Private Sector Pushes For Advances In Marijuana Research

Garrett Yount
While researching the ability for traditional Chinese herbs to combat modern diseases, California Pacific Medical Center scientist Garrett Yount and his colleagues had a breakthrough: cancer cells could be weakened and shrunk and healthy cells left undisturbed when subjected to a compound found in a common plant.

This was in 2005. Despite the meaning of the discovery -- that there could be a healthier alternative to body-ravaging chemotherapy and radiation treatments for cancer -- there hasn't been much follow-up research. Because, of course, the plant is cannabis, and marijuana is federally illegal.

That means no research, and no advancing science.

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Bill Gates: Most Startups in Silicon Valley Are "Silly"

Plenty to go around
It may not be a $19 billion idea, but local startup QuiQui has figured out how to score free publicity: its business model, delivering prescription drugs and other items from the local pharmacy via drones, is getting attention today.

While it may sound goofy or ridiculous, the notion is only silly as long as it's not lucrative (QuiQui is is also advertising its quest for investors). And if it is doltish, it has some company: most plans coming out of Silicon Valley today are silly, according to the world's richest man.

In a Rolling Stone interview, Microsoft founder Bill Gates -- all $76 billion of him -- made the pronouncement that a majority of tech startups are doing dumb shit.

But among the rafts of shit, there's the next WhatsApp.

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Facebook Wants to Use Drones to Expand Access Worldwide

Facebook wants to make it possible for these African kids to have their own profile picture
There's probably no way for Facebook to be satisfied with its overall market penetration when an estimated 5 billion people in the world still lack an Internet connection.

Which means that billions of people still aren't posting status updates or "liking" your food photos on Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg, et. al., apparently found that problem so vexing that they chose a rather extreme solution: Boost the market on Earth by colonizing outer space.

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A Urinal Grows in the Tenderloin

Hyphae Design Laboratory
The vacant PPlanter.
An eco-friendly designer toilet might not solve all quality-of-life issues in the Tenderloin, but it should alleviate a few.

That's the hope of the bioengineers at Oakland's Hyphae Design Laboratory, who unveiled their PPlanter urinal on a corner of Ellis Street last May. Enclosed by a panel door just large enough to hide a user's mid-section, the toilet funnels pee and faucet water into an air-tight tank, where it's then processed through a biofilter. From there, it sloshes into two large plastic totes that are filled with wood chips and bamboo.

Ergo, a miracle of science and urban planning: a garden nourished by pee.

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Soda Consumption Down Among Kids -- But Fizzing Up Among Teens, Study Shows

You! The one with the aviator getup! You have ID?
A study that will, all but certainly, be at some point brandished by Supervisor Eric Mar in a forthcoming crusade against sugary beverages being slurped down by children was released at the stroke of midnight today. 

You can read the study, the product of the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, right here. The upshot: While overall consumption of sodas and other such drinks is down 11 percent overall among California children, it's fizzing up among 12- to 17-year-olds. The most recent data from the California Health Interview Survey indicates that 65 percent of adolescents are knocking back one or more sodas a day -- an 8 percent spike from just eight years back. 

The data, gleaned since 2005 via tens of thousands of interviews, even breaks down juvenile soda consumption on a county-by-county basis. Sadly, not every last county is listed; there may not be much to do for a 17-year-old in Modoc County but guzzle RC Colas, and it'd be interesting to see if that holds forth in the numbers.  

San Francisco, however, makes an appearance. And some of its data, unlike the beverages in question, are flat. 

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Unhappily Married? Blame Genetics, UC Berkeley Study Says


What's the secret to a happy marriage? Communication? Openness? A willingness to have and to hold your partner's hand even when they're purchasing that tub of Red Vines from Costco again?

According to a new study released today, scientists at UC Berkeley and Northwestern University posit that the key to cracking the code of love may actually involve a different code altogether, our DNA.

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Brace Yourself for the Extreme Supermoon This Weekend

Dave C./Accuweather Facebook Page
A very big moon
If you find yourself feeling strange and slightly more aggressive this weekend, you have a decent excuse: the really close full moon.

Come Saturday and Sunday, the moon will draw closer to Earth more so than any other time this year -- and it'll be big and full. It's called a Perigee Full Moon, or to the other non-scientists out there, it's commonly referred to as a Supermoon.

And even this extraordinary moon is rather extraordinary.

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Twitter Is Now a Go-To Source for Vaccine Information

Thanks, Twitter
Twitter is so freakin' credible popular now that plenty of people are turning to the social media platform to find out about health information rather than consulting a Merck Manual or asking their doctors.

Perhaps social media -- or rather, certain forms of social media -- aren't overrun by crackpots and conspiracy theorists, after all. Or maybe they just reside in some far off hinterland of the Internet.

The point being, Twitter has become reliable for something.

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Occupy Psychiatry: Amid DSM 5 Controversy, Movement Wants to Return to Freud

Rachel Swan
At first blush, this year's gathering of the American Psychiatric
had the air of a coronation. It kicked off at the George Moscone Center in San Francisco just as the dust was settling on Google's I/O 13, with a keynote by former president Bill Clinton and a grand unveiling of the newly revised Diagnostic Manual, now in its fifth edition. The conference theme -- "Pursuing Wellness Across the Lifespan' -- seemed both pedestrian and, as one commentator put it, boldly aspirational.

But the event wasn't without its detractors. On Sunday, a small crowd of people gathered outside Moscone Center, where conference attendees squeezed between a revolving carousel of tour buses, clutching their laminated name tags. They represented a loose consortium of organizations who'd all coalesced under the banner "Occupy Psychiatry" -- or, in this case, "Occupy the APA."

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UCSF Study Presents Potential Neurological Treatment for Cocaine Addiction

It's a helluva drug.
Researchers may have discovered the initial steps to helping cocaine abusers overcome their addiction.

A study conducted by scientists at UCSF and the National Institute of Health found that activating neurons in the brainʼs prefrontal cortex eliminated cocaine addition in lab rats.

The paper, published this week in the journal Nature, suggested that clinical trial in humans is not far away.

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