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Talking Points: Mini Gandhis, plastic in space, and war on drugs failing

MINIATURE MAHATMAS: Children dressed as Mahatma Gandhi, father of the Indian nation, prepare for the national holiday of Gandhi Jayanti at a school in Nagpur, India.

AP

SPACE PLASTIC

A NASA space vessel scouring the atmosphere of Titan has discovered the same chemical used to make plastic Tupperware containers on Earth. As reported by The Register, the robotic Cassini probe recently happened upon traces of propylene on the Saturn moon, marking the first time the chemical has been found in space. Titan is a nasty world with a murky atmosphere composed of liquid methane rain, and frigid temperature known to drop to -180 C. Here on Earth, propylene is a key ingredient in the manufacturing of food containers and car bumpers.

WAR ON DRUGS A BUST

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How did the war on drugs result in cheaper product and more intense highs? CNN reports on new research indicating that the price of most illegal drugs have dropped drastically over the past two decades at the same time that their purity has increased. A team of U.S. and Canadian researchers recently reviewed the drug supply in North America, Europe and Australia and drug production in regions including Latin America, Afghanistan and Southeast Asia. What they found: In the United States, the street price of heroin, cocaine and cannabis decreased by at least 80 per cent from 1990 to 2007, while purity levels went up by 60 per cent, 11 per cent and 161 per cent respectively. Similar trends were revealed in Europe and Australia. "These findings add to the growing body of evidence that the war on drugs has failed," said Dr. Evan Wood, scientific chair of the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy.

EASY TO BE HARD

Good news for males afflicted with erectile dysfunction: The Daily Mail informs us that scientists have discovered tiny plastic beads filled with gas may help men overcome impotence and early testing indicates that the treatment is more effective than Viagra. The beads, each less than one millimetre wide, are injected into the penis, where the slow release of nitric oxide helps widen blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow. An erection is caused by blood flowing into chambers along the length of the penis. At a recent trial at Houston's Rice University, scientists tested the method on animals and the results were deemed superior to sildenafil (the generic name for Viagra). Note to potential users concerned about needing an injection each date night: The treatment lasts for about three weeks.

THOUGHT DU JOUR

Were Moses to go up Mount Sinai today, the two tablets he'd bring down with him would be Aspirin and Prozac.

Joseph A. Califano Jr., Former U.S. secretary of health

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