Researchers want to find out if LSD could help medical research, but first they first need to examine the inside of a brain under the influence of the drug to see exactly what’s happening. National Geographic takes an inside look at their Explorer program:
Using enhanced brain imaging, non-hallucinogenic versions of the drug and information from an underground network of test subjects who suffer from an agonizing condition for which there is no cure, researchers are finding that this “trippy” drug could become the pharmaceutical of the future. Can it enhance our brain power, expand our creativity and cure disease? To find out, Explorer puts LSD under the microscope.
Want to see for yourself? Take a look inside a tripper’s brain:
Discoblog: Modern Bedfellows: LSD Inventor Wrote to Steve Jobs, Asked for Support
Discoblog: Weird Science Roundup: Wallabies on Drugs, Microsoft Lawsuits, and Predatory Nymphs
Discoblog: Weird Science Roundup: Psychedelic Science, Melting Ski Runs, and Virtual Schwarzenegger
Video: YouTube / NationalGeographic
The weekend is finally here, and to make sure that you don’t stray off your diet, we’ll leave you with a new video on the science of overeating.
Basically your eyes are your enemy. The evidence lies in a bottomless soup bowl experiment devised by the 2007 Ig Nobel prize winner in Nutrition, Brian Wansink. Participants in the experiment were 73 percent more likely to eat a larger portion of soup if their bowl was imperceptibly refilled as they ate, according to the research titled Bottomless Bowls: Why Visual Cues of Portion Size May Influence Intake, published in the journal Obesity.
For Wansink’s take on the results, check out the episode:
Newsflash: Swallowing Swords Is Bad For Your Health
Discoblog: Beer Brawls and Bras at the 2009 Ig Nobel Awards
Discoblog: Crunchy Chips and Smart Slime Mold Win 2008 Ig Nobel Prizes
To be an expert is to know something like the back of your hand, or so the saying goes. But science suggests we don’t know our own limbs quite as well as we think.
For years scientists have used “rubber hand illusions” to show how the mind can be fooled: They cover a test subject’s real hand with a towel, and then put a real-looking rubber hand in the place where it should be. After a while, the subjects’ minds get the best of them and they “feel” sensations from the fake hand. In a new study [pdf, subscription required], Oxford University researchers went one step further and showed that the brain can begin to abandon a limb if it thinks it’s got a replacement.
Some say athletic success is more mental than physical, and cheating in sports might be, too.
Along with steroids, growth hormone has become one of the hot-button banned substances in professional sports. The Mitchell Report, released in December, outed 86 Major League Baseball players as steroids or growth hormone users. But according to Jennifer Hansen, a researcher at Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, Australia, the edge athletes receive by taking growth hormone might be mostly in their minds.
Hansen’s study gathered 64 young volunteers who played recreational sports, and in an eight-week double-blind experiment, researchers gave some of the athletes growth hormone and gave others a placebo. Male subjects, she says, were especially likely to believe they’d received growth hormone even if they hadn’t. But the athletes of both sexes who were wrong—who thought they were on growth hormone but had actually taken the placebo—believed that the substance had helped their performance, and they showed slight improvements in several athletic tests.
We normally encounter disembodied brains (if at all) in campy pop culture and bad science fiction. Belgian scientists, however, have managed to keep the brains of fruit flies alive in a culture, without the rest of the fly. This feat of microsurgery allowed the scientists to watch a still-living brain, and collect data that they say could someday benefit victims of brain or spinal cord injuries.
So how do you extract a brain without killing it? The researchers first anesthetized female fruit flies and put them on ice, keeping them alive but unable to move. Then they treated the brains with a chemical called Schneider’s Drosophila Medium. It may sound like a 19th century health tonic, but it’s actually a solution researchers use to preserve fruit fly specimens. Once that was done, it was time for hasty brain surgery: The scientists had to cut the brains out of the flies and transfer them to a petri dish, all within three minutes for each fly. A thin film of the chemical solution stayed on the brain, and the scientists had to refresh it every other day.
A baseball can’t curve without its laces, a tennis ball’s fuzz helps it travel further, and the dimples on a golf ball reduce drag, just like the ridges on a shark. These tidbits of trivia introduced a capacity crowd packed into the purple bleachers of New York University’s Cole Sports Center to the World Science Festival’s “Science of Sports” event Saturday afternoon. Former U.S. Olympic Committee director of coaching Tom Crawford led the event.
The presenters opened with nutrition science, especially important for the young athletes and their families who packed the gym. Three professional basketball players, Leilani Mitchell and Lisa Willis from the WNBA’s New York Liberty and Brevin Knight of the NBA’s Los Angeles Clippers, helped about 10 elementary school-aged participants pick healthy food from a table. (Here’s a tip: After a workout, drink chocolate milk. Besides refueling you with proteins and carbohydrates, it’s delicious.)