My name's Jamie. Here's a quote that I like: “The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind, is curiosity.” -Edmund Burke

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alec-c-c-combo-breaker:

mothernaturenetwork:

Even casual marijuana use changes the brainA new study links marijuana use with abnormalities in two key regions in the brain, but scientists are unsure if these changes are ultimately harmful.

Hey, look! People are finally reporting on something we’ve known for a couple years! Dopamine desensitization effects aren’t dangerous to people’s health, but are a cognitive performance hazard and reduce a person’s capacity to use dopamine adaptively. (As in: “dopamine isn’t functioning as nature intended.”)

Researchers suspect that these new connections make other rewards in life — such as food, sex and social interaction — seem less satisfying, compared with the effects of the drug. The increased volume and density in the nucleus accumbens of study participants suggests that they may be forming new connections in that brain area.

This recent public interest into the topic is quickening the rate that scientific understanding of drugs overtakes common public misconceptions and “wives’ tales.”

alec-c-c-combo-breaker:

mothernaturenetwork:

Even casual marijuana use changes the brain
A new study links marijuana use with abnormalities in two key regions in the brain, but scientists are unsure if these changes are ultimately harmful.

Hey, look! People are finally reporting on something we’ve known for a couple years! Dopamine desensitization effects aren’t dangerous to people’s health, but are a cognitive performance hazard and reduce a person’s capacity to use dopamine adaptively. (As in: “dopamine isn’t functioning as nature intended.”)

Researchers suspect that these new connections make other rewards in life — such as food, sex and social interaction — seem less satisfying, compared with the effects of the drug. The increased volume and density in the nucleus accumbens of study participants suggests that they may be forming new connections in that brain area.

This recent public interest into the topic is quickening the rate that scientific understanding of drugs overtakes common public misconceptions and “wives’ tales.”

assangistan:

via america-wakiewakie:

Princeton Concludes What Kind of Government America Really Has, and It’s Not a Democracy | PolicyMic 
The news: A new scientific study from Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn’t a democracy any more. And they’ve found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.
An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military.
For their study, Gilens and Page compiled data from roughly 1,800 different policy initiatives in the years between 1981 and 2002. They then compared those policy changes with the expressed opinion of the United State public. Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often.
It’s beyond alarming. As Gilens and Page write, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.
That might explain why mandatory background checks on gun sales supported by 83% to 91% of Americans aren’t in place, or why Congress has taken no action on greenhouse gas emissions even when such legislation is supported by the vast majority of citizens.
This problem has been steadily escalating for four decades. While there are some limitations to their data set, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez constructed income statistics based on IRS data that go back to 1913. They found that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is much bigger than you would think…
(Read Full Text)

assangistan:

via america-wakiewakie:

Princeton Concludes What Kind of Government America Really Has, and It’s Not a Democracy | PolicyMic 

The news: A new scientific study from Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn’t a democracy any more. And they’ve found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.

An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military.

For their study, Gilens and Page compiled data from roughly 1,800 different policy initiatives in the years between 1981 and 2002. They then compared those policy changes with the expressed opinion of the United State public. Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often.

It’s beyond alarming. As Gilens and Page write, “the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.” In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.

That might explain why mandatory background checks on gun sales supported by 83% to 91% of Americans aren’t in place, or why Congress has taken no action on greenhouse gas emissions even when such legislation is supported by the vast majority of citizens.

This problem has been steadily escalating for four decades. While there are some limitations to their data set, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez constructed income statistics based on IRS data that go back to 1913. They found that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is much bigger than you would think…

(Read Full Text)

ucsdhealthsciences:

To Vape or Not to Vape? We’ve got thee questions for our expert about the supposed safety of e-cigarettes
For the last 50 years cigarette smoking has been on the decline due in large part to aggressive advocacy by health professionals about the risks associated with smoking tobacco, and a once ubiquitous habit has become taboo. Quickly replacing tobacco cigarettes are electronic or e-cigarettes and “vaping” is the new inhaling. E-cigarette availability and popularity are at an all-time high, especially among teens and young adults, with claims of e-cigarette safety driving the trend.
But are e-cigarettes really safe? Recent reports of liquid nicotine poisoning beg to differ and much remains unknown about whether or not inhaling the vapor from e-cigarettes is safer than inhaling smoked tobacco.
We’ve asked John Pierce, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine, Moores Cancer Center director for population sciences and expert on tobacco cessation three questions about the relative safety of e-cigarettes.
Question: What, if anything, is known about the health effects of nicotine delivery from e-cigarettes versus traditional tobacco cigarettes? Are they, as advocates and tobacco companies suggest, safer?Answer: There is no question that a heavy smoker who stops using cigarettes and switches to e-cigs will have a reduced risk of lung cancer.  However, it is not at all clear that e-cigarettes will not introduce a new health risk to the person who has never smoked or whether it will be a safe alternative for the occasional smoker.
Q: Is there any evidence that it’s easier to quit smoking by shifting to e-cigarettes?
A: No, the evidence that is available suggests that e-cigarettes are not an effective smoking cessation device. The question is how difficult will it be for heavy smokers to substitute e-cigarettes for their regular cigarettes.
Q: How much nicotine from e-cigarettes is released as vapor, potentially to be inhaled by others? Does the vapor represent less of a health threat than secondhand smoke?
A: Plenty. Currently, there is very little standardization in e-cigarettes and lots of potentially harmful chemicals have been measured in it. The first study to report on this did so last December. There is no science that supports allowing e-cigarettes to be used where cigarettes are prohibited.
Image source: The Mercury News

ucsdhealthsciences:

To Vape or Not to Vape?
We’ve got thee questions for our expert about the supposed safety of e-cigarettes

For the last 50 years cigarette smoking has been on the decline due in large part to aggressive advocacy by health professionals about the risks associated with smoking tobacco, and a once ubiquitous habit has become taboo. Quickly replacing tobacco cigarettes are electronic or e-cigarettes and “vaping” is the new inhaling. E-cigarette availability and popularity are at an all-time high, especially among teens and young adults, with claims of e-cigarette safety driving the trend.

But are e-cigarettes really safe? Recent reports of liquid nicotine poisoning beg to differ and much remains unknown about whether or not inhaling the vapor from e-cigarettes is safer than inhaling smoked tobacco.

We’ve asked John Pierce, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Family and Preventive Medicine, Moores Cancer Center director for population sciences and expert on tobacco cessation three questions about the relative safety of e-cigarettes.

Question: What, if anything, is known about the health effects of nicotine delivery from e-cigarettes versus traditional tobacco cigarettes? Are they, as advocates and tobacco companies suggest, safer?

Answer: There is no question that a heavy smoker who stops using cigarettes and switches to e-cigs will have a reduced risk of lung cancer.  However, it is not at all clear that e-cigarettes will not introduce a new health risk to the person who has never smoked or whether it will be a safe alternative for the occasional smoker.

Q: Is there any evidence that it’s easier to quit smoking by shifting to e-cigarettes?

A: No, the evidence that is available suggests that e-cigarettes are not an effective smoking cessation device. The question is how difficult will it be for heavy smokers to substitute e-cigarettes for their regular cigarettes.

Q: How much nicotine from e-cigarettes is released as vapor, potentially to be inhaled by others? Does the vapor represent less of a health threat than secondhand smoke?

A: Plenty. Currently, there is very little standardization in e-cigarettes and lots of potentially harmful chemicals have been measured in it. The first study to report on this did so last December. There is no science that supports allowing e-cigarettes to be used where cigarettes are prohibited.

Image source: The Mercury News

theatlantic:

This Is Big: Scientists Just Found Earth’s First-Cousin

Right now, 500 light years away from Earth, there’s a planet that looks a lot like our own. It is bathed in dim orangeish light, which at high noon is only as bright as the golden hour before sunset back home. 
NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it’s unlike anything they’ve found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered. 
It’s the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star—the sweet spot between too-hot Mercury-like planets and too-cold Neptunes— and it is likely to give scientists their first real opportunity to seek life elsewhere in the universe. “It’s no longer in the realm of science fiction,” said Elisa Quintana, a researcher at the SETI Institute. 
But if there is indeed life on Kepler-186f, it may not look like what we have here. Given the redder wavelengths of light on the planet, vegetation there would sprout in hues of yellow and orange instead of green. 
Read more. [Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech]

theatlantic:

This Is Big: Scientists Just Found Earth’s First-Cousin

Right now, 500 light years away from Earth, there’s a planet that looks a lot like our own. It is bathed in dim orangeish light, which at high noon is only as bright as the golden hour before sunset back home. 

NASA scientists are calling the planet Kepler-186f, and it’s unlike anything they’ve found. The big news: Kepler-186f is the closest relative to the Earth that researchers have discovered. 

It’s the first Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of another star—the sweet spot between too-hot Mercury-like planets and too-cold Neptunes— and it is likely to give scientists their first real opportunity to seek life elsewhere in the universe. “It’s no longer in the realm of science fiction,” said Elisa Quintana, a researcher at the SETI Institute. 

But if there is indeed life on Kepler-186f, it may not look like what we have here. Given the redder wavelengths of light on the planet, vegetation there would sprout in hues of yellow and orange instead of green.

Read more. [Image: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech]