed centrally to the development of space astronomy," says Robert Mathieu, chair of he UW-Madison Department of Astronomy.

A native of New York, Code determined at an early age in life that he would become an astrophysicist. As a child, he routinely led family members to the roof of their Brooklyn apartment building to observe the night sky. After serving in the Navy as an electronics technician during World War II, Code attended the University of Chicago and utilized the nearby Yerkes Observatory in Williams Bay, Wis. He received his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of Chicago, without having earned an undergraduate degree.

After a brief stint at the University of Virginia, Code joined the Wisconsin faculty in 1950, but left in 1956 to join the faculty at the California Institute of Technology. He returned to the Wisconsin faculty as the director of the Washburn Observatory in 1958. It was at that time, when the nation's space program was in its formative stages, that Code became actively involved in efforts to build and loft telescopes into space to sample starlight with a clarity - and in wavelengths - never before sampled.

"Art Code was a true visionary. Long before the rest of the astronomical community appreciated the scientific value of operating in space, he committed his career to building the first serious orbiting telescopes that were the forerunners of many of the current suite of NASA space telescopes," says Robert Williams, a former director of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the entity that operates the Hubble Space Telescope.

In 1959, shortly after Sputnik, the National Academy of Sciences issued a call for ideas for a 100-pound satellite. Of the 100 scientists responding, Code was one of the few to suggest using a satellite to conduct astronomical observations. "Most of the other proposals suggested using a satellite to look at the Earth," Code recalled in a 1985 interview.

Looking at stars through the atmosphere, which both distorts starlight and blocks some wavelengths entirely, is like "bird-watching from the bottom of a swimming pool," Code famously noted. Placing telescopes in orbit above the Earth, Code understood, would provide a wealth of new insights as ultraviolet light, X-rays and other forms of electromagnetic radiation became available to astrophysics for the first time.

In December 1968, the world's first orbiting observatory, the precursor to the Hubble Space Telescope, was launched from Cape Kennedy. Four days after launch, the observatory's instruments, which included seven telescopes built by Code's group at Wisconsin, took the first measurements of a star, Beta Carinae, from an orbiting platform.

Said Code at the time: "The spacecraft and experiment are operating not only well, but beyond our expectations. In addition to the exciting science that can be done, the results have proven that an automatic space observatory is fully feasible, and we hope this means that other more sophisticated facilities will be made available to the scientific community."

Code's scientific contributions were diverse, but he notably helped reveal the importance of the "interstellar medium," the gas- and dust-filled void between the stars that plays a key role in the life cycle of stars. The interstellar medium is difficult to study because much of the radiation it absorbs is in the form of ultraviolet light, which is not visible to the naked eye and most of which is blocked by the gases in the Earth's atmosphere.

By placing telescopes in space, Code and his colleagues opened broad swaths of the electromagnetic spectrum for astrophysics.

Arthur Dodd Code was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Aug. 13, 1923, the only child of Lorne Arthur Code and Jesse May Code. During the course of his career as an astronomer, he received numerous awards and recognition, including the 1970 NASA Public Service Award, the 1971 University of Chicago Professional Achievement Award, and the 1992 Distinguished Public Service Medal, NASA's highest honor. He was also a former president of the American Astronomical Society. At the time of his death, Code was the Joel Stebbins and Hilldale Professor of Astronomy Emeritus at UW-Madison.

Code is survived by his wife of 65 years, Mary Guild Code; four children, Alan, Douglas, Edith and David; and six grandchildren.

Image Caption: Arthur D. Code, 85, a University of Wisconsin-Madison astrophysicist who pioneered the use of telescopes from space, died March 11, 2009, in Madison. Code, pictured here gesturing in a 1985 lab photo, spent more than 40 years on the UW-Madison faculty and, among other accomplishments, built the world's first successful orbiting observatory.
Image Credit: Unknown / courtesy of University of Wisconsin, Madison
Source: University of Wisconsin, Madison
Time Stamp: 3/17/2009 at 2:41:57 AM UTC

Neurology expert to drive imaging technology for better health outcomes

Monday, October 27, 2008

The University of Queensland has recruited a world expert in imaging to establish a center that will use the latest scanning technology to work on cures for some of the most debilitating human diseases.

Professor David Reutens, who started at UQ in September, will establish the Center for Advanced Imaging (CAI) to progress treatments for diseases such as stroke, dementia, heart disease and cancer.

Professor Reutens said the center would advance UQ's already strong reputation in imaging research and its national leadership role.

The Center would build on significant investments by the University and the State and Federal governments in imaging technology, investments that would see the first combined magnetic resonance imaging-positron emission tomography (MRI-PET) scanner to be installed in Australia, he said.

This month, UQ announced the opening of the headquarters of the multi-state National Imaging Facility, which specializes in animal imaging.

Professor Reutens leads a consortium of Australian researchers now using these imaging instruments, some of the most powerful in the world, to map the brain, providing information crucial to researchers globally.

New facilities at the center, such as the PET scanner, will also allow researchers to study some of the basic molecular building blocks of the human body.

“The center will draw together UQ's expertise in fields as diverse as engineering, chemistry, physics, computer science, biology and medicine,” Professor Reutens said.

“CAI is an important step in creating an integrated progression of research and imaging from the laboratory bench, through animal models and finally into a clinical setting.

“This is unprecedented in Australia and really should reap dividends in discovering new approaches to curing major diseases and in fast-tracking the discovery of new drugs.

Professor Reutens said UQ's strong links with leading international research institutes would be boosted by a new high speed digital data network and "visualization wall".

The visualization wall is a bank of LCD screens combined with a high-speed optical fiber link that allows researchers around the world to share large volumes of imaging data in real time, linking Australia with discoveries being made globally.

Minister for Regional Development and Industry Desley Boyle welcomed the news and said it further cemented Queensland's reputation as the Smart State.

"Our Government has invested billions of dollars into the knowledge economy and especially on infrastructure, but our focus has moved from bricks to brains – attracting Professor Reutens confirms that Queensland is the place to be for brilliant minds," Ms Boyle said.

"The research that will be conducted at the CAI also links to the goals of Towards Q2, the Queensland Government's blueprint for the next 10 years. Health is a key component of our vision – we want to make Queenslanders Australia's healthiest people."

Professor Reutens was attracted from Monash University, where he was the Professor of Neuroscience and headed Monash's Neurology department.

He has held faculty positions at the University of Melbourne and Canada's McGill University.

What attracted him to Queensland, he said, was the potential to bring together multiple disciplines in a new collaborative model, and UQ's and the Queensland government's pro-active approach to supporting cutting-edge research.

The Center for Advanced Imaging is planned to open later this year.

Source: University of Queensland
Time Stamp: 10/27/2008 at 12:44:13 PM UTC

Is the Salad Bar Safe? Produce Concerns Linger after Summer Scares

Monday, September 22, 2008

September is national food safety education month

Widespread reports had most people afraid to eat tomatoes this summer and when tomatoes were vindicated, eating peppers became a fear. A University of Missouri food safety expert says there is only so much that can be done to assure produce is safe to eat.

 “We basically want perfect food, but produce is not sterile,” said Andrew Clarke, associate professor of food science in the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. “We all have a risk of consuming something that doesn’t agree with us. There is no way to keep everything we eat 100 percent risk-free. Some people, who might be more susceptible, may get sick.”

 Any food could potentially contain bacteria, according to Clarke, who also is an MU Extension state specialist. His best advice is to keep produce cold, wash hands before handling, and wash all surfaces to eliminate cross-contamination. Another alternative is to cook all produce.

 “We like our fresh produce, and we don’t want to cook or can everything,” Clarke said. “Contamination could happen 1,000 miles away because someone didn’t wash his or her hands. A home isn’t a sterile environment either, so something can happen to contaminate produce in your own home. Hopefully, if you are healthy whatever contamination that might be present will not harm you.”

 According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 76 million cases of food-borne illness occur each year. More than 325,000 people are hospitalized, and 5,000 die from food-borne illness.

 The advice for cooking items, such as meat, is more clear-cut. Washing and rinsing may sound too simple to be effective, but Clarke says it is the best defense against bacteria on produce. Washing with water will not eliminate everything; however, he does not recommend using soap or rinsing with hot water.

 “Unless you use scalding hot water, you don’t effectively kill the bacteria when rinsing produce,” Clarke said. “I don’t think using soap is a good idea because you don’t want to start consuming traces of soap. Anytime you wash the surface of produce, you can still miss bacteria that are microscopically embedded because it isn’t always on the surface. It’s like a pothole in the road. Someone could scrub the street with soap and water and rinse, but the material that fills the pothole is still there.”

 Clarke advises using common sense when deciding if a food has gone bad or is still good enough to eat.

 “If it looks bad, smells bad, tastes bad, don’t eat it! It’s not worth giving to the dog either unless you want to end up taking the dog to the vet,” Clarke said.

Source: University of Missouri
Time Stamp: 9/22/2008 at 5:13:18 PM UTC

Purdue students create Web site to encourage kids to stay in school

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

A group of Purdue University students has created an interactive Web site they hope will help students see the benefits of continuing their education.

Ronald Glotzbach, an assistant professor of computer graphics technology, and several of his students have developed a Web site available at . The site is geared toward high school students who may be debating whether or not to earn their diplomas or pursue a college degree.

"Not having a high school diploma can put you at a severe disadvantage in terms of finding a good job or finding a career," he said. "Our goal with this Web site is to create something that students will enjoy using and, at the same time, will give them good, valuable information that will inspire them."

Glotzbach and his students, led by Laura Kellogg, a graduate student in computer graphics technology, designed and developed the content and graphics for the site and performed research on the featured careers.

They also developed two interactive games for the site: "Welcome to Opus City" and "Stick to School: The Game."

Kellen Maicher, assistant professor of computer graphics technology, led the development of "Opus City", which allows the player to travel around a fictional city full of challenges and job choices. The goal is to keep a character called "the Benefactor" happy by making wise decisions. "Stick to School" is designed like a board game, where players first decide whether to stay in school or drop out, then take turns moving their car around the board, encountering various real-life scenarios based on their choice. The player with the most money at the end wins.

The Web site focuses on the six basic types of jobs most people choose based on their personality type: realistic (working with animals, tools or machines); investigative (scientific or math-based jobs); artistic (dancer, actor, musician); social (jobs helping people, such as teachers or counselors); enterprising (sales, real estate agent, lawyer); or conventional (mail carrier, bookkeeper, secretary, bank teller).

Web site users can click on each job type and find out what kind of jobs someone with those interests might be able to pursue in addition to what kind of education each job within that category requires and a typical salary. For instance, by clicking on the "investigative" job heading, a user could choose the "hospital" category, then get information on jobs that require a high school education and jobs that require a four-year degree or more.

"The design is meant to inspire students and to let them know that no matter what their interests or talents, there is a career that is right for them, and the more education you have, the more options there are available to you," Glotzbach said.

Other features of the Web site include an e-mentor section, in which students can ask questions about education or careers that will be answered by professionals at 20/20 Inner Vision Inc., the nonprofit organization that spearheaded the Web site's creation; inspirational stories from those whose lives have been changed by pursuing educational goals; dropout statistics; and a lessons section where teachers and counselors can download educational videos to show students.

Future plans for the site include videos of workers in a variety of trades who will talk about the benefits of their career and what kind of education it takes to pursue the path they chose.

Glotzbach said the idea for the Web site came from Craig MacFarlane, an inspirational speaker and the president of 20/20 InnerVision Inc., a Zionsville, Ind., nonprofit foundation dedicated to improving the U.S. high school graduation rate.

MacFarlane was blinded after an accident when he was 2 years old and went on to compete in a variety of sports, including wrestling, skiing, waterskiing, golf and track, winning more than 100 gold medals. He says his success comes from a technique called muscle memory, in which he uses his "inner vision" to train his other senses to compensate for his lack of sight. MacFarlane studied law at Carlton University and earned a stockbroker's license.

He said he has been concerned about the high dropout rate in many communities and created 20/20 Inner Vision to help improve students' self-esteem, study and life skills, and remove barriers that prevent them from getting an education.

"I've talked to more than 2,500 schools over the past 20 years about the importance of education and not giving up on your dreams," MacFarlane said. "This is something I am passionate about, and I want to use my story to help inspire others. There have been so many unsung heroes in my life that helped me, and I want to do the same thing for others."

He said he chose Purdue because he had heard about the work of the College of Technology's computer graphics technology department.

"Creating this Web site is a great way to inspire young people that may ordinarily slip through the cracks and give them hope that anything is possible," MacFarlane said.

Source: Purdue University
Time Stamp: 9/17/2008 at 3:07:10 PM UTC

Rural women needed for chronic illness study

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Women to Women Project, a support network for rural women with chronic illness, is seeking women to participate in a study group forming in January, 2009.

The College of Nursing at Montana State University is in its 13th year of this program, which enhances rural women's ability to manage their chronic condition and assesses its effect on their quality of life. As one participant said, "We rural people are sometimes isolated from the real world. It was great to be part of something that not only helps yourself but
others as well."

Owning a computer is not necessary, but access to a telephone land line in the home is required. Women interested in participating in the group must be physically able to use a computer, have a basic knowledge of how to use a computer, be between the ages of 35 and 65 and be living with a chronic disease such as arthritis, cancer, multiple sclerosis, diabetes or heart disease. Participants also must reside in a rural area. That is defined as living at least 25 miles outside of a town of 12,500 people or more, in or around a town of less than 12,500, or on a farm or a ranch in Montana, Idaho, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Wyoming or Washington.

Women in the project are assigned to one of two groups. One group is provided with Internet access that allows them to participate in a self-help support group and gain information from health teaching units and group discussions. The second group does not use computers but provides important health-related data. All groups participate in a telephone interview and complete three written mail questionnaires.

"It was a 'great' experience, especially for those who knew nothing of computers, as we were taught how to find information on the Web, how to judge if it was good or bad information, and how to gain knowledge on whatever subject you wanted," wrote one woman who participated in the computer group.

Women who are interested in enrolling are asked to call toll-free (888) 375-1317 at the MSU College of Nursing, or contact the program via e-mail at More information is available on the Web at:
Source: Montana State University
Time Stamp: 9/13/2008 at 2:32:10 PM UTC

Heartworm Could be More Prevalent in Dogs, Cats this Year

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A mosquito population explosion caused by recent flooding in parts of Indiana is a good reason for dogs and cats to be on heartworm medications this summer.

Steve Thompson of Purdue University's School of Veterinary Medicine says mosquitoes are a potential danger to dogs, cats and ferrets because they are susceptible to heartworm infection. Heartworm can be fatal if it is untreated.

Given heavy rainfall throughout the state in recent months, mosquito breeding is high, and could lead to more heartworm cases this year.

"The mosquito population burst we've had in the past few weeks has made it difficult," says Thompson. "I've noticed from walking my own dog that there is a blitzkrieg of mosquitoes out there this summer."

Dogs and cats that have not been tested in the last six months for heartworm should have one, he says. Dogs should have a blood test annually to detect infections early if they have heartworms.

"The good thing about heartworm prevention is that it literally works 45 days backwards. With any mosquito bite a cat or dog received during the past month, or even longer, the young worm can be killed in the skin before reaching the heart," Thompson says.

Heartworm preventive medication can be administered orally, by a liquid treatment applied to the back of a pet's neck, or by a longer acting injection, Thompson says.

In dogs, heartworms more easily complete their whole life cycle and make it to the heart, compared to cats, Thompson says. Heartworm also progresses differently in dogs and cats. In dogs, heartworm can be fatal when the worm clogs the heart, causing pulmonary hypertension and eventually heart failure. In cats, heartworm can cause sudden lung problems that asthma-like coughing as larvae migrate through the lungs to the heart. Cats can appear healthy minutes before one of the coughing attacks.

Source: Purdue University
Time Stamp: 7/22/2008 at 12:24:42 AM UTC

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