Breaking science news and multimedia, heavy on astronomy and physics (and heavy on citing) New vids, pics, articles, and the occasional research post for ResearchBlogging.org.

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!]

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 NIH.gov, 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"



ResearchBlogging.org 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
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010700/a010792/


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 http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010700/a010792/


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


 Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010700/a010792/


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


Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/vis/a010000/a010700/a010792/


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Monday, November 5, 2012

Editorial: Eccentric Behavior

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I can see two main reasons for eccentric behavior - attention seeking (by either person to person viewing or fishing for an experience for storytelling), personal aesthetics, or both.

Obvious attention seeking:
Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

If the eccentricity is an aesthetic preference, the initial experimentation might be done with the goal of wider experience, which in my opinion can be healthy.  Eccentricity developed would be the test turning into habit.


With the goal of making a story by doing something taboo or odd, social media allows us for instant gratification. There is obvious potential for social backlash however if your eccentricity is taboo and known.  Considering this, you have to be prepared for negative responses from people who align themselves with their culture's taboos.  Personal aesthetic alone can outweigh the potential backlash.  Attention seeking on the other hand gains easy reinforcement.  A combination of these makes the eccentricity an easy fit into one's routine.    


Wikipedia gives examples of using a quill or wearing a top hat as examples of anachronistic (use of outdated, misplaced antiquated objects, cliches, etc. in a modern setting) eccentricity.

Image Credit: Public Domain - BWCNY


You might feel guilty or scared of rejection sharing your eccentricity, with valid fear.  Sexual eccentricity can definitely be such a case, often viewed with prejudice.   On the taboo side, a penchant for fetish porn, clothing yourself abnormally, or a connection of pain directly with pleasure are all primarily done for the aesthetic.


Unaccepted eccentric habits are often easily noticeable when it's involved with something like eating or drinking, where hiding it from public eyes gets tricky.  I eat my pizza with a knife and fork.  When I was young, my brother Joe taught me how to use a fork and a knife in a specific way, and encouraged me to use them with a much wider variety of foods than normal.  Habit became aesthetic. Buffalo wings -- fork and knife.


I'd go further into my own naughty taboos but I've got a reputation to keep up!  Feel free to share your own in the comments section...  If you dare!

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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.

First,
  "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

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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 ArXiv.org
"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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