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Environmental Scientist

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Spiders disguise themselves as ants to hide and hunt their prey

All spiders are predators, but most of them are small and have rudimentary defences against larger animals that in turn prey on them. Spiders have thus evolved a range of predatory behaviours that, at the same time, allow them to evade the threat of predation. Some of the most effective strategies involve deceiving ants.

More than 300 species of spiders are known to mimic the outward appearance of ants, a phenomenon called myrmecomorphy.
Aggressively territorial, ants are typically avoided by several predators, thus making them the perfect creatures to impersonate. Most ant-mimicking spiders have a "false waist" and are covered with reflective hairs to simulate the shiny, three-segmented bodies of ants. They have coloured patches around their eyes to make their simple eyes look more like an ant's compound eyes.

The spiders also behave like ants by waving their front pair of legs near their heads like antennae, and adopting an erratic zig-zag pattern of movement that is more like ants than spiders.

There are two reasons why a spider would want to mimic an ant: to eat them, and to avoid being eaten by them.



How cannabis was used to shrink one of the most aggressive brain cancers

Widely proscribed around the world for its recreational uses, cannabis is being used in a number of different therapeutic ways to bring relief for severe medical conditions. Products using cannabinoids, the active components of the cannabis plant, have been licensed for medical use. Sativex, for example, which contains an equal mixture of the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), is already licenced as a mouth spray for multiple sclerosis and in the US, dronabinol and nabilone are commercially available for treating cancer-related side effects.

Now, in a study published in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, we’ve also shown that cannabinoids could play a role in treating one of the most aggressive cancers in adults.

There are more than 85 cannabinoids, which are known to bind to unique receptors in cells and which receive outside chemical signals. These receptors feed into signalling pathways, telling cells what to do. Recent studies have shown that some cannabinoids have potent anti-cancer action. For example, both THC and CBD have been shown in a number of laboratory studies to effectively induce cell death in tumour cells by modifying the faulty signalling pathways inside these cells. Depending on the cell type this can disrupt tumour growth or start to kill it.

The psychoactivity associated with some cannabinoids, principally THC (which gives people a cannabis high), is also mediated via the same receptors. Because these receptors are found in the highest abundances in brain cells, it follows that brain tumours also rich in these receptors may respond best to cannabinoids.



Big Pharma Plays Hide-the-Ball With Data

On the morning of March 2, 2005, a 14-year-old Japanese girl woke up scared. At first she thought someone was outside the house watching her, but then she decided the stranger must be inside. She wandered restlessly and, despite the cold weather, threw open all the windows. Later, over a meal, she declared, “The salad is poisoned.” Two days later, she said she wanted to kill herself.

This teenager with no history of mental illness was diagnosed with delirium. The night before the hallucinations started, she began taking an anti-influenza drug called Tamiflu (generic name: oseltamivir), which governments around the world have spent billions stockpiling for the next major flu outbreak.

But evidence released earlier this year by Cochrane Collaboration, a London-based nonprofit, shows that a significant amount of negative data from the drug’s clinical trials were hidden from the public. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) knew about it, but the medical community did not; the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which doesn’t have the same access to unpublished data as regulators, had recommended the drug without being able to see the full picture. When results from those unpublished trials finally did emerge, they cast doubt over whether Tamiflu is as effective as the manufacturer says.

The revelation of hidden data bolstered a growing movement against what’s referred to within the research community as “publication bias,” in which scientists squirrel away mostly negative or inconclusive findings and broadcast only their positive ones. Concealing trial data—for which patients accept the risks of untested treatments for the greater good—is routine. As many as half of all clinical trials are never published, PLOS Medicine reported last year.



Jose Canseco explains how Comets will save humanity

Inspired by the Philae spacecraft landing on a speeding comet, Jose Canseco, Cuban-American former Major League Baseball, decided to tweet heavy knowledge about science and what it means for human space travel.

He shared his thoughts about the landing of Philae lander on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Wednesday.

He tweeted some theories about how 'comet transport is the key to our survival', saying it would open up new industries like 'asteroid mining and interstellar trade.

Canseco explained that using comets isn't a new thing. Galactic Beings are a solid synth-rock band, and they've been using comets for a while now and they have used comets as star taxis for eons.

His tweets include that comets are faster than anything we could ever build and if Earth can control the comet transport system, humans will run the Milky Way. He imagined rich strip-mining and sightseeing economies opening up throughout the galaxy.



Friday TOON Roundup 4 - The Rest






Friday TOON Roundup 3 - Repubs

Friday TOON Roundup 2 - Internet

Friday TOON Roundup 1 - Comet

Lot of green: Oregon projected to make $20 million in pot taxes

While some residents in Oregon and Alaska are still buzzing over their recent legalization of marijuana for adults, here comes news that even non-users can appreciate: Their states are going to reap millions in new tax revenues.

At least they’re projected to by San Francisco’s ArcView Market Research — an analytics firm focused on the cannabis industry. According to a study released Thursday, Oregon will harvest $20 million in pot-tax revenues and Alaska, $10 million.

ArcView based its projections on “estimated existing demand from marijuana consumers, new marijuana consumer demand and demand from out-of-state visitors.” It defined a state’s market potential projection on “the market’s value if 100 percent of all current demand for cannabis went to the legal regulated market.”

However, the report predicts that there will be challenges in Oregon, as stores there “will enter a highly competitive market with established retail competition from Washington State, existing medical marijuana stores in Oregon and cheap black-market supply from Northern California.” That, says ArcView, will create “pricing pressure” on Oregon pot stores.



TED Cruz talks


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