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Alchemical Reactions

Cannabis leaf

The latest issues of my ChemWeb Alchemist and Reactive Reports columns are both available online.

Headline stories this month ask important questions, such as: Why does cannabis get you “high”? What is it about the psychoactive component in marijuana, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, that exerts its special effects? Researchers hoping to use THC as a therapeutic agent in medicine, for treating symptoms of multiple sclerosis and other painful disorders, for instance, and others seeking to understand drug addiction, would certainly like to know precisely how cannabis works. New results reported in Reactive Reports this month could fill in some of the gaps.

We also find out what happens when your buckyballs rattle in their cage, learn how to kit out your Apple iPod (other mp3 players are available) with a nanoscopic radio. Add to that the discovery that a rare form of carbon dioxide could be to blame for the searing greenhouse effect…on Venus.

Chocoholics will not be surprised to learn that research by chocolate manufacturer Nestlé has shown a link between a love of chocolate and a specific chemical signature programmed into our body’s metabolism. There’s also news in The Alchemist that reveals the structure of a key enzyme that could underpin genetic uniqueness of offspring and so explain how you can have your mother’s eyes but not your father’s nose…

Also in Reactive Reports this week and sure to raise the hackles of anyone who sees the fatal flaws in the notion of a hydrogen economy, is a report on a new catalyst that might be able to convert sunlight and water directly into hydrogen, in a process analogous to the photosynthesis of carbohydrates by plants using sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water as the raw materials. Not only that the catalyst could act as its on storage medium for the hydrogen.

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