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Scholarship & Creativity
Old appliances leave owners out in the cold

Holding on to an old refrigerator until it dies might seem economical, but most likely it costs consumers more money than it saves because older models can consume as much as twice the energy of newer ones.

A study from the Center for Sustainable Systems (CSS) concludes refrigerators that are 10 years old or older should be replaced to maximize investment and minimize consumption of fossil-fuel resources.

Food refrigeration accounts for 14 percent of total electricity use in U.S. households, according to the Energy Information Administration. Despite the higher energy use and cost, the average lifetime of a typical household refrigerator is 14 years for a top-mount type and 19 years for a one-door type, says Greg Keoleian, professor and co-director of CSS.

Following a more optimal replacement policy through 2020, current owners with models more than four years old would be expected to save between $50 and $200 over the
16-year span, Keoleian says.

"Household appliances generally require a great deal more energy to operate than they do to manufacture. At the same time, efficiency improvements are continually introduced into new models," Keoleian says. "What this tells us is that consumers are likely keeping the refrigerator longer than is optimal."

For more information, go to:

The study will appear next year in the journal Energy Policy.

Over the hill? Aging isn't the end for sex, relationships

Sex isn't the exclusive playground for the young, but a quality of life issue that continues well after age 50, a University expert says.

Older adults desire the fun, excitement, passion and sex in relationships, often associated with one's younger years. The stigma in the culture and lack of education about sexuality, however, contribute to less openness and awareness among older adults, says Sallie Foley, an adjunct professor in the School of Social Work.

"Couples will discuss their finances, taxes and death, but can't find the words to talk about sex," says Foley, who wrote "Sex & Love for Grownups: A No-Nonsense Guide to a Life of Passion."

Foley, who co-authored "Sex Matters for Women: A Complete Guide to Taking Care of Your Sexual Self," has been a certified sex therapist at the U-M Health System Sexual Health Counseling Services since 1985. The new book resulted from a column about love and sexuality for older adults that she writes for AARP The Magazine.

Whether it's feeling ashamed or embarrassed, couples do not discuss love, relationships and sex, she says. They use euphemisms rather than communicating honestly with each other. Some older adults also don't know where to obtain relationship information specific to their situation. When they do find this information—a magazine article about sex, for example—they do not know how to broach the subject with their partners, she says.

"People are hungry for practical advice in dating and sex, as well as resolving long-standing arguments," Foley says.

Foley says people over the age of 50 face similar challenges, such as overcoming fears of rejection, as their younger counterparts when it involves dating or dealing with long-term relationships.

Today's older Americans are active, whether it's working a full-time job, volunteering at non-profit organizations or traveling throughout the country, Foley says. "They see themselves as a vital, active resource, and they don't want life passing them by," she says.

For more information on Foley, visit:

Prostate cancer cells use Wnt proteins to promote bone tumor growth

Prostate cancer is a cruel disease. Left untreated, prostate cancer cells often metastasize, or spread, to bone where they form fracture-prone tumors that are extremely painful.

More than 80 percent of men who die from prostate cancer die with metastatic disease in their bones, but scientists know very little about how migrating prostate cancer cells set up housekeeping in bone tissue and produce the dense bony lesions characteristic of the disease.

Now, research by scientists at the Comprehensive Cancer Center suggests that prostate cancer manipulates an important group of signaling proteins called Wnts (pronounced "wints") to establish itself in bone. By changing the amount and activity of Wnt proteins, prostate cancer cells upset the normal balance between formation and destruction of bony tissue.

"There is strong evidence that Wnt proteins play a central role in regulating normal skeletal development in an embryo," says Christopher L. Hall, a senior research fellow in urology. "But this is the first time Wnts have been shown to be involved in abnormal bone production in adult animals with prostate cancer."

Hall is first author of a paper published in the Sept. 1 issue of Cancer Research, which presents results from studies of Wnt proteins in human prostate cancer cell lines and in laboratory mice injected with prostate cancer cells.

"Normal bone growth and remodeling depends on a controlled balance between production of new bone and resorption of existing bone," says Evan T. Keller, professor of urology and pathology in the Medical School, who directed the study. "When a tumor forms in bone, it upsets this balance."

Several types of cancer metastasize to bone, says Keller, but most of them tip the balance toward destruction—producing what scientists call osteolytic lesions, or holes in the bone. Prostate cancer is unique in its ability to trigger increased bone production, which creates what's called an osteoblastic lesion.

In the first phase of their research, U-M scientists measured the amount of Wnt protein in cells from normal human prostate tissue, localized prostate cancer and metastatic prostate cancer cells. Using the same cell lines, they also looked for the presence of a protein called DKK-1, which is known to inhibit Wnt activity. They discovered that the amounts of Wnt and DKK-1 protein present in human prostate cells varied inversely with the developmental stage of prostate cancer.

The research was supported by the National Cancer Institute. U-M research investigator Dr. Jinlu Dai, was a collaborator on the study.

Heritage, hate and support for the Confederate flag

Racial cues are a powerful trigger for the familiar gender gap in American politics, U-M research shows.

The study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, analyzes experimental and survey data to illuminate the role of gender and racial considerations in white southern support for what many civil rights advocates view as one of the most incendiary symbols of racism—the Confederate battle flag.

"This work shows that whatever else the rebel flag represents, for many southerners it is inextricably linked to the politics of race," says political scientist Vincent Hutchings, a faculty associate at ISR. Hutchings conducted the study with U-M colleague Hanes Walton, professor of political science and research professor in ISR.

They examined attitudes about the decades-long controversy over the Confederate battle emblem on the Georgia State Flag, including the most recent political battle in 2004 when voters officially approved a new state flag without the Confederate emblem.

"Our aim was to understand how white men and women reacted to this dispute when the conflict was framed in racial terms and when it was not," Hutchings says.

In the heritage frame, the researchers highlighted the argument that supporters of the Confederate battle flag only were motivated by affection for southern history. In the black opposition frame, they emphasized the open hostility most blacks feel for the battle flag. And in the racist hate-groups frame, they stressed the long-standing link between the
Confederate flag and groups such as the Ku Klux Klan.

All the participants were asked which of three Georgia state flags they most preferred: the current flag with three stripes and the state seal (the 'Perdue flag'), the blue flag adopted in 2001 during the Barnes administration (the 'Barnes flag') or the flag with the Confederate emblem that was the official state flag from 1956-2001.

Approximately 45 percent of white Georgians favored the current Perdue flag, while 41 percent favored the old flag with the Confederate emblem. Overall, the researchers found no gender difference in support for these flags. But when they examined support for the various flags across the three experimental frames, they found male-female differences grew as the racial implications of the flag debate were portrayed as increasingly salient.

The probability that women favored the Confederate flag was almost 50 percent less among those exposed to the hate-group frame compared to those presented with the control frame. Democratic women and political independents especially were influenced by the introduction of racial themes. Men moved in the opposite direction, even though flag supporters are painted in unflattering light in the hate-group frame.

Hutchings suggests several reasons for gender differences in the impact of racial considerations on support for the battle flag: Boys and girls are socialized differently, and when it comes to social group relations there is evidence women respond more positively than men to racially inclusive political cues.

Wake up, doc: Lack of sleep just like alcohol

The long hours and overnight shifts that are a rite of passage for young doctors may leave them so sleep-deprived that they function as poorly as if they'd had a few cocktails, a new study finds.

In findings published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 34 young pediatric residents showed similar impairments in vigilance, attention and driving skills on standardized tests after they had been on duty overnight in the hospital and worked a month of 90-hour weeks, compared with when they had consumed 3-4 alcoholic drinks after a month of 44-hour weeks with no overnight duties.

The study involved medical residents from Brown University Medical School and was led by a sleep researcher from the U-M Health System. Most subjects were tested before new national requirements limited resident work hours to an average 80-hour work week and maximum 24-hour work day.

"This adds to the growing evidence that sleep deprivation among medical residents significantly impairs their ability to perform, although it is important to note that we did not assess performance on specific medical tasks," says J. Todd Arnedt, a sleep psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry and neurology.

"The regulations in place that limit the number of hours residents can work each week on average are a good initial step, but the solution to the problem is not likely as simple as well-intentioned policies aimed at reducing work hours, which can themselves have negative ramifications.

Arnedt and his colleagues are the first to study medical residents using the sleep deprivation and alcohol comparison model, which has been used in other populations, including truck drivers. Both sleep deprivation and alcohol consumption impair a person's reaction time, attention, judgment, control and driving ability.

Other U-M co-authors of the study are Arnedt's assistants Megan Crouch and Jessica Stahl. The study was funded by a grant from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Drilling tiny tunnels gets easier in a big way

The counterintuitive rules of physics at the nanometer scale create several thorny problems for scientists when they try to fashion three-dimensional channels in fluid-handling devices.

Now, U-M researchers think they've solved at least one of these problems of micro- and nano-fluidic devices by developing a way to push debris out of the way as they machine tiny tunnels.

Using ultra-fast pulsed lasers to cut materials submersed in fluids, the researchers have made three-dimensional microfluidic devices laced with tiny tunnels, less than a micrometer in diameter, that form completely clear of debris. The new process can be performed in glass and other hard materials, making them a suitable substitute for the soft materials commonly used in microfluidics, which have many shortcomings, such as lack of solvent resistance, protein attachment, leaching and inability to withstand high pressure.

Removal of debris has been a substantial challenge for machining micro and nanofluidic devices. It is very difficult to remove debris mechanically in a twisting nano-scale tunnel, and chemical-etching processes can alter the shapes of the channels in undesirable ways, says Alan Hunt, associate professor of biomedical engineering.

Hunt and Earnest Hasselbrink, assistant professor of mechanical engineering and graduate student Kevin Ke, have described their new process in "Rapidly Prototyped Three Dimensional Nanofluidic Channel Networks in Glass Substrates," a paper in a September issue of the journal Analytical Chemistry.

The ability to make small devices with tunnels at different depths allows fluid streams to cross without mixing, and enables scientists to pack more components into a small area.

The new machining method could create very small, complex, rapid analytical devices inexpensively for testing new pharmaceutical compounds or quickly diagnosing diseases. Commercialization opportunities are being actively pursued in collaboration with the U-M Office of Technology Transfer.

Updated equipment improves voting in Florida, Michigan

Aided by new technology, voting behavior improved considerably in Florida and Michigan, based on a decline in residual votes in 2004 when compared with 2000, a new study co-authored by University researchers indicates. Residual votes are those that are uncounted because people select more than one person in a category, or the ballots are mismarked or spoiled in some way.

"The new voting technology is doing the job it is supposed to by reducing the number of votes that are lost or don't get counted. And it does not seem to produce any unintended consequences in terms of changes in other forms of voting behavior," says Michael Traugott, a senior research scientist at the Institute for Social Research and a professor in the Department of Communication Studies.

The number and type of problems experienced in the 2000 presidential election, from faulty voting equipment to untrained poll workers, resulted in the need for new technology. Nearly three years ago, a law was passed requiring states to replace outdated voting systems—mainly lever and punch-card voting machines—by 2006.

The research examined whether improvements put in place by the 2004 presidential election were working, based on two case studies: Florida and Michigan. These states were chosen because they represented different examples of the changes occurring in election administration. Florida had severe election administration problems in 2000; Michigan has the most decentralized system of election administration of any state in the country. Presidential and Senate election results in 2000 and 2004 were compared in both states.In selected Florida counties, the residual rate declined in 2004. For the presidential race, the rate dropped more than 90 percent, from 5.24 percent in 2000 to 0.47 percent in 2004. The residual decline in Florida's Senate results was modest, from 6.43 percent in 2000 to 3.16 percent in 2004.

In all of the Michigan cities and townships, the residual rate dipped slightly from 1.4 percent in the presidential race in 2000 to 0.94 percent in 2004. Michigan did not have a Senate race in 2004, but the 2000 residual rate for that office was 3.46 percent."The

Impact of Voting Systems on Residual Votes, Incomplete Ballots and Other Measures of Voting Behavior" was co-authored by Fred Conrad, associate research scientist, Survey Research Center, ISR; Michael Hanmer, Georgetown University; and Won-ho Park, University of Florida. Hanmer and Park are former U-M political science graduate students who worked on the three-year project.

Businesses: Models for peace?

The primary aim in the business world may be to make money, but companies also can serve as models for peace, says a business professor.

Gretchen Spreitzer of the Stephen M. Ross School of Business says business organizations also can contribute to "sustainable peace"—the lasting and stable reduction of conflict,corruption, bloodshed and war—through their leadership approach.

"Business organizations can do good for peace by creating business practices that enable people to have a voice," says Spreitzer, professor of management and organizations.

In her study, "Giving Peace a Chance: Organizational Leadership, Empowerment and Sustainable Peace," Spreitzer shows that businesses can promote peace through two organizational features: participative organizational leadership and employee empowerment. These can create conditions in companies and communities that, in turn,may foster peace in civic and governmental domains, she says.

Participative leadership encourages employees at all levels to take part in making important organizational decisions and to express their points of view. Such leaders tend to be more tolerant of differences because they believe the differences will improve decision-making, she says.

"Employees who have had a positive experience with participative leadership at work are likely to feel respected and appreciated and are likely to seek out a similar approach incivic and political life," Spreitzer says. "Prior research indicates that countries ruled by more participatory leaders are more prone to peace. Participative systems create conditions for peace because people are more likely to resolve disputes with words and not with more violent means."

For a copy of the study, go to:

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