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Nothing is Random with Moriba Jah – Episode 14

Moriba Jah is a world-renowned astrodynamicist who specializes in tracking the thousands of pieces of space debris currently orbiting our planet and possibly threatening to disrupt our satellite networks if nothing is done to fix it. He is a professor at the Department of Aerospace Engineering and Engineering Mechanics at the University of Texas in Austin and recently co-founded Privateer Space with Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple. Their goal is to create a platform that will allow for the tracking, avoidance, and removal of space debris.

Find out more at their site,

Aim High: The Long, Strange History Of Drugs In The Military

In the 1960s, the US military tested a psychedelic called BZ on its own troops, to study how they could use it as a weapon. The results were shocking, but drugs have been used in the military for as long as humans have been fighting each other. Today we take a look at this taboo subject.


U.S. Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman once said “war is hell.” He and a lot of people but somehow it stuck to him.
Yeah, human bodies being ripped to shreds all around you while every moment feels like the last you’ll ever have, I think that term applies.
Sometimes a human being needs a little extra help to perform in these conditions. And for centuries, armies have used stimulants to provide that help.
They helped in a lot of ways, from enhancing troop performance and keeping soldiers awake to even helping soldiers bond with each other, which led to better group cohesion and morale.
The short of it is that soldiers have been fighting while high for much of world history.
Alcohol is probably the oldest and most popular motivator for soldiers. For example, British soldiers would turn to rum, while Russians would drink vodka.
Ancient Greeks and Romans preferred wine. The Germans? That’s right, beer.
And for Americans, it’s been whiskey since the Civil War.
But just like for most of us, alcohol is pretty basic when it comes to really getting lit, for that you need to get more herbal.
For example, when the British tried to conquer the Zulu tribes in 1879, they got more they bargained for, in fact, their enemy seemed almost immune to rifle fire.
It turns out the Zulu warriors had been given various herbs by their shaman, herbs like intelezi, which is a traditional plant that basically makes you fearless.
They also gave them dagga, which is a South African variety of cannabis that has a stimulating effect.
And there was also the “bushman poison bulb,” whose effects caused hallucinations.
You know you hear that and you might think, “why would they do that, wouldn’t that make the soldiers crazy?” Well, you’re sending them into a crazy situation. Maybe that’s an advantage.
In Eurasia, mushrooms were often used by soldiers in Siberian tribes.
For example, the main psychoactive component of a toadstool mushroom is muscimol, which can enhance combat performance.
Soviet soldiers were reportedly intoxicated on mushrooms and fought fearlessly at the Battle of Székesfehérvár (SEE-kesh fer-HER-var in Hungary in 1945.
During World War One, French and German pilots and Canadian soldiers were known to use cocaine.
London pharmacists even sold medical kits that contained cocaine and heroin.
They were advertised as “useful presents for friends at the front.” Women would buy and send them to the soldiers.
I feel like it’s important to point out that they gave cocaine and heroin to kids back then too, so…
Next up was World War II and this was was all about the amphetamines.
The Nazis especially conducted systematic military doping with an early version of crystal meth called Pervitin.
The drug would increase alertness, energize the body, reduce fatigue, and boost confidence.
Troops were issued around 35 million pills during the peak of the Blitzkrieg in spring 1940.
Some soldiers even took up to four pills a day. It’s believed that from 1939 to 1945 the German military took about 200 million meth pills.
Seriously, the Nazis were meth-heads.
So how do you beat an army of meth heads? With your own meth heads.
Yeah the Allies gave meth to their troops, too in the form of Benzedrine pills.
72 million Benzedrine amphetamine tablets were issued to British troops during the second world war.
The U.S. gave Benzedrine tablets to bomber crews in 1942 before offering them to infantrymen the next year.
All in all, the Pentagon issued anywhere from 250 million to 500 million Benzedrine tablets to Allied troops.
Starting in the 1950s and 1960s, there was a new class of drugs that began to interest the U.S. military: psychedelics.
One of these was lysergic acid diethylamide, or LSD.
The story is that a chemist named Albert Hofmann was working for Sandoz Pharmaceutical, trying to create a blood stimulant.
And one of the drugs he synthesized 1938 just happened to be LSD, but he didn’t know that it had any hallucinogenic effects until 1943, when he… accidentally consumed some.
That’s an upsetting way to find out that you need to CLEAN YOUR LAB.
So psychiatrists started experimenting with LSD starting around 1950, and between 1950 and 1965, had administered it to more than 40,000 patients and wrote more than 1000 scientific papers on the subject.
But it was the 1960s when the drug became popular with the general public, hence the psychedelic 60s. It was promoted by alternative thought leaders at the time like Timothy Leary with his “turn on, tune in, drop out” mantra.
But perhaps nobody wanted to tune in more than the US Military and the CIA.
Project MK-Ultra was a CIA program that started in the 1950s and through the 1960s where the CIA experimented with LSD and other substances on volunteers and unsuspecting subjects.
Dozens of medical facilities, pharmaceutical companies, and universities were involved.
The thinking was that LSD could be used as a psychological weapon during the Cold War, but ultimately they decided it was too unpredictable for use in the field.
By the way, this marked a bit of a shift in the use of drugs in the military. Like all the previous examples I mentioned were about enhancing the performance of their own troops, this was more about using drugs as a weapon against the enemy.
And to my knowledge anyway, this was different, drugs hadn’t been used this way before, unless you count chemical weapons like mustard gas and sarin and whatnot.
With psychedelics, the army saw an opportunity to confuse and disable an enemy or to engage in psychological warfare with the populace by doping them against their knowledge.
And it didn’t stop with LSD, one of the most interesting and lesser known drugs they tested was 3-quinuclidinyl (quin-u-clid-inil) benzilate, also known as Agent BZ.
If you wanna get deep in the science lingo, it’s an anticholinergic drug, which means it blocks the action of acetylcholine, which is a type of neural transmitter that sends messages between neurons.
It gives the neurons a bad connection basically.
Much like LSD, this was also discovered by accident by a pharmaceutical company called Hoffmann-La Roche – different Hofmann than the LSD guy by the way – they were trying to create an antispasmodic for GI conditions.
But in 1951, they discovered that one of their formulas… kinda messed people up. And in comes the military.
The U.S. Army began experimenting with BZ and its effects at the Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland in the 1950s. 
They were run by U.S. Army researcher John Ketchum. He was a colonel who had spent much of his career researching how drugs like LSD and PCP could be turned into chemical weapons.
Ketchum was fascinated by BZ and the bizarre effects, saying:
“Subjects sometimes display something approaching wit, not in the form of word-play, but as a kind of sarcasm or unexpected frankness,” he wrote in a report.
(act out) That sounds like a review of my channel.
(maybe a comment animation of someone typing “something approaching wit”)
The effects would last for several days, and during the drug’s peak, subjects were completely cut off in their own minds, jumping from one fragmented reality to the next.
They’d even see visions, like tiny baseball players on a tabletop diamond, animals, and objects that materialized and vanished.
And they reportedly barely remembered the experience after the drug wore off.
His most notable BZ tests took place in May of 1962, and this was quite a production.
They literally built a fake communications outpost and locked four volunteer soldiers in the building for 72 hours.
They were provided with food and water, medicine, and a chemical toilet. And were given combat simulations to see how they would perform as a communications team under the influence of BZ.
All the while they had four cameras set up around the room with Ketchum and several technicians observing through monitors on the outside.
So, there were four of these guys, like I mentioned, and three of them remained anonymous in Ketchum’s report, one of them was identified as Pfc. Ronald Zadrozny. The others are only identified as H, C, and L.
L was the leader of the group – maybe that’s why he went by L – and he was the control subject, he didn’t have any of the BZ.
H and C got low doses of it and Zadrozny got the largest dose.
One example of a test they were put through was Ketchum triggered an alarm that indicated a chemical attack, which caused the men to rush to put on their gas masks.
The guys with the lower doses did okay but Zadrozny was in a state of delirium and had to be helped with it.
During Zadrozny’s drug-induced weekend, he saluted imaginary officers, thought a drape that partitioned the toilet was a group of men, and would stay up late pacing, mumbling, and trying to escape the room.
He began to improve at one point and sat in front of the switchboard, ready to receive communication, but didn’t understand that he had to put the telephone to his ear to hear anything.
When one of the other soldiers tried to explain it to him, he said he couldn’t because “It wasn’t working with electrodes.”
The soldiers were subjected to 200 phony tactical messages and warnings of chemical attacks. In the end, the experiment showed that BZ could be used to render troops ineffective.
But it wasn’t the end of the tests.
That same year, reservist Walter Payne was told to inhale a cloud of BZ in a wind tunnel. He was unresponsive three hours later.
He was examined and showed “signs of decerebrated rigidity with hyperextension of the back, neck and limbs, accompanied by irregular twitching movement of limbs.”
In other words, there were signs of major head trauma and brain damage.
Payne was quickly given an antidote and he recovered from it pretty fast. They did an EEG test on him almost a month later and it showed that he was back to normal.
Dodged a bullet on that one. I’m sure they won’t do that again…
In 1963, they did it again with another volunteer named Jason Butler, Jr. This time they had him breathe in the BZ in a wind tunnel… and he immediately went into critical condition.
His head shook spastically, and his body temperature peaked at 39.8 degrees Celcius (103.6 degrees Fahrenheit).
He was given an antidote and sponged with ice water to cool him down. Doctors released him after six days, saying he looked normal. And vowing that they would never, ever, ever do–
Another test a year later tried to see if they could incapacitate a group of soldiers with a cloud of BZ in the field. This was called Project DORK for some reason.
(is there a movie clip we could put here?)
This one is kinda hilarious because they had trouble getting the cloud to stick around long enough for the soldiers to breathe it in, it just dispersed in the wind too quickly.
So they tried doing it at a specific time before dawn when the air and ground temperature differences were just right, to prevent it from drifting away, and that didn’t work.
So they resorted to having eight soldiers running in place on the back of a moving vehicle that moved along with the cloud so they could breathe as much of it in as possible. And it still didn’t work.
So yeah, seeing as how they didn’t think they would get an enemy to agree to drive along with a cloud of poison gas while their soldiers breathed in as much of it as possible, they had to abandon the idea.
The BZ tests officially ended in the early 70s but there were rumors that the military tested them on US soldiers in Vietnam. The ending of the movie Jacob’s Ladder refers to this but in the movie BZ turned the soldiers into violent, aggressive animals, which is not at all what the experiments reported. So that’s probably just some Hollywood fantasy.
Unfortunately for many of the volunteers in these experiments, the effects changed their lives forever.
The Army published a study in 1980 that showed 16 percent of volunteers who took LSD suffered psychological symptoms like depression, flashbacks, and suicidal ideation later in their lives.
Another study showed many subjects had been hospitalized for nervous-system disorders.
And tragically in 1995, Ronald Zadrozny killed his third wife and then himself. Although his ex-wife claimed that he never appeared bothered by the BZ experiments.
Since that happened more than 30 years before his death, it’s probably fair to assume that the drug had nothing to do with it.  Or maybe it did. We’ll never know.
Believe it or not, military experiments involving psychedelic drugs are continuing to this day… but for a very different reason.
Psychedelics have been shown to be useful in therapeutic settings, and they’re now being studied to help soldiers and veterans to treat anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.
In 2020, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency better known as DARPA funded a $27 million project to create new medications for this purpose.
DARPA’s announcement didn’t specifically mention psychedelics, but it referred to “certain Schedule 1 controlled drugs that engage serotonin receptors” and that have “significant side effects, including hallucination.”
Psychedelic drugs appear to create a state of plasticity in the brain that makes it easier for people to rewire neuronal circuits and learn new behaviors.
For soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, these drugs along with therapy may help them increase their well-being.
There are currently more than 200 clinical trials registered on to test the effects of MDMA and psilocybin on conditions like PTSD and depression. 
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is closely following the research. But some soldiers need immediate help.
Army Ranger Jesse Gould’s disability claim for PTSD took two years to be processed by the VA. But the department’s recommended treatment wasn’t working for him.
Then he discovered psychedelics and chose to drink an ayahuasca brew. According to Gould, it saved his life. Maybe with this new research, many others could be saved as well.
So we seem to have entered a third era of drugs in the military. The first being performance enhancing agents for the battlefield, the second being weapons to use against the enemy. Now we’re studying how to improve the lives of those who sacrifice so much in service to their country.
And that’s a goal that I myself can get behind.

According To NASA, Voyager 2 May Be Leaving the Solar System Soon

This NASA diagram illustrates the hypothesized positions of Voyagers 1 and 2 in the solar system as of October 2018. Voyager 1 reached interstellar space in 2012. Voyager 2 may soon hit that milestone.

Want to get away? Want to get far, far away? Voyager 2 has you beat: The spacecraft, launched in 1977, is approaching the edge of the solar system, according to a NASA statement released today (Oct. 5).

That announcement is based on two different instruments on board, which in late August began noticing a small uptick in how many cosmic rays — superfast particles pummeling the solar system from outer space — were hitting the spacecraft.

That matches pretty well with what Voyager 1 began experiencing about three months before its own grand departure in 2012, but scientists can’t be sure of the milestone until after it has been passed.

We’re seeing a change in the environment around Voyager 2, there’s no doubt about that,” Voyager Project Scientist Ed Stone, a physicist at Caltech, said in the statement.

We’re going to learn a lot in the coming months, but we still don’t know when we’ll reach the heliopause. We’re not there yet — that’s one thing I can say with confidence.

The team behind Voyager 2 knows that the spacecraft is currently almost 11 billion miles (17.7 billion kilometers) away from Earth.

But it’s hard to predict when the spacecraft will actually leave the solar system by passing through what scientists call the heliopause.

The heliopause is the bubble around our solar system formed by the solar wind, the rush of charged particles that constantly streams off our sun.

The rate of energetic interstellar particles detected by Voyager 2 started to rise at the end of August 2018. Each point represents a 6-hour average.

But that solar wind ebbs and flows over the course of the sun’s 11-year cycle, which means that the bubble of our solar system itself expands and contracts.

And because Voyager 2 isn’t following precisely in its predecessor’s steps, scientists aren’t positive that its cosmic exit will result in identical changes to the data that the spacecraft reports.

So until Voyager 2 passes through the heliopause, there’s no way to be sure precisely where it is with regard to the heliopause.

Whenever it does successfully flee the solar system, Voyager 2 will become just the second human-made object to do so.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

This Isn’t The End Of Printed Photos, It’s The Golden Age

As a society, we now produce more photographs than ever before, and the total number is becoming difficult to fathom. This year, it is estimated that billions of humans armed with smartphones will take some 1.2 trillion pictures.

Many of them will be shared on social media, but many more will simply be forgotten. A few good selfies will flash before your eyes as you swipe left or right on them, late some Friday night.

But hardly any will make the transition into the physical world, bits becoming blots of ink that coalesce into an image on a piece of paper, canvas, wood, or metal — a print.

The reasons for this are rational, and there’s no point fighting progress, but nor should we ignore the value of a print. We may no longer print every photo by default, but this can actually be a good thing for printing.

It is now about quality rather than quantity, and the pictures we choose to print deserve the best treatment.

Honestly, there has never been a better time to print than now, thanks to technological advances in both digital cameras and inkjet printers.

If you haven’t yet tried your hand at photo printing, you owe it to yourself to do so, even if you’re just a casual photographer.

Print isn’t dead — it’s better than ever

It’s a common refrain in the digital age, and not just in reference to photography. Print is dead, or at least dying, right? In truth, a certain type of print has certainly declined, but this isn’t a tragedy.

Prints used to be the only way we had to view our photos. We’d drop our film off at the drugstore and pick it up 24 hours later not because it was a better system, but because it was all we had.

We tend to romanticize the print, but when printing was the norm, many photos were still lost and forgotten (and some were found again).

Most were destined for photo albums or shoeboxes that would sit around and collect dust until moving day. If fewer were forgotten, it was because fewer were made.

Far fewer, in fact — in 2000, Kodak announced 80 billion pictures had been taken that year.

Sure, that sounds like a lot (it was a new milestone at the time), but for those who think of such large numbers as vague clouds of zeros, consider that 80 billion is still 1.12 trillion shy of 2017’s 1.2 trillion photos.

For the mathematically disinclined, let’s put it another way: Subtracting the total number of photos made in the year 2000 from those made in 2017 would have no effect on the number of shirtless mirror selfies posted by lonely men on Tinder.

With so many photos being taken, it’s no wonder so relatively few are being printed. Every print costs money, after all, so of course people aren’t going to print 1.3 trillion photos.

What’s more, the point of printing (often the point of taking a photo in the first place) was to share your memory with someone else.

Now that we don’t need prints to do that, it makes sense that people are choosing not to spend money on them, especially when electronically sharing images also happens to be much more convenient.

But people still love prints. Even the “low end” of printing is alive and well as instant photography has seen a huge resurgence in recent years.

Polaroid Originals has built an entire brand around it, and Fujifilm Instax cameras and film packs made up six of the top ten best selling photography products on Amazon last holiday season.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

Ditching Microbeads: The Search For Sustainable Skincare

Is smoother skin worth more than having potable water or edible fish?

For years, research has shown that beauty products made with tiny microbeads, gritty cleansers that scrub off dead skin cells, have been damaging water supplies, marine life and the ecological balance of the planet.

Beat the Microbead, an international campaign to ban the plastic beads, reports that marine species are unable to distinguish between food and microbeads.

According to the campaign, “over 663 different species were negatively impacted by marine debris with approximately 11% of reported cases specifically related to the ingestion of microplastics“.

To make things worse, microbeads can act like tiny sponges, absorbing several other dangerous chemicals, including pesticides and flame retardants. As they ingest microbeads, marine animals also consume these other poisons.

The obvious solution to the microbead problem is to cut it off at the source.

But while major cosmetic companies like Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, and Procter & Gamble have pledged to phase out the use of microbeads in favor of natural alternatives, they also say that the shift could take several years.

And as more research is done, it appears that microbead replacements may come with dangers of their own.

Some of the natural replacements for microbeads also have negative consequences.

Greg Boyer, chair of the chemistry department at SUNY-College of Environmental Science and Forestry, says a possible negative consequence is with degrading sugars that biochemically “burn” the sugar for energy.

A variety of biodegradable ingredients are available to developers.

Victoria Fantauzzi, co-founder of Chicago-based La Bella Figura Beauty, says that her company recently released a facial cleanser that uses enzymes found in papaya and pineapple, ingredients known to effectively exfoliate skin cells.

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Pass it on: Popular Science

The Secret To A Longer Life? Stop Eating!

The first 50 people to sign up will get $50 off your first two weeks of Blue Apron! Click here:

Studies on fasting have shown significant evidence that it not only helps with weight loss, but has all kinds of benefits from mental sharpness to anti-aging and life extension and even prevention of diseases like cancer and alzheimers.

This has led many to try intermittent fasting, which combines the benefits of fasting with a more convenient lifestyle. Here I talk about the benefits of intermittent fasting, how it works, and my own personal experience with it.

Amazon Shopping Link

Hey Guys,

Well, the redirect didn’t work after all. Sorry about that (maybe they don’t allow associate links or something).

Anyway, you can still get there by clicking on this link:

Happy shopping! And thanks!

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