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The Science of Cannabis

JamesHeather8 June 2011

“You can touch, smell, but not taste the marijuana”.

'All of these plants were grown for pharmaceutical research' - David PotterThese were the words spoken by Prof. Clive Page, a King’s college pharmacologist who was chairing the wonderful talk on The Science of Cannabis last night. He was right – I could smell it from the third row.

While many people will be familiar with the psychoactive properties of THC found in cannabis, the talk last night was dealing with the varying medicinal properties of other chemicals produced by the plant.

Watch UCL’s Dr Andrea Sella explain the history and science of cannabis (6 minutes)

Our expert for the evening was the rather aptly named Dr. David Potter, a botanist and magistrate from GW Pharmaceuticals, who is part of the team responsible for last year producing the first legal medicinal product derived from marijuana.

Sativex was licensed in the UK last year for the treatment of spasticity in patients with Multiple Sclerosis, a debilitating and incurable condition that progressively damages the central nervous system.
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99% of the universe and other plasma facts – video

Laura MVale8 June 2011

Did you know that 99% of the known universe is made up of plasma? This fact was only one of the surprising and thought-provoking facts revealed in Exploring the Plasma Universe at the Cheltenham Science Festival yesterday. Flanked by some exciting experiments involving fire and the simulation of lightning, Kate Lancaster, Melanie Windridge and UCL researcher Lucie Green explained the physics behind plasma, including how it might be used to power spacecraft and provide energy, as well as future directions in plasma research.

But what is plasma? Good question. I have to admit, my first thought on seeing the title of the talk was blood plasma and none too irrelevantly either – it is sometimes thought that this substance was named after blood plasma. Plasma is a state of matter produced by heating a gas until some of the particles are ionised. The molecular bonds break apart into atoms and you are left with a matter containing positive ions and negative electrons. It conducts electricity thanks to the charged atoms which respond to electromagnetic fields, and produces photons, which creates the iconic flashes of colour that you see in lightning, plasma television screens and plasma lamps.

Watch Dr Lucie Green in action at the festival (2 minutes)

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Is the population bomb a fallacy?

LaraCarim31 May 2011

Kelly Clarke, a student at the UCL Institute of Child Health, reports on the opening debate at the UCL/Leverhulme Population Footprints symposium, held on 24 May.

The human population quadrupled in the 20th century. It will reach 7 billion this year. There are 250,000 more people on the planet today than there were yesterday. But Fred Pearce, New Scientist journalist, speaking at the ‘My Vision of the World’ debate at UCL last Tuesday believes we should stop worrying about an exponential population.

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UCL Awards for Enterprise

DeeDavis24 May 2011

Award ceremonies tend to be mainly of interest to recipients and their families, but for me the UCL Awards for Enterprise Awards – held on 15 May in the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre by UCL Advances – was an informative experience, enlightening me as to the rich diversity of UCL entrepreneurial engagement.

As Professor Richard Catlow (Dean of Mathematical & Physical Sciences) put it, it is assumed that most entrepreneurs come from computer science and engineering departments. However, there were nominations from across the board from UCL Arts and Humanities, the Bartlett, Mathematical & Physical Sciences and Laws.

Watch a video about how UCL has championed enterprise in London throughout its history:

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