April 20 ― aka “420” ― is considered pot’s biggest day, and it should only get more popular now that 33 states have legalized marijuana for medical or recreational purposes.
The buzz over 420 isn’t just media hype, according to cannabis industry insiders like Robert Arabian, founder of Pop-Up Potcorn, a line of cannabis-infused microwave popcorn.
“These days, 4/20 has turned into the biggest Holiday in the cannabis industry and serves as a day of celebration for the advancements the industry has made in the legal space,” Arabian told HuffPost.
Here’s how the marijuana industry is changing:
CBD — or cannabidiol, the nonpsychoactive ingredient in the marijuana plant — is popping up in all sorts of products, including face masks, jelly beans and even burgers, despite the lack of evidence of its effectiveness for easing pain, insomnia, anxiety and depression.
Michael Christopher, the CEO of Mood33, a California-based cannabis-infused beverage brand, believes CBD will be sticking around for quite a while, though maybe not in its current form.
“We are seeing some proliferation of CBD-infused products that are starting to overwhelm consumers,” Christopher told HuffPost. “From $9 CBD-infused donuts to $14 CBD-infused brownie mix, we are unsure of the viability of these new product formats that seem to ‘just throw some CBD in’ and mark up the price point.”
More Women Using Weed
Last year, baby boomers were seen as the future of sales, but industry experts now see women as the next budding market.
Sheena Shirvai, director of consumer communications for Eaze, a cannabis-delivery company in California, says women are now behind 75 percent of orders.
Dr. John Oram, the Founder/CEO of NUG, a cannabis company specializing in concentrates, said “soccer moms” are coming into the business in droves ― and it shouldn’t be a surprise.
“It sounds cliché, but there is some truth there, too,” Oram told MagPost. “Moms generally make the health and wellness decisions in the household. As cannabis becomes a more accepted wellness product (especially CBD products) it is natural to expect women to play a greater role in choosing quality cannabis products.”
Budding Beverage Boom
Ray Landgraf of Island Cannabis, which deals with cannabis production technology, says there’s a thirst for pot-infused drinks
“We’re really early on beverages where people are just figuring out the science that will make cannabis beverages a really unique experience and providing a different answer to what occasions like happy hour really mean,” he said.
Dooma Wendschuh of the Canadian-based Province Brands predicts that liquid may replace smoking as the delivery system of choice for potheads.
“No one wants to step outside to smoke. Especially here in Canada, where it’s usually pretty cold outside,” Wendschuh told HuffPost. “Excluding cannabis ― which still isn’t legal in most places ― there are three legal psychoactives in our world – caffeine, alcohol and tobacco. Two of those three are consumed as beverages and the third no one does anymore. People like to drink their psychoactives. It’s just that simple. Give your lungs a break. They’re dealing with enough pollution as it is.”
Weed Delivery Is The Future?
As more states legalize cannabis, ensuring that people have access to the herb usually falls to dispensaries or delivery services.
However, the idea of brick-and-mortar bud shops popping up like Starbucks is one that should be nipped in the bud, according to Brad McLaughlin of BudTrader.com, which bills itself as “the largest cannabis social media platform.”
“Dispensaries will go the way of Blockbuster Video. You heard it here first,” McLaughlin said. “People don’t want to leave the pad, especially in major metropolitan cities with heavy traffic congestion like New York, LA and places where it’s cold.”
Dispensaries Are The Future?
However, many industry insiders such as Bryson Bulda, brand manager of LBS Distribution, a California cannabis company, believe dispensaries are crucial to building burgeoning bud businesses.
“Delivery is a great option for educated consumers,” she said. “Going to a dispensary and talking to budtenders is the only way to actively learn from products and what you are consuming.”
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An implantable device that produces energy using ultrasound
A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in the Republic of Korea has developed a type of implantable device that produces energy using an external ultrasound source. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes their device, how it was built and how well it worked when tested on animal tissue.
The development of the pacemaker has undoubtedly saved many lives, but it also has risks for patients that have them implanted into their chests. The devices have to be replaced periodically, putting patients at risk of infection—there is also some degree of pain and irritation involved. For that reason, scientists have searched for ways to generate power inside the body, making batteries unnecessary. In this new effort, the researchers have designed a generator that produces power when exposed to an ultrasound source.
The generator designed by the researchers is a type of triboelectric generator. Such generators harvest energy from the triboelectric effect—where contact electrification occurs when two dissimilar objects touch and are then pulled apart—static electricity is an example of the triboelectric effect. The generator used by the team had two squares of material inside of it that were forced together when exposed to ultrasound. When the ultrasound signal was removed, the materials separated and a small amount of electricity was produced and captured in the generator. By repeating the process over and over in rapid succession, a constant stream of electricity was generated. The team also added other components to their device to allow for interfacing with other devices—and they had to make sure it could withstand being implanted into a living creature.
The researchers tested their generator by implanting it into some pig tissue at various depths and then firing ultrasound at it through the skin. They report that at depths of five millimeters, the generator produced electricity with a current up to 156 microamps and up to 2.4 volts. At depths of a centimeter, the generator was able to produce 98 microamps and 1.9 volts. The researchers note that if such agenerator could be used to run pacemakers and other implantable devices, patients could be spared the necessity of having to undergo surgery to have them replaced periodically.
Scientists reveal first-ever image of a black hole
Scientists on Wednesday revealed the first image ever made of a black hole, depicting its hot, shadowy edges where light bends around itself in a cosmic funhouse effect.
Assembling data gathered by eight radio telescopes around the world, astronomers created the picture showing the violent neighborhood around a supermassive black hole, the light-sucking monsters of the universe theorized by Einstein more than a century ago and confirmed by observations for decades.
It looked like a flaming orange, yellow and black ring.
“We have seen what we thought was unseeable. We have seen and taken a picture of a black hole. Here it is,” said Sheperd Doeleman of Harvard.
Read: New map of universe shows 300,000 more galaxies
Jessica Dempsey, a co-discoverer and deputy director of the East Asian Observatory in Hawaii, said it reminded her of the powerful flaming Eye of Sauron from the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
Unlike smaller black holes that come from collapsed stars, supermassive black holes are mysterious in origin. Situated at the center of most galaxies, including ours, they are so dense that nothing, not even light, can escape their gravitational pull.
This one’s “event horizon” the point of no return around it, where light and matter begin to fall inexorably into the abyss is as big as our entire solar system.
Three years ago, scientists using an extraordinarily sensitive observing system heard the sound of two much smaller black holes merging to create a gravitational wave, as Albert Einstein predicted.
The new image, published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters and announced around the world in several news conferences, adds light to that sound.
Outside scientists suggested the achievement could be worthy of a Nobel Prize, just like the gravitational wave discovery.
While much around a black hole falls into a death spiral and is never to be seen again, the new image captures “lucky gas and dust” circling at just far enough to be safe and seen millions of years later on Earth, Dempsey said.
Taken over four days when astronomers had “to have the perfect weather all across the world and literally all the stars had to align,” the image helps confirm Einstein’s general relativity theory, Dempsey said.
Einstein a century ago even predicted the symmetrical shape that scientists just found, she said. “It’s circular, but on one side the light is brighter,” Dempsey said.
That’s because that light is approaching Earth.
The measurements are taken at a wavelength the human eye cannot see, so the astronomers added color to the image. They chose “exquisite gold because this light is so hot,” Dempsey said. “Making it these warm gold and oranges makes sense.”
What the image shows is gas heated to millions of degrees by the friction of ever-stronger gravity, scientists said.
And that gravity creates a funhouse effect where you see light from both behind the black hole and behind you as the light curves and circles around the black hole itself, said astronomer Avi Loeb, director of the Black Hole Initiative at Harvard. (The lead scientists in the discovery are from Harvard, but Loeb was not involved.)
The project cost $50 million to $60 million, with $26 million of that coming from the National Science Foundation.
Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Ethan Vishniac, who was not part of the discovery team but edits the journal where the research was published, pronounced the image “an amazing technical achievement” that “gives us a glimpse of gravity in its most extreme manifestation.”
He added: “Pictures from computer simulations can be very pretty, but there’s literally nothing like a picture of the real universe, however fuzzy and monochromatic.”
“It’s just seriously cool,” said John Kormendy, a University of Texas astronomer who wasn’t part of the discovery team. “To see the stuff going down the tubes, so to speak, to see it firsthand.
The mystique of black holes in the community is very substantial. That mystique is going to be made more real.”
There is a myth that says a black hole would rip you apart, but Loeb and Kormendy said the one pictured is so big, someone could fall into it and not be torn to pieces. But the person would never be seen from again.
Black holes are “like the walls of a prison. Once you cross it, you will never be able to get out and you will never be able to communicate,” Loeb said.
The first image is of a black hole in a galaxy called M87 that is about 53 million light years from Earth. One light year is 5.9 trillion miles, or 9.5 trillion kilometers. This black hole is about 6 billion times the mass of our sun.
The telescope data was gathered by the Event Horizon Telescope two years ago, but it took so long to complete the image because it was a massive undertaking, involving about 200 scientists, supercomputers and hundreds of terabytes of data delivered worldwide by plane.
The team looked at two supermassive black holes, the M87 and the one at the center of our own Milky Way galaxy. The one in our galaxy is closer but much smaller, so they both look the same size in the sky. But the more distant one was easier to take pictures of because it rotates more slowly.
“We’ve been hunting this for a long time,” Dempsey said. “We’ve been getting closer and closer with better technology.”
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