10 Reasons Why Doctors Support Medical Marijuana .


(Photo: Rosmary/Flickr)As medical marijuana continues to be debated, more doctors are coming out in favor of its use. In a recent ‘Ask The Doctor’ column, Dr. Heather Auld, Fellow at the University of Arizona Department of Integrative Medicine and a practising obstetrician/gynecologist, explained why the time has come for marijuana to be placed back into the U.S. pharmacopeia.

1. Marijuana has been used as medicine for more than 3,000 years

The use of medical marijuana has been traced to ancient civilizations in China, India, and Egypt. One of the earliest pieces of evidence is a book written by Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung in 2737 BCE, which described the benefits of cannabis in treating constipation, gout, rheumatism and absent-mindedness.

Dr. Auld writes that “only in recent decades has it been removed from our pharmacies.”

2. The American Medical Association supports medical marijuana and its use in research

When marijuana prohibition was passed in 1937, the American Medical Association (AMA) was one of the only voices of opposition. Indeed, the AMA was well aware that marijuana, since entering Western medicine in the mid-1800s, was commonly prescribed for a wide range of conditions.

Though synthetic drugs grew popular during the 20th century, the AMA has continued to support research on marijuana’s medical potential, a position they maintain to this day.

3. The ‘high’ is only from one component

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Cannabis contains more than 400 chemical compounds, of which more than 60 have been identified as cannabinoids. Cannabinoids are the medically active ingredients in cannabis, including the one that gets you high, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

But other cannabinoids are known to offer similar medical benefits, without the high. Cannabinoids like cannabidiol (CBD), cannabigerol (CBG), and tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC-A) have been extracted from cannabis to produce non-psychoactive forms of medical marijuana. These are especially popular for paediatric patients.

4. Our body contains a natural cannabinoid system that regulates health and illness

It wasn’t until the mid-1990s that scientists discovered why marijuana works so well, and for so many different illnesses. The discovery was a natural system in the human body called the endocannabinoid system, which includes chemicals that mimic the activity of cannabis, called endocannabinoids.

Much like cannabis, Dr. Auld notes that endocannabinoids act to “decrease inflammation, increase immunity, decrease pain, and increase appetite.”

5. Smoking or vaporizing marijuana is better for pain relief

(Photo: thelefthandman/Flickr)

Although some believe there are better methods than smoking or vaporizing, Dr. Auld argues that it could be ideal for those in pain. Oral ingestion of cannabis provides longer-lasting relief, but also takes about an hour to achieve effect. Patients in pain usually require more immediate action, which smoked or vaporized marijuana provides.

6. Marijuana may be superior to narcotic painkillers for neuropathy or nerve pain

While opioid painkillers are incredibly potent and can work wonders for certain types of pain, they are much less effective in cases of nerve pain. In studies, marijuana performs just as well as gabapentin, a leading pharmaceutical used to treat neuropathy.

Also, Dr. Auld notes that “whereas narcotics commonly increase nausea and vomiting, marijuana relieves those symptoms.”

7. When combined, marijuana can decrease the amount of narcotics needed for pain relief

(Photo: Charles Williams/Flcikr)

Studies suggest that marijuana can reduce the need for prescription painkillers when given together. The popularity of painkillers has led to a rise in accidental overdoses in the U.S., with opioids claiming over 16,000 lives in 2010. By reducing the need for high doses, medical marijuana offers a promising solution for doctors and patients.

8. The main side effect of marijuana is euphoria or extreme feelings of well-being

One of the most common reasons for doctors to dismiss medical marijuana is the unwanted side effect of getting high. Yet those who have never experienced a marijuana high can easily forget what the high actually does. Feelings of euphoria, while unwanted for some, can provide comfort for patients with debilitating or chronic illnesses.

9. Unlike highly addictive narcotic painkillers, marijuana has the same addictive potential as caffeine

Even when compared to common recreational drugs, studies have ranked marijuana among the least addictive.

A study conducted by NIDA researchers concluded that 9% of people who ever try marijuana will become addicted to it at some point, which is similar to caffeine. On the other hand, the same study found an addictive potential of 15% for alcohol and 32% for tobacco.

10. Marijuana is being studied as a treatment for tumors and various forms of cancer

(Photo: National Cancer Institute)

For cancer patients, relief of nausea and pain are not the only potential benefits of marijuana.

In fact, compounds in marijuana have shown anti-tumor and anti-cancer effects in numerous animal models, “particularly in brain and skin tumors,” Dr. Auld writes, “but also in lung cancer, lymphoma and colon cancer.”

Last November, a drug company called GW Pharmaceuticals began the first clinical trials of a marijuana-based treatment for battling cancer.

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Researchers find simple, cheap way to increase solar cell efficiency


Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences have found an easy way to modify the molecular structure of a polymer commonly used in solar cells. Their modification can increase solar cell efficiency by more than 30 percent.

Polymer-based have two domains, consisting of an electron acceptor and an electron donor material. Excitons are the energy particles created by solar cells when light is absorbed. In order to be harnessed effectively as an energy source, excitons must be able to travel quickly to the interface of the donor and acceptor domains and retain as much of the light’s energy as possible.

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One way to increase is to adjust the difference between the highest occupied molecular orbit (HOMO) of the acceptor and lowest unoccupied molecular orbit (LUMO) levels of the polymer so that the exciton can be harvested with minimal loss. One of the most common ways to accomplish this is by adding a fluorine atom to the polymer’s molecular backbone, a difficult, multi-step process that can increase the solar cell’s performance, but has considerable material fabrication costs.

A team of chemists led by Jianhui Hou from the Chinese Academy of Sciences created a polymer known as PBT-OP from two commercially available monomers and one easily synthesized monomer. Wei Ma, a post-doctoral physics researcher from NC State and corresponding author on a paper describing the research, conducted the X-ray analysis of the polymer’s structure and the donor:acceptor morphology.

PBT-OP was not only easier to make than other commonly used polymers, but a simple manipulation of its chemical structure gave it a lower HOMO level than had been seen in other polymers with the same molecular backbone. PBT-OP showed an open circuit voltage (the voltage available from a solar cell) value of 0.78 volts, a 36 percent increase over the ~ 0.6 volt average from similar polymers.

According to NC State physicist and co-author Harald Ade, the team’s approach has several advantages. “The possible drawback in changing the of these materials is that you may enhance one aspect of the solar cell but inadvertently create unintended consequences in devices that defeat the initial intent,” he says. “In this case, we have found a chemically easy way to change the electronic structure and enhance device efficiency by capturing a lager fraction of the light’s energy, without changing the material’s ability to absorb, create and transport energy.”

The researchers’ findings appear in Advanced Materials. The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology. Dr. Maojie Zhang synthesized the polymers; Xia Guo,Shaoqing Zhang and Lijun Huo from the Chinese Academy of Sciences also contributed to the work.

Provided by North Carolina State University

Tails: Use the Net Anonymously, Anywhere—From a USB Stick.


Bring Internet anonymity with you in your pocket on a USB stick running Tails

Tails is an operating system that can be installed on a USB stick (or DVD or SD card) which can be used on any computer, anywhere without using the computer’s native operating system. It also keeps your identity and activities secret by using Tor.

It’s safe anonymity in your pocket—and can be brought along to a library, Internet café, work or wherever else you might want to go to use the Internet anonymously. It was recommended as nigh-on mandatory for journalists working on sensitive stories by security researcher Jacob Applebaum in his absolutely excellent speech on the NSA and net security at the 30th Chaos Communications Congress.

USB Stick Tails

Tails is a live system that aims to preserve your privacy and anonymity. It helps you to use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship almost anywhere you go and on any computer but leaving no trace unless you ask it to explicitly.

It is a complete operating system designed to be used from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card independently of the computer’s original operating system. It is Free Software and based on Debian GNU/Linux…

Using Tails on a computer doesn’t alter or depend on the operating system installed on it. So you can use it in the same way on your computer, a friend’s or one at your local library. After shutting down Tails, the computer can start again on its usual operating system.

You can download Tails here.

NSA ‘developing quantum computer’


NSA headquarters
The NSA wants to use its quantum computer to break encryption used to protect online communication

The US National Security Agency is building a quantum computer to break the encryption that keeps messages secure, reports the Washington Post.

The NSA project came to light in documents passed to the newspaper by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.

The spying agency hopes to harness the special qualities of quantum computers to speed up its code-cracking efforts.

The NSA is believed to have spent about $80m (£49m) on the project but it has yet to produce a working machine.

If the NSA managed to develop a working quantum computer it would be put to work breaking encryption systems used online and by foreign governments to keep official messages secure, suggest the documents excerpted in the Post.

The quantum computer is being developed under a research programme called Penetrating Hard Targets and is believed to be conducted out of a lab in Maryland.

Processing power

Many research groups around the world are pursuing the goal of creating a working quantum computer but those developed so far have not been able to run the algorithms required to break contemporary encryption systems.

Current computers attempt to crack encryption via many different means but they are limited to generating possible keys to unscramble data one at a time. Using big computers can speed this up but the huge numbers used as keys to lock away data limits the usefulness of this approach.

By contrast, quantum computers exploit properties of matter that, under certain conditions, mean the machine can carry out lots and lots of calculations simultaneously. This makes it practical to try all the possible keys protecting a particular message or stream of data.

The hard part of creating a working quantum computer is keeping enough of its constituent computational elements, called qubits, stable so they can interact and be put to useful work.

The NSA is not believed to have made significant breakthroughs in its work that would put it ahead of research efforts elsewhere in the US and Europe. However, the documents passed to the Post by Edward Snowden suggest the agency’s researchers are having some success developing the basic building blocks for the machine.

Parallel Worlds Exist And Will Soon Be Testable.


Flickr-parallel universe-jurvetson

Is there another you reading this article at this exact moment in a parallel universe? Dr. Brian Greene, author of The Hidden Reality: Parallel Universes and the Deep Laws of the Cosmos, believes that this freakish quirk of nature may exist; and he discusses its amazing possibilities in this 3-minute TV interview.

A growing number of cosmologists agree with Greene that we are but one of many universes and at least one of these other worlds lies close to ours, maybe only a millimeter away. We can’t see this world, because it exists in a type of space different from the four dimensions of our everyday reality.

MIT’s Max Tegmark believes this multiverse model of ‘many universes’ is grounded in modern physics and will eventually be testable, predictive and disprovable. “This is not sci-fi,” he says, “its real science.”

As research at the CERN Large Hadron Collider progresses, scientists are talking increasingly of a “new physics” on the horizon, which promise to help researchers understand more of the unknowns about our universe. This new approach includes developing a better understanding of dark energy, a mystery force that some forward thinkers believe indicates that a ‘sister’ universe lurks in our neighborhood.

Strange happenings have been observed by cosmologists such as the Andromeda galaxy, 2.2 million light-years away speeding towards the Milky Way at 200,000 mph. This phenomenon makes sense logically if gravity leaking from an invisible universe were pulling the two galaxies together.

Researchers at the WMAP space telescope recently discovered a force 10,000 times larger than the Milky Way, which they believe offers powerful evidence that a parallel universe may be in the area.

In another attempt to search for parallel worlds, NASA installed the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer-2 at the ISS to record data that may prove the existence of other universes, some of which might even be made of anti-matter. Unraveling this cosmic mystery has attracted worldwide interest. The project draws support from most EU nations; plus Taiwan, China, Russia, and the U.S.

Could we ever visit another universe? In a recent PBS interviewRiddles of the UniverseUSC cosmologist Clifford Johnson said he thought it OK to discuss this in the context of fiction (see FOX TV’s Fringe), but it’s also something that scientists can explore. Some suggest that the stuff we’re made of – matter and the forces of our gravity and magnetism – are the elements that glue us to this universe.

They don’t allow us to leave our 4-dimensions of moving back and forth, up and down, left to right; and sense of time. Another universe may exist close by, but in order for us to observe or communicate with it; we must first understand its different dimensions. We might envision them as “new kinds of sideways.”

However, gravity seems to pervade all universes, and it may one day become possible to communicate with other universes through some futuristic gravitational manipulation. How might we feel if a parallel world is discovered? Johnson says, “It may make me feel less unique as a person, or maybe grateful; because many things I’ve not found time for are maybe being done by a copy of me somewhere else!”

Greene adds that some universes may be almost indistinguishable from ours; others may contain variations of all of us, where we exist but with different families, careers, and life stories. In still others, reality may be so radically different from ours as to be unrecognizable.

Experts predict that as the coming decades unwind, with intelligence advancing exponentially, this ‘over-the-top’ concept will one day become a proven fact. Imagine visiting another Earth where an alternate you is living a more rewarding life than yours, and you could trade places if you both agreed.

This begs the question, “What might happen if our parallel selves met; would we combine our differences to become better humans, or would we compete against one another?”

When might connecting to parallel universes be possible? With resolve and good fortune, some experts predict this incredible feat could be achieved by as early as 10 years; others less enthusiastic,believe the technologies necessary for this to happen could fall into place over the next 50-to-100 years. Stay tuned.

AIIMS study reveals a link between OCP’s and Breast Cancer.


The use of oral contraceptive pills (OCP’s) especially emergency contraceptive pills (morning after pills) is increasing rapidly among young women and this might be one of the factors responsible for the rise in the incidence of Breast Cancer in our country. Many studies conducted on this issue have failed to indicate a clear link between OCP’s and breast cancer. However, a recent study conducted by AIIMS, which was published in Indian Journal of Cancer has revealed a higher chance of breast cancer among regular users of OCP’s.

According to the study, breast cancer risk was found to be 9.5 times more in women with a history of consuming such pills regularly. The study included 640 women, out of which 320 were breast cancer patients. 11.9% breast cancer patients in the study had a history of using long term OCP’s as compared to 1.2% healthy individuals.

It is a well known fact that breast cancer is a hormone dependent cancer (mainly dependent of on estrogen) and the regular use of OCP’s leads to a disturbance in the normal hormonal status. Morning after pills (emergency contraceptive pills), which contain a higher dose of estrogen lead to a sudden surge in the levels of these hormones and are thought to be more harmful. The problem is that these pills are being consumed on a daily basis by many youngsters. The users of morning after pills were not included in this study.

Women should realize the importance of this study and more awareness needs to be created among young women regarding excessive use of emergency contraceptives. At the same point, more studies (prospective trials) are required on this issue to firmly establish a link between OCP’s and breast cancer.

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