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Can We Sniff Out Alien Life? Some Scientists Think So

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smelloscopeScientists have been searching for extraterrestrial life for some time now, and various individuals and organizations have made different predictions regarding when we might actually find something: in the next century, by 2040, right now. It’s incredibly difficult to believe that humans are the only intelligent (your mileage may vary when it comes to the usage of that term) life forms in the infinite universe, but finding the others is another matter entirely.

The Fermi Paradox teases out this line of thought: given how likely it is that life does exist somewhere out there, how come we haven’t been able to gather any actual evidence of it? Why aren’t aliens making contact with us? Is it because we’re too stupid, as Neil deGrasse Tyson suggests, or because of the sheer distances that separate us from our galactic neighbors? Whatever the answer, you can rest assured that scientists won’t stop looking for alien life, and one possible way of doing so is by sniffing out the unique chemicals that comprise the atmospheres of inhabited planets.

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Scientists Explain Why Marijuana Gives People The Munchies

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MaryJaneThe munchies are weird, aren’t they? You can be full, having just eaten a big dinner, and then poof, 15 minutes later you’re ravenous, even though you know it can’t possibly be true. But your brain seems absolutely certain that it wants — no, that it needs — those chips, that cheese, just a few scoops of ice cream (the munchies never make us hungry for carrots and celery). So what’s going on here? Why or how does marijuana consumption create some kind of weird disconnect between our brains and our stomachs? Scientists have asked the same questions (inquiring minds want to know, after all), and after conducting research, they now think the munchies aren’t just due to cannabinoid receptors, they’re also a result of a heightened sense of smell.

French researchers published their findings in Nature Neuroscience, earning that magazine more street cred that it ever thought possible. The researchers started with the already-proven premise that THC binds to the brain’s cannabinoid receptors, which blocks neurological signals of satiation. That’s why we don’t feel full even though we should, but that doesn’t necessarily explain why we feel actively hungry. So the researchers focused on those cannabinoid receptors and how they affect our other senses, namely smell.