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Cigar Science – Tobacco for a Better Tomorrow

As evidenced by our recent post about the discovery of 2.5-million-year-old tobacco in Peru, tobacco and science go hand in hand. Every time somebody publishes an article about the potential benefits of tobacco, a cigar nanny cries (I hope).

In the spirit of making cigar nannies cry, we’ve found a few articles about the discoveries that prove how helpful tobacco can be. First off, scientists at Arizona State University are working to modify tobacco plants to produce a protein that would protect people from nerve gas attacks.

Science buffs, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but the way I understand it is that nerve agents cause the brain to send an overwhelming number of synapses to muscles throughout the body. This causes painful muscle spasms and eventually death by asphyxiation once the spasms reach the muscles around the lungs. They do this by blocking “bioscavengers” in the brain that break down neurotransmitters after they’re done doing their job.

The tobacco would produce more bioscavengers, thereby increasing the user’s resistance to nerve agents by breaking down neurotransmitters more effectively. Some treatments for nerve agents exist, but they are used after the patient is exposed—this research presents a way to actually prevent nerve gas from working in the first place. Who knows, maybe if they start using this tobacco in cigars, us cigar smokers will be nerve gas proof!

Another recent tobacco discovery could end the sting of your phone dying in the middle of an important call, or your laptop crapping out halfway through an online meeting. The tobacco mosaic virus ravages hundreds of plant species like its namesake, tobacco, as well as tomatoes, peppers, and many others. While destructive, this harmful virus could be put to good use. Scientists at the University of Maryland’s A. James Clark School of Engineering and College of Agriculture and Natural Resources discovered that when used in lithium-ion batteries, TMV can increase the battery’s energy storing capacity by 10 times!

I won’t waste time trying to explain this myself. Instead, here’s a quote from an article on the subject: “They can modify the TMV rods to bind perpendicularly to the metallic surface of a battery electrode and arrange the rods in intricate and orderly patterns on the electrode. Then, they coat the rods with a conductive thin film that acts as a current collector and finally the battery’s active material that participates in the electrochemical reactions.”

The implication here is that you could either make batteries that last for 10 times as long—examples mentioned in another article we read included a MacBook lasting on standby for 10 months on a single charge, or a smart phone that provides a week of talk time on one charge.

I know what you’re thinking—won’t this make it easier for TMV to spread to our precious tobacco plants? Fortunately, the process renders the virus inert, making it impossible for one of these batteries to cause an outbreak.

Last but not least, researchers at BioGlow, Inc. have engineered a strain of tobacco that visibly glows in the dark. To do this, they incorporated several bacterial genes that code for luciferase, the enzyme responsible for fireflies’ ability to glow.

Imagine the possibilities of a glow-in-the-dark cigar; no more fumbling to find the foot when you’re trying to light up while tipsy and in the dark. And now, instead of just lighting up a match to light up a dark room in a haunted house, you can just light up a glowing stogie.

We invite you to use these cigar discoveries as ammo against those who constantly whine about tobacco. Not only will tobacco one day protect you from nerve gas and make rechargeable batteries last for 10 times as long, but it will also potentially be seen from space!