Search Malamalama

September, 2005 Vol. 30 No. 3
Read more from this issue

Published September 2005

Research News

Book examines rhetoric of blues

book cover, When Your Way Gets Dark

While enjoying an Otis Rush show in Chicago in late 1994, longtime blues fan Jeffrey Carroll began to consider the performance from an English professor’s point of view.

A decade later, the result is When Your Way Gets Dark: A Rhetoric of the Blues (Parlor Press), a book that examines the musical form as an effective, consciously constructed style of language.

Drawing on a variety of contemporary scholars, essayists and theorists, the Mānoa faculty member concludes that the blues defines a distinct cultural history and experience beyond the sensory pleasure it provides.


Unique killer caterpillar discovered

close-up of killer caterpillar

Caterpillars coexist with snails on every continent except Antarctica, but only in Hawaiʻi’s rainforest have they developed a taste for hard-shelled snacks. Mānoa Entomologist Daniel Rubinoff and graduate student William Haines described the newly discovered predator in the July 22 issue of Science.

The caterpillar, which turns into a moth in the genus Native Hawaiian Hyposmocoma, uses its silk to bind a snail to the leaf on which the snail is resting. Wedging its cocoon next to or inside the snail’s shell, it then stretches out from the cocoon to consume its meal.

While a few other caterpillars dine on soft-bodied insects or ant brood, the snail diet marks a dramatic dietary divergence that could help explain how evolution functions.


China rain analysis aids global warming estimates

China’s seasonal rainfall cycle has changed during the past 40 years—bringing increased rain to arid and semi-arid regions in the northwest, water shortages to heavily populated central and northern regions and more floods along the lower Yangtze River. Examining data from 500 rain-gauge stations, Mānoa Associate Professor of Meteorology Yuqing Wang and his student Li Zhou found that the precipitation trends correlate with changes in large-scale summer atmospheric circulation over Asia.

Their findings, reported in Geophysical Research Letters show that atmospheric circulation models can be used to estimate the impact of global warming on precipitation trends. More in the International Pacific Research Center journal Climate.


Princess Aiko grows well and smells sweet in Hawaiʻi

scented anthurium

The Mānoa College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources’ new, pink multi-purpose anthurium cultivar was developed in response to the floral industry’s demand for fragrant anthuriums.

Named in honor of the daughter of Japan’s Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, it will be marketed as "Imperial" in deference to that country’s restriction on commercial references to the royal family. It is just one of several varieties recently released or in development for potted and cut flower markets.


Tuna stocks reevaluated

Pacific tuna stocks aren’t as threatened as previously thought. A 2003 Nature paper based on partial data from Japan concluded that global stocks of the popular fishes would soon disappear. For an April 2005 paper in the same journal, scientists from Mānoa’s Pelagic Fisheries Research Program and other agencies used widely accepted analysis methods to examine data on all of the main habitats of tropic tuna from all the major countries engaged in large-scale fishing.

While some species are depleted, other populations are strong—critical data for regulatory decisions to be made by the Western and Central Pacific Tuna Commission, created by international treaty in late 2004 to manage fisheries across the Pacifi


Bacteria and pottery counter dairy waste

researcher at Waiale'e Research Station on Oahu

Livestock operations add more pollutants to U.S. rivers, lakes and coastal waters than any other activity, and milk fats in dairy waste pose a particular challenge. At Mānoa’s Waialeʻe Research Station on Oahu’s North Shore, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources researchers are demonstrating a bacteria-based system that works four times faster than conventional treatment and removes 90 percent of contaminants.

Awarded Best Plan Overall in the 2005 Social and Environmental Technology Inventors Challenge, the system employs two patent-pending technologies. In sealed, airless tanks, bacteria digest the organic waste, generating methane that can be used as fuel. In an aerated, open tank, bacteria trapped in highly porous pottery consume the remaining organic waste and convert ammonia to harmless nitrogen gas. Free of offensive odor, the remaining water is used to irrigate pasture for the dairy cows.

A related process uses floating pottery reactors and their resident bacteria to clean waste-contaminated ponds. Together, the systems prevent excess nutrients from reaching the ocean. The Waialeʻe demonstration system is a partnership of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Hawaiʻi Department of Health and CTAHR.


Contraceptives OK, processed meats questionable

Two new multiethnic cancer reports suggest oral contraceptives are OK but hot dogs should be consumed in moderation.

In an ovarian cancer study now entering its 10th year, investigators found that use of low-dose oral contraceptives reduces risk of ovarian cancer—a benefit that appears to increase the longer women take birth control. Marc Goodman of the Cancer Research Center of Hawaiʻi says high calcium intake and dietary beta carotene may also provide some protection. Future work will focus on genetic factors.

In the second study, researchers found that people who consume the most processed and red meat have the highest risk of pancreatic cancer, perhaps due to preparation or preservation methods. Results are preliminary, stresses CRCH Etiology Program Director Laurence Kolonel, but playing it safe will do you a favor.


More study needed on caregiver role of ethnic grandparents

Maintaining the family’s culture appears to be important role for grandparents who care for their grandchildren, but ethnic differences occur, say Merle Kataoka-Yahiro, Clementina Ceria-Ulep and Rick Caulfield of Mānoa’s School of Nursing and Dental Hygiene. They summarized available studies in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing (Vol. 19 No. 5).

African Americans were very satisfied with their care-giving role and did not dwell on the associated challenges. Hispanic grandparent caregivers (traditionally grandmothers) reflected strong helping networks within families and were affected by societal changes that impacted their well-being and health. The sole Asian American study involved Chinese grandparents who became substitute parents responsible for child care.

With 6 million U.S. grandparents residing with grandchildren, healthcare providers need to integrate the cultural perspective of grandparent caregivers as well as health and social factors that can interfere with care-giving as they provide services to ethnic families.


Particle discoveries announced

new particle

Mānoa high energy physics researchers recently helped positively identify the hypothesized anti-neutrino and discover an unexpected new particle called Y(3940).

The anti-neutrinos described in the July 28 issue of Nature are produced by decay of uranium and thorium, radioactive elements distributed at different depths within the Earth. Because anti-neutrinos travel great distances and only rarely interact with other matter, they provide a new tool in deciphering the geophysical formation and evolution of the planet, says John Learned, a member of the UH team that worked with international partners at Japan’s KamLAND facility.

Another international team working on the Belle experiment at Japan’s KEK High Energy Physics Laboratory reported the new Y(3940) particle in the May Physical Review of Letters. The short-lived subatomic particle may be a "hybrid meson," theorized to consist of a quark, antiquark and gluon, a particle that mediates the strong forces binding quarks together to form particles, says UH team leader Stephen Olsen.

UH has a long history of cutting edge work in high energy physics, including participation in the 1975 discovery of the top quark, one of six fundamental constituents of matter, now chronicled in The Evidence for the Top Quark: Objectivity and Bias in Collaborative Experiments (Cambridge University Press).


Two measures show growth in UH research enterprise

Federal expenditures on research at the Mānoa campus reached $143.6 million in 2003, an increase of 30 percent in one year, according to figures released by the National Science Foundation during the summer. Mānoa ranked 31st among the country’s public universities for such expenditures.

Meanwhile, the UH System’s royalty income surpassed $1 million in fiscal year 2005, marking the fifth year that revenue from the licensing of UH patents has increased.