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Cannabis Compound to Be Reclassified as Medicine in the UK
Studies have shown that cannabidiol (CBD) can help with epilepsy, heart disease, diabetes, and even schizophrenia.
Cannabinoids are certain chemical compounds found only in cannabis. Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol is (THC) is the most commonly recognized. This is what gives users that telltale euphoric feeling. THC may also play a role, should medical marijuana continue to become mainstream, as a painkiller. In fact, one study found that those states that passed a medical marijuana law saw a drop in opioid painkiller-related deaths.
THC can ease nausea, while inducing sleep as well as appetite. This is why Marinol—whose active ingredient is THC, is prescribed to certain cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. There is some indication that it may have anti-cancer properties. Far more studies will need to be conducted to tell whether or not this is so.
Though THC itself may have some medical uses, this isn’t the most exciting of the cannabinoids from a medical standpoint. Rather, cannabidiol (CBD) is the one advocates push for. It has no psychoactive properties, yet may have a number of clinical uses. Initially, interest grew across the US and the world in the wake of a CNN special. Children with rare but potentially deadly forms of epilepsy, such as Dravet syndrome, were seeing dramatic turnarounds after taking CBD oil.
The TV special centered on Charlotte Figi, a little girl who went from having up to 80 severe seizures per day to a mild one, once a month. Unfortunately, most of the data we have is anecdotal, due to restrictions and red tape which slows down research. In the US, marijuana is considered a schedule I narcotic under the Controlled Substances Act. This means it is among the most deadly substances on Earth, such as heroin and LSD, and has no medical uses. The FDA recently considered rescheduling marijuana, but failed to do so.
A patient in Israel received CBD oil.
Though few, there have been some studies on the substance. And more and more are coming in from overseas. Research suggests that in addition to improving the condition of epileptics, CBD can be effective in treating heart disease, diabetes, schizophrenia, and more. Today, researchers aren’t sure which pathway CBD takes. The most likely is it interacts with the endocannabinoid system, a series of receptors which control cell death and regeneration.
These receptors are found in organs and tissues throughout the body. Despite illegality federally, almost half the states in the US now allow some access to medical marijuana, and most often it’s to CBD. One wonders if the incoming Trump administration will allow such a dichotomy to continue, or plans to clamp down on these states.
Other countries have had similar trajectories. The UK’s Home Office last year, in response to a petition on recreational marijuana, wrote that cannabis “can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society.” Even so, recently, in that same country, The Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced a policy change, reclassifying CBD as medically useful rather than a dangerous substance. This wasn’t due to the activism on the part of patients and families, such as it was in the states.
Instead, according to Sky News, the director of the MHRA Gerald Heddel said that the change came as a consequence of companies making claims about the cannabinoid’s ability to heal. Heddel stated that after a review of the evidence, it was clear that the change made sense. Up until now, those in the UK interested in CBD either had to move out of the country or source it illegally, as it was only available to those with M.S. Now, manufacturers interested in bringing CBD products to market will need to have them scrutinized by regulators for quality, safety, and effectiveness.
Some patients in the UK fear losing access, while others are afraid such a move may send the wrong message, that cannabis is safe. In their statement the MHRA admitted CBD has a positive effect on “physiological functions.” Yet, the UK is still a long way from legalizing pot for recreational purposes. What’s interesting is this reclassification came at a time when a British company, GW Pharmaceuticals, announced completion of a phase III clinical trial. They tested a CBD-based drug. The trial’s conclusions were highly positive.
To learn more about the debate surrounding cannabis, click here:
These alien-like creatures are virtually invisible in the deep sea.
- A team of marine biologists used nets to catch 16 species of deep-sea fish that have evolved the ability to be virtually invisible to prey and predators.
- "Ultra-black" skin seems to be an evolutionary adaptation that helps fish camouflage themselves in the deep sea, which is illuminated by bioluminescent organisms.
- There are likely more, and potentially much darker, ultra-black fish lurking deep in the ocean.
The Pacific blackdragon
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p>When researchers first saw the deep-sea species, it wasn't immediately obvious that their skin was ultra-black. Then, marine biologist Karen Osborn, a co-author on the new paper, noticed something strange about the photos she took of the fish.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"I had tried to take pictures of deep-sea fish before and got nothing but these really horrible pictures, where you can't see any detail," Osborn told <em><a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">Wired</a></em>. "How is it that I can shine two strobe lights at them and all that light just disappears?"</p><p>After examining samples of fish skin under the microscope, the researchers discovered that the fish skin contains a layer of organelles called melanosomes, which contain melanin, the same pigment that gives color to human skin and hair. This layer of melanosomes absorbs most of the light that hits them.</p>
A crested bigscale
Credit: Karen Osborn/Smithsonian<p style="margin-left: 20px;">"But what isn't absorbed side-scatters into the layer, and it's absorbed by the neighboring pigments that are all packed right up close to it," Osborn told <em>Wired</em>. "And so what they've done is create this super-efficient, very-little-material system where they can basically build a light trap with just the pigment particles and nothing else."</p><p>The result? Strange and terrifying deep-sea species, like the crested bigscale, fangtooth, and Pacific blackdragon, all of which appear in the deep sea as barely more than faint silhouettes.</p>
David Csepp, NMFS/AKFSC/ABL<p>But interestingly, this unique disappearing trick wasn't passed on to these species by a common ancestor. Rather, they each developed it independently. As such, the different species use their ultra-blackness for different purposes. For example, the threadfin dragonfish only has ultra-black skin during its adolescent years, when it's rather defenseless, as <em>Wired</em> <a href="https://www.wired.com/story/meet-the-ultra-black-vantafish/" target="_blank">notes</a>.</p><p>Other fish—like the <a href="http://onebugaday.blogspot.com/2016/06/a-new-anglerfish-oneirodes-amaokai.html" target="_blank">oneirodes species</a>, which use bioluminescent lures to bait prey—probably evolved ultra-black skin to avoid reflecting the light their own bodies produce. Meanwhile, species like <em>C. acclinidens</em> only have ultra-black skin around their gut, possibly to hide light of bioluminescent fish they've eaten.</p><p>Given that these newly described species are just ones that this team found off the coast of California, there are likely many more, and possibly much darker, ultra-black fish swimming in the deep ocean. </p>
Using machine-learning technology, the genealogy company My Heritage enables users to animate static images of their relatives.
- Deep Nostalgia uses machine learning to animate static images.
- The AI can animate images by "looking" at a single facial image, and the animations include movements such as blinking, smiling and head tilting.
- As deepfake technology becomes increasingly sophisticated, some are concerned about how bad actors might abuse the technology to manipulate the pubic.
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But that's not to say the animations are perfect. As with most deep-fake technology, there's still an uncanny air to the images, with some of the facial movements appearing slightly unnatural. What's more, Deep Nostalgia is only able to create deepfakes of one person's face from the neck up, so you couldn't use it to animate group photos, or photos of people doing any sort of physical activity.</p>
My Heritage/Deep Nostalgia<p>But for a free deep-fake service, Deep Nostalgia is pretty impressive, especially considering you can use it to create deepfakes of <em>any </em>face, human or not. </p>
How long should one wait until an idea like string theory, seductive as it may be, is deemed unrealistic?
- How far should we defend an idea in the face of contrarian evidence?
- Who decides when it's time to abandon an idea and deem it wrong?
- Science carries within it its seeds from ancient Greece, including certain prejudices of how reality should or shouldn't be.
Plato used the allegory of the cave to explain that what humans see and experience is not the true reality.
Credit: Gothika via Wikimedia Commons CC 4.0<p>When scientists and mathematicians use the term <em>Platonic worldview</em>, that's what they mean in general: The unbound capacity of reason to unlock the secrets of creation, one by one. Einstein, for one, was a believer, preaching the fundamental reasonableness of nature; no weird unexplainable stuff, like a god that plays dice—his tongue-in-cheek critique of the belief that the unpredictability of the quantum world was truly fundamental to nature and not just a shortcoming of our current understanding. Despite his strong belief in such underlying order, Einstein recognized the imperfection of human knowledge: "What I see of Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility." (Quoted by Dukas and Hoffmann in <em>Albert Einstein, The Human Side: Glimpses from His Archives</em> (1979), 39.)</p> <p>Einstein embodies the tension between these two clashing worldviews, a tension that is still very much with us today: On the one hand, the Platonic ideology that the fundamental stuff of reality is logical and understandable to the human mind, and, on the other, the acknowledgment that our reasoning has limitations, that our tools have limitations and thus that to reach some sort of final or complete understanding of the material world is nothing but an impossible, <a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01K2JTGIA?tag=bigthink00-20&linkCode=ogi&th=1&psc=1" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">semi-religious dream</a>.</p>