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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Ecstasy Used for Treating PTSD Proven Effective

[edit: 4 days later, they're covering it on CNN on TV.  Glad to see it's reaching the national media!]
Image:Modeling by "Lazord00d"

Surprisingly, a clinical trial using the illegal drug Ecstasy (MDMA) to treat PTSD has proven quite effective.  This should hit home with a lot of people, including myself, since the disorder is so widespread.  Who doesn't know at least a friend of a friend with this disorder?

Just like medical marijuana, an illicit drug if unauthorized, ecstasy may have action on the horizon for medical use.  This would require more studies (and a lot of lawyers of course.)

Ecstasy used in treatment is definitely having an effect.  After the trial, 95% correctly guessed which group (drug or placebo) they were assigned to.
Like a regular study, placebos and X were divvied out.  To quote from the paper's abstract: "The rate of clinical response was 10/12 (83%) in the active treatment group versus 2/8 (25%) in the placebo group."

The finding have great potential for future reduction of suffering.
The credentials to take this seriously are there.  The study is online at, posted from the Journal of Psychopharmacology.  You can read it at the following link:  (Scientists really don't name papers with advertising revenue in mind.)
"The safety and efficacy of ±3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study"

But what is PTSD like really?
Explained quickly in the original paper's introduction:
"Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a debilitating anxiety disorder characterized by re-experiencing, hyperarousal and avoidance symptoms."
Here, the symptoms are described well, but this can be quickly misconstrued if you aren't already familiar with the disorder because of the term hyperarousal.  This Medical Dictionary defines it for us: "Hyperarousal: a state of increased psychological and physiological tension marked by such effects as reduced pain tolerance, anxiety, exaggeration of startle responses, insomnia, fatigue, and accentuation of personality traits."
This describes a great deal of the symptoms, but horribly, not all of the horrors involved for these suffering victims.

Hope is on the horizon.  Bring on the legislature.

I was turned on to this new study by a great blog I'd recommend, Science Based Medicine:
Science-Based Medicine » Ecstasy for PTSD: Not Ready for Prime Time

For another spin, a NY Times Article brings the topic to their huge following of readers:
"A ‘Party Drug’ May Help the Brain Cope With Trauma" Mithoefer, M., Wagner, M., Mithoefer, A., Jerome, L., & Doblin, R. (2010). The safety and efficacy of  3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine-assisted psychotherapy in subjects with chronic, treatment-resistant posttraumatic stress disorder: the first randomized controlled pilot study Journal of Psychopharmacology, 25 (4), 439-452 DOI: 10.1177/0269881110378371

Image Credit: Wimimedia Commons Public Domain
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

4 New NASA Videos On My YouTube Channel

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I try to keep up with NASA, ESO, ESA, even ArXiv, when they lag behind in social media and forget to upload to YouTube.  Sometimes copyright statements are clear and I can do it on my own.  Sometimes I have to contact the scientists.

Here are some new videos I have recently put up on my YouTube Channel.

"NASA - (Narrated) Learn What LRO Has Learned About Linne Crater"
"If you want to learn more about the history of Earth and other rocky planets in the solar system, craters are a great place to look. Now, thanks to LRO's LROC instrument, we can take a much closer look at Linn? Crater on the moon--a pristine crater that's great to use to compare with other craters!"

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Here are some quick shots, 11 seconds or less:

"NASA - Animation Depicting How Moon Craters Are Changed By Subsequent Impacts"

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

"NASA - Animation Depicting a Simulated Earth Crater Using Moon Crater Data"

 Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

"NASA - Animation Depicting a Slow Dolly Across Craters on the Moon"

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center


Sunday, November 4, 2012

4 of the Newest and Coolest Videos Out of NASA

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Straight from my YouTube Channel, here are the latest and greatest, some incredible new videos just released on NASA's website.

  "NASA and Japan Team Together To Launch Satellite (Animation)"
Nine U.S. and international satellites will soon be united by the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission, a partnership co-led by NASA and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). NASA and JAXA will provide the GPM Core satellite to serve as a reference for precipitation measurements made by this constellation of satellites, which will be combined into a single global dataset continually refreshed every three hours.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

"NASA's Animated Dynamics of Hurricane Bonnie"
This animation of Hurricane Bonnie uses data from NASA's TRMM Satellite. Beginning with a wide view of the world, we zoom in on a swath of atmosphere taken by TRMM. Then we go inside and see how the actual dynamics of the hurricane are at work.

 Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

"NASA Explains The Eye of a Hurricane and Hurricane Dynamics"
Rapid changes in wind speed and vortexes are all involved in this voiceover animation explaining hurricane dynamics.

 Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

"NASA Animation - Gamma Rays Hit Satellite"
This animation tracks several gamma rays through space and time, from their emission in the jet of a distant blazar to their arrival in Fermi's Large Area Telescope (LAT). During their journey, the number of randomly moving ultraviolet and optical photons (blue) increases as more and more stars are born in the universe. Eventually, one of the gamma rays encounters a photon of starlight and the gamma ray transforms into an electron and a positron. The remaining gamma-ray photons arrive at Fermi, interact with tungsten plates in the LAT, and produce the electrons and positrons whose paths through the detector allows astronomers to backtrack the gamma rays to their source.

Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center/Cruz deWilde


Friday, November 2, 2012

Watch a Nova Explode

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Quickly, I'd love to share with you a fascinating 12 second video of an actual nova we've been tracking  visually here since 1953.  Below, you can see "Optical ejecta... based on proper motions measurements of 282 knots from ~20 images spanning 25 years"

Sometimes you can find some real gems on Cornell University's
"A 3D view of the remnant of Nova Persei 1901 (GK Per)"

Credit: Liimets et al. 2012, ApJ, 761, 34 and AAS

Thanks to Tiina Liimets for allowing me to upload this.

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