will's picture

What We Really Know About Psychedelic Mushrooms

This is a very in-depth article from the Huffington Post about the history, science, and current challenges surrounding Psilocybin mushrooms:

For centuries, "magic" mushrooms have been both celebrated and reviled for their mind-expanding properties.

Research and popular use of psychedelic drugs like mushrooms and LSD surged in the 1960s, when the substances first entered the American cultural consciousness on a large scale, and came to define '60s counterculture. At this time, thousands of studies were conducted to determine the properties and potential therapeutic applications of the drugs. But in 1970, the Controlled Substances Act brought an end to this era of science-based open-mindedness, and greatly limited drug research for the next four decades.

Today, research on psychedelic drugs is experiencing a renaissance of sorts. A growing body of scientific studies from major universities and medical centers suggests that the substances may hold promise as therapeutic interventions for a number of mental health conditions.

will's picture

More Mysterious 'Magic Islands' Appear On Giant Saturn Moon

The "magic island" mystery on Saturn's moon Titan just became more puzzling.

Last year, astronomers spotted a strange bright feature in Titan's Ligeia Mare sea that they called a "magic island." The object first appeared in photos of the sea in July 2013, and then seemed to vanish until it reappeared in new photos taken over a year later.

Now, two new "magic islands" have suddenly emerged in Titan's largest sea Kraken Mare, as shown in photos taken of the area by NASA's Cassini spacecraft.

'Fireball' spotted across Cincinnati skies

will's picture

Did you see something bright flash across the sky Monday night?

It could have been a fireball, according to the American Meteor Society.

The society describes a fireball as a "meteor brighter than the planet Venus."

More than 500 people in at least 14 states from Georgia to Ohio reported seeing a fireball Monday.

This chart explains what a fireball is.(Photo: Provided/American Meteor Society)

Read more... (

Swarm of earthquakes in Nevada desert is intensifying

will's picture

A swarm of hundreds of earthquakes that has been striking a corner of the Nevada desert near the Oregon border for months has intensified in recent days, prompting new warnings from seismologists.   

About 750 earthquakes, mostly magnitude 2.0 to 3.0, have struck the area about 50 miles southeast of Lakeview, Ore., since the swarm started in July, said Ian Madin, chief scientist for Oregon's Department of Geology and Mineral Industries. 

The temblors have been growing steadily stronger with time. Six earthquakes of magnitude 4.0 or greater have struck the area since Tuesday and about 40 have struck in the last 24 hours, Madin said. 

"This week it has just gone crazy," Madin said.

Read more... (

will's picture

New Clock May End Time As We Know It

"My own personal opinion is that time is a human construct," says Tom O'Brian. O'Brian has thought a lot about this over the years. He is America's official timekeeper at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, Colorado.

To him, days, hours, minutes and seconds are a way for humanity to "put some order in this very fascinating and complex universe around us."

We bring that order using clocks, and O'Brian oversees America's master clock. It's one of the most accurate clocks on the planet: an atomic clock that uses oscillations in the element cesium to count out 0.0000000000000001 second at a time. If the clock had been started 300 million years ago, before the age of dinosaurs began, it would still be keeping time — down to the second. But the crazy thing is, despite knowing the time better than almost anyone on Earth, O'Brian can't explain time.

"We can measure time much better than the weight of something or an electrical current," he says, "but what time really is, is a question that I can't answer for you."

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo Crashes

will's picture

Some rather unfortunate news, we just learned Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo has crashed. Virgin Galactic has been working hard to make civilian spaceflight a reality, and we hope this isn't too big a setback. From NBC:

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo rocket plane exploded and crashed during a powered test flight on Friday, resulting in one fatality and one injury, authorities said.

The explosion occurred after the plane was released from its WhiteKnightTwo carrier airplane and fired up its rocket engine in flight for the first time in more than nine months.

"During the test, the vehicle suffered a serious anomaly resulting in the loss of the vehicle," Virgin Galactic said in a statement. "The WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft landed safely. Our first concern is the status of the pilots."

Magic Mushrooms Create a Hyperconnected Brain

will's picture

Magic mushrooms may give users trippy experiences by creating a hyperconnected brain.

The active ingredient in the psychedelic drug, psilocybin, seems to completely disrupt the normal communication networks in the brain, by connecting "brain regions that don't normally talk together," said study co-author Paul Expert, a physicist at King's College London...

...Psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, is best known for triggering vivid hallucinations. It can make colors seem oversaturated and dissolve the boundaries between objects.

But the drug also seems to have more long-lasting effects. Many people report intensely spiritual experiences while taking the drug, and some studies even suggest that one transcendent trip can alter people's personalities on a long-term basis, making those individuals more open to new experiences and more appreciative of art, curiosity and emotion.

People who experiment with psilocybin "report it as one of the most profound experiences they've had in their lives, even comparing it to the birth of their children," Expert told Live Science.

Full article... (

Human Skin Contains An Odor Receptor That Responds To Sandalwood Smells By Enhanced Healing

will's picture

It was recently discovered that your skin has it's own neurons that can "think", and now it's been found that skin can smell too! It turns out the aroma from sandalwood, long considered sacred by Hindus, Buddhists and Sufis, triggers skin cells to heal more quickly. From

German researchers have discovered that there is an odor receptor expressed in at least keratinocytes, a major skin cell type, and that this receptor, when stimulated, activates a number of cellular pathways that lead to important skin repair... Experiments showed that exposing the human skin cells to Sandalore [synthetic sandalwood extract] caused the cells to proliferate (or multiply) 32% more than unexposed cells.  The exposed cells also exhibited “migration”, or enhanced movement.  The combination of proliferation and migration is a strong sign that the wound-repair pathways were being activated.  When the skin is injured, new skin cells must undergo motion to the edge of the injury to grow.  Indeed, an experimentally set-up “wound scratch” assay showed that in laboratory conditions, the skin cells after exposure to Sandalore closed up artificially induced wounds quickly.

Partial Solar Eclipse Today for Parts of North America!

will's picture

A partial solar eclipse will darken North American skies Thursday afternoon (Oct. 23), and you can watch the dramatic celestial event online if clouds hinder your view.

The online Slooh Community Observatory will air a special three-hour webcast for the partial solar eclipse today starting at 5 p.m. EDT (2100 GMT). You can watch the show — which will feature live views from Arizona's Prescott Solar Obsevatory and other telescopes around the world — at

Partial solar eclipse for North America on October 23

will's picture

What you see above is a simulation of the October 23, 2014 solar eclipse – at greatest eclipse (5:44 p.m. EDT) – from the vantage point of Canada’s Nunavut Territory near Prince of Wales Island. Notice that it is a partial eclipse. At greatest eclipse, from this prime location, the solar disk is 75% covered over by the moon. Everyplace else within the eclipse viewing area sees a shallower partial solar eclipse on October 23. That means eye safety is of the utmost importance in observing this solar eclipse. That said, North America has a ringside seat to the partial eclipse of the sun on October 23. This eclipse is almost exclusively visible on land from North America.

More info:


Subscribe to RSS - Science