“Magic” Psilocybin Mushrooms May Treat Depression

Magic Mushroom

“Magic” mushrooms and their active ingredient, psilocybin, may treat symptoms of depression, British scientists suggest. The research was posted in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal after one of the first studies done since the 1960’s.

“One of the parts of the brain that is markedly switched off [with psilocybin] is the anterior cingulate cortex, which is particularly overactive in people with depression,” said David Nutt, professor of neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College, London. Some researchers “put electrodes in that part of the brain to switch it off. It would be a lot simpler and safer to use psilocybin instead of electrodes.”

This study was very basic, but I think it merits further research. Psilocybin is labeled as a Schedule I Drug in the United States meaning that it has highly addictive qualities, no accepted medical value, and no safe method of conducting scientific research.

With the medical properties of marijuana becoming apparent to the public, it may facilitate open dialogue on these other potentially helpful and healing substances.

 

UK Scientists’ Plan to Put Humans on Mars

Marstronaut

A recent BBC article details an in-depth conceptual project from scientists at Imperial College London to put the first humans on Mars. This concept is intended to illustrate our current progress towards inter-planetary space travel, as well as the challenges and risks that we must still overcome.

The spacecraft will be designed to rotate in such a way that the 3 person crew of “Marstronauts” could enjoy the resulting artificial gravity. This would help with bone and muscle mass loss, and help the re-orientation of the crew to a life on Mars. The craft could slow its rotation to match the Martian rate of roughly 40% of the Earth’s gravitational  pull.

“There are big, big jumps between a demonstration at one level and putting together the engineering systems for a mission, but they are engineering challenges. They are not fundamentally about making new discoveries.” – Professor Tom Pike

This short video has some great visualizations of the spacecraft design and landing scenario along with some good descriptions of the concepts involved.

“Real life Tony Stark” Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is working on similar goals for transporting humans to Mars. For Musk, electric vehicles and a Hyperloop super-train are just the beginning in his quest to push the boundaries of science and technology.

His company SpaceX is taking the concept of manned Mars missions to the next level. They envision human exploration and colonization, and quite literally “backing up the biosphere”.

The rockets we’re building right now could certainly send probes to Mars, like the Mars rovers and that kind of thing, but the rockets we hope to build in the future are the ones that could take people and cargo to Mars and establish a Martian base.

Seeing these projects starting to gain legitimacy is an exciting thing to behold. The general public is starting to get behind these ideas, and private space flight is gaining in popularity and capability. There’s no telling what the future holds for Mars colonization, but it should be an exciting thing to watch.