THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, and has been shown effective in treating several medical conditions such as MS, chronic pain, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it also causes cognitive side effects such as impaired working memory, lethargy, and paranoia. Especially for long-term treatment, these side effects might be detrimental for some patients. Thus there is a concerted effort to understand how THC’s cognitive side effects work and how to inhibit them.
A recent paper by researchers at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center shows that THC causes increased production of an enzyme COX-2. Ironically COX-2 is associated with inflammation and pain because it produces the chemical agents that cause them. Certain classes of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work by inhibiting COX-2.
The researchers found that mice given THC with COX-2 inhibitors did not exhibit the characteristic memory loss and “fear conditioning” of mice given THC alone. Importantly, the anti-Alzheimer’s benefit was also retained. This could be a major finding for medical marijuana.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, and has been shown effective in treating several medical conditions such as MS, chronic pain, and Alzheimer’s disease. However, it also causes cognitive side effects such as impaired working memory, lethargy, and paranoia. Especially for long-term treatment, these side effects might be detrimental for some patients. Thus there is a concerted effort to understand how THC’s cognitive side effects work and how to inhibit them.

A recent paper by researchers at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center shows that THC causes increased production of an enzyme COX-2. Ironically COX-2 is associated with inflammation and pain because it produces the chemical agents that cause them. Certain classes of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) work by inhibiting COX-2.

The researchers found that mice given THC with COX-2 inhibitors did not exhibit the characteristic memory loss and “fear conditioning” of mice given THC alone. Importantly, the anti-Alzheimer’s benefit was also retained. This could be a major finding for medical marijuana.

Your nose is an airborne molecule detector. And higher concentrations of molecules will give you a more intense smell. There are olfactory receptor neurons in the top of the nose. These have cilia that extend down into the mucosa lining.
The actual “receptor” parts are on the cilia. There are as many as 1000 different kinds of receptors, and each one “binds” (sticks) to a different kind of volatile chemical. This makes the neuron fire, telling the brain that that neuron’s special kind of volatile is present. The combinations of different kinds of neurons firing is perceived as a smell.
Humans have 10 square cm of olfactory epithelium; dogs have 170 sq cm. Dogs are way better at smelling than we are. Insects have these things on their antennae.
How exactly the “binding” works: still up for debate. Reason to become a scientist!

Your nose is an airborne molecule detector. And higher concentrations of molecules will give you a more intense smell. There are olfactory receptor neurons in the top of the nose. These have cilia that extend down into the mucosa lining.

The actual “receptor” parts are on the cilia. There are as many as 1000 different kinds of receptors, and each one “binds” (sticks) to a different kind of volatile chemical. This makes the neuron fire, telling the brain that that neuron’s special kind of volatile is present. The combinations of different kinds of neurons firing is perceived as a smell.

Humans have 10 square cm of olfactory epithelium; dogs have 170 sq cm. Dogs are way better at smelling than we are. Insects have these things on their antennae.

How exactly the “binding” works: still up for debate. Reason to become a scientist!

During photosynthesis the enzyme RuBisCO does the work of reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is reacted with a molecule of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate anion, which has a 5-carbon backbone. The resulting unstable 6-carbon compound immediately breaks down into two molecules of glycerate 3-phosphate, which is 3-carbons.
This happens during the Calvin Cycle (or the light-independent reactions or dark reactions). All the carbon chains you love, like plants, food, fuel, cats, dogs, and you, started getting linked together this way.

During photosynthesis the enzyme RuBisCO does the work of reducing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. It is reacted with a molecule of ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate anion, which has a 5-carbon backbone. The resulting unstable 6-carbon compound immediately breaks down into two molecules of glycerate 3-phosphate, which is 3-carbons.

This happens during the Calvin Cycle (or the light-independent reactions or dark reactions). All the carbon chains you love, like plants, food, fuel, cats, dogs, and you, started getting linked together this way.

Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase, which is otherwise known as RuBisCO, is the enzyme found in plants, algae, and bacteria that performs the first chemical step of carbon fixation. This means it takes a carbon atom from atmospheric CO2 and bonds it to another carbon atom.
Found in chloroplasts, RuBisCO is believed to be the most abundant protein on Earth. It was discovered in the years after World War II.

Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase oxygenase, which is otherwise known as RuBisCO, is the enzyme found in plants, algae, and bacteria that performs the first chemical step of carbon fixation. This means it takes a carbon atom from atmospheric CO2 and bonds it to another carbon atom.

Found in chloroplasts, RuBisCO is believed to be the most abundant protein on Earth. It was discovered in the years after World War II.

The light reactions of photosynthesis basically do two things:
Make ATP
Split water to get electrons
The ATP is made by ATP synthase, which is found in almost all organisms on Earth. The water splitting is accomplished by an enzyme called photosystem II, pictured above. It’s possible you’ve performed a water splitting experiment in a chemistry class: you run electricity through water and produce hydrogen and oxygen gas. But you have to use electricity to do it, and that’s a lot of effort. Plants do it just by hanging around in the sunlight and getting watered!
The mechanism of photosystem II, which is important for life on Earth as we know it, is not fully understood yet. If you want to do science, how about figure it out for us, Clear Scientists? 

The light reactions of photosynthesis basically do two things:

  1. Make ATP
  2. Split water to get electrons

The ATP is made by ATP synthase, which is found in almost all organisms on Earth. The water splitting is accomplished by an enzyme called photosystem II, pictured above. It’s possible you’ve performed a water splitting experiment in a chemistry class: you run electricity through water and produce hydrogen and oxygen gas. But you have to use electricity to do it, and that’s a lot of effort. Plants do it just by hanging around in the sunlight and getting watered!

The mechanism of photosystem II, which is important for life on Earth as we know it, is not fully understood yet. If you want to do science, how about figure it out for us, Clear Scientists? 

Plants and animals (and therefore food) are made of carbon chains, and fossil fuel (and plastics) are made of carbon chains. Carbon fixation is how all these carbon chains get made. So: thank you plants! Photosynthesis isn’t the only way carbon is fixed but it’s the chief way. Since it’s so important, how does it happen? Photosynthesis is divided into 2 parts: light reactions and dark reactions. Up above is a schematic of the light reactions, taken from Wikipedia. (So: thank you Wikipedia!)
Here, light is making three basic reactions happen. The first is water splitting, which takes electrons away from water. These electrons make all of photosynthesis possible. Electrons can’t really run around by themselves in plants, because plants don’t have wiring! So, plants use NADPH, which is like a molecular electron carrier, to deal with that. Then we have the ADP-ATP reaction, which is like the basic energy-producing reaction for life on Earth. Not just in plants, but in almost all other organisms too.

Plants and animals (and therefore food) are made of carbon chains, and fossil fuel (and plastics) are made of carbon chains. Carbon fixation is how all these carbon chains get made. So: thank you plants! Photosynthesis isn’t the only way carbon is fixed but it’s the chief way. Since it’s so important, how does it happen? Photosynthesis is divided into 2 parts: light reactions and dark reactions. Up above is a schematic of the light reactions, taken from Wikipedia. (So: thank you Wikipedia!)

Here, light is making three basic reactions happen. The first is water splitting, which takes electrons away from water. These electrons make all of photosynthesis possible. Electrons can’t really run around by themselves in plants, because plants don’t have wiring! So, plants use NADPH, which is like a molecular electron carrier, to deal with that. Then we have the ADP-ATP reaction, which is like the basic energy-producing reaction for life on Earth. Not just in plants, but in almost all other organisms too.

Carbon bonded to other carbon, which is a kind of reduced carbon, is what we use for energy. What kind of energy you ask? Well, how about food, which is a kind of reduced carbon. Food is sugars, proteins, fats, etc, which are all carbon chains. Also how about fossil fuels like gasoline (let’s call that octane). The bonds between the carbons have energy in them, and we get that energy out by digesting them or burning them.
Other carbon chains you might like: animals (which you eat), plants (which you eat), you, everyone you know, fossil fuels (which you burn), most polymers like plastic bags, soda bottles, and on and on and on.
The Clear Science staff is kind of over-simplifying here: there are other elements in these molecular chains, like H, O, and N. But anything organic is based on carbon chains, so you can think of them as being reduced carbon.

Carbon bonded to other carbon, which is a kind of reduced carbon, is what we use for energy. What kind of energy you ask? Well, how about food, which is a kind of reduced carbon. Food is sugars, proteins, fats, etc, which are all carbon chains. Also how about fossil fuels like gasoline (let’s call that octane). The bonds between the carbons have energy in them, and we get that energy out by digesting them or burning them.

Other carbon chains you might like: animals (which you eat), plants (which you eat), you, everyone you know, fossil fuels (which you burn), most polymers like plastic bags, soda bottles, and on and on and on.

The Clear Science staff is kind of over-simplifying here: there are other elements in these molecular chains, like H, O, and N. But anything organic is based on carbon chains, so you can think of them as being reduced carbon.

Carbon fixation starts with carbon dioxide, which is a single carbon by itself. (It’s got some oxygens bonded to it, but it’s just one carbon atom!) The process of fixation ends with carbons bonded to other carbons. Basically you can think of fixation as stitching carbons together.
Do you realize how important this is? It’s not like it’s super easy to get carbons bonded to one another. They would much rather be by themselves with some oxygens, as CO2. Scientifically this is because of the free energy of these compounds, but we won’t go into that for now. Carbons bonded to other carbons are technically forms of reduced carbon. Reduced carbon is super useful.

Carbon fixation starts with carbon dioxide, which is a single carbon by itself. (It’s got some oxygens bonded to it, but it’s just one carbon atom!) The process of fixation ends with carbons bonded to other carbons. Basically you can think of fixation as stitching carbons together.

Do you realize how important this is? It’s not like it’s super easy to get carbons bonded to one another. They would much rather be by themselves with some oxygens, as CO2. Scientifically this is because of the free energy of these compounds, but we won’t go into that for now. Carbons bonded to other carbons are technically forms of reduced carbon. Reduced carbon is super useful.

Carbon fixation is when carbon dioxide is converted to organic compounds. Plants do a lot of the carbon fixation on Earth, by taking carbon dioxide from the air. As anyone who’s cared for plants knows, they also need some water and some light. You might also know that they give off oxygen.
They do this by photosynthesis. Look up above and you’ll see they’re basically taking the C out of CO2 and then giving off O2. This carbon (the C) gets converted to carbohydrates, which are basically sugars.
All life on Earth depends on reactions like this for two reasons:
The oxygen in the atmosphere, which we and other animals breathe, is made this way.
All carbon fixation happens this way (or some similar way).

Carbon fixation is when carbon dioxide is converted to organic compounds. Plants do a lot of the carbon fixation on Earth, by taking carbon dioxide from the air. As anyone who’s cared for plants knows, they also need some water and some light. You might also know that they give off oxygen.

They do this by photosynthesis. Look up above and you’ll see they’re basically taking the C out of CO2 and then giving off O2. This carbon (the C) gets converted to carbohydrates, which are basically sugars.

All life on Earth depends on reactions like this for two reasons:

  1. The oxygen in the atmosphere, which we and other animals breathe, is made this way.
  2. All carbon fixation happens this way (or some similar way).

This article in the Washington Post talks a bit about brain chemistry and love. It features Helen Fisher, an anthropologist at Rutgers University, who has written a book on the subject.