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December 21, 2007

Cannabis smoke found to be more harmful than tobacco

Inhaled cannabis is more toxic than tobacco smoke - health - 19 December 2007 - New Scientist

The science of studying pot always seems to be controversial. Defining "harmful" in this case as short-term harm seems to miss some of the point of the cancer finish-line at the end of Tobacco Road. Yet it does bear mentioning that marijuana smoke is harmful, as many people I've met claim otherwise even while coughing their lungs out.

Cannabis smokers beware: puff for puff, smoke from the plant contains significantly more chemicals and carcinogens than that from tobacco.

Cannabis smoke is well known to be more harmful to the lungs than tobacco, because smokers inhale cannabis one-third more deeply and hold it in their lungs for up to four times as long as cigarette smokers do. Yet while we have a list of more than 4000 chemicals and toxins present in tobacco smoke from dozens of studies, there is no comparable list for cannabis.

So David Moir of Health Canada and his colleagues set out to make a direct comparison, using machines that "smoke" the cigarettes and then collect and analyse the smoke. They found that directly inhaled cannabis smoke contained 20 times as much ammonia and five times as much hydrogen cyanide as tobacco smoke.

Dolphins' language charted and awesome

Dolphins speak a contextual language - life - 21 December 2007 - New Scientist

Listen to dolphins whistling to each other and you could be forgiven for thinking that they are having a conversation. Now we're a bit nearer to understanding what they might be saying, thanks to a project that has distinguished nearly 200 different whistles dolphins make and linked some of them to specific behaviours.

Liz Hawkins of the Whale Research Centre at Southern Cross University in Lismore, New South Wales, Australia, eavesdropped on bottlenose dolphins living off the western coast of Australia for her three-year study.

"This communication is highly complex, and it is contextual, so in a sense, it could be termed a language," says Hawkins, who presented her work at a meeting of the Society for Marine Mammalogy in Cape Town, South Africa, this month.

British Medical Journal: Airport Security "Theater" is Silly

Science Daily | Airport Security Measures Not Backed By Solid...

December 20, 2007

Laws of Physics Just Another Name for God

Universe - Laws of Nature - Physics - New York...

December 18, 2007

High-Fructose Corn Syrup -- That shit will kill you.

US News | Health Reasons to Cut Back on...

December 17, 2007

Space found to be bad for your immune system

Long periods in space harm immune system / Researchers ponder ways to safeguard astronauts' health

That question has focused for some time on concerns about exposures to cosmic and solar radiation, as well as the loss of bone strength and muscle tone in weightlessness. But researchers are also coming up against another more surprising physical risk for future long-haul space travelers: Their immune systems appear to become less capable in space, leaving them more susceptible to stowaway bacteria and viruses.

At the same time, researchers studying the microbes that could infect astronauts recently found that at least one, salmonella, becomes significantly more virulent in weightlessness.

"The question of immunity is a potentially big problem for astronauts on long trips and those who may be living on the moon in the future," said Millie Hughes-Fulford, a former astronaut who is researching the effects of "microgravity" on immunity. Her NASA-supported research has led her to conclude that weightlessness itself is a major cause of the problem.

December 13, 2007

Human evolution is speeding up

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Human evolution is 'speeding up'

Humans have moved into the evolutionary fast lane and are becoming increasingly different, a genetic study suggests.

In the past 5,000 years, genetic change has occurred at a rate roughly 100 times higher than any other period, say scientists in the US.

This is in contrast with the widely-held belief that recent human evolution has halted.

. . .

"Genes are evolving fast in Europe, Asia and Africa, but almost all of these are unique to their continent of origin," he added. "We are getting less alike, not merging into a single, mixed humanity."

This is happening, he said, because "there has not been much flow" between different regions since modern humans left Africa to colonise the rest of the world. And there is no evidence that it is slowing down, he added.

(via)