high angle shot of marijuana on wooden surface

DAILY DOSE: Thailand embraces cannabis tourism; A supercharged telescope stares at stars.


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For years, Thailand had some of the most stringent marijuana laws in the world. Things got so bad that the government initiated a brutal crackdown on drug use. Then they did an about face and became the first country in SE Asia to legalize marijuana. The effects of the about-face are just beginning to play out now, particularly in the tourism industry. Per Reuters, “The RG420 cannabis cafe opened just four days ago in Khao San, an area of Bangkok popular with backpackers – and already it’s crammed with customers. Several such outlets have sprung up across the capital since Thailand decriminalised the plant in June, a few weeks before it dropped COVID-linked controls on foreign visitors. Foreign arrivals shrank to 2 million in the first half of 2022 from nearly 40 million in 2019, and RG420’s owner Ong-ard Panyachatiraksa and others like him view their cafes as central to efforts to revive a tourism industry that contributed about 12% to GDP before the pandemic struck.” There has been pushback against the way the new policy is being interpreted, causing some confusion. The parliament is currently debating changes to the law. https://reut.rs/3oKaNQF


For the most part, saving endangered species is a pretty popular undertaking. Taken in isolation, it’s hard to argue with the appeal. That said, wildlife does not exist in isolation and what happens to one group can affect others, sometimes for the worse. An article in the Associated Press takes a look at one such instance. Per the AP, “The situation is ironic: A troubled species rebounds thanks to restoration efforts, only to make things worse for others in peril by preying on them or outcompeting them for food and living space. Similar circumstances have turned up elsewhere, challenging wildlife experts who want them all to thrive in balanced, healthy environments. For instance, the iconic bald eagle’s comeback has pressured rare water birds. Resurgent peregrine falcons menace endangered California least terns and Western snowy plovers that take refuge at naval bases near San Diego. And, off the California coast, attacks from protected white sharks hinder recovery of threatened sea otters… Such unintended consequences don’t necessarily reveal flaws in the U.S. Endangered Species Act or conservation programs, experts say. Rather, they illustrate nature’s complexity and the importance of protecting biological communities, not just individual species.” https://bit.ly/3oIfk63


There’s been a lot of attention focused on the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope lately. Rightly so. That said, there are other very powerful telescopes in use around the world. The BBC looks at how one of them has been “supercharged” to reveal insights in our galactic neighborhood. According to the article, “Scientists have supercharged one of Earth’s most powerful telescopes with new technology that will reveal how our galaxy formed in unprecedented detail. The William Herschel Telescope (WHT) in La Palma, Spain will be able to survey 1,000 stars per hour until it has catalogued a total of five million. A super-fast mapping device linked up to WHT will analyse the make-up of each star and the speed at which it travels. It will show how our Milky Way galaxy was built up over billions of years.”  https://bbc.in/3vue8qV


Speaking of the James Webb Telescope, One of its much-touted abilities is the power to look back in time to the early universe and see some of the first galaxies and stars. The telescope has wasted no time, spotting the most distant, earliest galaxy known. Quanta Magazine took a closer look at the discovery and the telescope’s promise. According to the article, “Two teams found the galaxy when they separately analyzed JWST observations for the GLASS survey, one of more than 200 science programs scheduled for the telescope’s first year in space. Both teams, one led by Rohan Naidu at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Massachusetts and the other by Marco Castellano at the Astronomical Observatory of Rome, identified two especially remote galaxies in the data: one so far away that JWST detects the light it emitted 400 million years after the Big Bang (a tie with the oldest galaxy ever seen by the Hubble Space Telescope), and the other, dubbed GLASS-z13, seen as it appeared 300 million years after the Big Bang. ‘It would be the most distant galaxy ever found,’ said Castellano.” https://bit.ly/3QbmKL6

Thanks for reading. Let’s be careful out there.

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