A Series Of Unfortunate Events Has The Best Cars Of Anything You Can Watch Right Now 


I know it sounds wildly improbable, but a new Netflix series based on a dark series of kid’s books about children in grave danger happens to be the best new show, movie, series, or whatever for interesting cars. Well, maybe The Grand Tour is better, but, you know, it better be. Whatever. A Series of Unfortunate Events

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Source: io9

If you search ‘a*holes’ on Twitter, Donald Trump shows up first


If you search ‘a*holes’ on Twitter, Donald Trump shows up first


Donald Trump loves Twitter, but the feeling doesn’t appear to be mutual.

Search the word “a*holes” on Twitter and the first thing that comes up is President Trump’s personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump. 

Don Amaro, a Twitter user, told Mashable of the discovery, saying he uncovered it when searching for a tweet of his from last year that read “a*holes not welcome to our island.” 

Amaro works as a social media editor and web administrator and lives on Madeira Island in Portugal. 

It appears that Twitter search doesn’t solely rely on keywords in the account or description, but rather what is in associated tweets, Amaro said. That leaves the opportunity wide open for users to game the search engine. 

We don’t know how many users and Twitter employees on quality assurance will be actively choosing to search “a*holes,” but it’s there. 

Mashable reached out to Twitter on how this association came to be on the platform. 

“Maybe now Trump will stop tweeting after he sees this?” Amaro told Mashable via Twitter private message. “Or even worse … he’ll buy Twitter!!??” 

Trump has been debating what he’ll do on the platform, which last reported 317 million monthly active users. 

“Should I keep the Twitter going?” Trump asked during the Inaugural Ball.

As president, he now has control over his personal account @realDonaldTrump, with 21.6 million followers, and @POTUS, with 14.3 million followers. 

Since the inauguration, he has been using both accounts. On Monday, he chose to share the exact same tweet.

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Raspberry Pi just got some serious competition


Makers and DIY-ers now have a shiny new computer to build things from. 

Asus just launched the Tinker Board, its own version of a single-board computer — a form factor popularized largely by Raspberry Pi. Engineers and educators use these "credit-card-sized computers" to create everything from LEGO robots to modified vintage Macs

The Tinker Board measures 3.4 x 2.1 inches, almost the same size as Raspberry Pi. But it has superior specs: Tinker includes 2GB of RAM, twice as much as the Pi. It also has Gigabit-speed Ethernet, while the Pi maxes out at 100 megabits per second. 

SEE ALSO: Raspberry Pi announces new, more powerful Compute Module for $30 

It doesn’t stop there: The Tinker Board’s impressive quad-core processor can play 4K video and 24-bit audio, perfect for those building a PC-driven home theater. The Tinker Board also features built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, four USB ports, a 3.5mm audio jack (not dead yet!), an HDMI port and a Micro SD card slot.

While the Tinker Board is more expensive than the Pi products at about $69, it also boasts a sufficiently large value proposition. The Pi is can be a better choice for specific projects and educational use, and at only $5-$30 it’s the better value. Raspberry Pi also has years of community support in the form of forums, blogs and DIY project guides. However, the Asus Tinker Board is similar enough in size and format that some of the projects will carry over.

The Tinker Board is currently available for preorder in the UK and Europe; no plans for a U.S. launch as yet. Asus expects to ship it in February.

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DeepMind’s AI experts have pledged to pass on their knowledge to students at UCL (GOOG)

Google David SilverDavid Silver was the main programmer on the AlphaGo team at DeepMind.Google DeepMind

Students at University College London (UCL) are being given the chance to learn under researchers at DeepMind — an artificial intelligence (AI) lab that was acquired by Google in 2014 for £400 million.

Senior staff at DeepMind — based just a few minutes walk from the UCL campus in Bloomsbury — will aim to pass on some of their knowledge to students enrolled on UCL’s machine learning master’s programmes from January 2017.

The course, delivered as part of a module called “Advanced Topics in Machine Learning”, will be overseen by Thore Graepel, who is a research lead at DeepMind and a computer science professor at UCL.

It will focus on areas like deep learning, reinforcement learning, and natural language understanding, DeepMind said.

Professor John Shawe-Taylor, head of UCL Computer Science, said in a statement: “We are extremely excited about this new partnership. The strength of computer science at UCL has been growing rapidly in recent years and now our Masters students will also benefit from superb training provided directly by DeepMind staff. This new partnership in state-of-the-art AI is an excellent example of research-led teaching, for which UCL is renowned.”

Teaching will be provided by the likes of David Silver, who was the main programmer on the AlphaGo team at DeepMind, which created an algorithm that defeated the world’s best Go player last year.

Other DeepMinders signed up to teach at UCL include Hado van Hasselt, Joseph Modayil, Koray Kavukcuoglu, Raia Hadsell, James Martens, Oriol Vinyals, Simon Osindero, Karen Simonyan, Volodymyr Mnih, and Alex Graves.

UCLUniversity College London is less than a mile from DeepMind’s office in London.Pete Spiro/Shutterstock

Demis Hassabis, CEO and cofounder of DeepMind, holds a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCL, which is where he met DeepMind cofounder Shane Legg, who gave a rare talk to UCL students on Monday.

Hassabis said in a statement: “DeepMind is proud to work closely with the academic community, supporting PhD students and university courses, sponsoring conferences, and publishing our research openly for others to learn from.

“We hope that this course will offer UCL students a unique opportunity to develop their understanding of deep learning and reinforcement learning at one of the best universities in the world, alongside members of DeepMind.”

Staff at DeepMind also teach students at Oxford University, with the company launching its Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing advanced course at the university’s Department of Computer Science this January.

Some in the academic community are concerned that private companies like DeepMind are poaching the brightest minds from the world’s leading universities, meaning certain areas of research might not receive the attention they deserve.

“We think it’s important for the field that there are as many thriving independent academic institutions as possible,” wrote Hassabis in a blog post on Monday. “That’s why we’re providing sponsorship for several research labs and their PhD students to pursue their own research priorities in whichever way they choose, including the University of Alberta, University of Montreal, University of Amsterdam, Gatsby Unit at UCL, NYU and Oxford, and others.

“We see the links between company research labs and academia as central to the future of AI. By continuing to share talent, expertise and breakthroughs — not just on technical subjects, but also on the broader set of questions around ethics, safety and societal impact — we believe we’ll all make better progress in the development of artificial intelligence and its application for positive social benefit.”

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3D TV is officially dead


samsung 3d tv television

Sometimes the consumer electronics industry tries to sell a new technology that consumers thoroughly reject — and as a result, it goes on the trash pile of products that were "before their time," to put it nicely.

Here’s a great example: 3D TV, which is officially dead. There are no more major TV-makers that make 3D TVs anymore.

The last two TV-makers to build 3D functionality into their sets, LG and Sony, will not build any new sets this year that can show 3D movies and TV shows, CNET reports.

LG and Sony follow other TV-makers — including Vizio, Sharp, and TCL — that removed 3D technology from their product lines.

In 2010, shortly after the success of "Avatar," the first 3D blockbuster, TV companies started throwing their entire engineering and marketing might behind the 3D tech. But ultimately, seven years later, "3D capability was never really universally embraced in the industry for home use, and it’s just not a key buying factor when selecting a new TV," an LG product director told CNET.

Now the TV industry is focusing on 4K, HDR, and smart-TV features as ways to entice buyers to upgrade their sets. In 2012, 3D TVs accounted for 23% of all dollars spent on TVs, according to the NPD Group.

Today, 3D TV is used in the industry as a shorthand warning to those backing buzzy technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and wearables: Even if everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it will catch on with consumers.


Some possible reasons 3D TV never caught on:

  • Not enough content. DirecTV and ESPN stopped broadcasting their 3D channels in 2012 and 2013.
  • The glasses needed for 3D were clunky and annoying, and they made people feel self-conscious while wearing them.
  • 3D TVs were and are perfectly good 2D TVs, so 3D features weren’t often used.
  • 3D movies were closely associated with Blu-ray Discs as movie streaming started to gain traction.
  • 3D TVs need careful calibration and can cause eye strain.
  • Maybe it was always a gimmick. Ask yourself: Have 3D effects ever really impressed you or affected your viewing experience?

SEE ALSO: Tim Cook laid out the playbook for Apple’s next big thing

Join the conversation about this story »

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What’s the Speed of Dark?

Illustration: Jim Cooke/Gizmodo

Welcome back to Giz Asks, a series where we ask experts hard questions about science, technology, and humanity’s future. Today, we’re wondering about the “speed of dark,” and for that matter, the scientific nature of “speed” and “darkness.” 

The speed of light is one of the most important constants in physics. First measured by Danish astronomer Olaus Roemer in 1676, it was Albert Einstein who realized that light sets an ultimate speed limit for our universe, of 186,000 rip-roaring miles per second. But while the immutability of lightspeed is drilled into physics students at a young age, Einstein’s laws also state that all motion is relative, which got us thinking: what’s the speed of light’s nefarious doppleganger, darkness?

We’re not the first to ask this question (shout out comedian Steven Wright) or take it seriously, but in asking scientists and researchers, we left the interpretation of “darkness” open, eliciting some fascinating responses from experts on black holes and quantum physics. It turns out, darkness could be just as fast as light, or it could be infinitely slower—it all depends on your perspective.

George Musser

Contributing editor for Scientific American and Nautilus magazines, author of Spooky Action at a Distance: The Phenomenon That Reimagines Space and Time—and What It Means for Black Holes, the Big Bang, and Theories of Everything and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to String Theory

The speed of dark? The easy answer is that it’s just the speed of light. Switch off the sun and our sky would go dark eight minutes later. But easy is boring! For starters, what we commonly call the “speed of light” is the speed of propagation, and that’s not always the deciding factor. A shadow swoops across the landscape at a speed governed by the object that casts it. For instance, as a lighthouse beacon rotates, it lights up the surroundings at regular intervals. The ground speed of its shadow increases with distance from the lighthouse.

Go far enough away and the shadow will wash over you faster than the propagation speed of light. (This happens for real in rotating neutron stars in the cosmos, with measurable consequences.) All the speed of light means in this case is that there’s a delay: if the lighthouse points toward you at 12 o’clock, you will see the flash a little later. But that doesn’t affect the pace of events you see at your location.

While we’re at it, is there even such a thing as darkness? If you did switch off the sun, Earth wouldn’t go completely dark. Light from stars, nebulae, and the big bang would fill the sky. The planet and everything on it, including our bodies, would blaze in the infrared. Depending on how, exactly, you’d managed to switch the sun off, it would keep on glowing for eons. As long as we were able to see, we’d see something. No light detector can register total darkness, because, if nothing else, quantum fluctuations produce tiny flashes of light. Even a black hole, the darkest conceivable object, emits some light. In physics, unlike human affairs, light always chases away dark.

Darkness isn’t a physical category, but a state of mind. Photons hitting, or not hitting, retinal cells may trigger the experience, but do not explain the subjective experience of darkness, any more than the length of waves explains the experience of color or sound. Our conscious experience changes from moment to moment, but the individual frames of that experience are timeless. In that sense, darkness has no speed.

And what about speed in general—is there such a thing? It presupposes a framework of space, and scientists see phenomena in quantum physics where spatial concepts seem not to apply—suggesting, to some, that space is derived from a more fundamental level of reality where these is no such as thing as position, distance, or speed. It must be the level that Steven Wright operates on.

Avi Loeb

Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, Harvard Astronomy Department Chair, Founding Director of the Black Hole Initiative (BHI) 

Close to a black hole, matter falls in at a speed that is close to the speed of light. Once it enters the so-called event-horizon of the black holes, nothing can escape. Even light is trapped inside the horizon forever. Hence a black hole can be thought of as the ultimate prison.

A star like the Sun can be shredded (“spaghettified”) into a stream of gas if it passes too close to a massive black hole, like the one (weighting six billion solar masses) at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.

As matter falls into the black hole, it often rubs against itself and heats up. As a result it radiates. If the accretion rate is high enough, the force of the radiation flowing out could potentially stop additional matter from falling in. Many of the most massive black holes in the universe, weighting billions of solar masses, are observed to accrete at the maximum possible rate (also called the Eddington limit, after Sir Arthur Eddington who discovered theoretically the maximum radiation output possible for gravity to overcome the radiation force).

Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space, research associate and founder of the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History, host of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

The speed of dark… Consider dark getting erased by light. The light erases it at the speed of light so the speed of dark would be negative the speed of light. If light is a vector, it has magnitude and direction, so… to call it negative means it’s in a negative direction. The dark is receding rather than advancing. I’d call it negative the speed of light.

Sarah Caudill

Postdoctoral Researcher at Leonard E. Parker Center for Gravitation, Cosmology & Astrophysics, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

A black hole has gravity so strong that not even light can escape once it has passed the event horizon, an invisible boundary marking the point of no return. Because the black hole has such strong gravity, time dilation will affect observations from outside the strong gravitational field.

For example, a distant observer watching a glowing object fall into a black hole will see it slow down and fade, eventually becoming so dim it cannot be seen. This observer won’t ever see the object cross the event horizon.

We can also take the perspective of stuff falling into the black hole, instead of a distant observer. For example, if we take a black hole in the center of a glowing gas cloud, say from a star that has been broken up by passing too close to the black hole, the material will form a flattened disk, known as an accretion disk. This gas will fall into the black hole, but it is not instantaneous. There is a speed limit enforced by the radiation pressure from the hot gas which will fight against the inward force of gravity from the black hole. As the gas falls into the black hole, the black hole grows in size. If a black hole that is 10 times as massive as our Sun is accreting at the maximum allowed rate, in about a billion years it could have reached 100 million times the mass of our Sun.

David Reitze

Executive Director of LIGO Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology

Basically, it depends on whether you’re the matter being consumed by the infinite abyss of a black hole or you’re far enough away to be a dispassionate observer watching someone else falling into the infinite abyss. If you happen to be the unlucky matter falling in, the speed is potentially very large, in principle approaching the speed of light.

If you’re the observer and you’re far enough away, the speed with which matter is consumed is dramatically slowed down due to an effect known as gravitational time dilation—clocks run slower in gravitational fields, and much slower in the immense gravitational fields near the event horizon of the black hole. By ‘far enough away’, I mean that in your local reference frame, your stationary relative to the black hole (i.e, not getting sucked in) and your local clock is not affected by the gravitational field of the black hole. In fact, to the far away person it will take an infinite amount of time for something to travel to the event horizon of the black hole.

Niayesh Afshordi

Associate Professor of Astrophysics and Gravitation in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Waterloo, Associate Faculty of Cosmology and Gravitation at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physic (PI)

I believe the speed “of dark” is infinite! In classical physics, the vast darkness of space could be just empty vacuum. However, we have learnt from quantum mechanics that there is no real dark or empty space. Even where there is no light that we can see, electromagnetic field can fluctuate in and out of existence, especially on small scales and short times. Even gravitational waves, the ripples in the geometry of spacetime that were recently observed by the LIGO observatory, should have these quantum fluctuations.

The problem is that the gravity of these quantum ripples is infinite. In other words, currently there is no sensible theory of quantum gravity that people could agree on. One way to avoid the problem is if the speed “of dark”, i.e. the quantum ripples, goes to infinity (or becomes arbitrarily big) on small scales and short times. Of course, that’s only one possibility, but is a simple (and my favourite) way to understand big bang, black holes, dark energy, and quantum gravity.

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Why It Matters That Human Poker Pros Are Getting Trounced By an AI

Image: Carnegie Mellon University

We’re at the halfway point of the epic 20-day, 150,000-hand “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence” Texas Hold’em Poker tournament, and a machine named Libratus is trouncing a quartet of professional human players. Should the machine maintain its substantial lead—currently at $701,242—it will be considered a major milestone in the history of AI. Here’s why.

Given the early results, it appears that we’ll soon be able to add Heads-Up, No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker (HUNL) to the list of games where AI has surpassed the best humans—a growing list that includes Othello, chess, checkers, Jeopardy!, and as we witnessed last year, Go. Unlike chess and Go, however, this popular version of poker involves bluffing, hidden cards, and imperfect information, which machines find notoriously difficult to handle. Computer scientists say HUNL represents the “last frontier” of game solving, signifying a milestone in the development of AI—and an achievement that would represent a major step towards more human-like intelligence.

The “Brains Vs. Artificial Intelligence” tournament began on January 11th at Rivers Casino in Pittsburgh. It pits Libratus, an AI developed by computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University, against four professional human players, Dong Kim, Jimmy Chou, Jason Les, and Daniel McAulay. The human players are competing for $200,000 in prize money, but serious bragging rights are at stake, too: they are among the best HUNL players in the world, but their opponent is formidable.

As of the weekend, Libratus (which means “balanced” in Latin) amassed a lead of $459,154 in chips in nearly 5,000 hands played by the end of its ninth day. By the end of play on Monday, the machine’s lead stood at a daunting $701,242 over the second place contender. Frustratingly for the players, they can’t seem to get a step up on the artificial poker player. “The bot gets better and better every day,” said Chou in a Carnegie Mellon statement. “It’s like a tougher version of us.”

Above: Live coverage of the tournament via Twitch.

Limit Texas Hold’em was “solved” by AI back in 2015, but HUNL represents a much bigger challenge for AI developers. Some cards are hidden, and competitors can only see a small portion of what’s happening in the game at any given time. In order to win, players have to rely on their gut instincts, guessing what other players might be doing. In other words, unlike previous game-playing AI, Libratus has to deal with uncertainties and game-playing characteristics that were considered the exclusive domain of humans.

To make it work, a Carnegie Mellon team led by computer science professor Tuomas Sandholm, along with his Ph.D. student Noam Brown, equipped Libratus with algorithms that allow it to analyze the rules of poker and set its own strategy. Incredibly, these learning algorithms are not specific to poker.

Using using a powerful supercomputer called Bridges, Libratus refines its poker-playing skills by sifting through past games, including those played at the current tournament. During games, Bridges will perform calculations in real-time, helping Libratus to compute end-game strategies for each hand.

Writing at Wired, Cade Metz cautions that Libratus is succeeding at the tournament, but not without human help. The machine’s play does appear to be changing dramatically from day to day, leading Metz to insinuate that Carnegie Mellon researchers are somehow altering the system’s behavior as the match goes on.

But Sandholm says these day-to-day changes are not surprising, given that the Bridges computer is performing calculations to sharpen the AI’s strategy. Libratus’ evolution over the course of the tournament has been discouraging for the human players. “The first couple of days, we had high hopes,” said Chou. “But every time we find a weakness, it learns from us and the weakness disappears the next day.”

What defeat looks like. (Image: Carnegie Mellon University)

But are these improvements, as Metz suggests, the result of human intervention? That seems unlikely.

The Libratus-Bridges collaboration is fueled by tremendous computing power (Bridges has access to 15 million core hours of computation and 2.5 petabytes of data) and the wondrous, adaptive powers of machine learning. Libratus is obviously going to alter its behavior over time, learning from its opponents and its own successes and mistakes. At a qualitative level, Libratus won’t be the same AI going into the tournament as it will be going out. It’s also worth pointing out that the human players have been sharing notes and tips with each other, hunting for any weaknesses in the machine’s gameplay.

Playing and winning at poker is all fine and well, but this system could be adapted for a wide range of applications. As noted by Sandholm, most real world situations are “games” of incomplete information. He foresees the day when a similar system could be used for negotiations, cyber security, and medical treatment planning.

More conceptually, Libratus also represents a major step forward in the quest to develop artificial general intelligence (AGI). Aside from being exceptional at one specific task, like playing chess or Go, artificial intelligence tends to be incredibly stupid on account of its narrow focus. AGI, on the other hand, is adaptable, flexible, and capable of learning all sorts of new information—like the rudiments of poker, or the finer details of commodities stock trading.

Our brains are a prime example of biological general intelligence. With this recent AI breakthrough, and Libratus’ apparent victory at a major poker tournament, we’re inching steadily closer to an artificial intellect that truly acts and thinks like a human.

You can follow the tournament here.

[Carnegie Mellon University, Brains Vs. AI Poker Tournament]

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What marijuana really does to your body and brain


marijuanaReuters/Fredy Builes

Marijuana’s official designation as a Schedule 1 drug — something with “no accepted medical use” — means it is pretty tough to study.

Yet both a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal reports link cannabis with several health benefits, ranging from pain relief to helping with certain forms of epilepsy. In addition, researchers say there are many other potential ways marijuana might affect health that they want to understand better.

A massive new report released in January 2017 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) helps sum up exactly what we know — and perhaps more importantly, what we don’t — about the science of weed.

Marijuana can make you feel good.

One of weed’s active ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), interacts with our brain’s reward system, the part that has been primed to respond to things that make us feel good, like eating and sex.

When overexcited by drugs, the reward system creates feelings of euphoria. This is also why some studies have suggested that excessive use can be a problem in some people: The more often you trigger that euphoria, the less you may feel for other rewarding experiences.

It the short-term, it can also make your heart race.

Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana, your heart rate can increase by 20 to 50 beats a minute. This can last anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Still, the new report found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the overall risk for a heart attack. The same report, however, also found some limited evidence that smoking could be a trigger for a heart attack.

Weed may also help relieve some types of pain …

Pot also contains cannabidiol (CBD), and this chemical — while not responsible for getting you high — is thought to be responsible for many of marijuana’s therapeutic effects, from pain relief to a potential treatment for certain kinds of childhood epilepsy.

The new report also found conclusive or substantial evidence (the most definitive levels) that cannabis can be an effective treatment for chronic pain, which could have to do with both CBD and THC. Pain is also “by far the most common” reason people request medical marijuana, according to the report.

… like the discomfort of arthritis …

Robert Johnson for Business Insider

One of the ways scientists think it may help with pain is by reducing inflammation, a component of painful illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis.

A preliminary 2005 study of 58 patients with RA, roughly half of whom were given a placebo and roughly half of whom were given a cannabis-based medicine called Sativex, found “statistically significant improvements in pain on movement, pain at rest … and quality of sleep” for patients on Sativex.

Other studies testing both other cannabinoid products and inhaled marijuana have shown similar pain relieving effects, according to the report.

… or the pain of inflammatory bowel disease.

Some people with inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis could also benefit from marijuana use, studies suggest. 

A 2014 paper, for example, describes two studies of chronic Chron’s patients in which half were given the drug and half were given a placebo. The first study showed a decrease in symptoms in 10 of 11 subjects on cannabis, compared with just four of 10 on the placebo. But when they did a follow-up study using low-dose cannabidiol they saw no effect in the patients.

Researchers say that for now, we need more research before we’ll know whether or not cannabis can help with inflammatory bowel conditions.

Marijuana may also be helpful in controlling epileptic seizures.

Sonya Yruel/Drug Policy Alliance

A drug called Epidiolex, which contains cannabidiol (the marijuana component mentioned above in slide No. 3) may be on its way to becoming the first of its kind to win approval from the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of rare forms of childhood epilepsy. The company that makes it, GW Pharma, is exploring cannabidiol for its potential use in people with Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome, a rare form of childhood-onset epilepsy that is associated with multiple types of seizures.

In March the company came out with phase-three trial data that showed positive results of the drug.

And it can distort your sense of time.

Feeling as if time is sped up or slowed down is one of the most commonly reported effects of using marijuana. A 2012 paper sought to draw some more solid conclusions from some of the studies on those anecdotal reports, but it was unable to do so.

Even though 70% of time estimation studies report over-estimation, the findings of time production and time reproduction studies remain inconclusive.”

In 1998 study focusing on the brains of volunteers using magnetic resonance imaging, the authors noted that many had altered blood flow to the cerebellum, which most likely plays a role in our sense of time.

Limitations on what sort of marijuana research is allowed make it particularly difficult to study this sort of effect.

Weed can also turn your eyes red.

Since weed makes blood vessels expand, it can give you red eyes.

And you’ll probably get the munchies.

A case of the munchies is no figment of the imagination — both casual and heavy marijuana users tend to overeat when they smoke.

Marijuana may effectively flip a circuit in the brain that is normally responsible for quelling the appetite, triggering us to eat instead, according to a recent study in mice.

It all comes down to a special group of cells in the brain that are normally activated after we have eaten a big meal to tell us we’ve had enough. The psychoactive ingredient in weed appears to activate just one component of those appetite-suppressing cells, making us feel hungry rather than satisfied.

Marijuana may also interfere with how you form memories.

It can mess with your memory by changing the way your brain processes information, but scientists still aren’t sure exactly how this happens. Still, several studies suggest that weed interferes with short-term memory, and researchers tend to see more of these effects in inexperienced or infrequent users than in heavy, frequent users.

Unsurprisingly, these effects are most evident in the acute sense, immediately after use, when people are high.

According to the new NASEM report, limited evidence showed a connection between cannabis use and impaired academic achievement, something that has been shown to be especially true for people who begin smoking regularly during adolescence (which has also been shown to increase the risk for problematic use). Importantly, in most cases, saying cannabis was connected to an increased risk doesn’t mean marijuana use caused that risk.

And in some people, weed could increase the risk of depression …

Scientists can’t say for sure whether marijuana causes depression or whether depressed people are simply more likely to smoke. But one study from the Netherlands suggests that smoking weed seemed to raise the risk of depression for young people who already have a special serotonin gene that could make them more vulnerable to depression. Those findings are bolstered by the NASEM report, which found moderate evidence that cannabis use was linked to a small increased risk for depression.

… and it may also increase the risk of developing schizophrenia.

The NASEM report also found substantial evidence for an increased risk of developing schizophrenia among frequent marijuana users, something that studies have shown is a particular concern for people at risk for schizophrenia in the first place. 

Regular marijuana use may also be connected to an increased risk for social anxiety.

Researchers think it’s possible that CBD might be a useful treatment for anxiety disorders in general, and that’s something that several institutions are currently trying to study. 

And in general, the recent report thought the evidence that marijuana increased risk most anxiety disorders was limited.

However, the authors write that there is moderate evidence that regular marijuana use is connected to an increased risk for social anxiety. Like in other cases, it’s still hard to know whether marijuana causes that increase or people use marijuana because of an increased risk for social anxiety.

Most importantly, regular weed use is linked with some specific brain changes — but scientists can’t say for sure whether one causes the other.

In a recent study, scientists used a combination of MRI-based brain scans to get a better picture of the brains of adults who have smoked weed at least four times a week for years.

Compared with people who rarely or never used, the long-term users tended to have a smaller orbitofrontal cortex, a brain region critical for processing emotions and making decisions. But they also had stronger cross-brain connections, which scientists think smokers may develop to compensate. 

Still, the study doesn’t show that pot smoking caused certain regions of the brain to shrink; other studies suggest that having a smaller orbitofrontal cortex in the first place could make someone more likely to start smoking.

Most researchers agree that the people most susceptible to brain changes are those that begin using marijuana regularly during adolescence. 

Marijuana use affects the lungs but doesn’t seem to increase the risk of lung cancer.

People who smoke marijuana regularly are more likely to experience chronic bronchitis, according the report. There’s also evidence that stopping smoking relieves these symptoms.

Yet perhaps surprisingly, the report’s authors found moderate evidence that cannabis was not connected to any increased risk of the lung cancers or head and neck cancers associated with smoking.

Some think marijuana could be used in ways that might improve certain types of athletic performance.

A snowboarder gets air on a jump at the Woodward at Cooper terrain park on the opening day at Copper Mountain ski area Friday, November 4th, 2011. This is the first year that the terrain park has ever opened for opening day.Andy Cross/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Certain athletes, especially in endurance and certain adventure sports, say that marijuana use can boost their athletic performance. This may be due to anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving effects that make it easier to push through a long workout or recover from one.

At the same time, there are ways that marijuana could impair athletic performance by affecting coordination and motivation or by dulling the body’s natural recovery process.

Without more research, it’s hard to know how marijuana affects athletic performance for sure.

There’s evidence that marijuana use during pregnancy could have negative effects.

According to the new NASEM report, there’s substantial evidence showing a link between prenatal cannabis exposure (when a pregnant woman uses marijuana) and lower birth weight and there was limited evidence suggesting that this use could increase pregnancy complications and increase the risk that a baby would have to spend time in the neonatal intensive care unit.

There are still so many questions about how marijuana affects the body and brain that scientists say far more research is needed.

Based on the report and conversations with researchers, there are good reasons to think marijuana has potentially valuable medical uses. At the same time, we know that — like with any substance – not all use is risk free.

In order to figure out how to best treat the conditions that cannabis can help with and to minimize any risks associated with medical or recreational use, more study is needed.

That research is essential so that we know “how best we can use it, what are the safest ways, and what are the real risks,” Staci Gruber, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and director of the Marijuana Investigations for Neuroscientific Discovery program at McLean Hospital, told Business Insider.

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