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What Is So Fascinating About Marijuana News?

What Is So Fascinating About Marijuana News?

The Meaning of Marijuana News

If you’re against using Cannabis as you do not need to smoke you’re misinformed. As there is barely any cannabis left in a roach, some people today argue that the song is all about running out of cannabis and not having the ability to acquire high, exactly like the roach isn’t able to walk because it’s missing a leg. If you’re thinking about consuming cannabis please consult your health care provider first. Before visiting the list, it’s important to be aware of the scientific reason cannabis works as a medication generally, and more specifically, the scientific reason it can send cancer into remission. At the moment, Medical Cannabis was still being used to take care of several health-related problems. In modern society, it is just starting to receive the recognition it deserves when it comes to treating diseases such as Epilepsy.

In nearly all the nation, at the present time, marijuana is illegal. To comprehend what marijuana does to the brain first you’ve got to know the key chemicals in marijuana and the various strains. If you are a person who uses marijuana socially at the occasional party, then you likely do not have that much to be concerned about. If you’re a user of medicinal marijuana, your smartphone is possibly the very first place you start looking for your community dispensary or a health care provider. As an issue of fact, there are just a few types of marijuana that are psychoactive. Medical marijuana has entered the fast-lane and now in case you reside in Arizona you can purchase your weed without leaving your vehicle. Medical marijuana has numerous therapeutic effects which will need to be dealt with and not only the so-called addictive qualities.

If you’re using marijuana for recreational purposes begin with a strain with a minimal dose of THC and see the way your body reacts. Marijuana is simpler to understand because it is both criminalized and decriminalized, based on the place you go in the nation. If a person is afflicted by chronic depression marijuana can directly affect the Amygdala that is accountable for your emotions.

marijuana news

Much enjoy the wine industry was just two or three decades past, the cannabis business has an image problem that’s keeping people away. In the event you want to learn where you are able to find marijuana wholesale companies near you, the very best place to seek out such companies is our site, Weed Finder. With the cannabis industry growing exponentially, and as more states start to legalize, individuals are beginning to learn that there is far more to cannabis than simply a plant that you smoke. In different states, the work of legal marijuana has produced a patchwork of banking and tax practices. Then the marijuana sector is ideal for you.

Marijuana News for Dummies

Know what medical cannabis options can be found in your state and the way they respond to your qualifying medical condition. They can provide medicinal benefits, psychotropic benefits, and any combination of both, and being able to articulate what your daily responsibilities are may help you and your physician make informed, responsible decisions regarding the options that are appropriate for you, thus protecting your employment, your family and yourself from untoward events. In the modern society, using drugs has become so prevalent it has come to be a component of normal life, irrespective of age or gender. Using marijuana in the USA is growing at a quick rate.

Zachary Paul
Zachary Paul is an independent investigative journalist living in New York City.

Anti-Aging Studies Reveal Longer Lives on the Horizon


At this very moment, there is a mouse who although appears a bit dogged and raggedy is actually quite animated and bears a wild spirit as he sniffs, scrambles, and snoops about his cage at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Though next to his younger siblings he appears on the runtier end of the litter, unlike them he boasts a coat of black fur lustrous enough to land him a spot on a Pantene commercial. Our said mouse’s name is Mouse UT2598 and he is 3 years old, which translates into the centennial years when it comes to a human life span, as mice typically live to around 4 years old, if they are lucky.

For the sake of this article, let’s call this mouse Mighty. So, what gives Mighty his punk-ass edge? It’s called rapamycin, a compound which is gradually revealing to scientists its ability to slow the aging process along with the havoc it can cause on certain cells. Mighty’s heart and liver are functioning as if he were an adolescent, and his tendons are far more resilient with the elasticity of a 3 year-old mouse. Evidence also reveals that his organs are damaged markedly less than is considered standard at his age, leading to the theory that Mighty may be spared the effects of cancer for quite some time longer than mice not involved in the experiments taking place at the University of Texas. In fact, place him in a line-up alongside other mice his age and the distinctions are absolutely extraordinary.

The experiment involving Mighty and rapamycin is just one of many when it comes to investigation into the aging process. Research all over the globe entails experiments with a plethora of agents, not just rapamycin, some of which are already being used to treat a number of human conditions. Scientists are assembling the puzzle by employing tactics like manipulating genes, too. Essentially, they are all in a race for the big cheese: finding ways to extend longevity and ultimately trap the aging process and curb – if not cure (or even reverse) – it altogether.

As it stands, aging is the single most potent ingredient when it comes to recipes needed for age-related diseases that eventually shorten our lives like cancer, heart conditions, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative brain ailments, and others. While the main components typically associated with heart disease are high cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure, simply celebrating an 80th birthday can be the factor that tips the scale towards contracting a fatal heart condition – even if that 80 year-old resisted a single nibble of his birthday cake. That being said, scientists are beginning to treat aging as a disease in and of itself, one which may be sensitive to treatment as simple as a doctor’s prescription.

Let’s get back to Mighty and his happy pill. Rapamycin has its origin in dirt. That is, soil samples which were collected in 1964 on a voyage to Easter Island eventually became the foundation for developing the antibiotic, and researchers have found that mice who were given the drug were prone to longer lives (about 20% longer) than mice who did not ingest the medication. What makes rapamycin particularly interesting is that it functions in a variety of species including yeast, worms and flies – and it works even when started late in life. Thus, if studies involving the drug are successful and actually lead to human treatment, it could potentially offer benefits to those starting it in their 60s or even 80s.


Rapamycin essentially hinders the operation of a gene that both people and mice possess. It is a gene called mTOR which gives the “Okay To Go” to cells for absorbing and expending energy. In the case that there is an abundance of cell-chow, mTOR gets busy directing cells to take in nutrients and start growing. When food is in short supply, the gene retracts as a turtle would into its shell until the next opportunity to feast arises. Scientists have discovered that when cells are active and “eating”, they age substantially, chiefly due to the fact that they are working their cell-butts off to process food while belching out toxic free radicals at the same time. Thus, the mission is to metaphorically slip that cell a “mickey” and keep it mellowed out without putting it at risk of starving itself – and that’s just what rapamycin is allegedly capable of doing. But – and there’s always a but when it comes to this sort of thing – rapamycin is far from being the long-searched-for fountain of youth. In studies like that starring our friend Mighty, rapamycin has resulted in a body that is 30% smaller than average while mTor-manipulated mice developed cataracts and proved more susceptible to diabetes. The study also showed that males are inclined to progressively lose testicular functioning – not exactly a perk when it comes to a pill that may help you live longer.

Another disadvantage of rapamycin was revealed when humans who were administered the drug after kidney transplants in order to decrease the risk of rejection showed signs of higher susceptibility to diabetes. Despite this, scientists feel positive when it comes to their abilities to whip up a tantalizing cocktail when it comes to adjusting doses and arriving at the ideal blend to increase the pros when it comes to longevity rather than the cons of any possible risks.


For some researchers, the passcode for achieving longevity lies in our genes, particularly when it comes to telomeres which are essentially timekeepers of a cell’s life. When a cell divides, it automatically xeroxes its chromosomes’ DNA and telomeres carry the responsibility of cueing when to halt that copying process. Every cell division triggers squiggles of DNA to essentially tie themselves into a knot at the end of a thread (or chromosome) and eventually vanish for good. Certain factors can cause telomeres to shorten cell lives at different rates (like exposure to UV light), making them a perfect target for further research regarding the scavenger hunt for anti-aging formulas.

Healthy human bodies typically maintain a perfect waltz between telomeres and telomerase (an enzyme that handles the lengthening or shortening of DNA strands) so that telomerase can lengthens telomeres just enough that an ideal amount of lost DNA can be retrieved back. But in individuals with telomere-syndrome, ailments like bone problems, liver failure and immune disorders can occur. Discovering how to tame malfunctioning telomeres can lead to correcting their misbehavior and coming up with aging-combatant formulas.

Just over a decade ago, a scientist and her collaborator, Dr. Mary Armanios and Carol Greider (the co-discoverer of telomerase) respectively, worked together in a lab at Johns Hopkins University and met a student with a blood disorder that necessitated blood transfusions on the regular. The boy was in his 20s and already had a full head of startlingly gray hair, signs of which began showing when he was only 9 years old. Curiouser and curiouser, Armanios and Greider learned that all of his paternal relatives had died at staggeringly young ages including his grandmother who died of osteoporosis in her 60s, his father who died at 59 while waiting for a liver transplant, and his aunt and uncle who both died of pneumonia in their 60s. What’s more, the boy himself had suffered from various infections that landed him in the hospital multiple times a year – and he eventually died of a staph infection at 31. It turned out that all of the family members had a severe form of telomere malfunction known as dyskeratosis congenita.

To date, Armanio feels strongly that she will learn a lot by tinkering with telomeres, including how they can be engineered to halt aging-related ailments. Similar interest lingers at Stanford University where Helen Blau and her co-researchers have splashed cells with the precise amount of genetic matter to encourage the lengthening of telomeres. In her study, cells ceased to divide indefinitely and on the contrary started to deteriorate at a normal pace, sparking hope in Blau and her team that the cells might be used for testing in the bodies of people with dyskeratosis congenita. If the cells can target the abnormally rapid growing cells entailed in the disease, they might also be used to create techniques for turning back time on normal human aging cells.


There exists promises of age-defiance in another quite odd experiment taking place at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. There, researchers have pinned their hopes on the cousins of our friend Mighty – but in a very unusual way. To conduct their work, scientists conjoin two mice, Siamese-twin style, so that they share the same blood system. Via this most bizarre procedure, it’s been discovered that among of a pair of harnessed mice, the older one presents more new nerve-cell growth in their brains than the younger one. The elders were also brawnier, and boasted a reversal of the heart-enlargening process that typically goes hand-in-hand with aging.

The mysterious component that appears to be the cause of these findings is a protein called GD11 which is normally aplenty in young animal blood and meager in older blood. Naturally, the team at Stanford is clawing away at this amazing discovery in hopes of unearthing an answer to the question of whether or not people who live longer have higher levels of GD11, or whether people with little amounts of the protein prove more liable to develop age-related diseases like heart complication, muscle atrophy and cognitive deterioration.


At the University of California, San Francisco, another experiment is taking place under the auspices of neurobiologist Dena Dubai and involves a hormone called called klotho. Klotho received its nomenclature after the Greek fate responsible for spinning the thread of life for mortals. Klotho is known for extending the lives of animals by 30% when in increased levels. Approximately 1 in 5 humans carry enough of the protein to tack on an extra 3 or 4 years to their lives and although it is not a passport to the land of immortality, it is certainly a bigfoot-sized step towards that mystical destination.


On that note, it is important to keep in mind that most – if not all – research is not fixed on the objective of creating neverending lifetimes, rather extending healthy lives a bit longer. While toying around with components like telomeres, klotho, and GD11 offer promising results, it is not as easy as simply whipping up the perfect recipe and stocking up Rite-Aid shelves. Further manipulation of longevity genes could involve some big league moves like gene therapy and cell transplants and of course first solving all of the questions that pop up with each answer a scientist reaches. While these riddles are the culprit for bringing researchers back to the drawing board again and again, the general outlook for battling the effects of aging is remarkably upbeat. Scientists seem to bear a spirited momentum certain to bring about some serious headway in the not-too-distant future.



One of the Oldest Galaxies in the Universe Discovered

Perhaps the most mind-bending thing about the universe is how you can see back in time, merely by staring far enough into the night sky, as the light from the stars take eons to reach us. Peering in far enough, you can see the remnants of the days when our universe began. Investigating the first billion years of the universe, scientists have now uncovered one of the first galaxies, which came into being some 700 million years after the Big Bang event. As exciting as this sounds, researchers are left with a new puzzle – why, despite its advanced age and small size, is it filled with cosmic dust?

The problem, according to the paper published in Monday’s issue of Nature, is why this dust is here at all. Daniel Marrone, who is an expert on galaxy formation at the University of Arizona did not participate in the study but was immensely surprised to read of the discovery. While we may be made of star stuff – our body composed of the same elements forged in the galaxy’s beginning, the universe following the Big Bang was all helium and hydrogen gas – as well as the elusive dark matter, hardly anything that would leave behind dusty remnants, the leftovers of ancient stars that burst.

This is yet another surprising discovery changing the way that scientists have approached cosmology. “Last week,” says Marrone, “we learned of an incredibly massive black hole in the early universe. Now we have this average galaxy with significant amounts of dust. We’ve had this cartoon picture of the early universe, but it’s clear that we really don’t know what’s going on.”

The gasses floated through the universe for the millions of years after the Big Bang inflation event, condensing into the first stars. That buildup of heat forged the heavier elements – among them carbon, silicon, and oxygen, before they died, unleashing those elements far into space. The first dust formed from those elements, and later congealed to become planets and asteroids.

The first of our stars had likely lived full cycles before this recently discovered galaxy, which astronomers are calling A1689-zD1, was born, indicating a universe that still had considerable dust. Most of it, however, would likely have come from large, bright galaxies that formed lots of stars. By contrast, A1689-zD1 is considerably small and dim, not larger than the Large Magellanic Cloud, a dwarf galaxy orbiting our Milky Way.

Not many of these early galaxies have been discovered, due to their far distance and their dimness – leaving many cosmologists to speculate on the nature of what others may look like. They are currently tracked down by traces of the gravitational waves they give off, an aspect of Einstein’s general theory of relativity which states that gravity coming from objects closer will warp light rays coming off of distant objects. Ironically, Einstein suspected that we’d never have the technology needed to observe this process which astronomers refer to as gravitational lensing.

Darach Watson, the paper’s lead author, used the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of Chile’s Atacama Desert to study the massive cluster of galaxies known as Abell 1689. The gravity of Abell 1689 magnified galaxy A1689-zD1 by a factor of nine, says Watson, allowing him, along with several colleagues to measure its proximity to Earth and then determine from how long ago the light from its star systems began to move towards Earth.

Although the VLT picks up starlight, it cannot recognize dust, so one of his colleagues verified the discovery with a dust-sensitive ALMA radio telescope. “She had a look,” says Watson, “and bingo!”

In the paper, they suggest that the buildup may have come from supernovae that were short-lived, bursting apart after only a few million years, with the large amounts of dust piling up quickly due to their size. This is a stark contrast to dwarf galaxies, which generally accumulate dust over billions of years, from stars with long lives. “But they’d have to produce the maximum possible dust,” he says, to account for what ALMA sees, “and the dust can’t be destroyed.”

The only way to test their idea further would be sure to discover small galaxies such as the A1689-zD1 in the nearby area. Unfortunately, due to their low levels of light, this is a rather difficult task. They would then have to determine whether galaxies of this size with high levels of dust are more common than others. “We don’t have any other candidates at this point,” says Watson.

However, as another generation of telescopes that read wavelength frequencies come to light, things may soon change.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.

Bees Can Have False Memories Too

You might remember getting your first car – but would be hard pressed to give the right day or time of year – swearing that it was April while the bill of sale says that it was June, but you’re pretty sure that first date gone wrong was with the new car you bought in April. If any of this sounds familiar at all, it’s called conflating your memory. People have actually been known to remember things different from how they happened, or they recall events that hadn’t happened at all.

Manufactured memories aren’t just unique to people, however. Scientists at MIT two years ago induced false memories of trauma in lab mice for a study. A year later, with the use of light, they were able to manipulate the brains of their test subjects, turning their painful memories into more pleasant ones.

Now, a new experiment at Queen Mary University of London has shown that this plasticity of memory exists in insects too. After performing an experiment that would make Pavlov proud, the researchers Kathryn Hunt and Lars Chittka concluded that bumblebees will sometimes fuse certain details of past memories into newer ones. The research was published Friday in Current Biology.

“I suspect the phenomenon may be widespread in the animal kingdom,” researcher Dr. Chittka said in a written statement to the Christian Science Monitor.

Something of this nature seems a bit difficult to carry out – gauging what mice think is hard enough, let alone a stinging insect. Yet, several years ago, scientists also found that bees were capable of recognizing human faces – using the same internal mechanisms that allow them to recognize different flowers. To do their research, Chittka and Dr. Hunt first classically trained the bumblebees, giving them a small reward for visiting two artificial flowers. One was solid yellow, while the other contained rings of black. This was setting up a control. As long as the bee landed on both flowers, it was still given an offering of sugar. After the trial, the bees were presented with a choice of either the yellow or striped flower types, but the researchers threw in a third new choice. The third combines characteristics of the first two, mixing both yellow-and-white rings. On the first day, the bees consistently landed on the first two flowers, the ones that offered a reward.

Within one to three days following their initial training, something different happened – the bees became confused incorrectly flew to the yellow-and-white flower (on up to 50 percent of the tests). While they had never seen such a pattern, they internally associated the stripes with the reward, combining their previous knowledge to form a new memory.

“Bees might, on occasion, form merged memories of flower patterns visited in the past,” Chittka said. “Should a bee unexpectedly encounter real flowers that match these false memories, they might experience a kind of deja-vu and visit these flowers expecting a rich reward.”

Because bumblebee brains have a rather small capacity, Chittka suspects that these manufactured memories are actually shorthand notes to the brain of what is important to remember – rewards being produced by visiting both a striped and a yellow flower. Both ideas quickly become condensed into one.

“In bees, for example, the ability to learn more than one flower type is certainly useful,” Chittka said, “as is the ability to extract commonalities of multiple flower patterns. But this very ability might come at the cost of bees merging memories from multiple sequential experiences.”

Chittka has been researching memory in bumblebees for over two decades. As they can be raised in a lab setting, they make ideal test subjects.

Don’t let the name fool you. “They are [also] exceptionally clever animals that can memorize the colors, patterns, and scents of multiple flower species – as well as navigate efficiently over long distances,” Chittka said.

While studies done in the past assumed animals had been incapable of performing tasks when they failed to do them in clinical tests, Chittka’s research is one of the first to make patterns out of the mistakes. What it reveals is that many animals have a mechanism for their memories that may be substantially more complex than we imagined.

“I think we need to move beyond understanding animal memory as either storing or not storing stimuli or episodes,” Chittka said. “The contents of memory are dynamic. It is clear from studies on human memory that they do not just fade over time, but can also change and integrate with other memories to form new information. The same is likely to be the case in many animals.”

Hopefully, the research will lead to a better understanding of what false memories really are and why we sometimes cling to them so tightly. Think of them as evolutionary links to a diverse and distant past, rather than a brain misfire. Most of all, think of why you take in the particular details you remember, and looking at what you left out may enhance the past experience you had, letting you relive it to an extent.

“Errors in human memory range from misremembering minor details of events to generating illusory memories of entire episodes,” Chittka said. “These inaccuracies have wide-ranging implications in crime witness accounts and in the courtroom, but I believe that – like the quirks of information processing that occur in well known optical illusions – they really are the byproduct of otherwise adaptive processes.”

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.

How Carbon Dioxide is Cooking the Planet

A groundbreaking study has for the first time allowed scientists to witness the direct role that an increase in carbon dioxide (CO2) has on the planet’s greenhouse effect. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) of the U.S. Department of Energy led the researchers in their work, as they first analyzed the heightening capacity of CO2 in our atmosphere to take in any thermal radiation given off by the planet’s surface. For the study they looked at the impact on two different locations on the North American continent over an eleven year period.

While the influence atmospheric CO2 has over the Earth’s energy balance, that is the balance of energy transmitted to Earth from the Sun against the heat expelled from the Earth is well understood and agreed upon by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community, this was the first time anyone has demonstrated such an effect beyond the confines of a laboratory. Their results were published in Wednesday’s online issue of Nature.

The paper agrees with climatologist models of how man-made levels of CO2 will accelerate the greenhouse effect. The sites included in the study were based in Oklahoma as well as the Alaskan North Slope, throughout the years 2000 to 2010. In both locations, CO2 was the culprit for sharp spikes in a phenomenon known as positive radiative forcing – an event in which the atmosphere changes to the degree that it throws the energy balance of the planet off scale. It occurs when the Earth absorbs more solar radiation than what it releases back into space – something that can be measured either from the planet’s surface or high in the atmosphere. For their study, researchers focused on surface temperatures.

The overall consequence of this trend was an increase in atmospheric CO2 by 22 parts-per-million (PPM), much of which was the product of burning fossil fuels. At the moment, CO2 levels hover around 400 PPM, slightly above what are considered generally safe levels, and which will mean an increase in annual temperatures by about 33.5 degrees Fahrenheit. The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other organizations have aimed for a goal of keeping the levels from reaching 450 PPM, something that could likely happen by the year 2034 if worldwide measures are not taken at once to reduce CO2 levels.

“We see, for the first time in the field, the amplification of the greenhouse effect because there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere to absorb what the Earth emits in response to incoming solar radiation,” said Daniel Feldman, a scientist in Berkeley Lab’s Earth Sciences Division and the paper’s lead author.

In order to observe the increase in CO2 levels over time, the researchers used some of the most precise spectroscopic instruments, operated by facilities of the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Climate Research Facility at the Department of Energy. These instruments based at both sites, read the thermal infrared energy permeating through the atmosphere onto the Earth’s surface, which they then break down into spectral patterns – the signature of the CO2 particles.

These on-location instruments can also pick up and differentiate between which phenomena that are capable of giving off infrared energy, such as any passing clouds or water vapor with chemical components. Using a combination of data from this equipment, the team noticed a gradual rise in the CO2 levels, happening in real time.

“We measured radiation in the form of infrared energy. Then we controlled for other factors that would impact our measurements, such as a weather system moving through the area,” said Feldman.

Over 3,300 measurements were taken from the Alaska location and 8,300 measurements from Oklahoma, which were taken on a semi-daily basis.

The collected data from both sites revealed an identical trend: CO2 levels in the atmosphere emit increasing amounts of infrared energy, an approximation of 0.2 Watts per square meter per decade. While that’s a bit of a hard number to swallow – imagine then that the surface area Earth is about 196.9 million square miles.

A data analysis provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s CarbonTracker system, the scientists linked this upswing in CO2-attributed radiative forcing to fossil fuel emissions and fires, which have become a growing concern in the Western states.

Another significant find among these measurements was the influence that photosynthesis – the conversion of solar radiation into food by plants – has on the balance of energy on Earth’s surface, which has never been measured in depth. The spring months showed slight dips in radiative forcing due to the growth of plants.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.

Prehistoric Hippo Was Closely Related to Whales

Perhaps one of the strangest stories of evolution is that of the whales – the descendants of wolf-like creatures who roamed the Earth eons ago. Proteins in their genomes once coded for legs, and their fins are actually shaped like hands with wrists, reminders of their long, proud mammalian lineage. It seems strange – why did animals whose long ago descendants crawl out of the sea onto dry land, return to the sea? The obvious answer is survival, adapting to an ever changing world. As to how, the short answer would be that it simply didn’t happen overnight. The modern hippopotamus, whose name literally means “water horse,” is actually a distant relative of the whale, a four-legged mammal that spends much of its life in the water. The hippo family shares a number of ancestors that adapted to living in water for the long term. Now, a recent fossil expedition in Africa has unearthed what paleontologists suspect may have been one of the first hippos to have roamed the Earth.

The first hippo, paleontologists estimate, based on the size of the newly excavated animal from a Kenya rock bed, was likely a little larger than a modern horse, just a little smaller than modern hippos, and weighing several hundred pounds.

“They are slender hippos, very thin hippos,” said Fabrice Lihoreau, a paleontologist at the University of Montpellier in France who co-authored the new paper.

This newly discovered creature, known as Epirigenys lokonensis, also had its evolutionary roots in Africa, as the study confirmed. The genetic evidence suggests that the common ancestor shared by hippos and whales existed some 53 million years ago. Epirigenys first roamed the Earth a mere 15 million years ago – with only a few known specimens found in between.

The current hypothesis is that one of the prehistoric ancestors of hippos were a family of semi-aquatic mammals, the anthrocotheres, which appeared around 40 million years ago. At one time, these ancient beasts were prevalent across the globe, with fossils found everywhere from North America to Asia. However, any ancestry it had to hippos was never identified.

The inspiration for this dig began at Kenya’s Nairobi Museum, where Lihoreau and his colleagues stumbled upon one small exhibit in the collections – a rather unusual jaw belonging to an anthrocothere. This particular jawbone had been discovered at the Turkana Basin, a fossil-rich rock formation in Kenya, where the rock layers carry a myriad of fossils dating all the way back to the Cretaceous Period and leading right up into the present day. Among the fossils in these rocks are our own recent ancestors, the Homo erectus and the Neanderthals. The exact location where the jawbone was located was a large body of water 28 million years ago, containing a plethora of crocodilian fossils. Unfortunately, the rock’s thickness made digging difficult, where they risked damaging the fossils.

While they hunted for new potential locations, the researchers took notice of a small spot called Lokone Hill with considerably softer rock that could easily be removed with acid, making the excavation much easier. The first few finds were of several uncovered teeth, which they confirmed had come from a new species of anthrocothere, previously unknown to science, and newly discovered at the Lokone Hill, found alongside sets of molars and incisors, the trademarks that this certainly belonged to a mammal. Most promising perhaps, was that the molars bore a striking similarity to the teeth found in modern-day hippos – bearing a prominent pattern that looked like a bladed three-leaf, not too different from a maple leaf shape. The new species earned its name Epirigenys lokonensis, a rough translation from Latin into “original hippo from the Lokone,” according to Lihoreau.

It was this molar pattern which linked the E. lokonensis as the hippo’s direct ancestor. (the teeth of mammals, particularly herbivorous ones, are so distinct from each other that any discovered patterns found on the molars almost act as a fingerprint for the species.) Paleontologists who are lucky enough to find one can establish a clear lineage between an extinct creature and its closest living descendants.

E. lokonensis weighed only about 220 pounds according to Lihoreau’s estimate, which is considerably smaller than the plodding two to three ton hippo that roams the African wetlands today, an aggressive creature that may or may not have earned its fearsome reputation as the most dangerous animal in Africa, known to attack if provoked. Just like their modern ancestors, however, the Lokone hippo lived primarily in the water.

“When you do a safari, you want to see a lion and you want to see an antelope, but these animals come from Asia ” Lihoreau told Live Science in an interview. “They are not really African mammals. This is really an African mammal.”

The paper describing this new species was published yesterday in the journal Nature Communications.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.

Why We Should Worry About Giant Siberian Craters

It seems only appropriate that Siberia, well known for being a cold and remote land, isolated from humanity, should be connected to the Yamal Peninsula, a name that literally means the ‘end of the world,’ and more lately than ever before, standing on it makes you’re on shaky ground. One of the recent mysteries of Yamal in recent years is why it has such a porous surface. According to scientists working at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), the reason is giant craters, and not directly related to the number of meteors that have stricken Russia in recent years. This summer, locals reported sighting a sinkhole 260 feet wide. A further analysis by Russian geologists now indicates that the region during the winter could suffer up to 30 more.

Already, ten craters have been sighted throughout Yamal. Another crater, known as B2 is evidently surrounded with 20 smaller “baby craters,” all of which are filled with water, according to a report by the Siberian Times.

“I would compare this with mushrooms: when you find one mushroom, be sure there are few more around,” said Dr. Vasily Bogoyavlensky in his interview with the Siberian Times, invoking a popular pastime in rural Russia. “I suppose there could be 20 to 30 craters more.”

He is the Deputy Director of the Oil and Gas Research Institute of Moscow. He suspects that the incidence of these craters coincide with the locations of Siberia’s Bovanenkovo gas field, according to The Siberian Times.

Aside from meteors which were some significant YouTube sensations over the last few years, the cause remains something of a mystery. Some residents near Antipayuta of Siberia witnessed a flash near one of the craters. Some others living in Yamal reported tremors before the first of the sinkholes were sighted. Russian scientists have proposed one likely suspect: methane. There’s plenty of support for Bogoyavlensky’s claim too, as heightened levels of methane were reported in Siberia last summer. When the craters began to appear last July, scientists suspected that it may be among the most visible evidence we might have of the disastrous effects of global warming. Studies have attributed some of the more severe winters of the northern hemisphere to an increase in the loss of Arctic ice, in regions like Siberia, which have allowed cold jetstreams to move south. As temperatures rise, the permafrost begins thawing, releasing compounds like methane that then burst violently through the earth after centuries of buildup. As the ground warms over, it begins actively releasing more methane, while allowing for other tracts of land to thaw and eventually burst.

Bogoyavlensky is of the suspicion that these gas emissions, similar to those caused by fracking, may have had a role to play in forming the craters, as could violent explosions. Warm weather that thaws the Russian tundra could cause natural gas reserves located underground to burst outward, bringing up rocks and debris with it, he said. Bogoyavlensky’s team had earlier observed some ‘degassing’ taking place in the Yamal lakes – in which natural gas rises from beneath a lake bed – evidence supporting Bogoyavlensky’s proposed theory. There’s another significant danger if methane is to blame. While levels of CO2 are the main reason for concern with man-made global warming, methane is capable of committing 20 times the amount of harm as CO2 over a 100-year span.

Tom Wagner, a scientist at NASA, suspects that the sinkholes may be the result of the permafrost thawing and causing Siberian caves and underground tunnels to atrophy. Further investigation of the disaster areas is needed before either theory can be fully confirmed. Those who have observed the craters up close are reindeer herders indigenous to the region. Scientists have only viewed the giants from helicopters, after hearing the accounts of their sudden appearances. Although they hope to sample the craters and do more in-depth observation of the region, if Bogoyavlensky is correct, this sort of investigation could be dangerous, putting many geologists and other scientists in harm’s way, due to the land’s instability.

“These objects need to be studied, but it is rather dangerous for the researchers,” Bogoyavlensky said. “We know that there can occur a series of gas emissions over an extended period of time, but we do not know exactly when they might happen.”

If these are in fact gas emissions which are going unchecked, they could propose a significant threat to both drillers in the region as well as to people living in the local communities.

“It is important not to scare people,” Bogoyavlensky said of his approach, “but to understand that it is a very serious problem and we must research this.”

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.

How Unemployment Can Change Your Life Permanently

Hearing the much dreaded words “you’re fired,” brings a whole whirlwind of questions, fears, and uncertainty – either to come before or after the outrage you might feel upon being told to clean out your desk. How many unemployment benefits do you qualify for? What will you do for bills? When are you going to start sending out the resume again and how do you make sure it sticks? How soon until job hunting itself seems to turn into a full-time, thankless job? Sure, the first few days you can spend sleeping in and watching TV as you plan your comeback, but now science has brought up yet another concern. Losing your job changes your life, that’s for sure, but a closer look suggests that it might change your mind and your brain too if you find yourself unemployed long enough.

A new study conducted by researchers at the American Psychological Association (APA) recently concluded that the effects of extended unemployment reach beyond the individual and their family in question – with consequences that are psychological and impact the individual in a number of socioeconomic ways for the long term. According to the research, long periods of unemployment may cause the individual to be less open-minded, less conscientious, and less agreeable, all traits that can potentially make it more difficult for them to find work again.

The researchers’ findings are a startling revelation for psychologists who long believed that people have fixed personalities that more or less remain the same throughout their lives, while giving weight to the theory that external forces can also greatly impact our own basic personality. In order to conduct the study, Christopher J. Boyce, who serves as a research fellow at the University of Stirling of the United Kingdom, along with his associates did an analysis of data taken from a survey done by the German Socio-Economic Panel Study, which have been cited in a number of clinical research efforts. They focused in on the responses of 6,769 participants, all residents of Germany, who had each undergone a personality assessment twice in four years, between 2006 to the end of 2009. During that period, approximately 3.1 percent of the total participants included in the study had been unemployed throughout the study’s entire four-year duration. An additional 3.7 percent of the applicants had been jobless periodically, each episode lasting for never more than several months, as they were quickly able to secure employment afterwards.

The research team looked at the survey answers, bearing in mind that the survey had been designed with the basic five personality traits used by psychiatrists to evaluate their patients — agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, and openness. They then used the surveys to determine whether or not any personality changes evident over time on the survey were in any way related to unemployment – something that typically awards a significant amount of points on the Holmes and Rahe stress scale. With each survey, the researchers took into consideration how long the individual was jobless, already studied differences in gender, and also the levels of reemployment, before they came to their conclusions. Gender certainly proved to be a factor as well. In instances of chronic unemployment, men retained higher levels of agreeableness throughout the first two years of their unemployment, compared against employed men. However, these levels then declined after the first two years. The level of agreeableness declined among women, however, for each year they were jobless.

The longer the period of unemployment also had a positive correlation with low levels of conscientiousness for men. By comparison, jobless women were much more conscientious at the initial and latter stages of their unemployment, but did show signs of a lapse during the middle part. The researchers attributed this characteristic to be the result of women pursuing other activities to occupy their time with, an attempt to still feel productive throughout their unemployment. A similar relationship was shown with openness. Levels remained the same for men during the first year and then steadily declined for however long they remained jobless. Openness levels for unemployed women dropped throughout the second and third years, but after that, they went back to normal levels, which were reported in the 2009 assessments.

Boyce published his study in the Journal of Applied Psychology. He said that his team’s findings are a demonstration of why people as a society so often stigmatize unemployed individuals, due to these unfavorable changes. The result is often a rather vicious cycle. Even when these chronically unemployed people re-enter the work force, they may have a considerably more difficult time keeping a job, compared to those who were only unemployed for short amounts of time or have always managed to hold a steady job – one which can sometimes boil down to class differences. Studies have already showed the psychological effects that are often presented by poverty, and Boyce has called for state policy makers to take the new data into consideration.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.

Documents Link Leading Climate Denier to Corporate Funds

2015 succeeds what scientists had roundly labeled the hottest year on record – already we’ve made second warmest January on record in the new year. Although climate deniers continue to tout the data as skewed, misinterpreted, or merely controversial, the numbers are clear, while the refusal to act is looking more and more like a scam as each year passes.

Deniers take advantage of making climate change appear to be a matter of controversy. Don’t mention that 97 percent of the world’s scientists have made a consensus over the evidence – say instead that there are cycles, natural periods of warming and cooling, that at one point we thought we were in danger of an ice age (read: one year and misinterpreted data), there is no consistent warming and hasn’t been for decades, or – yes, the climate is changing, but we don’t know how fast or even if people are responsible for the pattern. Most of all, there’s money to be made in green energy – to say nothing of the oil industry. None of them really hold much water if carefully looked at, and even seem to conflict with one another. Yet, we fall right in line because in science nothing is absolute. There’s always room for debate. Winters are still happening, so maybe the polar ice caps are safe after all. Often, any person who’s made up their mind on global warming will have a set of statistics they are ready to jump to – many of which were made possible because of one man named Wei-Hock Soon.

Soon, who takes the “it’s not our fault” approach to the climate controversy, has received over 1.2 million from several energy companies over the last decade, according to The New York Times. In particular, these include oil and gas corporations, which tend to pay a bit more than solar energy – a tip for any scientists thinking they can get wealthy by investing in renewable energy. This is hardly the first time that Soon has been overwhelmingly compensated for his work. Back in 2011, he received $131,000 from ExxonMobil, funds allocated to study what role the sun had to play in climate change. Despite having minimal credentials in climate science, Soon argues that an increase in sunspots is the direct cause of climate change.

This is little more than a long recycled argument by deniers – sunspots emerging over the last 100 years have caused the Earth’s surface temperatures to increase. In case you were wondering, the opposite is true, with the past 35 years showing the sun on a cooling trend. The only way to make a correlation between the two would be to deliberately manipulate the data, only revealing a few years when slight increases in the sun’s energy coincided with high temperatures. The overwhelming consensus, in fact, is that changes in the sun can only account for ten percent of climate change at best. Soon’s research, however, is indicative of something else.

“What it shows is the continuation of a long-term campaign by specific fossil-fuel companies and interests to undermine the scientific consensus on climate change,” said Kert Davies, executive director at the Climate Investigations Center, in a statement to the Times. The journals in which Soon had published his work are currently investigating the matter deeper, as Soon had evidently failed to report conflicts of interest when his papers were in the stages of peer review, at least eleven times since 2008 – a breach of publication standards and ethical guidelines.

It’s become something of an irritating post-holiday tradition over the last few winters, to have a chorus of deniers accompany each gust of cold wind, on how the miserable weather proves them right all along. The delight over these blasts of Arctic wind has generally not been seen by deniers (not climate skeptics) since the so-called Climategate scandal of 2009, when right wing bloggers quote mined the hacked e-mails of several climatologists to imply that they cooked the data used in their graphs.

Among the companies that funneled money to Soon were API, Exxon Mobil, Southern Company and Koch Industries, many of which were sent in the form of anonymous donations through the organization DonorsTrust.

“I think that’s inappropriate behavior,” said Charles R. Alcock, director of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center. “This frankly becomes a personnel matter, which we have to handle with Dr. Soon internally.” Soon is a part-time employee of the Smithsonian Institution and has sometimes been falsely represented as an astrophysicist. Greenpeace was able to request the release of the documents through the Freedom of Information Act because the Smithsonian is a government agency.

In the past, corporations have shelled out sizable sums of money, covering up the harmfulness of products like lead-based paint or tobacco. Climate change, however, has shown itself to affect just about every aspect of life as we know it, with the potential to cause an unprecedented amount of harm throughout the world, and we are already feeling the effects. It is time to approach cases of corporate financed climate denial with that in mind.

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.

Lake Michigan Wind Makes Sand Sculptures

Joshua Nowicki, a Michigan photographer, and his wife had a rather unexpected surprise this Valentine’s Day weekend when they planned a stroll along the shores of Lake Michigan. Blasts of arctic wind and snow forced them to postpone their walk until the next day, but in the end, the conditions actually proved somewhat favorable – for reasons he captured pretty well with his camera.

“On Valentines Day my wife and I had been intending to go out dinner but due to the blizzard condition that day, we decided to post-pone our evening out until Sunday,” he said to News 10 of Detroit.

“My wife is extremely supportive of my photography career and encourage me to go out and take some photos of the lake and lighthouse.”

When they finally did go for their walk along the frozen sand, the landscape was rather different than he had anticipated.

“I was expecting that with the high winds there might be some wave crashing over the pier giving the lighthouses a new coating of ice. However, the lake ice had extended past the lighthouses (therefore no crashing waves on the pier) so I was unable to take the photos I was hoping to take.”

Instead of the traditional shots of a beach and lighthouse landscape at dusk that Nowicki had originally hoped for, he saw something else – what appeared to be intricately constructed mounds jutting out of the frozen sand all along the beach – what appeared to be the lost remains of a forgotten civilization. Nowicki momentarily felt like the farmers who first discovered the hidden remains of Pompeii centuries after it was covered by ash. Overnight, carefully constructed monuments appeared to be rising out of the sand.

“As I walked home along the beach I saw some of the small sand structures. The first ones I saw were very small however a little farther along the beach I saw more and larger ones. The largest were about 12 inches tall. At Silver Beach County Park in St. Joseph, Michigan I saw five areas with the sand structures. The largest area that one patch covered was about 3 feet by 10 feet.”

The extreme temperatures – which are also responsible for covering 94 percent of Lake Michigan with ice – something that made for some stunning pictures last year in the wake of the Polar Vortex – had caused the sand to freeze. Extreme winds coming off the lake during the blizzard pushed water ashore, and the frozen sand began to erode much like rocks, only slower, and leaving a smoother shape when it took chunks of sand back into the water. You might think of the process as similar to how vast prehistoric rivers gradually gave way to forming canyons, only the erosion process takes a few hours rather than the work of centuries. The phenomenon is hardly unknown, and not even one that was unfamiliar to Nowicki:

“I had seen some similar but smaller ones at the beach a couple of years ago. At that time I had just taken up photography and was not able to take decent photos of them. It was about 6:30pm on the 14th when I took some of the photos. As it was getting dark, I decided to come back at sunrise on the 15th to take more photos. By the 15th they had further eroded but some were still there. By the 16th the sun (even though it was still cold) had mostly dried them out and they had fallen down into little piles of sand.”

This time he came prepared, however, careful to add a little perspective to each. Although many of the wind sculptures were relatively small, some of the pictures appear to be from the surface of an alien world, where Nowicki has managed to crawl into one of their strange dwellings:

“Being that they were relatively small (12 inches or less) I decided to lay down on the sand to take the photos. I really wanted to show the detail of the formations.”

The tower formations are similar to the Hoodoo columns found along the Colorado Plateau in Utah, which formed due to erosion from the glaciers melting after the last Ice Age.

Josh’s beach photos have become not only an internet sensation, but were even featured on Good Morning America as well as The Weather Channel, AccuWeather, Colossal, the Detroit Free Press and the Huffington Post. They can be viewed here at his blog:

James Sullivan
James Sullivan is the assistant editor of Brain World Magazine and a contributor to Truth Is Cool and OMNI Reboot. He can usually be found on TVTropes or RationalWiki when not exploiting life and science stories for another blog article.