6/24/2010 11:17:27 AM
How refreshing to read a story about medical marijuana that doesn’t contain one lame joke about munchies, forgetfulness, or bongs, and actually gets down to exploring why smart people in lab coats think pot is a fascinating storehouse of compounds. The levelheaded folks at Science News explore “the long march to credibility for cannabis research,” which, Nathan Seppa soberly explains, “has been built on molecular biology.”
Seppa’s article “Not Just a High” is a great reminder that beyond Cypress Hill and Weeds, and behind all the hype and hysteria over loosening state laws and booming dispensaries, there’s a serious and credible body of research making the case for a host of medicinal marijuana uses.
Seppa details how THC mimics the effects of compounds in our bodies, and how both versions—cannabinoids from the plant and endocannabinoids from our bodies—bind to receptor proteins dubbed CB1 and CB2. And that’s where the magic begins:
When a person consumes cannabis, a flood of THC molecules bind to thousands of CB1 and CB2 receptors ... . The binding triggers so many internal changes that, decades after the receptors’ discovery, scientists are still sorting out the effects. From a biological standpoint, smoking pot to get high is like starting up a semitruck just to listen to the radio. There’s a lot more going on.
The article covers several promising new avenues of pot study, including fresh research that suggests THC may kill cancer cells. The piece is well worth checking out, especially for anyone who still thinks medical marijuana research is simply a gussied-up front group for stoners. Not to mention that it will totally blow your mind, man.
Source: Science News
6/18/2010 10:35:42 AM
Remember how your grandfather used to scream about the aliens hiding inside his couch? Maybe that's not a common experience. Anyway, with all due respect, the famous Australian scientist who is predicting humanity’s extinction in the next 100 years is, uh, 95 years old. Still, humans aren’t immortal; we’re likely to die out. Plus, it’s hard to deny that:
"The Aborigines showed that without science and the production of carbon dioxide and global warming, they could survive for 40,000 or 50,000 years. But the world can't. The human species is likely to go the same way as many of the species that we've seen disappear."
Image by dougwoods, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/17/2010 9:23:48 AM
When I operate my microwave, I usually detonate the oatmeal. So, suffice it to say that I do not have the technical know-how or wherewithal (or even the whywithal) to design and build my own iPad. However, the Global Post curates a nice little tour of some genuine iPad alternatives (and a few suspicious ripoffs) floating around out there. And by "floating," I mean sitting on podiums at Taipei trade shows.
Source: The Global Post
Image by jblyberg, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/10/2010 12:44:21 PM
Apple's release of the iPad reminds me of when fire was first discovered. All these Neanderthals kept saying, “Oh, hey, Grok. Fire going to be super warm. You like fire. It so warm it burn. It game-changer.” I was skeptical. Then fire came out. My friends stood in line for days around a hole in the ground with old wood in it, waiting for fire to come. Sure enough, fire was warm, but you couldn’t get into it the way you can get into a hot spring. So, fire’s warmth wasn’t as great as the hype suggested. “Grok will wait until warm bath invented,” I told all my friends. “Hype just hype.” However, on occasion, a reasonable commenter, probably not a person named Grok, can find some middle ground: a skeptical assessment laced with optimistic realism.
Writing about Apple's latest “game-changing” gadget for The New York Review of Books, Sue Halpern finds the right mixture of skeptical objection to the current iPad and hope for the device’s potential. As she says:
As it is built now, the iPad is the ultimate consumer device, meant primarily to consume media, not to produce it. That’s why, in its first iteration, it has no native printing application, no camera, no USB ports for peripherals. But the impulse to make it into something else, a lightweight computer that can stand in for a PC in the classroom, at a meeting, on the road, wherever, is strong. This is why iPad users have been buying keyboards to bypass the touchscreen, and finding apps that allow for rudimentary multitasking, printing, and remote access to one’s home computer in order to use non-iPad-enabled software like Microsoft Word. The paradox of having designed the ultimate consumer device is that ultimately the consumers will make of it what they want—if Google, with its rumored Chrome Tablet, doesn’t get there first.
Source: The New York Review of Books
Image by umpcportal.com, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/9/2010 10:58:40 AM
Are you a sports fan? Have you ever gotten super excited while attending a sporting event, risen to your feet screaming, thrown your beer into the faces of the family sitting behind you, and promptly dropped dead of a myocardial infarction? Well, it happens. Miller-McCune reports on research about soccer and its possible health consequences (for both fans and players). A sample:
A study in the International Journal of Cardiology compared incidents of sudden cardiac death in Switzerland during the 2002 World Cup compared to the same period one year earlier. It reported a 77 percent increase in such fatalities among men and a 33 percent increase among women. And a paper [PDF] published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the number of cardiac emergencies in metropolitan Munich was 2.66 times greater during the 2006 World Cup than compared to the weeks just before and after the event. Concluding that “preventative measures are urgently needed” before the next tournament, the authors offered a series of suggestions, ranging from cognitive therapy to “the administration or increase in dose of beta-adrenergic-blocking drugs.”
Sources: Miller-McCune, International Journal of Cardiology, New England Journal of Medicine
Image by Photocapy, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/3/2010 3:38:26 PM
Admit it: Sometimes when you’re sitting around with nothing to do, you wish you could compare and contrast the variety of spacesuits used by different nations over the years. Fear not, nerd. Space.com has you covered, with a nifty spacesuit chart.
Image by flikr, licensed under Creative Commons.
6/3/2010 11:55:44 AM
According to Live Science, the military may soon utilize a battlefield video system like the National Football League’s instant replay technology. The system would work by tagging individual frames of video with metadata like time, date, and location in order to help analysts get a quick sense of the relevance of each recording. Other pieces of data might include audio input from soldiers on the ground identifying people and structures captured on video. Why do this? Well:
In the past few years, the amount of intelligence and surveillance video coming in from robots and other sources has increased sharply, overwhelming analysts who simply can't keep up.
For instance, U.S. Air Force drones collected roughly 1,800 hours of video a month in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2009, nearly three times as much video than in 2007, noted Howard Lance, chairman, president and CEO of Melbourne-Fla.-based Harris Corporation, which provides the NFL and Major League Baseball instant-replay technology.
This is only expected to grow as the number of robots increases on the battlefield, as do their capabilities - for example, the General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can record in 10 directions simultaneously.
Now Harris is helping the Pentagon with this information overload by helping devise a customized video analysis system that might cut the time needed to analyze trillions of bytes of video from weeks to minutes. After all, U.S. broadcasters handle 70,000 hours daily of video, Lance noted.
Source: Live Science
(Thanks, Danger Room.)
Image by cell105, licensed under Creative Commons.
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