Times of Israel reports on archaelogists puzzling out just *how* high Philistines were getting for religious reasons: In an upcoming symposium in Jerusalem’s Hebrew University, aptly titled “Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll,” archaeologists will discuss the analysis of findings from an incineration pit in Yavneh that was discovered a decade ago. The findings constitute the oldest known ritual use of the intoxicating Hyoscyamus plant, which has an effect on the body similar to that of alcohol. Thousands of artifacts used for worship were found inside the Yavneh pit, including clay and stone bowls, some of which served to hold the intoxicating plants, as well as hallucinogenic substances such as nutmeg. … According to [Dr. Devori] Mandar [of the Earth Science Institute at Hebrew University], the field of “sensory archaeology” is in its very early stages, and substantial knowledge is still lacking.
These are prehistoric animals compared to their modern relatives and, for scale, a human. A human who’s interested in what they’re like… except when…
Look out! HELL PIG!
There are plenty more of the majestic giants (and some terrifying ones) at NPR’s Skunk Bear tumblog.
The New Horizons Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) snapped this photo of Jupiter’s ring system on February 24, 2007, from a distance of 7.1 million kilometers (4.4 million miles).
This processed image shows a narrow ring, about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) wide, with a fainter sheet of material inside it. The faint glow extending in from the ring is likely caused by fine dust that diffuses in toward Jupiter. This is the outer tip of the “halo,” a cloud of dust …
SOURCE:Based on “NASA Windbots Could Explore Gas Giant Jupiter”, Sky News, 24 July 2015, as used in the post as used in the post “Windbots to explore Jupiter – the bumpier the ride, the better..”
ABSTRACT: The planet Jupiter is 35 light-minutes from Earth (give or take a couple of minutes depending on where in its orbit the planet is).
So a robot floating in the turbulent winds of Jupiter would take that long to send a mes…
Three names for one little fish. And those are just the beginning.
I found this one on the Scientific Illustration tumblog, which quoted Wikipedia on the doree (etc.):
John Dory, St Pierre or Peter’s Fish, refers to fish of the genus Zeus, especially Zeus faber, of widespread distribution. It is an edible benthic coastal marine fish with a laterally compressed olive-yellow body which has a large dark spot, and long spines on the dorsal fin. The dark spot is used to flash an ‘evil ey…
These are ostensibly Cochin chickens, or forerunners of what we’d call Cochins today. They’re a breed with a *lot* of character, and are uniquely suited, temperamentally, for being “pet” chickens moreso than egg factories or walking meat supplies. Despite the name (after a part of India), they’re originally from China.
It’s the most Earth-like planet yet discovered. Kepler 452b sits in the “Goldilocks” zone around its star, not too hot and not too cold, and is about the same size (or is a little larger) and made of something like the same stuff as the planet we’re sitting around on right now. It takes 365 days to orbit around its sun, too. NASA’s calling it ou…
Nature opens the door to home-brewed heroin – just add water and sugar: A paper published on 18 May in Nature Chemical Biology reports the creation of a yeast strain containing the first half of a biochemical pathway that turns simple sugars into morphine — mimicking the process by which poppies make opiates. Combined with other advances, researchers predict that it will be only a few years — or even months — before a single engineered yeast strain can complete the entire process. Besides giving biologists the power to tinker with the morphine-production process, the advance could lead to more-effective, less addictive and cheaper painkillers that could be brewed under tight controls in fermentation vats. At the same time, it could enable widespread, localized production of illegal opiates such as heroin, increasing people’s access to such drugs. … “It’s easy to point to heroin; that’s a concrete problem,” says bioengineer John Dueber of the University […]
Nature reviews a broad survey of research – two studies that conclude psychedelic drug use can’t be linked to psychosis: In the first study, clinical psychologists Pål-Ørjan Johansen and Teri Suzanne Krebs, both at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, scoured data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual random sample of the general population, and analysed answers from more than 135,000 people who took part in surveys from 2008 to 2011. Of those, 14% described themselves as having used at any point in their lives any of the three ‘classic’ psychedelics: LSD, psilocybin (the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms) and mescaline (found in the peyote and San Pedro cacti). The researchers found that individuals in this group were not at increased risk of developing 11 indicators of mental-health problems such as schizophrenia, psychosis, depression, anxiety disorders and suicide attempts. Their paper appears in the […]
Live Science grants us deep insight into the biochemistry of the bar pickup, revealing that prospective partners look a whole lot better after they’ve had one drink than they do after two: In the study, 40 students at the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom volunteered to get a little tipsy. To see how the students’ appearances changed with each drink, the researchers photographed their faces three times: when sober, after drinking the equivalent of one glass of wine, and after drinking a second alcoholic drink. The participants were asked to make a neutral facial expression for each photo. A separate group of heterosexual students then rated how attractive they found each headshot in side-by-side comparisons. They saw either a photo of a person sober next to a photo of the person taken after one drink, or a sober photo next to a photo taken after two drinks. It turned out that the photos […]
L.A. Times examines the biochemical power that love – or at least the “love hormone” oxytocin – has to neutralize alcohol and beat alcoholism: …[N]ew research finds that, in male rats at least, oxytocin also blunts the inebriating effects of moderately heavy doses of alcohol. It does so, the study found, by suppressing the activity of receptors in the brain–GABA receptors, which respond to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid–that are key nodes in the circuitry of reward-related behaviors and addiction. That finding prompted the study’s authors to suggest the intriguing proposition that oxytocin might reduce cravings across a range of addictive behaviors. To explore the interaction between oxytocin and alcohol, researchers at the University of Sydney in Australia first gave young adult male rats an infusion of oxytocin and then administered a dose of alcohol roughly equivalent to a human drinking a bottle of wine over a few hours. On a battery of tests, a comparison […]
Popular Science looks at the hard facts behind decriminalization and legalization (two different things!) of marijuana – and what science says happens when cannabis consumption is no longer a major crime: What happens to states that decriminalize marijuana? The best-known consequence to decriminalizing marijuana: The criminal-justice system saves money and resources. We’ve seen strong scientific backing on this because it’s a relatively easy outcome to measure. Drug-related arrests and prison sentences decrease, which may fall in line with the majority American attitude that the government spends too much enforcing marijuana laws, anyway. Exactly how much money will a state will save in prosecution costs? That’s under intense debate. Different studies of California have found savings ranging from hundreds of millions of dollars to more than a billion dollars–an unhelpfully big range. Do people use marijuana more after their home state decriminalizes it? No, or not much. Studies of use after decriminalization generally find either no […]
New Scientist reveals how menthol – something originally added to cigarettes to soothe smokers’ throats – actually makes cigarettes more ‘cigarette-y’: People who smoke menthol cigarettes often smoke more frequently and can be less likely to quit – and it could be because fresh-tasting menthol is changing their brains to more sensitive to nicotine. How menthol enhances nicotine addiction has been something of a mystery. Now, Brandon Henderson at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena and his colleagues have shown that exposing mice to menthol alone causes them to develop more nicotinic receptors, the parts of the brain that are targeted by nicotine. … In one study of giving up smoking, 50 per cent of unflavoured-cigarette smokers were able to quit, while menthol smokers showed quitting rates as low as 23 per cent, depending on ethnicity. Over time, smokers of both menthol and unflavoured cigarettes acquire more receptors for nicotine, particularly in neurons involved […]
IFL Science takes another look (courtesy of ISI Foundation researchers) at magic mushroom trips, and finds some surprises in what exactly psilocybin mushrooms do to your brain: Prior studies have found that that getting high on psilocybin doesn’t just create a colorful, psychedelic experience for a couple of hours; it can cause neurological changes that last over a year. These changes resulted in a personality that was more open to the creative arts and became happier, even 14 months after receiving the psilocybin. Though previous research surmised that psilocybin decreased brain activity, the current study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to see what was really going on. The study used 15 participants with prior positive experiences with hallucinogens to avoid a bad trip inside the enclosed machine. Some of the participants received psilocybin, while the other half received a saline placebo. Surprisingly, the researchers saw that upon receiving psilocybin, the brain actually re-organized connections […]
Nature has more on how the veterinary tranquilizer-slash-rave drug can reverse “anhedonia” (the inability to feel happy) for 14 days – long enough to bust sufferers out of otherwise untreatable bipolar depression: The present study used a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover design to examine whether a single ketamine infusion could reduce anhedonia levels in 36 patients with treatment-resistant bipolar depression. The study also used positron emission tomography imaging in a subset of patients to explore the neurobiological mechanisms underpinning ketamine’s anti-anhedonic effects. We found that ketamine rapidly reduced the levels of anhedonia. Furthermore, this reduction occurred independently from reductions in general depressive symptoms. “Positron emission tomography imaging” is a fancy way to say “PET scan.” They were looking inside people’s brains. And what they found… Anti-anhedonic effects were specifically related to increased glucose metabolism in the dorsal anterior cingulate cortex and putamen. Our study emphasizes the importance of the glutamatergic system in treatment-refractory bipolar depression, […]
SONG: “Could You Tell Me Your Name?” [Download] ARTIST: grant. SOURCE: Based on“Anxiety and sleeping pills ‘linked to dementia’”, BBC News, 9 September 2014, as used in the post “Worried? Trouble sleeping? Congrats, you might have a higher risk of Alzheimer’s.” ABSTRACT: For the first week of September, or maybe a little longer, I went on this (for me, kinda weird) soul kick and wound up programming the drums and a rough form of that Rhodes part to kind of work it out of my system. (It’s all about the two. Make everything happen on the two.) I forgot about it for three weeks. Then, I kinda decided the most song-like science story was about Alzheimer’s. And I remembered. Oh, there’s that thing you did, right? Maybe you could make a lyric work with that. Well, I am no Al Green. I’m not even Al Green’s grandmother’s demented red-tick hound. And because of the way […]
BBC reports the in no way worrisome news that researchers have discovered a correlation benzodiazepines (pills for anxiety and sleep) and a hugely increased risk of dementia: A study of older Canadian adults found that past benzodiazepine use for three months or more was linked to an increased risk (up to 51%) of dementia. … “Benzodiazepine use is associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease,” lead researcher, Sophie Billioti de Gage of the University of Bordeaux, France, and colleagues wrote in the BMJ. “Unwarranted long-term use of these drugs should be considered as a public health concern.” The study involved about 2,000 cases of Alzheimer’s disease in adults aged over 66 living in Quebec. All had been prescribed benzodiazepines. They were compared with about 7,000 healthy people of the same age living in the same community. Benzodiazepines include Valium, Librium, Klonopin, and Xanax.
Scientific American has more on the weird quantum effects that make consciousness go bye-bye: General anaesthetics may extinguish consciousness through mysterious quantum biological effects that cause subtle changes in the electronic state of proteins, rather than through ‘conventional’ pharmacological mechanisms such as directly interfering with receptors or ion channels, new research proposes. The work, carried out by a team led by Luca Turin of the Alexander Fleming Research Centre in Athens, Greece, could go some way towards explaining a generic mechanism of action for general anaesthetics. … The team showed that if around 30 fruit flies are cooled to a few degrees above freezing to render them motionless, it is possible to obtain a steady electron spin resonance signal (ESR) from the population. When the flies are exposed to anaesthetic, a jump in the ESR signal is observed, compared with the resistant flies, indicating an increase in the number of unpaired electrons. … [Says Turin:] […]
Laboratory Equipment reveals recent findings (as cannabis becomes easier to research) that the marijuana plant might make better supercapacitors than the “wonder material” graphene: David Mitlin explains that supercapacitors are energy storage devices that have huge potential to transform the way future electronics are powered. Unlike today’s rechargeable batteries, which sip up energy over several hours, supercapacitors can charge and discharge within seconds. But they normally can’t store nearly as much energy as batteries, an important property known as energy density. One approach researchers are taking to boost supercapacitors’ energy density is to design better electrodes. Mitlin’s team has figured out how to make them from certain hemp fibers — and they can hold as much energy as the current top contender: graphene. “Our device’s electrochemical performance is on par with or better than graphene-based devices,” Mitlin says. “The key advantage is that our electrodes are made from bio-waste using a simple process, and therefore, […]
Science Daily pokes a hole in the optimism around electronic cigarettes with findings that they’re really not that different from the kind you light and burn: The devices, which are rapidly gaining a foothold in popular culture particularly among youth, are marketed as a healthier alternative to tobacco smoking, as an effective tool to stop smoking, and as a way to circumvent smoke-free laws by allowing users to “smoke anywhere.” Often the ads stress that e-cigarettes produce only “harmless water vapor.” But in their analysis of the marketing, health and behavioral effects of the products, which are unregulated, the UCSF scientists found that e-cigarette use is associated with significantly lower odds of quitting cigarettes. They also found that while the data are still limited, e-cigarette emissions “are not merely ‘harmless water vapor,’ as is frequently claimed, and can be a source of indoor air pollution.” … While most youth using e-cigarettes are dual users, up […]
ABC (the Australian network) muses on the next generation… wondering why the kids are avoiding alcohol nowadays: The findings of a survey of more than 2,500 young people published today in the medical journal Addiction shows half of Australian teens do not drink. Between 2001 and 2010 the number of teens aged 14 to 17 abstaining from alcohol rose from 33 per cent to more than 50 per cent, the research shows. The study looked at 1,477 teens in 2001 and 1,075 teens in 2010. Study author Dr Michael Livingston from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre spoke with the ABC today and says the trend away from drinking alcohol is widespread and it also reflects similar studies both in Australia and overseas. “It’s really happening across the whole youth culture,” he said. … “These kids are drinking less; they’re not taking drugs.” Yeah, just in case you were wondering. They’re straight. Go figure.