Biologists have successfully extended the life spans of some mice by as much as 70%, leading many to believe that ongoing experimentation on our mammalian cousins will eventually lead to life-extending therapies in humans.
Research into mind-altering drugs is back. But the field is still on the edges of academic consciousness.
Research into mind-altering drugs is back.
You don't have to spend much time at the six-day second international Psychedelic Science conference in downtown Oakland to learn that not all its 1,900 attendees are academic scientists, and that few are strangers to the power of mind-bending drugs.
On my first day, boarding the conference's sunset cruise of San Francisco Bay, I meet Chad, a middle-aged man dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, who says his trips with magic mushrooms have reawakened him to the beauty of existence. "I am here out of curiosity," he explains, adding that he has a desire to understand what he has experienced. "It is just really nice to know they are breaking through some of the barriers with formal research. God knows there is a lot of informal research."
As the sun sets behind the Golden Gate Bridge, I meet Seabrook. Wearing rings in both ears and a flower badge pinned to his cap, he says he has never had a bad trip in more than 20 LSD experiences. "The main thing I love about this is it is a reunion—I have so many old friends here it is like a family," he says.
At least half the attendees on the cruise disembark early in San Francisco to join a celebration of Bicycle Day, commemorating the day in April 1943 that the Swiss chemist Albert Hofman sampled the lysergic acid diethylamide compound that he'd discovered and then rode his bike home.
But dotted among the conference's psychedelic aficionados, who along with healers, artists, and activists make up the bulk of attendees, are members of another tribe. Researchers in psychiatry and psychology are here presenting their latest findings on the use of psychedelics to help treat anxiety disorders and addictions for which conventional treatments don't always work.
As the world becomes increasingly complex and interconnected, some of our biggest challenges have begun to seem intractable. What should we do about uncertainty in the financial markets? How can we predict energy supply and demand? How will climate change play out? How do we cope with rapid urbanization? Our traditional approaches to these problems are often qualitative and disjointed and lead to unintended consequences. To bring scientific rigor to the challenges of our time, we need to develop a deeper understanding of complexity itself.
Architect Alastair Parvin presents a simple but provocative idea: what if, instead of architects creating buildings for those who can afford to commission them, regular citizens could design and build their own houses?
Twitter, Facebook, Google… we know the internet is driving us to distraction. But could sitting at your computer actually calm you down? Oliver Burkeman investigates the slow web movement
Back in the summer of 2008 – a long time ago, in internet terms, two years before Instagram, and around the time of Twitter's second birthday – the US writer Nicholas Carr published a now famous essay in the Atlantic magazine entitled Is Google Making Us Stupid? The more time he spent online, Carr reported, the more he experienced the sensation that something was eating away at his brain. "I'm not thinking the way I used to think," he wrote. Increasingly, he'd sit down with a book, but then find himself unable to focus for more than two or three pages: "I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I'm always dragging my wayward brain back to the text." Reading, he recalled, used to feel like scuba diving in a sea of words. But now "I zip along the surface like a guy on a jetski."
In the half-decade since Carr's essay appeared, we've endured countless scare stories about the life-destroying effects of the internet, and by and large they've been debunked. No, the web probably isn't addictive in the sense that nicotine or heroin are; no, Facebook and Twitter aren't guilty of "killing conversation" or corroding real-life friendship or making children autistic. Yes, the internet is "changing our brains", but then so does everything – and, contrary to the claims of one especially panicky Newsweek cover story, it certainly isn't "driving us mad".
Lending Club, the peer-to-peer loan firm, recently announced Google and Foundation Capital bought $125 million of the firm’s shares on secondary markets (that is, from previous investors—not newly issued stock) for three times the stock’s valuation...
Like other advocates of 3-D printing, Cody Wilson foresees a world in which anyone can make almost anything at home. It’s just that for Wilson, this extends beyond toys, musical instruments, and glasses to drugs, guns, and advanced electronics.
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