Tag Archive: Science


When we last left the Eureka cast, it was a on a high note turned sour.  The Astreaus mission to Titan is ready finalizing for its exploratory mission, goodbyes are being said, but overall, a definite sense of accomplishment and anticipation.  Of course, this means something goes wrong- after all the crew is aboard in their protective chambers, the ship launches uncontrollably with Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) unintentionally aboard.  And that’s where we left off…

Here there be spoilers…

 

Episode 1, Lost- We start off with the Astreaus, and find out what happened.  In fact, it is a solid, surprisingly action-packed beginning to the final season- definitely a welcome surprise- since we left of a cliffhanger and aren’t normally treated to strong action sequences. The crew crash lands- wait a minute, on Earth?- and almost four years have passed.  This comes as quite a shock to the crew, but we see it most clearly with Allison and Zane (Niall Matter), who find out their significant others, Sheriff Jack Carter, (Colin Ferguson) and Deputy Lupo (Erica Cerra), have moved on and gotten together with each other.  Further complicating matters, there has been a change in how things are run in Eureka- it’s very Stepford Wives, except instead of robot replacements, Android Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) and his A.I. brethren control the people of Eureka using a device from the show’s history.

Aside from the changes in the town, a few things seem wrong.  One of the most prominent elements is how tightly “happy thoughts” are enforced in the town.  When Zane and Lupo have an argument outside of Café Diem, one of the Martha flying drones incapacitates Zane.  In fact, this incident leads to Carter, Allison and everyone deciding it times to take the town back.  After noting the change of Dr. Parrish’s (Wil Wheaton) personality, they know which invention needs to be used.  The ensemble cast gets a good chance to showcase individual members, without it feeling “by the numbers”. Once the Andy problem is resolved, the crew of the Astreaus begin to integrate into the freed town once more.

 

Episode 2, The Real Thing- This episode begins with the return of Beverly Barlowe (Debrah Farentino) in a lab, surrounded by the Astreaus crew.  Each crew member is hooked up, and we learn they are not four years in the future, but tied into a virtual reality simulator.  This is what was teased at when Zane was unconscious, (if you paid close attention and remembered it for a week), but does come out of left field.  We learn that all 21 members of the crew survived and are being used to develop new technologies for the Consortium.  And, we learn that the time skip inside the VR lets helps to form new memories in the crew, as well as explain any anomalies in the program.  Honestly, this reviewer found the lack of transition from Futurama Eureka to in a VR simulation a bit jarring.  A few seconds from the POV of an unconscious character in one episode, to full reveal in the intro of the next? Aside from this point, the surprises play out quite well.

Which brings us back to Eureka.  In the month that the crew and the Astreaus has been missing, Jack, Kevin (Trevor Jackson) and Henry (Joe Morton) have been working furiously trying to find the ship.  Of course, they have been looking to the stars- the mission was to Titan, after all.  Once Senator Wen (Ming-Na) officially calls off the search, Kevin resorts to his old tricks of borrowing from Eureka’s scientists to assist his search.  In fact, Henry confirms that he has designed a device that can track the Astreaus- so Jack and Carter send out a call for the parts they need.  The residents of the town respond with everything they can, just short one crucial piece.  With Andy and the returned Lupo’s help, they are able to secure it from a nearby military outpost.

In V-Eureka, the stress on the system causes an iguana experiment from the mission to become a dragon.  Fargo and Holly disagree on if it can be real, because dragons are mythical.  In fact, no one really can believe it, even after a few minor injuries and capturing said dragon.   Holly’s scratches, however, prove to be the solution to a problem with the VR matrix.

Back in the real world, the tracking device is activated.  Eureka’s best rolls out to rescue the crew, but they only find the ship and the room with the unimportant equipment from the simulation.  This gives Jack a hunch, and which he uses to find out that Eureka had a mole- one who tipped off the kidnappers.  The back and forth between Virtual Eureka and Real Eureka worked well in this episode, and served to play off each environment.  That said, the death of the character feels like it was more for shock value- one might say Whedon-esque- especially given the resources available and the benefits of keeping him/her alive.

…  before they decided to ignore science, (a shocker, I know)

 

Happy 420, my toking friends.

Now, I am not a recreator of the Mary Jane- but, I know enough people who are to know that the horror stories are just that- stories.  In fact…

10) MARIJUANA USE HAS NO EFFECT ON MORTALITY: A massive study of California HMO members funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) found marijuana use caused no significant increase in mortality. Tobacco use was associated with increased risk of death. Sidney, S et al. Marijuana Use and Mortality. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 87 No. 4, April 1997. p. 585-590. Sept. 2002.

9) HEAVY MARIJUANA USE AS A YOUNG ADULT WON’T RUIN YOUR LIFE: Veterans Affairs scientists looked at whether heavy marijuana use as a young adult caused long-term problems later, studying identical twins in which one twin had been a heavy marijuana user for a year or longer but had stopped at least one month before the study, while the second twin had used marijuana no more than five times ever. Marijuana use had no significant impact on physical or mental health care utilization, health-related quality of life, or current socio-demographic characteristics. Eisen SE et al. Does Marijuana Use Have Residual Adverse Effects on Self-Reported Health Measures, Socio-Demographics or Quality of Life? A Monozygotic Co-Twin Control Study in Men. Addiction. Vol. 97 No. 9. p.1083-1086. Sept. 1997

8) THE “GATEWAY EFFECT” MAY BE A MIRAGE: Marijuana is often called a “gateway drug” by supporters of prohibition, who point to statistical “associations” indicating that persons who use marijuana are more likely to eventually try hard drugs than those who never use marijuana – implying that marijuana use somehow causes hard drug use. But a model developed by RAND Corp. researcher Andrew Morral demonstrates that these associations can be explained “without requiring a gateway effect.” More likely, this federally funded study suggests, some people simply have an underlying propensity to try drugs, and start with what’s most readily available. Morral AR, McCaffrey D and Paddock S. Reassessing the Marijuana Gateway Effect. Addiction. December 2002. p. 1493-1504.

7) PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK (PART I): The White House had the National Research Council examine the data being gathered about drug use and the effects of U.S. drug policies. NRC concluded, “the nation possesses little information about the effectiveness of current drug policy, especially of drug law enforcement.” And what data exist show “little apparent relationship between severity of sanctions prescribed for drug use and prevalence or frequency of use.” In other words, there is no proof that prohibition – the cornerstone of U.S. drug policy for a century – reduces drug use. National Research Council. Informing America’s Policy on Illegal Drugs: What We Don’t Know Keeps Hurting Us. National Academy Press, 2001. p. 193.

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=10021&page=193

6) PROHIBITION DOESN’T WORK (PART II): DOES PROHIBITION CAUSE THE “GATEWAY EFFECT”?): U.S. and Dutch researchers, supported in part by NIDA, compared marijuana users in San Francisco, where non-medical use remains illegal, to Amsterdam, where adults may possess and purchase small amounts of marijuana from regulated businesses. Looking at such parameters as frequency and quantity of use and age at onset of use, they found no differences except one: Lifetime use of hard drugs was significantly lower in Amsterdam, with its “tolerant” marijuana policies. For example, lifetime crack cocaine use was 4.5 times higher in San Francisco than Amsterdam. Reinarman, C, Cohen, PDA, and Kaal, HL. The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy: Cannabis in Amsterdam and San Francisco. American Journal of Public Health. Vol. 94, No. 5. May 2004. p. 836-842.

http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/full/10.2105/AJPH.94.5.836

5) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART I): Federal researchers implanted several types of cancer, including leukemia and lung cancers, in mice, then treated them with cannabinoids (unique, active components found in marijuana). THC and other cannabinoids shrank tumors and increased the mice’s lifespans. Munson, AE et al. Antineoplastic Activity of Cannabinoids. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. Sept. 1975. p. 597-602.

http://drugpolicycentral.com/bot/pg/cancer/THC_cancer_sep_1975.htm

4) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER, (PART II): In a 1994 study the government tried to suppress, federal researchers gave mice and rats massive doses of THC, looking for cancers or other signs of toxicity. The rodents given THC lived longer and had fewer cancers, “in a dose-dependent manner” (i.e. the more THC they got, the fewer tumors). NTP Technical Report On The Toxicology And Carcinogenesis Studies Of 1-Trans- Delta-9-Tetrahydrocannabinol, CAS No. 1972-08-3, In F344/N Rats And B6C3F Mice, Gavage Studies. See also, “Medical Marijuana: Unpublished Federal Study Found THC-Treated Rats Lived Longer, Had Less Cancer,” AIDS Treatment News no. 263, Jan. 17, 1997.

http://www.thebody.com/content/art31497.html#medmar

3) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART III): Researchers at the Kaiser-Permanente HMO, funded by NIDA, followed 65,000 patients for nearly a decade, comparing cancer rates among non-smokers, tobacco smokers, and marijuana smokers. Tobacco smokers had massively higher rates of lung cancer and other cancers. Marijuana smokers who didn’t also use tobacco had no increase in risk of tobacco-related cancers or of cancer risk overall. In fact their rates of lung and most other cancers were slightly lower than non-smokers, though the difference did not reach statistical significance. Sidney, S. et al. Marijuana Use and Cancer Incidence (California, United States). Cancer Causes and Control. Vol. 8. Sept. 1997, p. 722-728.

http://link.springer.com/article/10.1023%2FA%3A1018427320658

2) OOPS, MARIJUANA MAY PREVENT CANCER (PART IV): Donald Tashkin, a UCLA researcher whose work is funded by NIDA, did a case-control study comparing 1,200 patients with lung, head and neck cancers to a matched group with no cancer. Even the heaviest marijuana smokers had no increased risk of cancer, and had somewhat lower cancer risk than non-smokers (tobacco smokers had a 20-fold increased lung cancer risk). Tashkin D. Marijuana Use and Lung Cancer: Results of a Case-Control Study. American Thoracic Society International Conference. May 23, 2006.

1) MARIJUANA DOES HAVE MEDICAL VALUE: In response to passage of California’s medical marijuana law, the White House had the Institute of Medicine (IOM) review the data on marijuana’s medical benefits and risks. The IOM concluded, “Nausea, appetite loss, pain and anxiety are all afflictions of wasting, and all can be mitigated by marijuana.” While noting potential risks of smoking, the report acknowledged there is no clear alternative for people suffering from chronic conditions that might be relieved by smoking marijuana, such as pain or AIDS wasting. The government’s refusal to acknowledge this finding caused co-author John A. Benson to tell the New York Times that the government loves to ignore our report; they would rather it never happened. (Joy, JE, Watson, SJ, and Benson, JA. Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base. National Academy Press. 1999. p. 159. See also, Harris, G. FDA Dismisses Medical Benefit From Marijuana. New York Times. Apr. 21, 2006)

http://www.csdp.org/news/news/nyt_fdamedmj_042106.htm

So, a brief, scientific look at MJ- will have some editorializing tomorrow…  Ya know, here- http://wp.me/paRLC-46

2012 has been a great year- even with the many downs, there have been many ups…

One thing that stands out for me is how much space- as in Space, The Final Frontier the Universe Space- has played such an important role in my life this year. There have been great triumphs and losses this year… So, briefly, a look at them.

Neil Armstrong– The first human to set foot on another world took his final journey after a quiet life; even though he was immensely humble, his actions (as well as Buzz Aldrin & Michael Collins) were that of a great hero who braved the unknown.
Sir Patrick Moore– An astronomer who has been on the BBC for more than half a century, and inspired so many of our current astronomers and astrophysicists, passed. He kept broadcasting his show even into his final days, such was his love of knowledge and of sharing it.
Space Shuttle Endeavor– While not a person, the final flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery was the last time any of the magnificent Shuttles will take flight; truly, the end of an era. An era we must regain- the manned exploration of space must resume- otherwise everything we have done will continue to be trapped on this tiny, fragile orb… As an aside, you can see a few shots of the Final Flight on the Mysidian Moments photography blog.

Mars Curiosity– Another probe that reached Mars; but with much greater abilities- and a social media following… speaking of which, New Year’s Greetings from Mars
Voyager leaving the Solar System– The Voyager I spacecraft (launched on 1977-09-05 12:56:00 UTC), is in the border of the Solar System. 35 years after it left Earth, this human creation is crossing into interstellar space- it will be the first thing we have ever sent beyond the embrace of our sun. And almost as astonishingly, this small ship, virtually as old as I am and with technology earlier than the Apple II, still is sending us knowledge…
Astronomical discoveries– “Super Earth” HD 40307 g in its star’s Goldilock’s Zone; a planet orbitting Alpha Centauri; the most distant galaxy discovered so far, UDFj-39546284, discovered by Hubble and determined to be from when the Universe was just 380 million years old; The massive black hole at the center of NGC 1277; the enormous Phoenix Cluster of galaxies; the rogue exoplanet CFBDSIR2149… All these discoveries came through just in 2012- truly, we are in a golden age of scientific discovery of our place in the sky- which only emphasizes how much we need to focus on learning and science.

Of course, there are many personal events that have shaped 2012- but these remind me that, no matter how much we focus on ourselves, the grand universe stretches out- beckoning us to explore…

Onward to the future!

When we last left the Eureka cast, it was a on a high note turned sour.  The Astreaus mission to Titan is ready finalizing for its exploratory mission, goodbyes are being said, but overall, a definite sense of accomplishment and anticipation.  Of course, this means something goes wrong- after all the crew is aboard in their protective chambers, the ship launches uncontrollably with Allison Blake (Salli Richardson-Whitfield) unintentionally aboard.  And that’s where we left off…

Here there be spoilers…

Episode 1, Lost- We start off with the Astreaus, and find out what happened.  In fact, it is a solid, surprisingly action-packed beginning to the final season- definitely a welcome surprise- since we left of a cliffhanger and aren’t normally treated to strong action sequences. The crew crash lands- wait a minute, on Earth?- and almost four years have passed.  This comes as quite a shock to the crew, but we see it most clearly with Allison and Zane (Niall Matter), who find out their significant others, Sheriff Jack Carter, (Colin Ferguson) and Deputy Lupo (Erica Cerra), have moved on and gotten together with each other.  Further complicating matters, there has been a change in how things are run in Eureka- it’s very Stepford Wives, except instead of robot replacements, Android Deputy Andy (Kavan Smith) and his A.I. brethren control the people of Eureka using a device from the show’s history.

Aside from the changes in the town, a few things seem wrong.  One of the most prominent elements is how tightly “happy thoughts” are enforced in the town.  When Zane and Lupo have an argument outside of Café Diem, one of the Martha flying drones incapacitates Zane.  In fact, this incident leads to Carter, Allison and everyone deciding it times to take the town back.  After noting the change of Dr. Parrish’s (Wil Wheaton) personality, they know which invention needs to be used.  The ensemble cast gets a good chance to showcase individual members, without it feeling “by the numbers”. Once the Andy problem is resolved, the crew of the Astreaus begin to integrate into the freed town once more.

Image

Episode 2, The Real Thing- This episode begins with the return of Beverly Barlowe (Debrah Farentino) in a lab, surrounded by the Astreaus crew.  Each crew member is hooked up, and we learn they are not four years in the future, but tied into a virtual reality simulator.  This is what was teased at when Zane was unconscious, (if you paid close attention and remembered it for a week), but does come out of left field.  We learn that all 21 members of the crew survived and are being used to develop new technologies for the Consortium.  And, we learn that the time skip inside the VR lets helps to form new memories in the crew, as well as explain any anomalies in the program.  Honestly, this reviewer found the lack of transition from Futurama Eureka to in a VR simulation a bit jarring.  A few seconds from the POV of an unconscious character in one episode, to full reveal in the intro of the next? Aside from this point, the surprises play out quite well.

Which brings us back to Eureka.  In the month that the crew and the Astreaus has been missing, Jack, Kevin (Trevor Jackson) and Henry (Joe Morton) have been working furiously trying to find the ship.  Of course, they have been looking to the stars- the mission was to Titan, after all.  Once Senator Wen (Ming-Na) officially calls off the search, Kevin resorts to his old tricks of borrowing from Eureka’s scientists to assist his search.  In fact, Henry confirms that he has designed a device that can track the Astreaus- so Jack and Carter send out a call for the parts they need.  The residents of the town respond with everything they can, just short one crucial piece.  With Andy and the returned Lupo’s help, they are able to secure it from a nearby military outpost.

In V-Eureka, the stress on the system causes an iguana experiment from the mission to become a dragon.  Fargo and Holly disagree on if it can be real, because dragons are mythical.  In fact, no one really can believe it, even after a few minor injuries and capturing said dragon.   Holly’s scratches, however, prove to be the solution to a problem with the VR matrix.

Back in the real world, the tracking device is activated.  Eureka’s best rolls out to rescue the crew, but they only find the ship and the room with the unimportant equipment from the simulation.  This gives Jack a hunch, and which he uses to find out that Eureka had a mole- one who tipped off the kidnappers.  The back and forth between Virtual Eureka and Real Eureka worked well in this episode, and served to play off each environment.  That said, the death of the character feels like it was more for shock value- one might say Whedon-esque- especially given the resources available and the benefits of keeping him/her alive.