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Why Animals Eat Psychoactive Plants

Psychoactive Plants

The United Nations says the drug war’s rationale is to build “a drug-free world — we can do it!” U.S. government officials agree, stressing that “there is no such thing as recreational drug use.” So this isn’t a war to stop addiction, like that in my family, or teenage drug use. It is a war to stop drug use among all humans, everywhere. All these prohibited chemicals need to be rounded up and removed from the earth. That is what we are fighting for.

I began to see this goal differently after I learned the story of the drunk elephants, the stoned water buffalo, and the grieving mongoose. They were all taught to me by a remarkable scientist in Los Angeles named Professor Ronald K. Siegel.

More at Boing Boing

Why You Keep Dreaming About Being Naked


I was naked. So was Laura,” begins one dream of the more than 20,000 collected in G. William Domhoff’s DreamBank. “I was re-stringing an unvarnished electric bass, so I guess it was naked, too. At one point I put a screw in to secure a string, but then realized I wasn’t holding the bass but Laura…” The dream is one of many “naked” entries in the database, and Domhoff says dreams about being naked or exposed in public in ways that betray a fear of embarrassment are widely reported. But why?

Domhoff, a distinguished professor emeritus specializing in psychology at the University of California-Santa Cruz, has spent years collecting self-reported dreams in journals and laboratory settings, meticulously tagging and cataloguing each one. An outdoor setting, for example, is marked with an OU, a familiar character with a K, and physical activity with a P. Individual dreams can then be described with their own idiosyncratic combination of labeled elements. Domhoff calls this coding system “quantitative content analysis.” He’s concluded that at least some dreams have universal elements related to common human preoccupations and concerns.

More at Nautilus

Doomsday Clock Set At 3 Minutes To Midnight

Mushroom Cloud

The world is “3 minutes” from doomsday. That’s the grim outlook from board members of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Frustrated with a lack of international action to address climate change and shrink nuclear arsenals, They decided today (Jan. 22) to push the minute hand of their iconic “Doomsday Clock” to 11:57 p.m. It’s the first time the clock hands have moved in three years; since 2012, the clock had been fixed at 5 minutes to symbolic doom, midnight.

More at Live Science

The Best Photos Of UFOs In The Newly Released Project Blue Book Collection

UFO Photograph

For decades, the U.S. Air Force (USAF) kept a record of all of its investigations into extraterrestrial activity in one extensive report called Project Blue Book. Up until last week Project Blue Book’s massive catalog of over 10,000 UFO and extraterrestrial reports from the 1940s to the 1970s had only been accessible by visiting the National Archives in Washington. Now that the archives are available online, we dug through the files to find the most interesting sightings from our nation’s Atomic Era.

More at Digg

Are We All Born With Synesthesia?


Vladimir Nabokov once called his famed fictional creation Lolita ‘a little ghost in natural colours’. The natural colours he used to paint his ‘little ghost’ were especially vivid in part because of a neurological quirk that generated internal flashes of colour whenever letters of the alphabet appeared within his mind. In his memoir Speak Memory (1951), he described a few of them: ‘b has the tone called burnt sienna by painters, m is a fold of pink flannel, and today I have at last perfectly matched v with “Rose Quartz” in Maerz and Paul’s Dictionary of Color’. The condition he had was synaesthesia, a neurological oddity that mixes up the senses, making those who possess it see as well as hear music, or taste the shapes they set their eyes upon.

More at aeon

The Supreme Court’s Billion Dollar Mistake

Supreme Court

Five years ago this week, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court decided to allow unlimited amounts of corporate spending in political campaigns. How important was that decision? At the time, some said criticism of the decision was overblown, and that fears that it would give outsize influence to powerful interests were unfounded. Now, the evidence is in, and the results are devastating.

More at The New York Review Of Books

Scientists Tame Schrodinger’s Cat For A New Type Of Quantum Computer

Schrodinger's Cat

Physicists at the University of Sussex have tamed one of the most counterintuitive phenomena of modern science in their quest to develop a new generation of machines capable of revolutionizing the way we can solve many problems in modern science.

The strange and mysterious nature of quantum mechanics is often illustrated by a thought experiment, known as Schrӧdinger’s Cat, in which a cat is theoretically both dead and alive simultaneously. According to a new study published this week in Physical Review A, Sussex physicists have now managed to create a special type of “Schrӧdinger’s” cat using new technology based on trapped ions (charged atoms) and microwave radiation.

More at Phys.org

How Boredom Can Boost Your Creativity


In his book Boredom: A Lively History, an oxymoronic title if ever there was one, Peter Toohey argues that the eponymous feeling has plagued our species since ancient times. “Boredom is a universal experience, and it’s been felt in most eras,” says Toohey, a professor of Greek and Roman studies at the University of Calgary. As an example he cites medieval artwork and passages by the early Christian hermit Evagrius Ponticus, who lived ascetically in the desert and wrote extensively on boredom, though the word for his discontent had not yet been coined. It seems perfectly reasonable that even early hominids may have grown restless and impatient while waiting for their prey to wander within range of a well-thrown spear. The vulnerability to tedium may be stitched into our DNA.

More at Nautilus

Fish On Ecstasy

Psychedelic Fish

Last week, the American Chemical Society released the results of a 2011 study that analyzed water contamination levels measured before, during, and after a massive music festival in Taiwan. In news that shocked roughly 27 parents, the 600,000-plus crowd of young people who stormed that year’s Spring Scream fest introduced considerable amounts of MDMA (ecstasy), caffeine, and antibiotics into nearby rivers, along with a range of over-the-counter, prescription, and illegal drugs.

What was less obvious, according to the study (which was coordinated by multiple medical research facilities in Taiwan), was the intense impact an isolated, highly attended event could have on a region’s ecology. “To our knowledge, up to now no study has comprehensively dealt with Emerging Contaminants (ECs) residues and demonstrated the impact of tourism—especially of a time limited mass event,” the report stated.

More at ars technica

How Our Brains Are Constantly Distorting The Past


Of the many stunning feats the human brain achieves on a daily basis, memory is definitely one of the strangest. As we chip away at the future, just as ready to accept the passage of time as we are to leave it behind, the stenographer in our heads is rushing to keep pace. Even decades after an incident, which we’ve come to deem memorable by no other virtue than its longevity upstairs, we can recall distinct colors and smells as if the scene were all around us again.

In this sense, our memories are as powerful as they are ethereal. We can’t explain how we remember, just that we do. We hold on to facts, figures, names, and dates with surprising ease — semantic memories, as they are known in psychology. But power does not discriminate. As deftly as our memories divine the name of our second grade teacher (Mrs. Kleiman), they can just as easily turn on us. They can weave brilliant tapestries of half-truths and white lies whose authenticity we not only believe but insist upon.

More at Medical Daily