Linkage 9/10: Humpback Dinosaurs & Magic Mushrooms

500px-mario-mushroomsvgA “hunchbacked” dinosaur is found in Spain, and the University of Chicago’s dinosaur expert Paul Sereno was available for comment. As Nature News points out, the interesting thing may not be the large hump on its back, but the tiny bumps on its arms, which suggest the presence of feathers long before they were predicted to have first appeared. But um, no, I’m pretty sure it doesn’t raise questions about whether humans and dinosaurs lived together.

Researchers at Argonne got to test the entries for the Automotive X-Prize, the contest to design an extremely energy-efficient car that gets the equivalent of 100 miles per gallon. See pictures and read a bit of commentary on some of the candidates from Argonne mechanical engineer Mike Duoba at Wired.

If you thought medicinal marijuana was controversial, try to wrap your head around the small study (only 12 patients) that found a benefit of psilocybin – the ingredient in “psychedelic” mushrooms – for reducing anxiety in cancer patients. The finding reflects a renewed interest in studying the possible clinical uses for psychedelics, a topic ScienceLife discussed in the context of the drug ecstasy last year. See also the recent Nature Neuroscience Review article about what is currently know about how psychedelics affect the brain, and how those effects might be harnessed for the treatment of mood disorders.

Comer Children’s Hospital nurse Tiffany Cupp was on Chicago Public Radio last week talking about her experiences offering medical relief in Haiti. If you prefer video to audio, we spoke with her about the experience earlier this year.

It seems as though every media outlet has run at least one “Is technology changing our brains?” story in recent months, most of which have come under heavy fire from science bloggers. But here’s a good summary, found via MindHacks, of what we really know and don’t know about how video games, computers, and so-called “brain games” actually affect the way our brains function. It’s written by a team of cognitive scientists including Daphne Bavelier, who actually studies the effect of playing video games on vision and attention.

Personalized genomics sites like 23andme are old news now, but this article in Nature Medicine profiles several ventures taking it to the next level, with sites organizing volunteer DIY genomics research projects.

There’s a lot of interesting angles to the New Yorker’s profile of Francis Collins, but what might be most interesting to some readers is how it opens the lid slightly on the workings of the National Institutes of Health, a $31 billion a year agency.

About Rob Mitchum (518 Articles)
Rob Mitchum is communications manager at the Computation Institute, a joint initiative between The University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory.

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