You may have never heard of ACTA before, I know I haven’t. ACTA stands for the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement and due to the recent events and publicity of SOPA and PIPA, attention has been drawn to ACTA, which after reading about it appears to be just as bad if not worse than SOPA.
Perhaps the Most Beautiful Undersea Photography We’ve Ever Seen
10. Sigmund Freud — Cocaine
To Freud, cocaine was more than a personal indulgence; he regarded it as a veritable wonder drug, and for many years was a huge proponent of its use in a wide array of applications. In a letter written to his fianceé, Martha, Freud wrote: “If all goes well, I will write an essay [on cocaine] and I expect it will win its place in therapeutics by the side of morphine and superior to it… I take very small doses of it regularly against depression and against indigestion and with the most brilliant of success.”
9. Francis Crick — LSD
Francis Crick — of the DNA-structure discovering Watson, Crick, and Franklin — reportedly told numerous friends and colleagues about his LSD experimentation during the time he spent working to determine the molecular structure that houses all life’s information.
In fact, in a 2004 interview, Gerrod Harker recalls talking with Dick Kemp — a close friend of Crick’s — about LSD use among Cambridge academics, and tells the Daily Mail that the University’s researchers often used LSD in small amounts as “a thinking tool.” Evidently, Crick at one point told Kemp that he had actually “perceived the double-helix shape while on LSD.”
8. Thomas Edison — Cocaine Elixers
In 1863, French chemist Angelo Mariani invented “Vin Mariani,” a Bordeaux wine treated with coca leaves, the active ingredient of which is none other than cocaine. The ethanol content in the Bordeax could extract cocaine from the coca leaves in concentrations exceeding 7mg per fluid ounce of wine. Thomas Edison — the prolific American inventor and notorious insomniac (though perhaps not surprisingly) — was one of many people of the period known to regularly consume the cocaine-laced elixir.
7. Paul Erdös — Amphetamines
Paul Erdös — well known for his hyperactivity; his habit of working 19-hour days, even well into his old age; and his tendency to show up on his colleagues’ doorsteps demanding they ”open their minds” to mathematical dialogue — was one of the most prolific mathematicians who ever lived, publishing more peer-reviewed papers than any other mathematician in history.
His secret? According to him, amphetamines. Included here is an excerpt from a book published in 1998 by Erdös’ de facto biographer, science writer Paul Hoffman, which explains Erdös’ proclivity for amphetamine use:
Like all of Erdös’s friends, [fellow mathematician Ronald Graham] was concerned about his drug-taking. In 1979, Graham bet Erdös $500 that he couldn’t stop taking amphetamines for a month. Erdös accepted the challenge, and went cold turkey for thirty days. After Graham paid up — and wrote the $500 off as a business expense — Erdös said, “You’ve showed me I’m not an addict. But I didn’t get any work done. I’d get up in the morning and stare at a blank piece of paper. I’d have no ideas, just like an ordinary person. You’ve set mathematics back a month.” He promptly resumed taking pills, and mathematics was the better for it.
6. Steve Jobs — LSD
LSD was a big deal for Steve Jobs. How big? Evidently, Jobs believed that experimenting with LSD in the 1960s was “one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life.” What’s more, he felt that there were parts of him that the people he knew and worked with could not understand, simply because they hadn’t had a go at psychedelics. This latter sentiment also comes through in his recently-published biography, wherein Jobs goes so far as to associate what he interpreted as Bill Gates’ dearth of imagination with a lack of psychedelic experimentation:
“Bill is basically unimaginative and has never invented anything, which is why I think he’s more comfortable now in philanthropy than technology. He just shamelessly ripped off other people’s ideas.”
“He’d be a broader guy,” Jobs says about Gates, “if he had dropped acid once or gone off to an ashram when he was younger.”
5. Bill Gates — LSD
Which is funny, because Bill Gates totally didexperiment with LSD, though an excerpt from a 1994 interview with Playboy reveals he was much less open about it than Jobs:
PLAYBOY: Ever take LSD?
GATES: My errant youth ended a long time ago.
PLAYBOY: What does that mean?
GATES: That means there were things I did under the age of 25 that I ended up not doing subsequently.
PLAYBOY: One LSD story involved you staring at a table and thinking the corner was going to plunge into your eye.
PLAYBOY: Ah, a glimmer of recognition.
GATES: That was on the other side of that boundary. The young mind can deal with certain kinds of gooping around that I don’t think at this age I could. I don’t think you’re as capable of handling lack of sleep or whatever challenges you throw at your body as you get older. However, I never missed a day of work.
4. John C. Lilly — LSD, Ketamine
Neurocientist John C. Lilly was a pioneer in the field of electronic brain stimulation. He was the first person to map pain and pleasure pathways in the brain; founded an entire branch of science exploring interspecies communication between humans, dolphins, and whales; invented the world’s first sensory deprivation chamber; and conducted extensive personal experimentation with mind-altering drugs like LSD and ketamine.
It bears mentioning that Lilly’s experiments with interspecies communication, personal psychedelic use, and sensory deprivation often overlapped.
3. Richard Feynman — LSD, Marijuana, Ketamine
Feynman was always careful about drug use, for fear of what it might do to his brain — giving up alcohol, for example, when he began to exhibit symptoms of addiction. InSurely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!, he writes, ”You see, I get such fun out ofthinking that I don’t want to destroy this most pleasant machine that makes life such a big kick. It’s the same reason that, later on, I was reluctant to try experiments with LSD in spite of my curiosity about hallucinations.”
Nevertheless, Feynman’s curiosity got the best of him when he became acquainted with none other than John C. Lilly and his sensory deprivation tanks. Feynman experimented briefly with LSD, ketamine, and marijuana, which he used to bring on isolation-induced hallucinations more quickly than he could when sober.
2. Kary Mullis — LSD
Who, you may be asking, is Kary Mullis? Let’s put it this way: If you’ve worked in a biomedical research lab since the 1980’s, there is an exceedingly good chance you’ve performed a polymerase chain reaction (aka PCR, the lab technique that can turn a single segment of DNA into millions of identical copies), or are at least familiar with it. You have Mullis to thank for that. While Mullis didn’t invent the PCR technique, per se, he improved upon it so significantly as to revolutionize the field of biomedical research,securing himself a Nobel Prize in chemistryin the process.
1. Carl Sagan — Marijuana
Preeminent astrophysicist and cosmologist Carl Sagan not only smoked marijuana regularly, he was also a strong advocate for its use in enhancing intellectual pursuits — though not as publicly as others on this list. Having said that, Sagan did contributing an essay to the 1971 book titled Marijuana Reconsidered that spoke to the virtues of marijuana use. The piece, which you can read here, was penned under the assumed name “Mr. X.” The identity of its true author was only revealed after Sagan’s death.
10 Things You Didn’t Know About Light
10) Light can make some people sneeze
Between 18% and 35% of the human population is estimated to be affected by a so-called “photic sneeze reflex,” a heritable condition that results in sneezing when the person is exposed to bright light.
9) Plato thought that human vision was dependent upon light, but not in the way you’re imagining
In the 4th Century BC, Plato conceived of a so-called “extramission theory” of sight, wherein visual perception depends on light that emanates from the eyes and “seizes objects with its rays.”
8) Einstein was not the first one to come up with a theory of relativity
Many people associate “the speed of light” with Einstein’s theory of relativity, but the concept of relativity did not originate with Einstein. Props for relativity actually go to none other thanGalileo, who was the first to propose formally that you cannot tell if a room is at rest, or moving at a constant speed in one direction, by simply observing the motion of objects in the room.
7) E=mc^2 was once m=(4/3)E/c^2
Einstein was not the first person to relate energy with mass. Between 1881 and 1905, several scientists — most notably phycisist J.J. Thomson and Friedrich Hasenohrl — derived numerous equations relating the apparent mass of radiation with its energy, concluding, for example, thatm=(4/3)E/c^2. What Einstein did was recognize the equivalence of mass and energy, along with the importance of that relevance in light of relativity, which gave rise to the famous equation we all recognized today.
6)The light from the aurorae is the result of solar wind
When solar winds from cosmic events like solar flares reach Earth’s atmosphere, they interact with particles of oxygen atoms, causing them to emit stunning green lights. These waves of light — termed the aurora borealis and aurora australis (or northern lights and southern lights, respectively) — are typically green, but hues of blue and red can be emitted from atmospheric nitrogen atoms, as well.
5) Neutrinos aren’t the first things to apparently outpace the speed of light
The Hubble telescope has detected the existence of countless galaxies receding from our point in space at speeds in excess of the speed of light. However, this still does not violate Einstein’s theories on relativity because it is space — not the galaxies themselves — that is expanding away (a symptom of the Big Bang), and “carrying” the aforementioned galaxies along with it.
4) This expansion means there are some galaxies whose light we’ll never see
As far as we can tell, the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. On account of this, there are some who predict that many of the Universe’s galaxies will eventually be carried along by expanding space at a rate that will prevent their light from reaching us at any time in the infinite future.
3) Bioluminescence lights the ocean deep
More than half of the visible light spectrum is absorbed within three feet of the ocean’s surface; at a depth of 10 meters, less than 20% of the light that entered at the surface is still visible; by 100 meters, this percentage drops to 0.5%.
2) Bioluminescence: also in humans!
Bioluminescene isn’t just for jellyfish and the notorious, nightmare-inducing Anglerfish; in fact, humans emit light, too. All living creatures produce some amount of light as a result of metabolic biochemical reactions, even if this light is not readily visible.
1) It’s possible to trick your brain into seeing imaginary (and “impossible”) colors
Your brain uses what are known as “opponent channels” to receive and process light. On one hand, these opponent channels allow you to process visual information more efficiently (more on this here), but they also prevent you from seeing, for example, an object that is simultaneously emitting wavelengths that could be interpreted as blue and yellow — even if such a simultaneous, “impossible” color could potentially exist.
You’re used to relying on your brain. Whatever else happens, your personal lump of gray matter will take in the world, and respond to it in a fluid and predictable way. But actually, whatever your brain does is made up of many successive mental steps — and if just one of those steps fails, you’ll find yourself behaving very differently.
10. Astasia-Abasia Patients Are Always On the Verge of Falling>Astasia-Abasia is also known as Blocq’s Disease, after Paul Blocq, the French doctor who first described it. It’s the inability to stand or walk properly, but there’s more to it. At first, a person with this condition appears very drunk. Patients lurch when they try to stand or walk. Patients seem dangerous to themselves. They overbalance extravagantly, always catching themselves at the last moment. But that’s the condition — they always catch themselves.
9. Anosognia Patients Are Unable to Recognize Their Own Injuries
Anosognia arises in conjunction with other injuries — generally strokes and blindness. People who have lost the ability to control one half of their body will say that they just don’t want to move that part of their body. They’ll say that that half of the body is really working normally, after all. When doctors show that it isn’t working, they’ll say that the body parts that the doctors are pointing to belong to someone else, or even that they have three hands, arms, or legs, and are moving the ones that the doctors don’t see.
8. Broca’s Aphasia Patients Are Able to Do Everything But Speak
Patients with Broca’s Aphasia are able to write, to read, to listen and understand people, and are able to talk - but not able to form many coherent words. The condition is the result of an injury to Broca’s area, the patient’s ability to control what their mouths are saying goes away. Some patients are able to manage about four words, but most lose their ability to say what they want.
7. Palinopsia Patients Literally Cannot Unsee Things
Palinopsia is not actually a medical disorder. It’s just the after-image that most people see after they look away from bright objects. Sometimes, though, it lasts a little too long. A seventy-three-year-old woman attended a Christmas party the day after a very bad headache and noticed that, after she looked at a Santa Claus who was working at the party, she saw a Santa beard on everyone’s face for the rest of the party. Days later she still saw people in red Santa hats and red Santa jackets walking around the streets.
6. Dysmimia or Amimia Patients Don’t Know if You Give Them the Finger
Dismimia is a weirdly specific little condition. There’s no way of knowing exactly what causes it, but it stops the sufferer from understanding hand gestures or hand signals. Common gestures for ‘wait,’ ‘stop,’ or ‘sit and spin,’ are suddenly incomprehensible. These gestures are lost even if the patient previously knew their meaning.
5. Verbal Dysdecorum Patients Can’t Censor Themselves
This syndrome was first observed in a Vietnam veteran who demonstrated exactly what happens when you don’t constantly censor yourself at your job: You get fired. You get fired over and over until finally someone sends you to a doctor. This particular case was steered towards psychology — rather than an etiquette book — because the soldier had been shot in the head years before. The right front part of the brain has something in it that allows people to consider their words and quietly keep the socially unhelpful ones inside. Other injuries to this area of the brain have caused similar responses. Some injuries expand beyond the verbal into actual social dysdecorum, which includes inappropriate and ill-considered actions, verging on complete sociopathy.
4. Dysantigraphia Patients Can’t Possibly Copy Their Neighbor’s Paper
A seventy-year-old man came into the doctor’s office one day with a rather strange condition. He had suffered a stroke, and had difficulty speaking - although he could speak. He had no problems with moving his limbs. He could read and write well, as long as what he was writing was dictated to him. When he was given a paper full of writing, and asked to copy it, he faltered after a few words, and after a line the entire process became impossible.
3. Amelodia Patients Can Never Name That Tune
The most famous case of amelodia was a retired 91-year-old musicologist. He was an accomplished musician who reported to his family that he’d recently heard an angelic choir singing to him. They responded appropriately by shoving him in a cab and rushing him to the hospital so fast that they left a cartoon dust trail behind them. At the hospital they found that he had no hearing problems, that he could, on a guitar, play many tunes from memory, that he could tell the difference between higher and lower pitched notes, and that he could easily tell the difference between discordant notes. He just couldn’t recognize any tune played to him, no matter how simple and well-known the tune was. The ability to audibly recognize a tune, and only the tune, was gone.
2. Anhedonia Patients Can’t Take Pleasure in Anything
The globus pallidus is the part of the brain that regulates when we get rewarded with a little burst of pleasure chemicals. Sometimes that burst can be in response to a pleasurable event, or a reward for doing something that we deem necessary, or even just the cessation of pain. Anhedonia happens when damage to the globus pallidus shuts off the reward system entirely. Often this is seen in recovering drug addicts - especially meth users. Sometimes strokes also do damage to the globus pallidus.
Those strokes that do hit that part of the brain are associated with greater and longer depressions than those that don’t. But anhedonia doesn’t have to be a ‘global’ response, cutting out all pleasure. It can take single pleasures away from people, too. There was one case in which a 71-year-old musician, stopped feeling a pleasure response when he listened to music. Although he had listened to music he enjoyed before he had a small stroke, afterwards he felt no emotional response to it whatsoever.
1. Jargonaphasia Patients Are Makeshift Gertrude Steins
This is a disorder that, in at least one of its forms, could have been lifted from an absurdist satire. No one entirely agrees on what jargonaphasia (or jargon aphasia) is. For some psychologists, it’s when a patient has lost the ability to form words entirely, and only utters a string of sounds that don’t resemble words at all. For some it’s when patients speak words, but without any sentence structure or grammar to give them meaning. The last understanding of the term is the most interesting. Patients can be said to be suffering from jargonaphasia when they incessantly use platitudes, cliches, and pleasantries to cover the fact that they’re saying nothing. This isn’t necessarily a contradiction; how many times in the last decade has the phrase, “Have a nice day,” conveyed any real meaning whatsoever? Stock polite terms and phrases are often the last thing that slips away from us, since we don’t put any thought into them and they become something like a reflex response. Théophile Alajouanine, a famous French neurologist, was a leading proponent of this view of jargonaphasia. He said that ‘incomprehensibility and lack of meaning, not articulatory loss or lack of proper grammatical sequencing,’ are the hallmarks of this disorder.
Looked at like this, the disorder is jargon in the most literal sense of the word. Lose a few points of grammar and you can still make your brain and your mouth work together to communicate what you’re thinking. Jargon is the destruction of any ability to use language to communicate, in a meaningful way, with the people around you, even if you keep talking in perfectly comprehensible English for hours.>Top Image: Humantific
A post that deserves being reading.