Inverse Daily: The Next Big Thing for Medical Cannabis Research

Once dismissed by lawmakers as a purely recreational drug, cannabis is showing real medical potential.

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Happy Friday, Inverse Daily fam. My inner 15-year-old is shrieking about the release of a new Blink-182 album. If you can make it through the din, join me for a dive into today’s news.

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INVERSE QUOTE OF THE DAY

“How do people make sense of the videos they find?”

— Sociologist Joachim Allgaier, Ph.D., on raising concerns about the number of YouTube climate changes videos that disagree with the scientific consensus (which is now over 99 percent).

Pellets of the Past

Imagine digging up fossilized ancient clams in Sarasota, shucking them open, and discovering microscopic glass beads that turned out to be from space. You can’t make this stuff up. As Scott Snowden reports, the scientist who had this strange experience kept 83 of the glass beads tucked away in a box for 10 years until he decided to look at them again using X-ray spectroscopy. Now, he’s the uncoverer of the asteroid crash that happened near Florida 2 to 3 million years ago.

The little glass beads, called microtektites, are thought to be the products of one or more meteorite impacts on or near the geological plateau that forms the Florida peninsula. Which leads us to ask: Where the heck is the crater? It may very well be “buried under a lot of muck in the Gulf of Mexico,” as the scientist behind the new study put it.

Find out how clams became such useful “time capsules.”

The more you know:

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No Pain for Mary Jane

One of the most exciting things about cannabis research is that the plant contains literally hundreds of potentially useful molecules we’ve yet to characterize. Most of the spotlight these days goes to THC (the one that gets you high) and CBD (the one that helps with anxiety and pain), but that soon might change. A pair of molecules called cannflavin A and B, Peter Hess tells me, appear to have 30 times the anti-inflammatory strength of Aspirin.

That characteristic makes these two flavonoids particularly exciting candidates in the search for new, non-addictive painkillers, especially as the opioid overdose crisis continues to cripple America. The new research on the cannflavins happened in Canada, where federal legalization makes it easier to do work on cannabis. The compounds are only present in low levels in the plant, say the researchers, but now that we understand how the plant produces them, we can get to work engineering a system to pump them out in useful quantities.

Meet the cannabis compounds you might be hearing a lot about soon.

The more you know:

Cheap Flights

Air travel is costly, and not just for your bank account. The aviation industry is responsible for about two percent of global emissions, and there are concerns that the contrails they leave in their wake (not chemtrails!) are exacerbating global heating. Like electric cars, electric jets are being considered as a way to reduce the impacts of human transportation on the Earth.

As Mike Brown reports, electric air travel will probably be easier on our wallets, too. Fuel costs make up a small but consistent part of every flight ticket purchase, and so eliminating them by using electrical energy as a substitute could have a significant impact on ticket cost. The main hurdle, for now, is building a battery that can hold enough energy to get us off the ground.

Read up on the companies starting to build electric jets.

The more you know:

Frog in Your Throat

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death,” goes a classic Jerry Seinfeld joke. “This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” Public speaking is already psychologically stressful, but for some people the issue is a physical one that makes it hard to get the words out.

That frog in your throat, reports Emma Betuel, might be your stress hormones going wild. As a new study shows, the hormones that the body releases when it’s stressed can deactivate the parts of the brain that control the larynx, also called the “voice box.” The effect is usually worse, scientists found, for people who are more introverted.

Find out how to override your stress hormones before a big talk.

The more you know:

Sunny Day Real Estate

One of the last projects Steve Jobs worked on before he passed away in 2011 was the Apple “Spaceship,” a completely circular campus in Cupertino that “looks a little like a spaceship landed,” as he put it. Rising four stories high with enough space for 12,000 employees, the ring measures 2.8 million square feet — prime real estate for a massive solar array.

The roof of the ring is now the site of one of the largest on-site solar installations on the planet, and access to its benefits aren’t just limited to Apple employees. By investing so heavily in corporate solar — Apple now has almost 400 megawatts of installed capacity — the company has helped drive down the cost of solar installation for all future buyers, according to a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Learn how much corporate solar investment has grown in the past few years.

The more you know:

Today’s Good Thing

Because life on this planet is only going to get better if we try to make it better, each day I’ll be presenting One Good Thing humans are doing to create positive change.

Today, that’s the public health efforts of Sri Lanka, which has been declared measles-free after reaching over 95 percent vaccination coverage, according to the World Health Organization. Unfortunately, the disease is making a comeback around the world more generally.

Meanwhile …

  • Black Widow: How Scarlett Johansson’s successor will sustain the spy saga.
  • Behold, the mystery surrounding the July 31 “Black Moon.”

Inverse Loot

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Thanks to everyone who sent their thoughts about nuclear-powered rockets. Stephen L. says we’ve got to weigh the risks of experimenting with nuclear with “the risk of not figuring it out” — increased pollution and “possibly being stuck on this planet for the rest of our existence.”

Donald T. had a good question: If one of the rockets exploded, “wouldn’t that just pollute the skies with radioactive particles?”

But I liked David R.’s solutions-oriented suggestion best: Why not make “‘space tugs,’ in which the nuclear reactors are miles removed from the living capsule?”

Lots to think about this weekend. Let me know what y’all think about electric jets and the climate at yasmin@inverse.com.

Public speaking in all weathers,

— Yasmin

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