My plan for when the world ends is to accept it. I’ve never been particularly interested in apocalyptic fantasies, mud-smeared skin, and eating cans of corn in a dilapidated farmhouse. In that scenario, where are we even finding the corn? Is all the corn in the world not rendered inaccessible by zombies/blight/the Sun exploding?
Talking about the end of the world invariably returns us to one of humanity’s favorite movie franchises, dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were not enthusiastically whipping out multi-tool knives as their world got rocked by earthquakes, fires, and actual rocks. They met their match with climate change. You can read more about that in today’s newsletter along with some other fascinating science stories to energize your day. We’re not done yet.
When a colossal asteroid collapsed into Earth, the sun was sheeted in dust, and almost everything on the planet died. Although it’s enticing to attribute this mass extinction to the asteroid’s crash, scientists have begun linking the deaths to the climate change that followed. Fresh research published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences bolsters this claim and illuminates it.
“In the wake of the asteroid’s impact at Chicxulub, vaporized rocks were ejected into the atmosphere, forming plumes containing sulfuric gasses — known as sulfate aerosols,” writes Inverse nature reporter Tara Yarlagadda. “Scientists long suspected these sulfate aerosols — which can cool the climate — resulted in a post-asteroid global “winter” or mass climate cooling event.”
Of course, getting trapped under a gargantuan asteroid or getting caught in one of the many natural disasters it inspired (earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, you name it) is pretty life-threatening, too. Scientists aren’t denying that. “But it’s also possible that climate change from this freezing global winter caused the extinction of any dinosaurs that happened to survive the cold period, along with three-quarters of the remaining species on Earth,” writes Yarlagadda.
Climate changes: The deadliest flaw in human evolution
You don’t need to be a mad scientist in a Scooby-Doo episode to warrant an FBI file, I guess. Writer Rahul Rao shares that the FBI had taken an interest in Einstein “as early as 1934,” just a year after Einstein fled Nazi Germany in exchange for New Jersey.
That’s when the infamous first director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover accused Einstein of being a Communist and began building his thick file. “But a closer look at what the FBI claimed to know about Albert Einstein — and the agency’s plans for the famous scientist — reveals more about American paranoia during the Cold War than it does about Einstein himself,” writes Rao.
Einstein was openly critical of the war, segregation, “and miscarriages of justice.” He was a friend of Pan-Africanist civil rights leader W. E. B. Du Bois and famed leftist and actor Paul Robeson. He didn’t buy what the U.S. government was selling.
But the FBI laid off Einstein until February 12, 1950, when he went public with his vehement opposition to the hydrogen bomb. Spooky, but “FBI internal memos found in its Einstein file hint at the agency’s master plan for the physicist,” writes Rao. The agency flirted with revoking Einstein’s citizenship and reached into his past, hoping to find something damning.
I can handle the truth: Farmers’ seeds are a secret ecological disruptor
“It’s all too common these days: you hear some terrible piece of news and think, I wish I could help, but I’m just one person,” writes Inverse card story editor Bryan Lawver. “That’s how game designer, sensitivity consultant, and streamer Rue Dickey felt on February 22, when Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered child protection agencies in the state to investigate adults who help trans kids access gender-affirming care, which Abbott labeled ‘abusive.’”
In response, Dickey organized a charity tabletop roleplaying game bundle on indie video game site itch.io. The bundle’s fundraising power quickly exceeded Dickey’s expectations, which were set firmly around $1,000, maybe $10,000 max. Instead, the bundle has so far netted $300,000, which will be split between two Texas-based trans charities, and its stretch goal has since been adjusted to $420,000.
In this informative and galvanizing interview, Lawver speaks to Dickey about tabletop games and how to best support the trans community. Click the link to read it in its entirety.
To bring some relief to the estimated six percent of U.S. inhabitants with PTSD, researchers are exploring MDMA. The empathogen releases oxytocin in the brain, making its user feel safe and connected, and animal studies “have shown that MDMA can help process traumatic memories in the amygdala, an area of the brain that controls stress response and is associated with memory,” writes Katie MacBride.
Now, new research suggests that, when combined with weekly therapy sessions, “MDMA allows people to relive a traumatic experience without dissociating or having other reactions that might hinder psychotherapy.”
Researchers don’t know how long this amazing effect lasts, but what they’ve noticed so far seems promising — some research participants felt PTSD relief for over 18 months following their MDMA treatment. Experts say that “if all goes well, MDMA therapy could be available to the public by the end of 2023,” reports MacBride.
Infinite possibility: LSD may be as good for you as yoga
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- On this day in history: The American paleontologist Robert T. Bakker was born March 24, 1945, in Ridgewood, New Jersey. Bakker was one of the first researchers to suggest that dinosaurs were more like warm-blooded birds than lizards. “Someone had to say dinosaurs had feathers,” Bakker writes in his Houston Museum of Natural Science bio page.
- Song of the day: “Seemed Like the Thing to Do” by Dinosaur Jr.