Inverse Daily: The dark side of paternal marijuana use

Scientists know smoking marijuana affects sperm. What’s less known is whether or not that’s a good thing.

Good Tuesday morning. I’m Nick Lucchesi, executive editor at Inverse. While we wait to see what sorts of phones, laptops, and earbuds Google will debut today in New York, let’s get you caught up on the essential science and innovation reads from Inverse. But first, two things:

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“We did a lot of research with some climate scientists. We’ve been talking with this guy from NASA this year. It’s been fascinating. We love researching the science.”

— Graeme Manson, showrunner for the upcoming TNT series Snowpiercer. Read our interview with Manson.

Wannabe dads may want to pass on grass

Scientists know smoking marijuana affects sperm. What’s less known is whether or not that’s a good thing. The body’s sperm-making machinery knows how to recognize marijuana’s active chemicals, but besides that, studies are mixed. Some studies have found that men who smoke have higher sperm counts, while others have found they have lower sperm counts.

Now, new research suggests that the relationship between smoking weed and sperm quality is a negative one — especially if the person smoking is someone who wants to be a father. In an analysis of 1,413 couples, it was found that men who use marijuana are more likely to see their partner’s pregnancy end in miscarriage, compared to those who don’t.

While the scientists behind the study are careful to say that it’s too soon to claim a direct cause-and-effect link, the association seen here does indicate that if a man is trying to conceive, it’s likely best to take a break from the bud. Why this association exists isn’t exactly known either — but the study authors suggests it might be because marijuana can damage sperm. Read more >>>.

Go deeper:

A wild fungus could help doctors produce one of the first non-addictive opioids

Opioid pain reliever drugs are extremely effective at giving patients some relief from pain, but fears surrounding addiction and overdose have led scientists to explore alternative pain relievers, including new opioids that might not carry the same risks.

In that effort, a new, naturally derived substance has emerged. Built from the chemical building blocks of a fungus found in an Australian waterway, a new opioid shows promise as a unique type of pain relieving drug.

This early study is just a proof-of-concept, but the fungus, a species of Penicillium (a relative of the fungus that penicillin comes from), could be the parent of a new generation of opioids that don’t carry as much risk of overdose. Read the full story >>>.

Learn more:

A new clean energy breakthrough could unlock the zero-emissions plane

Hydrogen is an essential building block of pretty much everything, but the creation of it for fuel is a costly and emissions-heavy process. But, new research from Stanford University has the potential to change that with their cheaper and more robust approach to electrolysis.

The research was published Monday in Nature Nanotechnology and describes a process in which a cheaper alternative to precious metal catalysts, in this case, finely ground black nanoparticles of cobalt phosphide, were able to successfully drive a reaction to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen respectively. The process was able to create the gas for 1,700 hours.

As with many technologies, lowering the price barrier will hopefully make this green technology more appealing for industrial uses, including industries like aviation, which currently burn roughly 859 million tonnes of CO2, and help those industries finally begin to move toward greener alternatives as well. Keep reading >>>.

The more you know:


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Amazon deforestation is linked with rise of malaria

Deforestation in the Amazon has led to wildfires and concerns about carbon storing, among other environmental dangers. New research suggests that we can add malaria to the list of concerns.

As tree clearing increases, so do rates of the disease, typically transmitted by mosquitoes. When people inch into the rainforest, they create more forest edge, the place where mosquitoes are likely to encounter humans and spread disease.

Like many relationships, though, the one between logging and malaria is complicated. As malaria rates increase, deforestation rates actually tend to decrease. That could be due to the overall negative effect malaria has on development and economic activity, but understanding the complex two-way relationship is important, the authors of the new study say.

The results could inform environmental policies in the Amazon. That would be a welcome change for those who’ve called out Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro for dismantling environmental protections in the vitally biodiverse rainforest. Keep reading >>>.

More robots:

Fire blankets can protect buildings from wildfires

It seems like a simple enough solution: Why not just wrap houses in fire blankets during a wildfire? A new study that was just published in Frontiers in Mechanical Engineering is apparently the first to look at this idea.

The researchers tested different types of flame-resistant materials and found that existing fire blanket materials can save a house from a wildfire if it is not in an area with many other structures, and if the fire doesn’t last for an extended period. The materials they tested were aramid, fiberglass, amorphous silica, and pre-oxidized carbon. The fiberglass and amorphous silica fabrics performed best. Continue reading >>>.

Read more:

Today’s good thing

If you’ve gone for a can of Coke instead of a cup of tea lately, maybe rethink that notion. Scientists have found that long-term tea drinkers might also enjoy cognitive effects from tea. Put the kettle on.

Meanwhile …

  • Tesla’s ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’ helped someone escape a fire.
  • Your likelihood of developing PTSD after trauma comes down to 2 risk factors.
  • Disney+ doesn’t have every Marvel movie. Here’s why.

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