Clinical trials of psychedelic drugs are planned or under way at numerous centres around the world for conditions ranging from anxiety to alcoholism. It may not be long before doctors are legally prescribing hallucinogens for the first time in decades.
Happiness is Back (Prospect Magazine)
Growing incomes in western societies no longer make us happier, and more individualistic, competitive societies make some of us positively unhappy. Public policy should take its cue once more from Bentham's utilitarianism, unfashionable for many decades but now vindicated by modern neuroscience.
How Time Flies (Guardian)
For the Aymara people living in the Andes, the past lies ahead and the future lies behind. Laura Spinney looks at how different languages reflect, and shape, our conception of time
Director of PR (Popular Science)
Titanic honcho James Cameron has some advice for NASA on how to both seduce and educate a jaded public. [I predict that Mr. Cameron will do some pretty interesting things in regards to space exploration before all is said and done.]
Life Sciences in the 21st Century (The Scientist, registration)
Collaboration, complexity are on the rise, and standardization of tools will speed progress:
In many ways the laboratory tools we use today may remind us of computers in the late 1970s. In those days, systems were mostly incompatible and were dedicated to specific tasks. When the first personal computers emerged, these systems were integrated: "Cut and paste" became ubiquitous, and it became possible to share and compare data over multiple and geographically dispersed platforms. A main driver for development was the standardization of the interfaces and communication protocols were standardized. The more complex and interrelated the applications, the more important it becomes that as much analytical risk as possible is removed, allowing various data contents to be compared and exchanged.Robotics In War: Technology v. morality (Seattle PI)
As in medicine, our skill at creating technology is outpacing our ability to grasp its ethical application. This time, the gap between ingenuity and morality is on the battlefield. We are all but ready to build robots to fight our wars but far from prepared to resolve the cadre of attendant ethical questions. Science fiction has a way of becoming more science than fiction. Decades ago, Isaac Asimov wrote "I, Robot." Today, the Pentagon's Future Combat Systems project is spending $127 billon to create artificial-intelligence warriors. According to a recent New York Times story, these silicon soldiers will at first be remote-controlled. But over time they will be endowed with increasing autonomy.
UN sees 40% rise in world population by 2050 (Globe & Mail)
The world's population will increase by 40 per cent to 9.1 billion in 2050, but virtually all the growth will be in the developing world, especially in the 50 poorest countries, the UN Population Division said. In a report Thursday, the division said the population in less developed countries is expected to swell from 5.3 billion today to 7.8 billion in 2050. By contrast, the population of richer developed countries will remain mostly unchanged, at 1.2 billion.
Our Godless Constitution (The Nation)
The United States was built not on Christian principles but rather on Enlightenment ones. God was a minor player to the Founding Fathers, Jesus was conspicuously absent.