This Is Your Brain on Magic Mushrooms

By Ben Thomas | October 29, 2014 4:16 pm

Left, the stable brain activity in a normal brain. Right, under the influence of psilocybin, diverse brain regions not normally in communication become strongly linked.

Psychedelic substances can change a user’s mindset in profound ways — a fact that’s relevant even to those who’ve never touched the stuff, because such altered states of consciousness give scientists a window into how our brains give rise to our normal mental states. But neuroscientists are only beginning to understand how and why those mental changes occur.

Now some mathematicians have jumped into the fray, using a new mathematical technique to analyze the brains of people on magic mushrooms.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Mind & Brain, top posts

Receipts May Expose Us to High Levels of BPA

By Ben Thomas | October 27, 2014 11:28 am


You probably know bisphenol A (BPA) as the controversial chemical in hard plastic food and drink containers, such as baby bottles and Nalgene water bottles. In recent years many companies have voluntarily eliminated BPA from their plastics due to research that shows that it can damage women’s fertility and possibly pose a threat to young children. But another source of BPA is less well known: cash register receipts. And a new study reports that when people handle BPA-coated receipts after sanitizing their hands, they get a rapid spike of BPA in their bloodstream.

While BPA is commonly found at low levels in peoples’ blood, researchers are concerned that elevated levels may lead to dangerous hormonal and neurological disruptions.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: personal health

In the Future We’ll Search in Three Dimensions

By Bethany Hubbard | October 24, 2014 8:47 am

cad design

Search engines have come to define how most of us interact with digital information. But, if you think about it, they’re still pretty limited. We can search for words and, in recent years, Google Images allows us to search by picture. Want to search, though, for the flavor of apple, or the notes of the song you can’t remember the name to? You’re still out of luck.

However, researchers are making headway in another kind of novel search — searching by 3-D object. And that’s only going to become more useful in a world with growing access to 3-D printers.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: computers

How to View This Afternoon’s Partial Solar Eclipse

By Carl Engelking | October 23, 2014 11:14 am

solar eclipse

If you live in North America and clear skies are in the forecast, then you’re in for a treat.

A partial solar eclipse will be visible across most of North America this afternoon. Unfortunately, people who live in the far northeast will miss the show, since the sun will set before the action begins. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Space & Physics, top posts
MORE ABOUT: stargazing

Duck-Billed Dinosaur Fossils Settle Years of Speculation

By Carl Engelking | October 22, 2014 1:55 pm

Reconstruction of Deinocheirus mirificus. (Credit: Yuong-Nam Lee, KIGAM)

We all know you can’t judge a book by its cover, but now paleontologists are learning you can’t judge a dinosaur by its forearms.

For over 50 years, everything archaeologists knew about the ostrich-like dinosaur Deinocheirus mirificus was based on just two giant forearms unearthed in 1965. Understandably, the dinosaur represented one of the great unsolved mysteries in paleontology. However, two recent fossil discoveries have exposed the true identity of D. mirificus, and, boy, was it a big surprise. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: dinosaurs, paleontology

Paralyzed Man Walks After Nose Cells Transplanted Into Spinal Cord

By Carl Engelking | October 22, 2014 12:22 pm


The same cells that give Darek Fidyka his sense of smell are also helping him walk again.

The man, who was paralyzed after a knife attack in 2010, can walk after doctors in Poland transplanted nerve cells from his nose into his severed spinal cord. The successful operation was the first of its kind for regenerative medicine, and Fidyka is believed to be the first man to walk again after having a completely severed spinal cord. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: biotechnology

Psychological Stress Could Contribute to Developing Diabetes

By Carl Engelking | October 21, 2014 9:25 am

stress diabetes

It’s well known that a stress-filled lifestyle can lead to high blood pressure, insomnia and a host of other chronic health issues. Now, you can add type 2 diabetes to that list.

Past studies have partly linked stress with the onset of diabetes, but the mechanisms behind why this happens were poorly understood. In a new study, researchers provide evidence of a direct link between psychological stress and biological dysfunction.

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts

Brain Cells With Alzheimer’s Disease Grown in a Petri Dish

By Carl Engelking | October 17, 2014 3:24 pm

petri dish

There’s a new tool for researchers in pursuit of a cure for Alzheimer’s disease: lab-grown brains.

For the first time, neuroscientists from Massachusetts General Hospital have grown functioning human brain cells that develop Alzheimer’s disease in a petri dish. The breakthrough offers researchers a new method to test cures and decipher the origins of the disease. Read More

Will We Have Nuclear Fusion Reactors Within a Decade?

By Carl Engelking | October 16, 2014 2:38 pm

Lockheed Martin engineers work on a version of the nuclear fusion reactor prototype. (Credit: Screenshot form YouTube)

Lockheed Martin Corp. on Wednesday said its engineers had made a breakthrough in the race to build a nuclear fusion reactor.

The company’s secretive research unit, Skunk Works, claims that within a decade it’ll develop and deploy a nuclear fusion reactor that’s powerful enough to light over 80,000 homes, yet small enough to fit in the back of a truck. If the company succeeds, it would mark a major milestone in mankind’s pursuit of a viable nuclear fusion power source. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: energy

Sea Otters’ Strong Teeth Are Similar to Early Humans’

By Carl Engelking | October 15, 2014 12:18 pm

sea otter

For sea otters, a trip to the dentist is no sweat.

The protective enamel on their teeth is more than twice as strong as humans’ enamel — but it wasn’t always this way. Long ago, scientists say in a new study, early humans’ teeth were just as strong as sea otters’ clam-crunching pearly whites. And this finding could be a key to understanding our earliest ancestors’ dietary habits. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Living World, top posts
MORE ABOUT: animals, human origins

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