LSD Brain

This Is Your Brain On Drugs

A research group at Imperial College London have made what major break through in understanding LSD’s impact on the brain. The first modern brain scans of people high on the drug have given researchers an unprecedented insight into the neural basis for effects produced by LSD. The scientists measured blood flow, functional connections within and between brain networks, and brainwaves in the volunteers on and off the drug.

The brain scans revealed that trippers experienced images through information drawn from many parts of their brains, and not just the visual cortex at the back of the head that normally processes visual information. Under the drug, regions once segregated spoke to one another.

Further images showed that other brain regions that usually form a network became more separated in a change that accompanied users’ feelings of oneness with the world, a loss of personal identity called “ego dissolution”.

There is more about the findings in the Guardian article: LSD’s impact on the brain revealed in groundbreaking images. More images and detailed information can be found in the original paper.

See also: Benoit Paillé’s LSD Photos

First Space Flower

First Ever Extra Terrestrial Zinnia Flower

First Space Flower

This orange beauty, bathing in natural sunlight for the first time, is the first Zinnia flower to have ever grown entirely in space. It’s part of the VEG-01 experiment on the International Space Station.

The Veggie experiments will allow the crew members to begin the first steps of in-orbit food production as well as educational outreach and recreation for long-duration missions. The experiment allows scientists to gain a better understanding of plant cultivation and will help determine ways to carry out self-sustaining life support systems during long distance space travel, possibly to Mars.

The facility has previously grown lettuce which was consumed by the crew last year. The next set of crops, called VEG-03, has two types of Chinese cabbage and more romaine lettuce. It will arrive at ISS in March via SpaceX’s CRS-8 mission. In 2018, NASA will send a set of dwarf tomato plants to ISS and we could witness crew members eating the first space salads.

Surprising, the Zinnia flowers almost died from over watering, a mold outbreak, and too much bureaucracy from NASA:

In late December, Kelly found that the plants “weren’t looking too good,” and told the ground team, “You know, I think if we’re going to Mars, and we were growing stuff, we would be responsible for deciding when the stuff needed water. Kind of like in my backyard, I look at it and say ‘Oh, maybe I should water the grass today.’ I think this is how this should be handled.”

The Veggie team on Earth created what was dubbed “The Zinnia Care Guide for the On-Orbit Gardener,” and gave basic guidelines for care while putting judgment capabilities into the hands of the astronaut who had the plants right in front of him. Rather than pages and pages of detailed procedures that most science operations follow, the care guide was a one-page, streamlined resource to support Kelly as an autonomous gardener. Soon, the flowers were on the rebound, and on Jan. 12, pictures showed the first peeks of petals beginning to sprout on a few buds.

Space Flower

Space FlowerAll photos via Scott Kelly/NASA

Pluto's Spinning Moons

Pluto’s Spinning Moons

Pluto's Spinning Moons

Most inner moons in the solar system keep one face pointed toward their central planet, much like our own moon. This is called gravitational locking, or tidal locking. The gif above shows that certainly isn’t the case with the small moons of Pluto, which behave like spinning tops. Pluto is shown at center with, in order, from smaller to wider orbit: Charon (which you can see is actually tidally locked), Styx, Nix, Kerberos, and Hydra (which all spin).

ICR Dandelion

Gravity Is A Mistake

I typically prefer roller coasters over the dizzy, spinney, types of amusement rides. However, the rides being engineered by the Institute For Centrifugal Research (ICR) look like a barrel of fun. But not only is the IRC trying to create good times, they’re attempting to increase the cognitive function of their riders through centrifugal research. While most of their rides are for adults only, Dr. Nick Laslowicz is hoping that the Centrifuge Brain Project will theoretically improve the passenger’s cognitive abilities through “achievements in the realms of brain manipulation, excessive G-Force and prenatal simulations.”

Blueprints for some of the rides developed by the ICR can be found below:

ICR Spheroton

ICR Dandelion

The IRC has lofty goals of having “These machines provide total freedom by cutting all connection from the world you live in – communication, responsibility, weight.” The amusement park rides are said to have created profound experiences “Which in many people in many people resulted in the readjustment of key goals and life aspirations.” However, as you’ll see from the video below these goals have come at a cost.

All images and videos via Till Nowak

More videos and images about the project can be found at the IRC website.