On Monday we once again witnessed the Daily Mail’s full contempt for the truth when they published the wrong pre-written Amanda Knox verdict complete with made up quotes pulled out of the sky. Admittedly, this sort of thing now happens with such frequency that it is no longer surprising that many an Enlishman now call the paper the “Daily Fail” with no sense of irony or exaggeration. Only last week the Daily Mail told us that “most Brits oppose gay marriage” when the statistic is in fact the precise opposite way round! This week the Daily Mail’s shameless misinformation has reached new heights. David Cameron went on the BBC  to argue his case for the axing of the Human Rights Act. His justification for this was a tale of a prison van being driven “100 miles to be used to transport a prisoner 200 yards” because of the Human Rights Act – a story literally cobbled (or should I say cobblered?) together the week before by the Mail! Ironically, the actual reason for the prison van being used was the fact that the prison was privatised! (a famous past time of the Conservatives.)

Daily Fail David Cameron Prison Van Fail No Laughing Matter: The Daily Mails Web of Deceit, Lies and Misinformation

Further Reading

Continue reading »

Follow Simon on TwitterFacebookGoogle+RSS, or join the mailing list.

Nature Scitable Featured1 Scientists successfully reconstruct the minds eye for the first time as a video output A group at Berkeley has just published (£) the first successful attempt to reconstruct colour video imagery from the mind using an fMRI brain scanner. The results are startling, encouraging and a little bit scary.

The method used, called fMRI, is known for its high spatial resolution (3D imaging ability) but notoriously low temporal resolution (measurements with respect to time – effectively a slow shutter speed). In the past, this has been a barrier to research on the visual cortex because of the incredibly high rate of information processing in the visual system. However, scientists have recently developed a new MRI encoding method that allows for the modelling of brain activity in the visual system at a faster rate. In the experiment conducted by the Berkeley group, participants were shown 7,200 seconds of random colour video clips one time only, while their brains were scanned using the novel fMRI sequence.  From these scans, researchers were able to create a “dictionary” of brain activity in the visual system.

Brain visualiser 1 Scientists successfully reconstruct the minds eye for the first time as a video output

The method with which the dictionary is filtered to produce video output

After a dictionary of brain activity in the visual system was created, the participants watched a fresh unseen video from YouTube while undergoing a brain scan. This resulted in video outputs that resembled the new YouTube video shown to participants. The output appears as a collage of flickering pixels that reminds me of a cross between the paintings of prosopagnosia sufferer Chuck Close and the imagery in A Scanner Darkly.

chuck Scientists successfully reconstruct the minds eye for the first time as a video output

Chuck Close (Self Portrait)

The correlation between the videos shown to the participants and the output imagery in the collage-like videos (below) is pretty astounding especially when considering there is zero overlap between the clips used for calibration and the clips used to test the system.

The study authors suggest that the method used in this paper could eventually lead to the generation of video output from participants experiencing dreams or hallucinations. Watch this space! What was once a field reserved firmly for science fiction may fast be becoming a reality.

Listen to an NPR interview with the researchers here:

Nishimoto S, Vu AT, Naselaris T, Benjamini Y, Yu B, & Gallant JL (2011). Reconstructing Visual Experiences from Brain Activity Evoked by Natural Movies. Current biology : CB PMID: 21945275

Follow Simon on TwitterFacebookGoogle+RSS, or join the mailing list.

3d printing plane Worlds first plane created entirely by 3D printing completed successfullyEngineers at the University of Southampton have completed the first plane created using nothing but a 3D printer. The method which uses lasers to fabricate powdered metal and plastic was used to build the plane with no help from fasteners. The plane has a two metre wing span and hits a top speed of almost 100 miles an hour. According to the Southampton team this breakthrough in 3D printing could result in radical changes in the way aircraft are built.

“Laser sintering allows the designer to create shapes and structures that would normally involve costly traditional manufacturing techniques. This technology allows a highly-tailored aircraft to be developed from concept to first flight in days. Using conventional materials and manufacturing techniques, such as composites, this would normally take months. Furthermore, because no tooling is required for manufacture, radical changes to the shape and scale of the aircraft can be made with no extra cost.”

As a result of this project the University of Southampton has launched a new Masters course in unmanned autonomous vehicle (UAV) design. (Perhaps my April fools day post may not have been so far off the mark after all).

 

Follow Simon on TwitterFacebookGoogle+RSS, or join the mailing list.
Tagged with:
 

para Methoxyamphetamine PMA Public Service Announcement: ParaMethoxy(Methy)Amphetamine hits UK pill market

There’s been a rash of rumours recently about various deadly batches of pills hitting the UK ecstasy market. Police have reported pill related deaths in Scotland however the police have been typically useless with regard to publishing details of their appearance. Once again ectasy users have been left in the “knowledge” that there is a “deadly” batch of tablets in circulation without so much as a whisper by the police as to their contents or appearance. I’ve done my best to scratch the facts together and will post updates on this page (permalink).

ParaMethoxyMethylAmphetamine (PMMA/PMA) is a phenethylamine that has only recently made a widespread appearance in UK pills. It is an extremely powerful chemical both active and dangerous at much lower doses than MDMA. PMMA/PMA is believed to be being marketed as the “10 pound pill” and it has appeared in the UK in pills with the following stamps:

Green Rolex (BBC):

 68671954 greenrolextablets Public Service Announcement: ParaMethoxy(Methy)Amphetamine hits UK pill market

 

Pink McDonald (BBC):
 60693287 pinkdrug Public Service Announcement: ParaMethoxy(Methy)Amphetamine hits UK pill market

Pink Rolex (BBC)

ecstasy pill281 Public Service Announcement: ParaMethoxy(Methy)Amphetamine hits UK pill market
Pink Rolex: Image via Erowid

White Four Leaf Clover (BBC)

pmma Public Service Announcement: ParaMethoxy(Methy)Amphetamine hits UK pill market

White Clover: Image via EZ Test

White/Tan Mitsubishi (EZ Test)

ecstasy pill22 Public Service Announcement: ParaMethoxy(Methy)Amphetamine hits UK pill market

White / Tan Mitsubishi: Image via Erowid

PMA in capsule form (Wikipedia)

PMA Public Service Announcement: ParaMethoxy(Methy)Amphetamine hits UK pill market

Image via Wikipedia

The Facts:

  • At lower doses (less that 50mg, depending on body weight) PMMA/PMA produces an increase in energy, minor visual hallucinations, and a mild euphoric state.
  • At slightly higher doses it (suddenly) increases heart rate, blood pressure and body temperature to dangerously high levels that can lead to convulsions, coma and death. 
  • A person who has ingested a high enough dose of PMMA/PMA has difficulty breathing, develops muscle spasms and nausea, and starts vomiting.
  • The initial effects of a low dose of PMMA/PMA might feel a little bit like MDMA but PMA takes more than half an hour longer to come on. This may cause some people to take another pill thinking that they got “weak Ecstasy.” By this time the person may have taken a lethal dose.

Appearance

  • “They have a diameter of 7 or 7.5 mm, and are thicker than most pills. Pills tested around the world that match this size and description have always contained PMA, so if you come across an exact match (size, color and logo), it most likely contains PMA, not MDMA (EZ test).

Detection

  • PMMA/PMA will not appear on a regular Marquis chemical test however the Mandelin reagent will pick it up.
Follow Simon on TwitterFacebookGoogle+RSS, or join the mailing list.
Tagged with:
 

prussian blue reformed by cannabis Reformed Nazi Twin Singers: Cannabis Saved My Life

In what has to be the feel-good story of the week: Nazi rock duo Lamb and Lynx Gaede (“Prussian Blue”), who you may remember for causing a media shitstorm a few years ago for presenting themselves as the cuddly faces of white supremacy, have made a political, social and cultural full-scale about turn. If that makes you smile then the story behind the change in heart will have you checking my facts in disbelief faster than you can say “toke up”. The girls put their dark past down to being “home schooled… country bumpkins” heavily influenced by an overbearing white supremacist mother. Since then the pair have moved to Montana to go to highschool where in her first year Lynx was diagnosed with cancer which led to the removal of a tumour and cyclic vomiting syndrome (CVS). Lamb developed “scoliosis and chronic back pain, as well as lack of appetite and intense emotional stress”. It perhaps doesn’t take an expert to see a link between the intense emotional stress and some of the medical conditions that were troubling both of the girls. Lamb and Lynx began to use cannabis to self-medicate after Lynx had a negative reaction to the Oxycontin and Morphine she was prescribed to treat her pain. “I have to say, marijuana saved my life,” Lynx now says, “I would probably be dead if I didn’t have it”. Lynx became one of the first five minors in Montana to be issued a medical marijuana card and Lamb now has one too. Miraculously, the cannabis didn’t just cure the pain but also rekindled both their artistic flair and their passions in a far more positive light…

Lamb: “I’m not a white nationalist anymore… my sister and I are pretty liberal now”

Lynx: “Personally, I love diversity… I’m stoked that we have so many different cultures. I think it’s amazing and it makes me proud of humanity every day that we have so many different places and people… we just want to come from a place of love and light”

Lamb: “I think we’re meant to do something more — we’re healers. We just want to exert the most love and positivity we can.”

The pair now spend their time painting, repairing furniture and intend to enrol in college and dedicate themselves to the legalisation of cannabis in all 50 states.

exnazitwins art2 Reformed Nazi Twin Singers: Cannabis Saved My Life

Recent artwork by the twins

Via The Daily

Follow Simon on TwitterFacebookGoogle+RSS, or join the mailing list.
Tagged with:
 

Looking for something?

Use the form below to search the site:


Still not finding what you're looking for? Drop a comment on a post or contact us so we can take care of it!

Visit our friends!

A few highly recommended friends...