Scienceline Staff Picks

Magic mushrooms, robotic dogs and a very scary moth

Our favorites from the week

October 10, 2011

Each week, the Scienceline staff combs through the web to find the smartest, coolest and newest stuff for you to read. See what we’ve got this week!

From Douglas Main:

Most people’s personalities remain relatively fixed by the age of 25, and certainly 30 or 40. But in a study of the effects of pislocybin, the active ingredient in so-called “magic mushrooms,” patients with an average age of 46 showed long-lasting changes in their degree of openness. The story was covered well by Bloomberg and put into context at Discover Magazine. There’s also a fascinating essay by Mark Morford at the San Francisco Chronicle about what the study says about our society (“When Jesus at the magic mushrooms“).

Steve Jobs, the legendary tech innovator, passed away. But I couldn’t help feeling a little disturbed at the tone of some of the stories, in which he is exalted to god-like status. More evidence that brands are like our new gods.

You thought fire ants were bad, but a new formic terror has spread throughout the South: The Caribbean crazy ant. They cause metal walls to bulge and shut down whole electrical grids.

From Katie Palmer:

I’ve been a big fan of Boston Dynamics’ BigDog ever since my philosophy professor used it as an example of embodied cognition. But it just got bigger and badder (in addition to, you know, being able to walk on almost any surface). Check out this video of BD’s newest incarnation of the sturdy quadruped walking robot, AlphaDog.

As usual, any beer-related post is bound to grab my attention. Discover’s 80beats blog (contributed to by none other than our own Doug Main) has a short post this week that may explain why I sometimes feel sniffly after a big night out.

The biggest story of the week was obviously the death of Steve Jobs (sorry, beats the iPhone 4S). Through MIT’s Technology Review, I found this interview Jobs gave when he was just 29. Listen and remember a legend.

From Sabrina Richards:

It may not boggle the mind like the duck-billed platypus, but a species of reptiles harbors some genre-bending characteristics of its own: true placentas.

The World Series is closing in, but even if you’ve got baseball on the brain, you probably never thought to combine it with the Forest Service. Now’s the time to start.

If you like insects, especially combined with incongruous noises and folklore, the squeaking death’s head hawk moth is enjoying balmy weather in the British Isles.

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1 Comment

Psilocrosse says:

People have known about the positive effects of psilocybin containing mushrooms for ages. In fact the Psilocybe Lacrosse Society traces their use back to the Neanderthals.

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