Nov 27, 2018


Psychedelic psilocybin therapy for depression granted Breakthrough Therapy status by FDA

In an extraordinary step forward for the psychedelic drug research community, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just given psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression a Breakthrough Therapy designation. This classification suggests the treatment has demonstrated significant potential in early clinical evidence, allowing the FDA to assist and expedite subsequent development and review processes.

The FDA's Breakthrough Therapy designation was created in 2012 as a way of presenting a faster pathway to approval for drugs that display treatment advantages over current options for serious or life-threatening conditions. While not all Breakthrough Therapy treatments may ultimately prove efficacious and make it to market, the designation is generally a positive thumbs-up from the FDA that it's potentially useful and should be expedited.

The specific designation in this instance is directed at a phase IIb trial currently underway across Europe and North America. The research is investigating the optimal dose range for psilocybin in regards to severe treatment-resistant depression. Prior research has found that one to two doses of the psychedelic agent, administered in controlled settings, can markedly reduce a person's depressive symptoms. The safety of these treatments has also been established through earlier research.

How meditation and psychedelic drugs could fix tribalism

What if I told you that the solution to political tribalism was astonishingly — almost embarrassingly — simple?

Maybe, just maybe, it all comes down to believing that everything is one.

According to a series of new studies on the belief in oneness by Kate Diebels and Mark Leary, psychologists at Duke University, the basic way we understand the universe, and our place in it, goes a long way in determining how we relate to other people. By “oneness,” the authors mean a belief that everything in the world is part of the same whole, and that the illusion of separation is just that — an illusion.

And it turns out “belief in the oneness of everything,” as they put it, is a profound and potentially revolutionary perspective for these awful times.

Inherited Trauma Shapes Your Health

The most recent chapter is a new study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this week by researchers from the National Bureau of Economic Research. They found that the sons of Union Army soldiers who endured grueling conditions as prisoners of war were more likely to die young than the sons of soldiers who were not prisoners. This is despite the fact that the sons were born after the war, so they couldn’t have experienced its horrors personally. In other words, it seemed like the stresses of war were getting passed down between generations.

The effects on longevity showed up for the sons of men who were imprisoned in 1863 and 1864, when conditions in POW camps were especially bad. Crowding was extreme—each man was said to have had a grave’s worth of square footage to himself—and deaths from diarrhea and scurvy were common.

Because the study authors controlled for other factors that might have influenced the sons’ longevity, like socioeconomic status and the quality of the parents’ marriages, they believe this effect on mortality is working through epigenetics, or the process by which genes are switched on and off. These epigenetic changes are inherited by later generations, setting diseases in motion.

Asteroid as Powerful as 50 Megaton Nuke May Slam Into Earth in 2023 – NASA

According to the newspaper Express, a relatively large asteroid that might someday be headed directly for Planet Earth would release a massive impact force 1,500 times that of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs combined. The British daily cites NASA sources as claiming that the asteroid, almost 700 feet across, might have an astounding 62 diverse potential impact routes with Earth with each of them possibly able to set the asteroid on a collision course with us over the next 100 years.

According to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the asteroid 2018 LF16 was last pinpointed on 16 June with calculations revealing that the space rock could smash into Earth sometime before 2117. Its first such frightening encounter will come just five years from now, on 8 August, 2023 with other close impact dates being 3 August, 2024 and 1 August, 2025.

What’s even worse is that the asteroid is presently racing through space at a speed of over 33,844 miles an hour.

The Express wrote: “A space rock this big is about twice as tall as Big Ben’s clock tower in London, twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York, and is four times as tall as Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square,”

A dark matter hurricane is headed our way

According to a recent paper, the Earth is caught directly in the crosshairs of a cosmic hurricane. A swarm of nearly 100 stars, accompanied by an even greater amount of dark matter, is aimed directly at our stellar neighborhood and there's nothing we can do to stop it; in fact, the vanguard is already upon us. This sounds like a perfect summer blockbuster movie, starring The Rock and Chris Pratt, or maybe Scarlett Johansson and Charlize Theron.

Except this is for real. But is it a danger? Well, actually, no. Not at all. But it's potentially incredibly fascinating, with lots of interesting scientific interconnections. So, what is really going on?

The story starts last April, when the Gaia satellite announced the locations and trajectories of 2 billion stars in the vicinity of the Milky Way surrounding our sun. They released the data to the public.

Scientists were then able to look at the data set to see if they could spot anything peculiar. In galaxies like the Milky Way, the most common behavior is that the stars orbit the center of the galaxy in a manner broadly similar to the planets orbiting our sun. However, there are some stars that exhibit unusual motion. About a year ago, astronomers identified some "stellar streams" passing through our celestial neighborhood.

Greenland impact crater could help explain disappearance of woolly mammoths, early humans

A massive iron meteorite smashed into Greenland as recently as 12,000 years ago, leaving a crater bigger than Paris that was recently discovered beneath the ice with sophisticated radar.

The crater is the first of its kind ever found on Greenland — or under any of the Earth’s ice sheets — and is among the 25 largest known on Earth, said the report in the journal Science Advances.

It is estimated the asteroid would likely have been made largely of iron, measuring about 1.5km across and weighing about 12 tons. The impact which created the 31 kilometres wide crater under the Hiawatha Glacier would have had significant ripple effects in the region, possible even globally, researchers said.

. . .

If confirmed, its dating could establish the Younger Dryas impact hypothesis as fact. It’s a somewhat controversial idea that a large impact in North America some 11,000 to 13,000 years ago during the last Ice Age caused massive wildfires across much of the Americas and Europe, as well as unsettling the weather conveyor belt of the North Atlantic current.

Archaeologists Discover Dozens Of Cat Mummies, 100 Cat Statues In Ancient Tomb

The more archaeologists continue to explore the tombs of ancient Egypt, the more evidence mounts that ancient Egyptians admired cats — and loved mummifying them.

Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities announced Saturday that a team of Egyptian archaeologists excavating a 4,500-year-old tomb near Cairo has found dozens of mummified cats. Also in the tomb were 100 gilded wooden cat statues, as well as a bronze statue of Bastet, the goddess of cats.

The discoveries were made at a newly discovered tomb in Saqqara, the site of a necropolis used by the ancient city of Memphis. The tomb dates from the Fifth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, and archaeologists have found another one nearby with its door still sealed — raising the possibility that its contents are untouched.

The Ministry of Antiquities was clear about its goals in announcing the discoveries: attracting visitors back to Egypt's heritage sites, as the country has experienced a significant drop in tourists since the 2011 mass protests that overthrew dictatorial President Hosni Mubarak.

Scientists say mysterious 'Oumuamua' object could be an alien spacecraft

Maybe it's an alien spacecraft.

Scientists have been puzzling over Oumuamua ever since the mysterious space object was observed tumbling past the sun in late 2017. Given its high speed and its unusual trajectory, the reddish, stadium-sized whatever-it-is had clearly come from outside our solar system. But its flattened, elongated shape and the way it accelerated on its way through the solar system set it apart from conventional asteroids and comets.

Now a pair of Harvard researchers are raising the possibility that Oumuamua is an alien spacecraft. As they say in a paper to be published Nov. 12 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters, the object "may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization."

The researchers aren't claiming outright that aliens sent Oumuamua. But after a careful mathematical analysis of the way the interstellar object sped up as it shot past the sun, they say Oumuamua could be a spacecraft pushed through space by light falling on its surface — or, as they put it in the paper, a "lightsail of artificial origin."

OneTaste Stops ‘Orgasmic Meditation’ Classes, U.S. Locations Set to Close

OneTaste, a sexuality-focused wellness company that teaches a practice called “orgasmic meditation,” is closing all U.S. locations and will no longer host in-person classes or gatherings, the company said.

In June, Bloomberg Businessweek reported on accusations of predatory sales and recruitment practices at the company. OneTaste denied the allegations. It said the closure of the centers was unrelated and that they are run by affiliate entities.

After hosting a smattering of final gatherings this weekend, the three U.S. locations in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City will stop offering any further courses or events, OneTaste said Friday. A fourth in London no longer offers classes and is holding discussions about whether to shut down, a spokeswoman for the company said. OneTaste centers also cut employees as part of the change, though the spokeswoman declined to say how many were affected or how many remain. Its “focus for the future,” according to a statement, is “to bring the world of Orgasmic Meditation (OM) online for a global audience.”

. . .

OneTaste denied the allegations and said it has never required any of its staff to engage in a sexual act. It said the settlement was confidential. In July, the company replaced its chief executive officer, Joanna Van Vleck, with one of its owners, Anjuli Ayer. Van Vleck remains employed with the company as its director of outreach. 

Oysters On The Half Shell Are Actually Saving New York's Eroding Harbor

Across New York City, more than 70 restaurants are tossing their oyster shells not into the trash or composting pile, but into the city's eroded harbor. It's all part of Billion Oyster Project's restaurant shell-collection program.

The journey from trash to treasure begins after an oyster half shell is turned upside down and left on an icy tray. Once discarded, it joins hundreds of thousands of other half shells collected in blue bins and picked up (free of charge) from restaurants five days a week by Billion Oyster Project's partner, The Lobster Place, a seafood supplier. The shells are trucked over to Brooklyn's Greenpoint neighborhood and once a month are brought en masse to Governors Island in the heart of the New York Harbor, just yards away from both Brooklyn and Lower Manhattan. There, rolling shell hills sparkle in the sun while "curing" out in the elements for one year, a process that rids them of contaminants.

The shells then get a final cleaning and are moved to Billion Oyster Project's hatchery at the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School, a public high school on Governors Island that offers technical and vocational training in the marine sciences. In an aquaculture classroom's hatchery, student-grown oysters produce larvae in an artificially induced springtime environment. In one to two weeks, each larvae grows a "foot" — a little limb covered in a kind of natural glue — and then is moved to a tank full of the "cured" restaurant shells, which serve as anchors for all of those sticky feet. This phase is critical: If larvae can't find a place to attach, they die. One reclaimed shell can house 10 to 20 new live oysters, depending on shell size.

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