TIME georgia

Georgia Governor Pushes Trials Of Marijuana Derivative

Georgia Medical Marijuana
Gov. Nathan Deal gives a news conference on clinical trials of a marijuana-derived oil at Children's Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, Ga. on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. Jon-Michael Sullivan—AP

Deal said the Georgia clinical trial would hopefully be up and running by the end of the year or the first part of 2015

(AUGUSTA, Ga.) — Georgia’s governor is pushing clinical trials for a marijuana-derived drug that proponents say could help treat severe seizure disorders among children, an unlikely election-year move for a Republican in a conservative part of the country that is just beginning to warm up to medical marijuana in narrow circumstances.

Since 1996, 23 states around the country and the District of Columbia have legalized comprehensive access to medical marijuana, and two have decriminalized the drug entirely. But the South has largely resisted out of fears it could lead to widespread drug abuse and other social ills.

This year, though, six Southern states adopted laws establishing some limited access to marijuana products that have minimal or no tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana that makes users feel high. A similar effort in Georgia failed on the last day of the legislative session, which prompted Governor Nathan Deal — a Republican up for re-election — to take action to coordinate clinical trial programs in the state.

“We all have to be sensitive to the children who have these seizures, and that is the focal point for all this discussion,” Deal said Tuesday after meeting with various representatives involved in establishing the clinical trials. “I want it to be helpful, not harmful. And I want it to be legal, and that’s why we are taking the steps to make sure we achieve all of those goals.”

Also Tuesday, another conservative state, Utah, issued its first registration card under its limited medical marijuana program geared toward those with severe epilepsy. Under Utah’s program, the marijuana extract known as cannabidiol can only be obtained from other states and with a neurologist’s consent. The extract can be administered orally.

Meanwhile, Washington was at the other end of the spectrum as Tuesday marked the first day residents of that state could buy marijuana legally without a doctor’s note.

In the South, the key to widespread acceptance has been the advocacy of parents who say their children suffering from severe seizure disorders could benefit from the use of the cannabidiol, although scientific research remains limited.

Deal said the science is not settled, which is why the clinical trials are so crucial. Under Georgia’s plan, the state through Georgia Regents University in Augusta will be partnering with London-based GW Pharmaceuticals for an expanded clinical trial. The company also has a research partnership with New York and is conducting trials in several states.

Deal said the Georgia clinical trial would hopefully be up and running by the end of the year or the first part of 2015. A separate clinical trial, which would be state-run, would require FDA approval, and it’s not yet known how long that will take, Deal said.

Valerie Weaver brought her 6-year-old son, Preston, who has Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome, to the governor’s event at Children’s Hospital of Georgia on the campus of Georgia Regents University. Weaver said she was hopeful the trials could help her son, who suffers from 60 to 80 seizures a day.

“It’s time we get with the program,” Weaver said, noting education is key to broader acceptance. “It’s the Bible Belt. The only thing I can tell people is to educate yourself.”

TIME

A Look Inside Jacques Cousteau’s Conshelf II Expedition

In 1963, Jacques Cousteau led divers to live underwater in Conshelf II for a month to examine life as an "oceanaut." Here's a look at what life was like at the bottom of the ocean.

TIME space travel

Photos: Life Aboard the International Space Station

Ahead of TIME's July 9 talk with the astronauts on board the International Space Station, take a look back at ISS Expedition 41.

TIME space

Halle Berry Is Right: Aliens Are (Probably) Real

Berry talks science—and gets it righter than most
Berry talks science—and gets it righter than most Trae Patton/NBC; NBC via Getty Images

Don't dismiss the sci-fi star's admission that she believes in extraterrestrial life — there's a very strong case to make that it exists

Correction appended, July 8

It’s not often Halle Berry’s name comes up in scientific circles, but today, the actress—who’s starring in CBS sci-fi thriller Extant—is all the buzz, after telling David Letterman that she believes aliens exist. Dr. Berry joins Bill Clinton, who made a similar admission to Jimmy Kimmel back in April, and as I said at the time, there’s solid science backing the we-are-not-alone community.

Some of the case for ET is based on simple numbers: the 300 billion stars in our galaxy, the 100 billion galaxies in the larger universe, and the recent discovery of thousands of planets or candidate planets in the Milky Way, thanks to the Kepler Space Telescope. Those thousands suggest there could be billions or trillions more.

Exobiologists disagree on the likelihood of life emerging on any of those worlds, but if you belong to the life-is-easy school (which I do) there’s reason for optimism, thanks to a simple equation: water plus hydrocarbons plus energy plus time may equal life. That’s how we got here—and who said we’re so special that the formula can work only once?

But Berry does get one thing very wrong when she says, “…it might take us 20 years to get to those other life forms, but I think they are out there.” Sorry Halle, but 20 ain’t happening. Unless we find a microorganism in water deposits on Mars (a legitimate possibility) or something living in the warm, salty oceans of Jupiter’s moon Europa, or on one of the handful of other moons in the solar system thought to harbor water, making contact with any species—particularly an intelligent species—across billions of light years of space is the very longest of cosmic long shots. We may not be alone, but that doesn’t mean we’ll be hosting extraterrestrial dinner parties any time soon.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated who Halle Berry told she believes in aliens.

 

TIME space station

Join Us for a Conversation Between TIME and the Space Station

The space station as photographed by the shuttle Endeavour
The space station as photographed by the shuttle Endeavour NASA; Getty Images

Astronauts flying a million-pound machine 230 miles overhead don't have a lot of time to chat, but Time snagged them for a few minutes. Join us for some live air-to-ground chatter.

Everything about the International Space Station (ISS) is built to wow. It’s almost exactly the size of a football field, has as much habitable space as a six-bedroom house, orbits 230 miles overhead, required 115 space flights to build and carries a solar panel array with a surface area of one acre. The offices of TIME magazine—located on the slightly less glamorous Avenue of the Americas and 51st St. in New York City, and with about as much habitable space as, um, an office— can hardly compete. But on July 9, the two worlds will briefly collide, as TIME chats via video downlink with the ISS.

There are currently six crewmen aboard the station, and we’ll be talking to three of them: commander Steve Swanson and flight engineer Reid Wiseman, both of NASA, as well as flight engineer Alexander Gerst of the European Space Agency. Like all space station crews, this one has been tending both to matters celestial (conducting biomedical, engineering and materials science experiments, as well as maintaining the station itself) and matters terrestrial, most recently their eye-in-the-sky observations of Hurricane Arthur.

Other matters down on Earth concern the crew too. It may have been fun and games when Gerst’s native Germany bested the U.S. in the first round of the World Cup, but the dust-up between Russia and the U.S. over Ukraine is awfully hard to ignore when the other three members of the crew are Russian cosmonauts. TIME will be chatting with the crew about these and other matters—and would like to hear your suggestions.

Consider what you’d like to ask three men in a million-pound machine flying over head at 17,500 mph if you had the chance—because now you do.

TIME Japan

This Is What Supertyphoon Neoguri Looks Like From Space

Supertyphoon Neoguri seen from space, July 7, 2014.
Supertyphoon Neoguri seen from space, July 7, 2014. Alexander Gerst—ESA/NASA

Typhoon Neoguri left at least one person dead Tuesday as it pounded Japan's southwestern islands

TIME Innovation

WATCH: This Ring-Shaped Device Reads Text to the Blind

Hot off the presses of a 3-D printer, a prototype that could open the world of letters to the blind

+ READ ARTICLE

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed a ring-shaped device that slips around a user’s pointer finger, scans any text above the fingertip, and reads it aloud in a robotic voice that could help open the world of letters to the visually impaired.

The FingerReader is still just a prototype, hot off the presses of a 3D-printer. It comes with an embedded camera that pinpoints words, a clipped robotic voice that reads them aloud as the finger moves across the page, and motion sensors that can detect when the finger strays off of the text or hits the end of the line.

Researchers hope the proof of concept will attract investors and smooth the pathway to commercialization, which they say could help roughly 2.8% of the population that currently lives with visual impairment.

TIME celebrity

Halle Berry Admits She Believes in Aliens

Bill Clinton agrees

+ READ ARTICLE

Halle Berry, who plays an astronaut in the new CBS sci-fi thriller Extant, told David Letterman Monday night that she believes in life on other planets.

“I don’t believe we are the only species in existence,” Berry said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. “My ego doesn’t tell me that we’re the only ones who survived … it might take us 20 years to get to those other life forms, but I think they are out there.”

Berry keeps pretty good company in going on late night television to admit extraterrestrial ideology. Former President Bill Clinton told Jimmy Kimmel in April that he believes there’s something else out there.

“If we were visited someday I wouldn’t be surprised,” he said. “I just hope it’s not like Independence Day.” (TIME’s Jeff Kluger argued that the 42nd president was talking sense.)

Extant will premiere Wednesday at 9 p.m. EDT. Berry plays a pregnant astronaut who has been in space for a year — which draws a lot of questions about who, or what, the father might be.

[THR]

TIME animals

Scientists: Biggest-Ever Bird Had Massive 20-Foot Wingspan

Bird
This is a reconstruction of the world's largest-ever flying bird, Pelagornis sandersi, identified by Daniel Ksepka, Curator of Science at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Conn. Reconstruction art is by Liz Bradford. Liz Bradford

With a wingspan of about 21 feet

Scientists have identified what they believe to be the largest bird to have ever lived.

According to a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday, a bird with a wingspan of about 21 feet soared through the skies some 25 million years ago. That’s double the size of a modern Royal Albatross and, according to the Associated Press, bigger than a giraffe’s head.

While the bird’s giant size led to some clumsiness on land, flight analysis estimates that the creature traveled up to 50 feet a second in the air.

“This was a pretty impressive creature,” Bruce Museum paleontologist Daniel T. Ksepka told the Wall Street Journal. “Science had made a rule about flight, and life found a way around it.”

The ancient bird’s sizable skeleton was discovered in 1983 near a Charleston, South Carolina airport.

TIME Science

A Star With a Not-So-Nice Nickname for Putin Won’t Have to Change

Russian President Vladimir Putin Addresses To Ambassadors Of Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin Sasha Mordovets—Getty Images

Ukrainian astronomers basically called it "Putin is a d—khead"

It’s one small step for man, one giant leap for galactic name-calling.

Earlier this month, it was reported that a band of Ukrainian astronomers gave star KIC 9696936 the name “Putin-Huilo!” — a phrase which reportedly roughly translates into “Putin is a d—khead” — through the star-adoption service the Pale Blue Dot project, which lets anyone name one of those giant glowing balls of space plasma for a minimum $10 donation toward space research and education.

In an interview with the Moscow Times, the project’s founder says the stellar name, which has become something of a popular saying in Ukraine after Russia annexed Crimea, is staying put.

“Free speech is now written in the stars,” said Travis Metcalfe, who notes that the astronomers adopted the star well before the meaning of the name came to light. “We have no plans to censor any of these star adoptions.”

Putin himself hasn’t commented, but if he did, his response would probably go something like this.

[Moscow Times]

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