Month in Review: April – LSD, Exploring the Psyche, Bitcoin and DNA

After watching Joe Rogan prepare his kale shake, I was inspired to try something different with my morning smoothie. He didn’t put any extra liquid in it, relying only on the yield of the fruit and vegetables’ natural water content. What interested me the most about this was how much green stuff he was able to fit in just a glass. I usually add about 0.5-1 cup of water and my yield is so big that I have to drink 2-3 glasses of smoothie to get all the goodness in my body. That often leaves me full and bloated. So I tried adding minimal water, just a splash because I wasn’t fully sold on the idea. But lo and behold after blitzing it all together in the vitamix I had fit all my morning greens into a glass and it wasn’t thick undrinkable goop. It was perfectly fine, in fact one of my most enjoyable morning smoothies.

I want to research ADHD a little bit more. Even though I don’t think it’s a disorder per se I do think trying to understand it and seek ways to alleviate it’s purported symptoms will shed light on ways of working better. I find that I jump from topic to topic and this could mean that I’m a curious George or it could mean that my brain functions differently, similar to how a dyslexic approaches problems. And just like with a dyslexic, I don’t think the answer is medication but understanding what causes the supposed symptoms and working around them. Because it may turn out that ADHD is a strength that enables people who ‘have’ it to acheive great things.

While I’m not clear on ADHD, there is a study that suggest that mindfulness and mediation can benefit adolescents and adult with attention deficits.

Psychedlics

I guess in some way that’s why I delved a little deeper into understand LSD and psychedelics as a whole. I watched DMT: The Spirit Molecule and it was so interesting to see how these psychedelic experiences had enriched these people’s lives so much. What was it about their state of conciousness that made it so enlightening? But as I read further I found accounts of people really tripping balls after taking Ayahuasca with some even resorting to suicide. I realised that psychedelics can open a door into our minds and that if we’re not mentally ready or resiliant enough it can wreak havoc. I figured I’d give it a miss for now.

Ayahuasca is a tea that contains DMT in human consumable form. DMT is a super simple molecule that can be found almost everywhere in nature especially plants. And what these indiginous tribes in South America discovered was how to extract the DMT from plants. They do this by boiling a certain vine that contains the DMT with another that enables its extraction into the liquid thus making the tea. Because DMT is such a simple molecule, it’s very easily broken down by the body. If you were to take DMT straight in a lab your trip although very potent would only last about 15 minutes. With the tea it can last for a few hours although I would expect that it wouldn’t be as strong as with the direct method.

Bitcoin and Drugs

I’m a techie with an interest in all things that affect how technology impacts us such as privacy, anonymity and the whole PirateBay, SilkRoad issues, I’m a proponent of bitcoin as a social experiment. I think bitcoin has very interesting ramifications across very many parts of life. In the context of drugs, I delved a little deeper in understanding how exactly one would go about buying drugs in the dark web using bitcoin. Conceptually it’s quite simple: You go to your amazon drug-equivalent site and order some dope paying for it with your hopefully anonymized bitcoin. There are more moving parts to it particularly ensuring that you are in fact anonymous and that you’ve crossed and dotted all your cryptographic i’s and t’s so to speak.

One aspect of this anonymizing is making sure that the bitcoins you’ve paid with can’t be traced back to you. The blockchain is bitcoin’s online distributed ledger that tracks all bitcoin transactions. It’s possible that down the line someone could trace back your coins to your nefarious drug retail. So how do you avoid that? The answer is tumbling, a callback to good ol’ money laundering and your tumble dryer. I’m not sure how exactly it works but my nascent understanding is that you sell your bitcoins into a indistiguisable pool where what’s inside is hidden and then on the other end you have your bitcoin that can only be traced back to that pool. One thing to note is that I’m sure it’s pretty obvious that anyone selling their bitcoin to the pool is probably doing something bad.

How To Launder Bitcoin | Silicon Real

A Simple Guide to Safely and Effectively Tumbling (Mixing) Bitcoins

It’s worth noting that the War on Drugs is a sham. Some believe that LSD was outlawed to target hippies and their way of thinking. It’s strange that alcohol and tobacco are legal but other methods of altering our consiosness are outlawed. The damage caused by the War on Drugs really makes you question whether it’s a worthwhile cause.

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/03/23/politics/john-ehrlichman-richard-nixon-drug-war-blacks-hippie/

Body Chemisry and Gene Editing

I’ve listened to Joe Rogan Podcast #773 with Dr. Rhona Patrick. You can find the show notes here: http://podcastnotes.org/2016/04/07/joe-rogan-experience-773-dr-rhonda-patrick/

My key takeaways were that stressing your body is good as it creates a hormetic response which will make you stronger. You have to be careful how much you stress your body as stress is generally a bad thing. So rest up after a good workout and know your limits. My own recent experience with jiu jitsu classes and boxing workouts attests to that. It made me focus more on recovery and ensuring that I’m supplying my body with the neccessary nutrients and sleep to take advantage of the hormetic response to have a net positive effect on my body.

All this body stuff got me interested in genes and wanting to go deeper in understanding specifically what role our genes play and how. Rhonda mentioned that doing a 23andMe DNA analysis you can see what genes you have to better understand how your body works i.e. if you have genes that will cause problems with absorbtion of certain nutrients for instance. She also brought up CRISPR which is a fascinating gene editing technology. The Radiolab podcast Antibodies Part 1: CRISPR is fascinating and very well explained – show notes here.

Cellmates is also a great addendum to give context of how our cells had developed from the Primordial Soup.

Gene Regulation

What came out of all of this was my realising that I didn’t quite understand genes and how they work. How was it possible genes are turned on and off and how does the turning on of a gene work?

This video by Bozeman Science really helped explain to me how it all works and I learned a lot of new stuff for me to research:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3S3ZOmleAj0

And some furhter reading about How do Cells Know What to Become. I’m not a microbiologist so this in-depth overview is all I need to satisfy my curiosity for now.

Cold showers and Cell Chemistry

Here’s an interesting tidbit along the lines of mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell but in terms of how the human body generates heat:

How does the human body generate heat, please explain in detail?

From Wikipedia:

Thermoregulation is the ability of an organism to keep its body temperature within certain boundaries, even when the surrounding temperature is very different.

From Yahoo Answers:

The heat is generated by all of the biochemical reactions carried out by cells. The liver is the main contributor of heat since it carries out hundreds of reactions. Every time that a “fuel food” – protein, carbohydrate or fats – is broken down, heat is released as a by-product. The actual product of this “tissue respiration” is a molecule called Adenosine Tri Phosphate (ATP) which is used by all cells for energy. For example each Glucose molecule will produce 38 molecules of ATP plus carbon dioxide and water as waste products and heat energy. The heat is passed onto blood so that, in the liver, blood entering the liver is cooler than blood leaving it! Shivering is actually just very rapid muscle contraction and each time a muscle contracts it needs ATP which is made by greaking down a fuel food. The equation for tissue respiration involving glucose is:-

Glucose + oxygen + ADP + Pi —– Carbon dioxide + water + ATP + heat energy

When fats are respired they produce twice as much energy, in the form of ATP, than either carbohydrates or proteins.

How was your April? What cool stuff or realisations did you come across? Leave your answer in the comment section below.

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