Category Archives: Science

Study Finds People Who Can Legally Treat Themselves With Cannabis Use Less Allopathic Prescription Drugs

By: Kat Mccue of Salud Móvil

A new study finds that patients who can legally treat themselves with medical cannabis stop using prescription opioids or use fewer opiates to care for chronic pain symptoms.

Patients enrolled in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program also suffered less pain, and they enjoyed a higher quality of life, better social experiences, higher levels of activity, and concentration.

The investigation published in the journal PLOS One analyzed health records from 66 habitual opioid users who were diagnosed with severe chronic pain to determine if and how legalized medical marijuana programs affected patients’ opioid use. Thirty-seven of the patients were enrolled in a legal medical cannabis program in New Mexico between 2010 and 2015 while the remaining 29 patients were not registered

New Mexico’s medical marijuana program allows its patients with severe chronic pain to self-manage their marijuana use, including how and how often the patients take cannabis, and what strength and strain of cannabis are used, giving patients much latitude over managing their condition.

For the study, researchers had access to 21 months of prescription data, including three months of data before patient enrollment in the medical cannabis program. Compared to those patients not enrolled in the program, cannabis users were 17 times more likely to cease their prescription opioid use and over five times more likely to reduce their daily dosage of opioids.

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Denver Declares It Illegal To Declaw Cats

By: Chris Morris of Fortune

Denver has taken a stand in the oft-controversial debate over declawing cats, with the City Council unanimously passing a ban on the practice Monday night. Critics have labeled the procedure, which is common in most states, as inhumane.

The city is the first municipality in the country outside of California to ban declawings. (Since 2003, eight cities in that state have prohibited the act.) Public opinion was strongly behind the bill, though some pet owners objected, saying any pain experienced by cats who underwent the procedure was temporary.

The bill applies only to elective declawing. Any medically required procedure is still permitted. The Colorado Veterinary Medical Association opposed the bill, somewhat surprisingly, saying it was an issue that should be left up to cat owners and their pets’ doctors.

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Research Shows Correlation Between Cannabis Use And Creativity

By: Eric W. Dolan of Psypost

A new study suggests that differences in personality traits account for the link between marijuana use and enhanced creativity.

“I became interested in this topic upon the realization that a number of my favorite musicians and artists were well known for their cannabis use, and that this cannabis use was commonly thought to have been a cause of the creative success of many artists,” explained study author Emily LaFrance, a graduate student at Washington State University.

“I began to wonder about this commonly held idea – are cannabis users really more creative than non-users? And if so, is this because cannabis use makes them more creative, or is something else causing differences in creativity between users and non-users?”

For their study, which was published in Consciousness and Cognition, the researchers had 412 cannabis users and 309 non-users complete a series of psychological tests.

They found that cannabis users tended to be more extraverted and also tended to be more open to new experiences.

Cannabis users self-reported higher levels of artistic creativity than non-users, but they did not report a higher number of creative works or achievements.

Cannabis users also performed better than non-users on a test of convergent thinking — meaning the creative process of narrowing down potential solutions to find one correct answer.

But the statistical relationship between cannabis use and creativity disappeared when the researchers accounted for the effect of openness to experience. The results suggest that cannabis users’ higher levels of openness to experience are responsible for their enhanced creativity.

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Enterprise To Donate 30 Million To Protecting Rivers and Watersheds

By: Lisa Brown St. Louis Post-Dispatch

The foundation arm of Enterprise Rent-A-Car is donating $30 million to The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to preserve and protect rivers and watersheds in the U.S. and

internationally.

The Clayton-based rental car giant’s Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundatiwatershedson said the gift over five years is expected to benefit 150 million people.

The four areas of focus for the donation include supporting efforts to reduce the amount of excess nutrient runoff that enters the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico. The donation will also help fund the restoration of and improve water quality on the Colorado River and in wetlands and major rivers in Canada and Europe.

Based in Arlington, Va., the nonprofit The Nature Conservancy operates in 34 countries and all 50 U.S. states. The Nature Conservancy will spend $60 million on river conservation globally for the next five years, said Shelly Lakly, the Nature Conservancy’s managing director of Saving Rivers Strategy.

“This donation will make a significant impact on us and our mission,” Lakly said. “We’re at a critical point in the development of the world with population increases and the need for people to work together. It’s truly a tipping point.”

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Research Claims Earthquakes Due to Water and Oil Water Pumping

By: Jim Scott of Colorado University

A rash of earthquakes in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico recorded between 2008 and 2010 was likely due to fluids pumped deep underground during oil and gas wastewater disposal, says a new CU Boulder study.

The study, which took place in the 2,200-square-mile Raton Basin along the central-Colorado northern New Mexico border, found more than 1,800 earthquakes up to magnitude 4.3 during that period, linking most to wastewater injection well activity. Such wells are used to pump water back in the ground after it has been extracted during the collection of methane gas from

subterranean coal beds.

One key piece of the new study was the use of hydrogeological modeling of pore pressure in what is called the “basement rock” of the Raton Basin—rock several miles deep that underlies the oldest stratified layers. Pore pressure is the fluid pressure within rock fractures and rock pores.

While two previous studies have linked earthquakes in the Raton Basin to wastewater injection wells, this is the first to show that elevated pore pressures deep underground are well above earthquake-triggering thresholds, said CU Boulder doctoral student Jenny Nakai, lead study author. The northern edges of the Raton Basin border Trinidad, Colorado, and Raton, New Mexico.

“We have shown for the first time a plausible causative mechanism for these earthquakes,” said Nakai of the Department of Geological Sciences. “The spatial patterns of seismicity we observed are reflected in the distribution of wastewater injection and our modeled pore pressure change.”

A paper on the study was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth. Co-authors on the study include CU Boulder professors Anne Sheehan and Shemin Ge of geological sciences, former CU Boulder doctoral student Matthew Weingarten, now a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University, and Professor Susan Bilek of the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro.

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Study Finds Cats Protect NewBorns Against Asthma 

By: Thomas Hoffman 

We know that cats keep mice away. But did you know that they can also help prevent asthma in newborns? That is the conclusion of a new study by scientists from the Copenhagen Studies on Asthma in Childhood Research Center (COPSAC), Denmark.

Cats neutralise the effect of a gene that, when activated, doubles the risk of developing asthma in children.

Having a cat in the home when a child is born means that this gene is never activated.

The result surprised co-author Hans Bisgaard, professor of paediatrics and the head of COPSAC. Not because the results will lead to any new treatments—they will not—but because the study shows that the genes behind a disease can be switched on or off depending on the environment around us.

“For me, this is the core message because it’s a recognition in the direction of how disease occurs. It documents the interplay between genetics and the environment we live in, and in particular that this occurs very early in life, both during pregnancy and in the home,” says Bisgaard.

Cats help children who carry a particular gene

In the new study, Bisgaard, Jakob Stokholm, and three colleagues from COPSAC and Næstved Hospital, Denmark, studied data from 377 Danish children whose mothers have asthma.

They mapped the children’s genes and collected information about their upbringing and surroundings, both by taking samples from the children’s home and by a number of surveys taken by the parents.

The results reveal that cats remove the increased risk of developing asthma among children with a particular variation of the gene 17q21, called TT, which has the strongest impact on whether or not a child could develop asthma.

Almost one in three children in the study carried the TT gene variant, regardless of whether or not their mother had asthma.

No protection from dogs

Interestingly, only cats seem to reduce the risk of developing asthma among children carrying the TT gene variant. Dogs do not have the same effect, say the scientists behind the new study.

Their analyses suggest that cats not only protect against asthma, but also against pneumonia and inflammation in the lower airways of small children (bronchitis).

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Syria Signs The Paris Climate Agreement Leaving U.S.A As The Only Country Out

By: Akshat Rathi of QZ

It’s everyone against the United States of America.

When Donald Trump announced that he intends to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, the implication was that the US would join Syria and Nicaragua as the only non-signatories of the accord. The other holdouts had legitimate excuses: Syria was in the middle of a war and Nicaragua thought the agreement wasn’t ambitious enough.

Now, both countries have had a change of heart.

At the climate talks in Bonn, Germany today (Nov. 7), the Syrian government announced that it will sign the Paris climate agreement after all, according to Climate Tracker. Last month, Nicaragua also signed up. That leaves the US as the only country opting not to be part of the global consensus on climate action.

The Paris climate agreement sets out a goal to stop global temperatures from rising more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels, a crucial threshold above which dangerous changes to the climate are likely irreversible. This requires the world to achieve net zero greenhouse-gas emissions by about 2050.

The climate accord lets each country determine its own plan of action. As per current commitments, even if Trump were to change his mind and re-engage the US in climate action, the total reduction in global emissions would still warm the planet beyond the 2°C threshold. In Bonn, countries are trying to figure out ways to work together to ensure we don’t cross that threshold.

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Scientist May Have Found The Key To Intrusive Thoughts 

Compliments of the BBC 

Scientists could have the secret. They have identified a chemical in the brain’s “memory” region that allows us to suppress unwanted thoughts.

The discovery may help explain why some people can’t shift persistent intrusive thoughts – a common symptom of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and schizophrenia.

Researchers say controlling our thoughts is “fundamental to wellbeing”.

Associated words

Prof Michael Anderson, from the University of Cambridge, who conducted the study, said: “When this capacity breaks down, it causes some of the most debilitating symptoms of psychiatric diseases – intrusive memories, images, hallucinations, ruminations, and pathological and persistent worries.”

Researchers found a particular chemical, or neurotransmitter, known as Gaba, held the key.

Gaba is the brain’s main “inhibitory” neurotransmitter. That means, when it’s released by one nerve cell it suppresses the activities of other cells to which it is connected.

They found people who had the highest concentrations of Gaba in their brain’s hippocampus (or memory hub) were best at blocking unwanted thoughts or memories.

“What’s exciting about this is that now we’re getting very specific,” said Prof Anderson.

“Before, we could only say ‘this part of the brain acts on that part’, but now we can say which neurotransmitters are likely to be important.”

New approaches to treatment

The discovery might shed light on a number of conditions, from schizophrenia to PTSD, in which sufferers have a pathological inability to control thoughts – such as excessive worrying or rumination.

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New Republican Tax Plan Will Kill Electric Vehicle Incentive 

By: Jonathan M. Gitlin of Ars Technica 

The nascent market for electric cars will suffer a big setback if the Republican tax plan released on Thursday enters into law. Among the changes to the current tax code would be an end to the Plug-In Electric Drive Vehicle Credit. That’s the tax incentive that currently means up to $7,500 back from the IRS when you purchase a new battery or plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Personal EV incentives gone

Since the start of 2010, the EV tax credit has been $2,500 for a plug-in vehicle with at least 5kWh battery capacity. Every extra kWh nets another $417 up to a maximum of $7,500, although you would need at least that amount in income tax liability—the IRS won’t cut you a check to make up the full amount. It was never meant to be permanent; once an automaker sells 200,000 qualifying vehicles (starting from January 1, 2010) its eligibility is phased out over a matter of months.

But in the almost seven years since, no one has reached that limit yet. Tesla will almost certainly be first, with General Motors not far behind; between them, they’ve sold a lot of Model Ses and Chevrolet Volts. If this tax plan is enacted, it will surely mean pain for both companies, as well as anyone else hoping to sell a lot of EVs here in the US. The data is pretty clear—tax incentives sell electric cars, and the market for EVs can dry up very fast when they’re abolished, as Georgia’s recent experience shows.

GM told Ars that “tax credits are an important customer benefit that can help accelerate the acceptance of electric vehicles. Because General Motors believes in an all-electric future, we will work with Congress to explore ways to maintain this incentive.” Tesla was not immediately available for comment.

Renewables for investors not so bad

Things aren’t quite as bad on the renewable energy side. There are new incentives to invest in small-scale wind, geothermal, solar, or fuel cell energy properties, and others have been extended. The nuclear industry also gets an extension on a tax incentive that was meant to expire in 2021. But the wind industry won’t be happy. Currently, wind power qualifies for a 2.3 cents/kWh credit; under the new scheme this would be just 1.5c/kWh.
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Profits After Death: How Bodies Donated To Science Make Companies Millions 

By: John Shiffman, Brian Grow or Reuters

In 2008, a thriving company named Science Care Inc developed a 55-page national expansion plan. The internal document projected the yield on raw material to the decimal point and earnings to the dollar.

The goal: to maximize profits from the sale of human bodies donated to science. The company’s model for ensuring quality: McDonald’s Corp.

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Science Care founder Jim Rogers aimed to provide customers with the same cuts from cadavers no matter which Science Care branch handled the order. That’s why he cited production methods perfected by Ray Kroc, the visionary who turned a hamburger stand into a fast-food empire, said an executive who worked closely with Rogers.

“He used the McDonald’s analogy that no matter where you go, you get the same exact thing,” the executive, former quality assurance director John Cover, said in a 2009 sworn statement.

“It was all about quality,” Cover said in a recent interview. “When you get a Big Mac, it’s going to taste like a Big Mac, whether you’re in Louisiana or San Francisco.”

McDonald’s and Kroc got rich selling hamburgers. Science Care and Rogers have made millions from human body parts.

From 2012 through 2014, Rogers and his co-owner, wife Josie, parlayed the donated dead into at least $12.5 million in earnings, according to Internal Revenue Service audits and court documents reviewed by Reuters.
The two likely earned millions more from Science Care in the dozen years before and after that period. And in 2016, they sold Science Care to a billion-dollar private equity firm. Terms were not disclosed, but the sale included this unusual asset: written pledges from more than 100,000 people to donate their bodies to Science Care when they die.

Last year, Jim and Josie Rogers bought a custom-built airplane and two luxury homes near Phoenix. They also own property in Hawaii and near a ski resort outside Telluride, Colorado.
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