Paralysed rats walk again after breakthrough surgery using stem cells from a human’s mouth

Standard
  • Scientists have healed a rat’s severed spinal cord.
  • Stem cells from a human’s mouth were used in the process.

  • Researchers hope to test the pioneering surgery on humans in the future.

 

Seeing a rat scurry by would send many people running away screaming, but researchers at Israel’s Technion institute of technology were joyful when they saw one particular rodent walking.

The rat, once paralysed with a completely severed spinal cord, had weeks earlier undergone pioneering surgery, as part of research headed by Technion and Tel Aviv University.

Professor Shulamit Levenberg, Dean of the Biomedical Engineering Faculty at the Technion, told Reuters: "In this project we managed to induce spinal cord regeneration following complete injury to the spinal cord, and this was to the extent where the animal that was totally paralysed started to walk again and also regained sensory perception."

Levenberg’s team, together with Professor Daniel Offen’s researchers from Tel Aviv University, used stem cells from an adult human’s mouth and placed them on a sponge-like, biodegradable scaffold, which was transplanted into the site of the rat’s spinal cord injury. This effectively created a pathway circumventing the injured area so that instructions from the brain could reach the rest of the body.

"It was amazing to see the animals starting to walk after 2-3 weeks. They started to walk almost as normal and we were very excited to see this," she added.

The research was launched following a request from Israel’s Foundation for Spinal Cord Injury in an attempt to tackle the common, yet incurable bodily damage.

In the U.S. alone, some 17,000 patients suffer spinal cord injury each year. Despite rehabilitation protocols and other neuronal transplants, a full recovery of a severed spinal cord has yet to be accomplished in humans.

Levenberg hopes her research will change that, but warns that there is still a long way to go before it reaches the stage of clinical trials in humans.

"These are very early studies and we still don’t know how it will work in humans," she added.

"This is the big challenge: to treat spinal cord after full transection because we know that spinal cord can not recover by itself," added Professor Offen, who heads Tel Aviv University’s Neuroscience Lab.

"What we tried to do was to take human stem cells, did some modification and differentiation, and transplanted it with some bio material, some polymer, that was put inside the spinal cord," he explained.

About 40 percent of the animals that received the treatment regained movement and sensory perception, said Levenberg.

Some regeneration of the spinal cord was seen in the rest of the animals, but not to the extent of full recovery, she added.

The rats were treated shortly after the injury, which allowed the treatment to be effective, Professor Offen estimated. In older injuries, where the part of the spinal cord that was cut off by the injury has had time to atrophy, this solution may not show such positive results.

In the future, he hopes this treatment could be part of every operating room’s basic equipment, allowing doctors to treat spinal injuries as soon as possible.

"Our vision is that in the surgery room there will be frozen cells that once a patient come after full transection of the spinal cord, these cells could be transplanted into the lesion site."

In an experiment publicised in 2012, paralysed rats were helped to walk involuntarily over obstacles by electrically stimulating the severed part of their spinal cord, in research carried out at Switzerland’s EPFL. Professor Gregoire Courtine’s team announced similar results with monkeys last year.

Join the conversation about this story »

from SAI http://read.bi/2iVn2rG
via IFTTT

The Cheerful Curb Appeal Idea That’s Trending on Pinterest

Standard

Nothing says “welcome home” like a smart exterior. Though if your curb appeal could use some punching up, there’s a relatively simple and effective way to change that, and it’s currently trending on Pinterest.

Today, the Pinterest 100—the company’s 2018 trend report—was released, and we spied this tried and true trick for updating your home: a boldly hued front door. According to Pinterest, saves of “colorful doors” are up 121 percent, so now would be a good time to rethink that entrance. Luckily, we have a lot of inspiration in the archives to get your creative juices flowing.

We toured the home behind this stunning door in London, and subsequently included it in a roundup of rainbow front doors.

If you’ve got a hankering for statement doors, look no further than Palm Springs, where the doors are as fabulous as the mid-century interiors. This particular pink door is so famous, it has its own Instagram.

If you’re on the fence and need convincing, just check out the before photo of this turquoise stunner.

This brilliant blue door is just one of the many interesting options we’ve rounded up in the past.

No matter what you think of Ultra Violet, Pantone’s 2018 Color of the Year, we have to agree with Real Simple—it does make a pretty great front door hue.

from Apartment Therapy http://bit.ly/2Ax9JZG
via IFTTT

Paying taxes on bitcoin isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds

Standard

bitcoin dollar

  • Bitcoin has soared in value over the past year.
  • Paying taxes on bitcoin may seem daunting to people selling off their investments.
  • The reality is straightforward for most investors, based on how much you bought bitcoin for, how much you sold it for, and what you make in income.

Bitcoin’s incredible rise in value from just shy of $1,000 per bitcoin on January 1 to more than $19,000 on December 8 has likely caused many bitcoin owners to sell all or part of their investment.

But as tax season approaches, it may not be immediately clear how the IRS imposes taxes on bitcoin: Are the gains considered income? Are they capital gains? Something else entirely?

With some help from financial experts, Business Insider dug into the tax code to make the process of paying taxes on bitcoin as simple as possible.

First, let’s define our terms

Before we get lost in a forest of jargon, here’s a handy glossary for common tax terms, which in this case apply to buying and selling bitcoin:

  • Capital asset: Basically anything you own, from a house to furniture to stocks and bonds — and bitcoin.
  • Basis: The amount you paid to buy bitcoin (including any fees you paid).
  • Realized capital gain or loss: The profit or loss you made when you sold bitcoin (i.e. the price you sold it for minus your basis). Losses can be deducted from your taxes (more on this below).
  • Unrealized gain or loss: The profit or loss you have on paper but have not actually cashed in on. You do not pay taxes on unrealized gains until you sell, at which point it becomes a realized gain or loss.
  • Short-term gain: Realized gain on bitcoin or any other investment held for one year or less before selling it.
  • Long-term gain: Realized gain on bitcoin or any other investment held for longer than one year before selling it.

bitcoin machine

Bitcoin investments are taxed as a capital asset

To properly pay taxes on an investment in bitcoin, you’ll need to wrangle some information from each sale you conducted over the last fiscal year. This includes the basis for each amount of bitcoin you sold, the date you bought it, the date you sold it, and the price at which you sold it.

You can use these figures to calculate your realized gains or losses for each sale.

coinbase screenshot

You can also use the dates to figure out whether the specific sale qualifies as a short-term gain or a long-term gain. Short-term gains are taxed like regular income, so the rate is equal to your federal income tax bracket. Long-term gains are taxed at a lower rate, but still according to your income level.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • People in the 10% and 15% brackets pay 0%.
  • People in the 25%, 28%, 33%, and 35% brackets pay 15%.
  • People in the 39.6% bracket pay 20%.

Two hypothetical cases

Taking all that into account, consider a sample bitcoin investor who makes $75,000 a year.

Hypothetical case #1: short-term gain

The investor bought one bitcoin on January 2, when it cost $1,000. After it hit $2,000 later that May, she decided to sell, for a profit — or realized gain — of $1,000.

In this case, the basis was $1,000 and the realized gain was also $1,000 ($2,000 sale price minus the $1,000 basis). Since she held the investment for less than a year, it was a short-term gain, meaning the money would be taxed at her tax bracket of 25%, for a total tax bill of $250. All told, she’d keep $1,750 from the sale — $750 of which would be her after-tax profit.

Hypothetical case #2: long-term gain

Now let’s assume she bought the bitcoin a year prior, on January 2, 2016, when the price was just $433. If she sold at the same time — when it hit $2,000 — she’d realize a gain of $1,567. Since she held it for more than a year, the gain would be taxed at 15%, for a total tax bill of $235.05. The sale would put $1,764.95 in her pocket — $764.95 of which would be her after-tax profit.

coinbase screenshot

Notice the long-term gain was larger than the short-term gain, even though the investor paid less in tax. The current US tax code rewards patience.

A final note on losses

With all the surges in price, it’s hard to imagine bitcoin falling in value. But if the supposed bubble does pop, it helps to know you can deduct the losses on your tax return — even if you take the standard deduction.

To calculate the loss, just subtract the sale amount from the basis. Your deduction will still be proportional to your income, so if our hypothetical investor lost $1,000 in bitcoin, her income level would impute an approximate tax savings of $250.

Keep in mind, however, that the IRS caps capital loss deductions at $3,000 annually. Anything above that will roll over each year until the remainder is depleted.

Disclaimer: This article is not a comprehensive list of how to pay taxes if you bought and sold bitcoin this year. Contact your tax adviser for advice catered to your specific situation.

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin just hit an all-time high — here’s how you buy and sell it

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why this New York City preschool accepts bitcoin but doesn’t accept credit cards

from SAI http://read.bi/2BgBxRE
via IFTTT

This startup wants to solve 2 major problems with the gym business

Standard

POPiN

  • The fitness app POPiN allows users to pay by the minute at seven participating gyms in Manhattan.
  • CEO Dalton Han had to convince gyms he wouldn’t ruin their ability to sell memberships.
  • He thinks the app helps boutique gyms compete with national chains by allowing users to see what makes them special.

 

As CEO of the new fitness app POPiN, Dalton Han is trying to solve two problems for gyms and their users: expensive drop-in fees that make it difficult to develop a flexible fitness routine, and usage patterns that leave many gyms empty on weekday afternoons.

POPiN, which launched in August, allows users to pay by the minute at participating gyms, which can cut the price for a 60-minute workout in half. The app currently gives users access to seven gyms, all of which are located in Manhattan.

A former consultant for companies like Microsoft and Cisco, Han began developing the app with his co-founder and CTO, John Wu, in the summer of 2016. They knew that for the app to have any chance of success, they would have to convince gyms it wouldn’t eliminate their ability to sell memberships.

"What I’m setting out to prove to them is that there is a bigger market of people out there that would never become [their] member," Han said.

Gyms make money from people who don’t exercise

Gyms make money by selling memberships to people who won’t use their facilities. They do this by designing their lobbies to look like cocktail lounges, emphasizing benefits that don’t involve exercise, and offering annual contracts to people who want to get in shape, but probably won’t stick to an exercise routine for more than a few weeks.

For this strategy to work, gyms need to incentivize long-term commitment. This is why drop-in fees often start at $20, even if you only intend to use the gym for 30 minutes. They don’t want you to pay for the amount of time you actually spend in the gym, but the amount of time you think you’ll spend in the gym.

POPiN

Han says that gyms are too optimistic about their ability to convert occasional customers into full-time members. Rather than taking away potential revenue from unsold memberships, POPiN would bring the gyms customers who know they won’t use the gym enough to justify a membership and can’t be convinced otherwise without an extended trial. Gyms would receive a new revenue stream instead of replacing an existing one.

"I walk past this 24 Hour Fitness all the time by Madison Square Park. I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than just a couple of users there at one time. And how much is that space costing them?" Han said.

POPiN helps boutique gyms compete with national chains

Han believes the app is better suited to the small, boutique gyms who were more receptive to his logic than the chains, like New York Sports Club, they compete with. Since they don’t have brand names and large marketing budgets, boutique gyms have to attract members by offering an exercise experience the big names can’t match, whether through a better selection of equipment or unique classes. POPiN would allow them to demonstrate that value to people who would never try them without a low-cost, no-commitment option.

"One of the things, as we get more locations, that’s really cool is the sense of discovery, that we’re offering users not your run-of-the-mill chain gym that’s all over the place. They’re actually going into someplace different, someplace interesting," Han said.

The current per-minute rates range from $0.14 to $0.26, which means that a sixty-minute workout at Tribeca Health & Fitness costs $10.80, instead of the $20 one would have to pay for a day pass.

But, if you do that same, 60-minute workout four times each week, you’d end up paying around $172 per month, which is $83 more than the gym’s rate for a month-to-month membership. If a user visits a single gym often enough, POPiN will recommend that user buy a membership.

“I’m not against membership," he said. "I’m against membership if you don’t use it." 

SEE ALSO: I tried a new fitness app that charges you for every minute you spend at the gym — here’s what it’s like to use

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The best way to wrap a gift in under 2 minutes

from SAI http://read.bi/2z3crE7
via IFTTT

It’s Official: Bitcoin Surpasses “Tulip Mania”, Is Now The Biggest Bubble In World History

Standard

One month ago, a chart from Convoy Investments went viral for showing that among all of the world’s most famous asset bubbles, bitcoin was only lagging the infamous 17th century "Tulip Mania."

One month later, the price of bitcoin has exploded even higher, and so it is time to refresh where in the global bubble race bitcoin now stands, and also whether it has finally surpassed "Tulips."

Conveniently, overnight the former Bridgewater analysts Howard Wang and Robert Wu who make up Convoy, released the answer in the form of an updated version of their asset bubble chart. In the new commentary, Wang writes that the Bitcoin prices have again more than doubled since the last update, and "its price has now gone up over 17 times this year, 64 times over the last three years and superseded that of the Dutch Tulip’s climb over the same time frame."

That’s right: as of this moment it is official that bitcoin is now the biggest bubble in history, having surpassed the Tulip Mania of 1634-1637.

And with that we can say that crypto pioneer Mike Novogratz was right once again when he said that "This is going to be the biggest bubble of our lifetimes." Which, of course, does not stop him from investing hundreds of millions in the space: when conceding that cryptos are the biggest bubble ever, "Novo" also said he expects bitcoin to hit $40,000 and ethereum to triple to $1,500.

"Bitcoin could be at $40,000 at the end of 2018. It easily could," Novogratz said Monday on CNBC’s "Fast Money." "Ethereum, which I think just touched $500 or is getting close, could be triple where it is as well."

As for Wang, here are some additional observations:

I continue this topic and discuss a main driver of bubbles. When we see a dramatic rise in asset prices, there is often an internal struggle between the two types of investors within us. The first is the value investor, “is this investment getting too expensive?” The second is the momentum investor, “am I missing out on a trend?” I believe the balance of these two approaches, both within ourselves and across a market, ultimately determines the propensity for bubble-like behavior. When there is a new or rapidly evolving market, our conviction in the value investor can weaken and the momentum investor can take over. Other markets that structurally lack a basis for valuation are even more susceptible to momentum swings because the main indicator of future value is the market’s perception of recent value.

We will publish the balance of Wang’s full note "What causes asset bubbles?" shortly, but for now we just wanted to experience a moment of true zen serenity, knowing that we now stand in proximity to an asset bubble the magnitude of which has never before been observed by humanity. Thanks central banks!

from Zero Hedge http://bit.ly/2l3vCsM
via IFTTT

These Big Wave Surfing ‘Wipeout Of The Year’ Noms Are Proof That Surfers Are Insane

Standard

WSL Big Wave Surfing Wipeout of the Year Nominations 2017

WSL / YouTube

The WSL Big Wave Surfing Tour is home to some of the craziest athletes on the planet. It takes a special type of crazy to voluntarily suit up to ride 80-foot waves that are moving so fast you can barely fit back the wind and stay standing on your board. Kai Lenny, Billy Kemper, Greg Long, these are some of the best surfers on the planet but they’re also some of the most certifiably crazy athletes alive.

The WSL Big Wave Tour isn’t over yet. The Nazaré Challenge in Nazaré, Portugal hasn’t taken place yet. The event is open-ended, running from Oct 17, 2017 to Feb 18, 2018, and will commence once Nazaré gets hit with an epic swell (note: the Nazaré videos below are from the beginning of 2017). I’ll actually be in Portugal in a few weeks and I’m crossing my fingers that Nazaré gets hit with some epic waves while I’m there so I can pop over and watch the world’s best big wave surfers ride giants.

Even though the WSL Big Wave Tour isn’t over, the nominees for the 2017/2018 Big Wave Awards are out. Below, I’ve included the nominees for ‘Wipeout of the Year’. If you’ve ever wondered just how dangerous and insane big wave surfing is then feast your eyes on this gnarly wipeouts:

1) Billy Kemper’s wipeout at the Pea’hi Challenge (2 angles of this wipeout)

and angle 2:

2) João De Macedo wipeout at Jaws

3) Lucas Chianca wipeout at Nazaré

4) Rodrigo Koxa wipeout at Nazaré…This one actually gets my vote just due to the absolutely monstrous size of the wave:

5) Andrew Cotton wipeout at Nazaré

6) Lucas Silveira wipeout at Puerto Escondido (Mexican Pipeline)

7) Angelo Lozano wipeout at Puerto Escondido

8) Kalani Lattanzi wipeout at Puerto Escondido

9) Coco Nogales wipeout at Puerto Escondido…There’s no possible way that all of the wind wasn’t completely knocked out of his chest after this wipeout:

To check out the latest WSL Big Wave Tour standings you can CLICK HERE to see where all the surfers are ranked.

from BroBible.com http://bit.ly/2yhYuyp
via IFTTT

Algoriddim’s djay Pro 2 adds AI for DJ cruise control

Standard

Algoriddim has been improving its DJ software consistently over the past few years for both mobile and desktop, with its most recent foray breaking ground on Microsoft’s turf. Today, the company announced another step forward with an update to its Mac desktop app called djay Pro 2. This is still a high-functioning hybrid with both music and video mixing capabilities, but new features along with various tweaks to the look and feel are welcome changes.

The standout feature here is Automix AI, which leverages machine learning as part of its improved functionality. It may seem like a slight against practiced human ability, but as long as you’re not trying to Paris Hilton your way through gigs, it’s actually quite useful. You can let this feature take the reigns both selecting and blending tracks at small gatherings or house parties, while still being able to jump in for some mixes and giving it a nudge in the right musical direction.

While the Automix AI mode is useful, it still has a way to go at handling more complicated rhythms. Techno tracks with a simple 4/4 beat-driven style get mixed rather well, while the AI falters a bit on more complicated and orchestrated tracks. Tunes like Derrick May’s "Strings of Life" have always taken a deft hand and ear, though. Algoriddim’s AI should improve over time and it’s already been fed a steady diet of human DJ mixes for practice. Any downside is more likely to be a lack of keeping the vibe alive, rather than trainwrecks. The system is adept at keeping tempos matched and adjusting various knobs to facilitate the transition.

That said, it’s nice to have the mix session go on cruise control for a bit if you’re opening to an empty venue or just chilling around the house. The algorithms for picking the next tune work similar to services like Pandora and the blends usually go well enough, especially if you’re not focusing too much on the mix. Plus, you get the opportunity to chat once in a while and give your spidey-sense of when a track is about to end a rest.

As for looks, you’ll notice a fresh skin on the software, with semi-transparency and subtle shades taking over for solids in some places. There are also new and flexible layouts to enjoy aimed at providing a less crowded interface while still surfacing important features. New layout views include the Automix hero mode which makes it easy to see what’s playing, along with the single track view, which is perfect for music management work like prepping playlists, setting cue points and loops.

djay Pro 2 single track view in addition to split library view.

The associated track and file view is also much better now, letting you create playlists in the djay Pro 2 app itself with the ability to mix and match files from selected local drives, Spotify and iTunes all in one place. The split library view lets you see your working playlists and your various libraries all in one go, making it easier to search and drag files between them. New smart filters have also been added to the playlist section, letting you narrow down tracks by BPM, key and more.

You’ll also want to get some photo slideshows ready before your gigs, now that the video mixing portion of djay Pro 2 includes PhotoBeat. Just drag photo albums or groups of files and drop them onto a video mixing deck. This will create beat-matched visual output, shifting images according to the music with time ranges of 1/4 beat to 4 beats per photo.

Other new features include seemingly minor but incredibly useful additions like fully customizable keyboard shortcuts, post fader effects (so you can echo out of one track while mixing into the other) and the ability to drill down into more detailed, high-res waveforms.

You can find djay Pro 2 in the Mac App Store today for $40 — a limited time discount off the regular $50 price. The iPhone and iPad versions of the existing djay Pro app will also be 50-percent off as part of a limited launch sale, priced at $5 and $10 respectively.

from Engadget http://engt.co/2jBeBGf
via IFTTT

Researchers create prosthetic hand that offers more lifelike dexterity

Standard

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a prosthetic hand inspired by the bionic one given to Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker. What sets this one apart from other prosthetics is the amount of dexterity it offers, allowing users to move individual fingers at will. With it, Jason Barnes, the amputee working with the researchers, was able to play piano for the first time since losing part of his arm in 2012.

Most available prosthetics use electromyogram (EMG) sensors to translate muscle movement where the limb was removed to hand and finger motions. But those types of sensors are pretty limited in what they can do. "EMG sensors aren’t very accurate," Gil Weinberg, the professor leading the project, said in a statement. "They can detect a muscle movement, but the signal is too noisy to infer which finger the person wants to move." So the team took their prosthetic one step further and attached an ultrasound probe. Just as physicians can use ultrasound machines to take a look at a fetus inside of a womb, the probe can see which muscles are moving in an amputee’s arm. Algorithms can then translate that into individual finger movements. "By using this new technology, the arm can detect which fingers an amputee wants to move, even if they don’t have fingers," said Weinberg.

There are a number of groups working on improving prosthetics and trying to make them more lifelike. Some of those efforts include introducing tactile feedback to let users know where their prosthetic is without having to look and giving prosthetics the ability to see what they need to grasp. DARPA even has an advanced prosthetic named LUKE, also inspired by Skywalker.

This isn’t the first prosthetic built for Barnes by the Georgia Tech team. In 2014, they gave him an arm that let him play drums. It even had a second drumstick that moved based on the music being played and could play faster than any human drummer. About his second, dexterous prosthetic, Barnes said, "It’s completely mind-blowing. This new arm allows me to do whatever grip I want, on the fly, without changing modes or pressing a button. I never thought we’d be able to do this."

Source: Georgia Tech

from Engadget http://engt.co/2B9XYYn
via IFTTT

Peter Thiel is betting on magic mushrooms to treat depression — and he’s not the only one

Standard

man silhouette alone sunrise sunset

  • A for-profit company that Peter Thiel invests in has plans to start clinical trials of magic mushrooms for depression within the first three months of 2018.
  • Psychedelics appear to disrupt the brain’s activity patterns in a positive and life-changing way.
  • Several research institutions are studying psychedelics for their potential to treat depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD.

When Clark Martin tripped on magic mushrooms for the first time, he felt as though he’d been knocked off a boat and left for dead.

"It was like falling off the boat in the open ocean, looking back, and the boat is gone. Then the water disappears. Then you disappear," he told Business Insider in January.

But Martin wasn’t alone. Two researchers from New York University were by his side to guide him through his trip. It was an experience that Martin had signed up for as part of one of the first large-scale clinical trials of magic mushrooms for depression and anxiety.

The results of that study were so promising that they jump-started a sort of renaissance in psychedelic research that’s now being led by a handful of non-profit research organizations and startups.

One of them is Compass Pathways, a for-profit company that Silicon Valley entrepreneur Peter Thiel invested in last year. The UK-based group announced last week that it plans to start clinical trials of psilocybin for depression and anxiety sometime within the first three months of 2018, the Financial Times reported. They aim to enroll 400 people across eight countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, and Spain — potentially making it the largest international study of the drug to-date.

Psychedelics disrupt our normal thought patterns

Clark Martin learned within a few minutes that his initial feelings of panic while on the shrooms were temporary. Over the next few hours, he felt overwhelmed by an enduring sense of tranquility and a feeling of oneness with his surroundings. Those feelings persisted to such an extent that he felt like a new person, even years after his initial experience, he told Business Insider.

"The whole ‘you’ thing just kinda drops out into a more timeless, more formless presence," Martin said.

shrooms magic mushrooms psilocybin

Martin was one of several people who had been diagnosed with cancer and developed what’s known as end-of-life anxiety and depression. Deep feelings of hopelessness had driven him to near-complete isolation, ruining his relationships with his family and friends and creating a vicious cycle where he constantly felt lonely, trapped, and afraid.

But his mushroom trip in 2010 seemed to act as a catalyst — a "kick-start," he likes to call it — for changing the way he sees and approaches the world. Being less anxious and depressed were the most obvious initial benefits of the trip treatment, but they only touch the tip of the iceberg for him.

Where he used to be trapped in his mind during social situations, he’s come to appreciate his relationships in a way he never would have thought possible. He also managed to revive a relationship with his daughter that had been withering for years.

"Now if I’m meeting people, the default is to be just present — not just physically, but mentally present to the conversation," Martin said. "That switch has been profound."

He also revived his relationship with his daughter — who was born the same year he was diagnosed with cancer and who he had struggled to connect with for years — and reconnect with his father before he passed away.

All of these benefits appear to be related to the effect that shrooms have on the brains of people with depression.

Brain scan studies suggest that in people with depression, specific brain circuits — such as those involved in the sense of self — are overly strengthened, while other circuits — like those involved in a sense of reward or positivity — are weakened. Shrooms appear to essentially balance that activity by tamping down on the negative circuits and ramping up activity in the positive ones.

"In the depressed brain, in the addicted brain, in the obsessed brain, it gets locked into a pattern of thinking or processing that’s driven by the frontal, the control center," David Nutt, the director of the neuropsychopharmacology unit in the division of brain sciences at Imperial College London, told Business Insider in January.

"Psychedelics disrupt that process so people can escape."

A handful of research institutions and companies are leading the charge for psychedelic research

The company that Thiel invested in, Compass Pathways, has kept a relatively low profile since being founded in 2015. But it has some notable advisors, including Tom Insel, the former director of the US National Institute of Mental Health, and Imperial College neuroscientist Robin Carhart-Harris.

sunset sailing man alone boat sailboatThe company isn’t alone in its efforts to study psychedelics for mental illness.

Usona, a non-profit company based in Madison, Wisconsin, is also in the planning phases of studies of psilocybin for depression and anxiety. Its advisors include three American researchers who were involved in Clark Martin’s clinical trial from Johns Hopkins University and New York University.

Their work is part of a spate of ongoing research supported by several British and American groups, including the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the Beckley Foundation, and the Heffter Research Institute.

Some of them are also looking into pairing psychedelics with in-person talk therapy to provide people with a means of discussing the issues that the drugs may bring to the forefront.

"Psychedelic therapy … offers an opportunity to dig down and get to the heart of problems," psychiatrist Ben Sessa said at a recent conference in London on the science of psychedelics.

This resurgence of science surrounding psychedelics makes some researchers believe these drugs may actually be the closest they’ve ever been to federal approval.

"I’m absolutely sure that, within ten years, psilocybin will be an accepted treatment for depression," said Nutt.

SEE ALSO: Why psychedelics like magic mushrooms kill the ego and fundamentally transform the brain

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The disturbing reason some people turn red when they drink alcohol

from SAI http://read.bi/2kqZCuz
via IFTTT

Is Bitcoin, Millennial’s “Fake Gold”?

Standard

Authored by Vitality Katsenelson via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

I’ve been asked about Bitcoin a lot lately. I haven’t written anything about it because I find myself in an uncomfortable place in agreeing with the mainstream media: It’s a bubble. Bitcoin started out as what I’d call “millennial gold” – the young (digital) generation looked at it as their gold substitute.

Bitcoin is really two things: a blockchain technology and a (perceived) currency. The blockchain element of Bitcoin may have enormous future applications: It may be used for electronic contracts, voting, money transfers – and the list goes on. But there is a very important misconception about Bitcoin: Ownership of Bitcoin doesn’t give you ownership of the technology. I, without owning a single bitcoin, own as much Bitcoin technology as someone who owns a million bitcoins; that is, exactly none. It’s just like when you have $1,000 on a Visa debit card: That $1,000 doesn’t give you part ownership of the Visa network unless you actually own some Visa’ stock.

Owning Bitcoin gives you a right to … what, actually? Digital bits?

I can understand gold bugs and the original Bitcoin aficionados. The global economy is living beyond its means and financing its lifestyle by issuing a lot of debt. Normally this behavior would cause higher interest rates and inflation. But not when you have central banks. Our local central bankers simply bought this newly issued debt and brought global interest rates down to near-zero levels (and in many cases to what would have been previously unthinkable negative levels). If you think investing today is difficult, being a parent is even more difficult. I tried to explain the above to my sixteen-year-old son, Jonah. I saw the same puzzled look in his eyes as when he found out where babies come from. I also felt embarrassed, for my inability to explain how governments can buy the debt they just issued. The concept of negative interest rates goes against every logical fiber in my body and is as confusing to this forty-four-year-old parent as it is to my sixteen-year-old.

The logical inconsistencies and internal sickness of the global economy have manifested themselves into a digital creature: Bitcoin. The core argument for Bitcoin is not much different from the argument for gold: Central banks cannot print it. However, the shininess of gold has less appeal to millennials than Bitcoin does. They are not into jewelry as much as previous generations; they don’t wear watches (unless they track your heartbeat and steps). Unlike with gold, where transporting a million dollars requires an armored track and a few body builders, a nearly weightless thumb drive will store a dollar or a billion dollars of Bitcoin. Gold bugs would of course argue that gold has a tradition that goes back centuries. To which digital millennials would probably say, gold is analog and Bitcoin is digital. And they’d add, in today’s world the past is not a predictor of the future – Sears was around for 125 years and now it is almost dead.

A client jokingly told me that his biggest gripe with me in 2016 and 2017 was that I didn’t buy him any Bitcoin. I told him not so jokingly that if I bought him Bitcoin, he’d be right to fire me. Maybe I’m a dinosaur; but, like gold, Bitcoin is impossible to value. What is it worth? It has no cash flows. Is a coin worth $2, $200, or $20,000? But Wall Street strategists have already figured out how to model and value this creature. Their models sound like this:

“If only X percent of the global population buys Y amount of Bitcoin, then due to its scarcity it will be worth Z”.

On the surface, these types of models bring apparent rationality and an almost businesslike valuation to an asset that has no inherent value. You can let your imagination run wild with X’s and Y’s, but the simple truth is this: Bitcoin is un-valuable.

In 1997, when Coke’s valuation started to rival some dotcoms, bulls used this math:

“The average consumer of Coke in developed markets drinks 296 ounces of Coke a year. These markets represent only 20% of the global population.”

And then the punchline:

“Can you imagine what Coke’s sales would be if only X% of the rest of the world consumed 296 ounces of Coke a year?”

Somehow, the rest of the world still doesn’t consume 296 ounce of Coke. Twenty years later, Coke’s stock price is not far from where it was then – but on the way it declined 60% and stayed there for a decade. Coke, however, was a real company with a real product, real sales, a real brand and real tangible, dividend-producing cash flows.

If you cannot value an asset you cannot be rational. With Bitcoin at $11,000 today, it is crystal clear to me, with the benefit of hindsight, that I should have bought Bitcoin at 28 cents. But you only get hindsight in hindsight. Let’s mentally (only mentally) buy Bitcoin today at $11,000. If it goes up 5% a day like a clock and gets to $110,000 – you don’t need rationality. Just buy and gloat. But what do you do if the price goes down to $8,000? You’ll probably say, “No big deal, I believe in cryptocurrencies.” What if it then goes to $5,500? Half of your hard-earned money is gone. Do you buy more? Trust me, at that point in time the celebratory articles you are reading today will have vanished. The awesome stories of a plumber becoming an overnight millionaire with the help of Bitcoin will not be gracing the social media. The moral support – which is really peer pressure – that drives you to own Bitcoin will be gone, too.

Then you’ll be reading stories about other suckers like you who bought it at what – in hindsight – turned out to be the all-time high and who got sucked into the potential for future riches. And then Bitcoin will tumble to $2,000 and then to $100. Since you have no idea what this crypto thing is worth, there is no center of gravity to guide you or anyone else to make rational decisions. With Coke or another real business that generates actual cash flows, we can at least have an intelligent conversation about what the company is worth. We can’t have one with Bitcoin. The X times Y = Z math will be reapplied by Wall Street as it moves on to something else.

People who are buying Bitcoin today are doing it for one simple reason: FOMO – fear of missing out. Yes, this behavior is so predominant in our society that we even have an acronym for it. Bitcoin is priced today at $11,000 because the fool who bought it for $11,000 is hoping that there is another, greater fool who will pay $12,000 for it tomorrow. This game of greater fools is not new. The Dutch played it with tulips in the 1600s– it did not end well. Americans took the game to a new level with dotcoms in the late 1990s – that round ended in tears, too. And now millennials and millennial-wannabes are playing it with Bitcoin and few hundred other competing cryptocurrencies.

The counterargument to everything I have said so far is that those dollar bills you have in your wallet or that digitally reside in your bank account are as fictional as Bitcoin. True. Currencies, like most things in our lives, are stories that we all have (mostly) unconsciously bought into. (I highly encourage you to read my favorite book of 2015: Sapiens, by Yuval Harari.) Of course, society and, even more importantly, governments have agreed that these fiat currencies are going to be the means of exchange. Also, taxation by the government turns the dollar bill “story” into a very physical reality: If you don’t pay taxes in dollars, you go to jail. (The US government will not accept Bitcoins, gold, chunks of granite, or even British pounds).

And finally, governments tend to look at Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a threat to their existence. First, governments are very particular about their monopolistic right to control and print currencies – this is how they can overpromise and underdeliver. No less important, the anonymity of cryptocurrencies makes them a heaven for tax avoiders – governments don’t like that. The Chinese government outlawed cryptocurrencies in September 2017. Western governments are most likely not far behind. If you think outlawing a competitor can happen only in a dictatorial regime like China’s, think again. This can and did happen in a democracy like the US. With Executive Order 6102 in 1933, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt made it illegal for the US population to “hoard gold coin, gold bullion, or gold certificates.”

However, nothing I have written above will matter until it does. Bitcoin may go up to $110,000 by the end of the 2018 before it comes down to … earth. That is how bubbles work. Just because I called it a bubble doesn’t mean it will automatically pop.

from Zero Hedge http://bit.ly/2AdsNbo
via IFTTT