Daily TIPs: Pot vs. MRSA, Wine vs. Heart Trouble, Podcars, & More

Marijuana Could Fight Resistant Staph

Substances found in marijuana plants may provide a new weapon to fight drug-resistant bacteria, Technology Review reports. Scientists in England and Italy discovered antibacterial compounds in the plants and tested them against six strains of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, which causes hard-to-treat skin infections that can be fatal in the very sick. The compounds killed the bacteria, and the most effective of the compounds didn’t have the psychoactive effects of marijuana. Which means it should be possible to clear a patient’s infection without blowing his mind.

The Reason Wine Fights Heart Trouble

Scientists say they may have found the mechanism through which red wine helps reduce heart-attack-related death. As explained by Scientific American, alcohol triggers cells to produce an enzyme that removes the alcohol from the cells. Researchers found that same enzyme also clears away toxic byproducts produced during a heart attack, allowing more heart cells to survive. The researchers hope they can use the enzyme to develop a drug to treat heart problems, and perhaps even fight some other effects of aging in cells.

Warrant Required to Trace Cell-Phone Locations, Court Rules

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling requiring police departments to get a warrant before they can get records of the movements of cell phone users. Cellular phone companies can tell where a caller is located by seeing which cell towers the signal goes through, and police could use records of that data to trace a suspect’s movements. Ars Technica reports that there’s been no decision on whether to appeal the ruling.

Spy Planes Morph Into Medical Aides

The unmanned aerial vehicles that the military uses to fly reconnaissance missions over enemy territory can benefit civilian medical care. According to New Scientist, engineers have converted the craft to carry medical samples of blood, urine, or sputum, or up to two units of blood, for between hard-to-reach clinics in parts of South Africa and distant medical labs. Use of the vehicles should speed up diagnosis and treatment of diseases such as tuberculosis.

Podcars Provide Alternative Transportation

With 70 million Americans nearing retirement age, the number of people isolated as they lose their ability to drive is expected to increase dramatically. In an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, a University of Southern California professor touts a system she says would provide private transportation for these people, as well as cutting down on pollution and traffic. The system uses podcars—small, four-passenger cabs that travel on a monorail system and, unlike a subway line, are available on demand.

iPhone App Follows Presidential Race

FoxNews and NPR not enough for you to keep up with the race for president? Now there’s an application for your iPhone that will bring you the latest news, as well as biographical information about the candidates, and even let you register to vote, TechCrunch tells us. The application is available from iTunes for 99 cents.

VCs Pour Money into Thin-Film Solar Companies

Companies that make thin-film solar cells are reaping millions from venture capitalists. The New York Times lists Solopower, Nanosolar, AVA Solar, and Miasole as among those getting upwards of $100 million in investments. Thin film panels are cheaper to install than silicon-based panels, but they’re not as efficient at converting sunlight to electricity.

Carpooling Becomes a Web 2.0 Activity

With gas prices rising and more people looking to share rides to work, governments and iPhone apps are offering ride-matching services to link riders with drivers. BusinessWeek tells us that a number of companies are springing up that use Web 2.0 interactivity to do a better job of match-making, with some even offering to verify users’ identity to make the process safer.

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