Can DMT Connect The Human Brain To A Parallel Universe?


Dr. Rick Strassman in his book DMT: the Spirit Molecule, claims that DMT, which is one of the most powerful psychedelic drugs, can provide a reliable and regular access to the other planes of existence.  He claims that DMT may actually be a gateway to parallel universes.

In fact, these universes are always there and constantly transmit information. But we cannot perceive them because we are simply not designed for this: our ‘program’ keeps us tuned to the standard, mentally ‘normal’ channel.  We don’t have the sensory tools available to tune into to this information. Dr. Strassman beliefs that DMT allows us to tune into to other dimensions of existence that are already present right now.

What if DMT can lead us to parallel worlds? Theoretical physicists assume that the existence of parallel worlds is based on the phenomenon of interference, writes Strassman. One of the demonstrations of this phenomenon is what happens to the light beam when passing through a narrow hole in cardboard. Various rings and colorful edges that appear on the screen on which the light falls are not just the outlines of the cardboard. As a result of more complex experiments, the researchers concluded on the existence of “invisible” light particles that collide with those that we can see, refracting light in unexpected ways.

Parallel worlds interact with each other when the interference occurs. According to the theoretical hypothesis, there is an unimaginably huge number of parallel universes, or multiverses, each of which is similar to our own and is subject to the same laws of physics. This is the reason to the fact that it is not necessary that there is anything particularly strange or exotic about different multiverses. At the same time, they are parallel due to the particles that form them and that are located in different positions in each universe.

Strassman refers to the British scientist David Deutsch, a leading theorist in this area and author of The Fabric of Reality. He has corresponded with Deutsch discussing the likelihood that DMT can alter brain function so as to grant access or knowledge about parallel worlds and the physicist doubted this possibility because it would require quantum computingThis phenomenon, according to Deutsch, “could distribute components of a complex task among vast numbers of parallel universes, and then share the results. One of the conditions required for quantum computing is a temperature close to absolute zero.” That is why the physicist finds prolonged contact between universes in a biological system unlikely.

However, Strassman notes that since DMT is the key substance that changes the brain’s physical properties so that quantum computing may take place at body temperature, establishing contact with parallel universes could be possible.  In other words, DMT changes the physiology of the brain to such a degree that quantum computing is possible, thus giving us access to these parallel worlds.

This possibility confirms many of the stories reported by those who have used DMT.  They report that it is more than a mere hallucination or a “trip”, and often report going to other worlds and interacting with beings that inhabit these worlds.  With a theoretical hypothesis in place, we can now begin to give credence to the idea that users of DMT are in fact tapping into other parallel worlds.

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The Universe Is Mathematics, Physicist Says.


Scientists have long used mathematics to describe the physical properties of the universe. But what if the universe itself is math? That’s what cosmologist Max Tegmark believes.

In Tegmark’s view, everything in the universe — humans included — is part of a mathematical structure. All matter is made up of particles, which have properties such as charge and spin, but these properties are purely mathematical, he says. And space itself has properties such as dimensions, but is still ultimately a mathematical structure.

“If you accept the idea that both space itself, and all the stuff in space, have no properties at all except mathematical properties,” then the idea that everything is mathematical “starts to sound a little bit less insane,” Tegmark said in a talk given Jan. 15 here at The Bell House. The talk was based on his book “Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality” (Knopf, 2014).

“If my idea is wrong, physics is ultimately doomed,” Tegmark said. But if the universe really is mathematics, he added, “There’s nothing we can’t, in principle, understand.” [7 Surprising Things About the Universe]

Nature is full of math

The idea follows the observation that nature is full of patterns, such as the Fibonacci sequence, a series of numbers in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. The flowering of an artichoke follows this sequence, for example, with the distance between each petal and the next matching the ratio of the numbers in the sequence.

The nonliving worldalso behaves in a mathematical way. If you throw a baseball in the air, it follows a roughly parabolic trajectory. Planets and other astrophysical bodies follow elliptical orbits.

“There’s an elegant simplicity and beauty in nature revealed by mathematical patterns and shapes, which our minds have been able to figure out,” said Tegmark, who loves math so much he has framed pictures of famous equations in his living room.

One consequence of the mathematical nature of the universe is that scientists could in theory predict every observation or measurement in physics. Tegmark pointed out that mathematics predicted the existence of the planet Neptune, radio waves and the Higgs boson particle thought to explain how other particles get their mass.

Some people argue that math is just a tool invented by scientists to explain the natural world. But Tegmark contends the mathematical structure found in the natural world shows that math exists in reality, not just in the human mind.

And speaking of the human mind, could we use math to explain the brain?

Mathematics of consciousness

Some have described the human brain as the most complex structure in the universe. Indeed, the human mind has made possible all of the great leaps in understanding our world.

Someday, Tegmark said, scientists will probably be able to describe even consciousness using math. (Carl Sagan is quoted as having said, “the brain is a very big place, in a very small space.”)

“Consciousness is probably the way information feels when it’s being processed in certain, very complicated ways,” Tegmark said. He pointed out that many great breakthroughs in physics have involved unifying two things once thought to be separate: energy and matter, space and time, electricity and magnetism. He said he suspects the mind, which is the feeling of a conscious self, will ultimately be unified with the body, which is a collection of moving particles.

But if the brain is just math, does that mean free will doesn’t exist, because the movements of particles could be calculated using equations? Not necessarily, he said.

One way to think of it is, if a computer tried to simulate what a person will do, the computation would take at least the same amount of time as performing the action. So some people have suggested defining free will as an inability to predict what one is going to do before the event occurs.

But that doesn’t mean humans are powerless. Tegmark concluded his talk with a call to action: “Humans have the power not only to understand our world, but to shape and improve it.”

Imaging ferroelectric domains.


When thin films of ferroelectric materials are grown on single-crystal substrates, they can develop regions of aligned polarization—called “domains”—that often adopt complex patterns. Manipulation of ferroelectric domains can lead to advances in a number of technologies. However, in order to manipulate the domains, it is important to study their natural development. Previous studies have shown that interfacial strain and electrical boundary conditions play a large role. Accurate measurements of the local polarization can help science learn more. By changing the properties of the substrate and the interfaces of the ferroelectric materials, one can control the size and shape of the domains and thus influence the behavior of the material.

One promising method for doing so is called Bragg projection ptychography, or BPP. X-ray BPP had previously been used to measure strain in semiconductor devices. Now, a team of scientists from Argonne National Laboratory, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Northern Illinois University, and La Trobe University (Australia) carrying out studies at the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science’s Advanced Photon Source (APS) and Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory has found another application for BPP: imaging local polarization in ferroelectric . In the future, this technique can help scientists study how domains develop in ferroelectric thin films, and thus how to manipulate them, potentially improving critical technologies such as memory storage.

First, the researchers used chemical vapor deposition to grow a 25-nm-thick film of the ferroelectric material lead titanate, or PbTiO3. When PbTiO3 is grown on a certain perfect single-crystal substrates, the domains will normally be distributed in a serpentine pattern. However, by controlling the surface properties of the substrate, these domain patterns can be influenced and controlled.

In this case, the researchers used substrates of strontium titanate, or SrTiO3, which had surface miscut steps spaced about 22-nm apart. Using a growth chamber at the Argonne Materials Science Division (MSD), they deposited PbTiO3 on the substrates, creating thin films with striped domain patterns.

That’s where Bragg projection ptychography comes in. At the Center for Nanoscale Materials/X-ray Science Division beamline 26-ID-C, the researchers produced a focused coherent x-ray beam about 35-nm wide. When the beam hit the PbTiO3 film at a specific position and angle, it produced a coherent Bragg diffraction pattern—a sort of fingerprint of the local domain structure.

This process was repeated at about 650 points on the film, marked as yellow dots in part (a) of the figure. Because the x-ray beam was larger than the change in position, the information from all 650 points formed an overlapped data set.

Next, the team used a ptychographic algorithm, which simultaneously considered all the diffraction patterns from each overlapped point. With appropriate constraints, the algorithm converged to the correct answer in real space, converting the data from reciprocal space. Based on the resulting nanoscale map, the researchers created an image of the film’s polarization, as shown in part (b) of the figure. The striped domain pattern they found was consistent with the structure of the PbTiO3 film’s underlying SrTiO3 substrate.

To check the accuracy of the BPP reconstruction, the researchers also measured the local polarization of the PbTiO3 film with piezoresponse force microscopy. This method runs a scanning probe over the surface of the film to extract local polarization information.

Both techniques returned similar information about the domain pattern. However, piezoresponse force microscopy has a disadvantage: it requires direct access to the surface it is measuring. If a ferroelectric film was used as a memory device, it would be surrounded by layers of other electronic components, and this method of measuring  would be impossible.

BPP, on the other hand, can be performed from a distance, which means it can measure thin films in corrosive or enclosed environments where imaging with other techniques would be difficult or impossible. This makes BPP a promising tool for measuring how materials change under high temperatures and pressures.

Map of the Internet 1.0: Explore this beautiful, hand-drawn map of the online world


Slovakian designer Martin Vargic has mapped out the major sites of the web.

How do you map something like the internet? It’s a challenge that continues to fascinate many virtual-cartographers, and amateur graphic designer Martin Vargic is the latest to try his hand – creating the magnificently baroque image above.

Vargic began the project in December 2013, using old National Geographic maps for visual inspiration and Alexa data of the most visited websites in the world to scale the different land masses. Perhaps the amazing fact is that the map was drawn free hand, directly into Photoshop.

“My map is divided into two distinct parts,” Vargic explained to The Independent. “The eastern continent, the Old World, showcases software companies, gaming companies and some of the more real-life oriented websites.”

“The western part, the New World, is composed from two major continents; the northern one showcasing social networks, search websites, video websites, blogs, forums and art websites. All major adult-oriented websites, in addition to various warez and torrent sites, are located on the south-western continent.”

Vargic says he was inspired by an earlier map of the internet created by Randal Munroe, the programmer behind the well-known xkcd web-comic. Comparing Munroe and Vargic’s images highlights the difficulty with mapping something as complex as the web.

While Vargic begun his map in terms of traffic, platforms and services, Munroe’s approach uses online communities as the main constituent. Both individuals have made the point that it isn’t the physical world that defines the web – but something less tangible, be it people or software.

You can map the internet using its infrastructure as a starting point (one anonymous hacker did just this in 2013, compromising more than 420,000 computers to achieve the feat), but although maps of pure data are beautiful, they sometimes seem to be more about spectacle, than communication.

Any map of the internet will be as much a work of fiction as it is a ‘real’ representation of the web, but Vargic’s has the advantage of being both informative and engaging. He also says he’ll be updating it in the future with more languages and those looking to support the project can buy a copy of the map for themselves.

In this way Vargic’s map and others like it are similar to the rough charts of terra incognita made by early explorers: they’re works in progress as well as a draw for the imagination, and the more we find about the territory under scrutiny, the more maps we’ll make.

TV doctor infests himself with worms


BBC TV presenter Dr Michael Mosley has infected himself with a number of parasites in an effort to understand how they affect the human body.

He swallowed tapeworm cysts, stuck a leech on his arm, and tried to infest himself with lice, in a new BBC Four documentary programme.

The worms lived in his body for several weeks – and he felt no ill effects.

The stool samples he gave while infected will be used by scientists studying signs of parasitic infection.

“Start Quote

Anyone thinking of popping parasites as a weight loss device should think twice”

Dr Michael Mosley

Dr Mosley is known for his “gonzo” medical journalism – he has previously taken “truth serum”, trialled magic mushrooms, and undergone the fasting 5:2 diet.

‘Delightful’ discovery

In this latest film, he swallows three tapeworm cysts (larvae) which he obtained from infected cattle in Kenya.

Several weeks later, he swallows a “pill camera” which travels into his gut and broadcasts live pictures to his iPad.

He discovers three worms – “triplets” – attached to the lining of his intestine, about a metre in length.

“When I first saw the worms, I was in an Indian restaurant. I shouted out: ‘Blimey! There’s a tapeworm in me!’ The other diners looked very surprised.”

Michael Mosley with a human tapeworm
The beef tapeworm can grow more than 10m inside the human gut.

“I was delighted, but at the same time, it was rather horrible.

“My wife wasn’t too keen on the idea, either. But I told her not to worry – this particular tapeworm is relatively innocuous.”

The beef tapeworm, Taenia saginata, is transmitted from cows to humans via infected meat.

It can grow more than 10m long in the intestine, and reproduces by passing new eggs out in the faeces.

The worm is usually asymptomatic – and Dr Mosley suffered no obvious effects, although he did put on about 1kg (2.2lbs) in weight.

Mosley with pill camera
Swallowing this “pill camera” let Michael Mosley see the worms inside his intestine.

“It could be that the parasite increased my appetite. I ate a lot of chocolate,” he explained.

“So anyone who is thinking of popping parasites as a weight-loss device should think twice.”

While that idea may seem absurd, there is growing evidence that parasites may have health benefits in certain cases.

They are being considered as treatments for allergies and auto-immune diseases, as they appear to dampen the body’s inflammatory responses.

Dr Mosley himself has “mild” hay fever, but was disappointed to find that the worms made no difference to his symptoms.

By documenting his experiences, he hopes to help scientists at Salford University, who are searching for early warning signs of worm infections.

“There are other tapeworms that are very nasty in humans – especially the pork tapeworm. It can get into your brain and eyes and causes cysts,” he said.

‘Blood everywhere’

If scientists could spot these infections early, they have a chance of treating patients. But in most cases the first clue that a person is infected comes much later – such as when they pass out eggs in their faeces.

Michael Mosley with leech
This leech was a happy camper on Dr Mosley’s arm.

In the programme, which will air in February, Dr Mosley also attempted to infest himself with head lice.

“I was unsuccessful – they didn’t take to me,” he said.

However, a blood-sucking leech that he stuck to his forearm made itself perfectly at home.

“They told me it drank eight times its body weight in blood. There was blood everywhere when I took it off,” Dr Mosley said.

The main conclusion of his experiments, he said, was that “parasites on the whole, are not crazy about me”.

His other conclusion: don’t try this at home.

“I wouldn’t recommend buying something on the internet and infecting yourself. Heaven knows where it’s been,” he said.

“Some people get better, some get worse, it appears. And we never seem to hear from the people who get worse.”

Scientists combine liquid crystals and living bacteria.


The prospect of integrated living organisms into a non-living substrate has long held a compelling appeal for those investigating active matter – the study of a type of easily-deformable out of equilibrium soft matter that focuses on the properties of assemblages of self-propelled interacting particles, and an important physical model of living systems. Recently, scientists at Kent State University, Argonne National Laboratory and Northwestern University have proposed the living liquid crystal (LLC) – a new class of active matter with motile rod-shaped bacteria placed in a water-based nontoxic lyotropic liquid crystal (LC) environment. The researchers found that the novel material displays a wide range of useful and occasionally surprising properties that lend themselves to a wide array of potential biosensing, biomedical, submicrometer, autonomous microprobe, and structural imaging applications.

Dr. Igor S. Aronson discussed the paper that he, Researcher Shuang Zhou, Dr. Andrey Sokolov, and Dr. Oleg D. Lavrentovich published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “When we first combined living swimming  with a , it wasn’t clear that the bacteria could live and swim in the liquid crystal, or if the liquid crystal is consistent with the bacterial environment,” Aronson tells Phys.org. To address this, the scientists developed a protocol for transferring bacteria to the liquid crystal by suspending the water-soluble liquid crystal used in their experiment in the bacterial growth medium.

Another challenge the researchers faced was determining that long-range orientational order of the liquid crystal and the swimming activity of bacteria demonstrate a strong coupling that dramatically alters individual and collective bacterial dynamics. “We found that in the liquid crystal environment we can see bacterial flagella, which are only about 20 nm wide,” Aronson says. More specifically, they observed a birefringence-enabled visualization of microflow generated by the flagella. (Birefringence is the optical property of a material having a refractive index that depends on the polarization and propagation direction of light.) “This is a very surprising discovery,” Aronson acknowledges. “Due to liquid crystal birefringence, we can flagella in polarized light – and remarkably, this is a non-invasive technique.”

“This observation is possible due to strong coupling between the long-range orientational order of the liquid crystal and bacterial activity.” Specifically, nanometer-wide bacterial flagella induce distortions in the liquid crystal on the scale of microns due to orientational order in the liquid crystal – and as a result, these flagella-induced distortions are visible in polarized light. Previous observations of flagella were made either by tunneling electron microscopy, which required drying the bacteria, or fluorescent microscopy, which required a significant modification of the bacteria (for example, by labeling their flagella with fluorescent dyes). “

Moreover, the scientists found a dynamic phenomena caused by coupling between the activity-triggered flow and long-range orientational order of the medium. In one such case, the scientists observed that the bacteria closely follow the local nematic direction. “This is primarily caused by strong viscosity anisotropy (the property of being directionally dependent, as opposed to isotropy) in the liquid crystal, Aronson comments. In addition, he points out, that moving perpendicular to the local nematic direction is not energetically favorable since it causes strong distortions of the local orientational order.

Chiral symmetry breaking of the living liquid crystal (LLC) director pattern caused by a rotating bacterium. (A and B). Schematics of the flows generated by the rotating bacterium. (C) Scheme of the director twist along the vertical z axis. Credit: Copyright PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1321926111

Furthermore, the scientists discovered that bacterial activity results in this emergence of self-organized textures – for example, stripes – from initially uniform LLCs. The textures emerged with a characteristic length x controlled by a balance between bacteria activity and anisotropic viscoelasticity of the liquid crystal. “The characteristic length decreases with increases in bacterial concentration and bacterial swimming speed,” Aronson explains. “Also, x increases with an increase in experimental cell thickness.” The primary reason for the onset of the self-organized textures is a competition of two effects: the LC tends to align the bacteria along local nematic direction – but bacteria generate flow in the LC which deflects LC molecules from their initial orientation. (A  phase is characterized by molecules that have no positional order but tend to point in the same direction.) The characteristic length can therefore be estimated by comparing viscous torque exerted by the bacteria on the LC molecules with the restoring elastic torque in the LC.

The researchers also demonstrated activity-triggered transitions from a non-flowing uniform state into a flowing one-dimensional periodic texture, and its subsequent evolution into a turbulent array of topological defects. “We observed a gradual increase in the complexity of emerging self-organized textures,” Aronson tells Phys.org. “At the onset – that is, at a very low concentration of bacteria – we observed the emergence of near-periodic arrays of stripes oriented perpendicular to the original nematic direction. Furthermore, with an increase in the concentration of bacteria, we observed the onset of disclinations” – the nucleation and proliferation of defects – “in the stripe arrays.” For even high concentration of bacteria, he notes, the overall texture is chaotic, with disclination pairs appearing and annihilating seemingly in a random fashion – a state known as active turbulence.

Aronson notes that their work provides several key insights derived from addressing the challenges they encountered:

  • it demonstrates universal features of the collective motion of self-propelled particles (such as bacteria) in anisotropic media (LC) – for example, the emergence of self-organized textures with a characteristic scale controlled by bacterial activity
  • the possibility of observing nanoscale dynamic objects, like bacterial flagella, in polarized light
  • the possibility of controlling and manipulating bacterial trajectories n the LC environment
  • a design concept for rewritable microfluidic devices based on their demonstration that the bacteria follow nematic-isotropic boundaries (isotropic – that is, uniform in all orientations –domains can be created in liquid crystals by, for example, local heating with lasers and then erased by cooling the liquid crystal)

In addition to these insights, the study uncovered a number of interesting and sometimes surprising results. Addressing the nonequilibrium nature of the collective motion of self-propelled organisms or synthetic particles, Aronson says that self-propelled microorganisms or synthetic swimmers inject energy into the medium at the microscopic scale (that is, the scale of individual particles), which drives the system out of equilibrium.

Emergence of a characteristic length scale in LLCs. (A and B) LLC with inactive bacteria is at its equilibrium state with the director and bacteria (highlighted by ellipses) aligned uniformly along the rubbing direction; (C andD) active bacteria produce periodically distorted director. (E) Proliferation of stripe pattern in the sample of thickness h = 20 μm and for low concentration of bacteria, c ∼ 0.9 × 109 cells/cm3. Oxygen permeates from the left-hand side. (F) LLC patterns in thicker sample (h = 50 μm) and for higher concentration of bacteria, c ∼ 1.6 × 109 cells/cm3. White arrow points toward a higher concentration of oxygen. (G) Zoomed area in F showing nucleating disclinations of strength +1/2 (semicircles) and −1/2 (triangles). Bright dashes visualize bacterial orientation. (H) Dependence of characteristic period ξ on c and h; dashed lines depict fit to theoretical predictionξ = √(Kh/0Iu0). (Inset) Illustration of collapse of the data into a universal behavior that follows from the theoretical model. (I) Director realignment (shown as a rod) caused by the bacterium-generated flow (shown by dashed lines with arrows). See also Movies S5 and S6. Scale bar, 50 μm (AD); 100 μm (EG). Error bars, ±10% standard error of the mean (SEM), except for ±30% SEM at c/c0 = 5.05. Copyright PNAS, doi:10.1073/pnas.1321926111

Yet another interesting finding is that of local melting of the liquid crystal caused by the so-called shear flows produced by bacteria. “With the increase in temperature, nematic and isotropic phases begin to co-exist in a manner analogous to water and ice,” Aronson explains. “Rotating bacterial flagella shear LC molecules, thus causing it to melt.”

Finally, notes Aronson, similar studies can be done with of more complex living liquid crystals, including smectics, where molecules form layers that can slide over one another, or cholesteric, in which molecules form helix-like order. In such cases, the scientists expect to find new types of emergent textures

Beyond their own work, Aronson sees a range of other research areas that stand to benefit from the results of their study. One such area, he says, comprises biosensing and biomedical devices with unique functionalities, including specific responses to chemical agents, toxins, or photons. “This technique can be used to control and manipulate individual bacteria for the purpose of recognition, analysis, and identification. For example,” Aronson illustrates, “one may think of modifying bacteria to have a specific sensitivity to a particular chemical agent, such as a toxin.” Once the agent is introduced into the cell, bacteria begin to move, thereby triggering the onset of periodic stripes. These stripes can be immediately detected – and in the case of light-sensitive bacteria, can be controlled by light.

Swimming bacteria can also serve as autonomous microprobes for determining liquid crystal properties. The bacteria create perturbations in the LC over a wide range of scales, from nanometer (flagella) to hundreds of micrometers (emergent textures). “By studying the LC response to bacterial motion,” Aronson concludes, “we can extract valuable information on LC material properties in confined geometries, such as microchannels. We can also study interaction of nearby swimming bacteria, including flagella interaction effects.”

5 custom launchers to make your Android device yours .


One of the things that I think makes Android a truly beautiful platform is customization. I’m not talking about custom ROMs or root mods. I’m talking about how no other major mobile platform out there lets you customize your device the way Android does. There may be some caveats, but you have the ability to make your Android device completely unique. My wife hates using my Nexus 5 because it’s so different than her Galaxy S4. Maybe that’s a bad thing, I’m not sure. But what I do know is that I have my Nexus 5 set up exactly the way I want it and I love it. I think my home screen looks awesome, and not only is it super functional, it’s also fun to use. The beauty is that I can change it tomorrow if I get a new idea. My home screen isn’t going to look like everyone else’s iPhone (although I could make it look like iOS if I wanted) or Windows Phone; my device looks like no one else’s because it’s Android.

Make your Android device yours

This is the first post of a recurring series about making your Android device yours. Today I’m going to cover custom launchers because I think it’s a fantastic place to start if you’re interested in customizing your device. My goal here is to offer customization ideas that will work for all Android devices, whether you’re still running Gingerbread or you’re on the latest version of Android, Kit Kat. You don’t need to be rooted. You don’t need to be running a custom ROM. All you need is a little bit of time and an itch to change things up a bit. If that sounds like you, read on Action Launchermy friend. We’re going to have fun diving into the world of customization and making your device truly unique.

If you’re not familiar with what a launcher is, you likely use one every time you turn on your phone. When you use your phone, you are interacting with your phone’s launcher. If you’re not using a custom one, you’re using the stock launcher. The launcher controls how the phone works when you interact with it, controls the homescreen layout and its transitions. Using a custom launcher enables you to modify home screen transition animations, tweak the look of app folders and change how your app dock is organized. There are many different ways you can customize your homescreen, and a great way to start is with the launcher.

Another good thing to know about using a custom launcher is that you can always go back to your stock launcher. If you don’t like what you’ve come up with, you can re-enable your default launcher by uninstalling the custom launcher or going into Settings > Apps, finding your custom launcher and clearing the default. Your stock launcher should return just as you left it.

There are tons of custom launchers out there. If you want to use one, look around and try to find one that you think will suit your desires best. Below I’ll list what I think are the most popular launchers for customizing your device. These aren’t necessarily the most unique options, but they are very popular. Just know that there are many others there that will allow you to do lots of different and crazy things to your device’s layout.

Nova and Apex Launcher

I’m not sure how much crap I’m going to get for lumping these two launchers together, but as far as I can tell, there isn’t a huge difference between them. They both offer a very stock Android look with a plethora of customization options. I’ve tried to snoop around and see which of the two the masses prefer and it really seems like a toss up. It comes down to personal preference and maybe even your device? I’ve read that some find one faster than the other. I use Nova because it was on sale once and that’s what I bought. If you’re trying to decide between the two, try out their free versions, which allow for a ton of customization without requiring you to spend a dime. If you end up wanting to try out premium features like gestures, buy the pro version of the app.

Doctors Say The Number Of Children Dying In Detroit Constitutes A ‘Public Health Emergency’.


shutterstock_74527048

Child mortality occurs at a higher rate in Detroit than in several Third World countries, according to a study conducted by Detroit News. After collaborating with national health departments, researchers discovered that the number one factor impacting Detroit’s high child death rates is prematurity, followed by a culture of violence.

The city of 713,000 is the only U.S. city with upwards of 100 deaths per 100,000 children. In what one doctor declared a “public health emergency,” 120 out of every 100,00 children in Detroit died in 2010. The infant mortality rate — which is higher than the rates in Panama, Romania, and Botswana — is another prominent issue. Between 2000 and 2011, 2,300 infants died within their first year.

Health concerns stem from the city’s long history of financial troubles; all told, 60 percent of Detroit’s youth were impoverished in 2010. Detroit’s economic conditions pose ongoing challenges for residents — including food insecurity, unsafe housing, and the inability access medical care — all of which impact child health, according to Dr. Irwin Redlene, a pediatrician and Columbia University professor.

There is a dearth of physicians in the area, and traveling to receive medical attention is hindered by a poor infrastructure. At this time, women who are not pregnant or nursing do not qualify for Medicaid, and the insurance is stripped away from them shortly after a baby is born. Dr. Elliot Attisha, who created a mobile clinic service that serves kids through the city, explained that children are not receiving necessary medical attention in this context, from “yearly checkups” to “treatment for their chronic conditions.” Many die of “common illnesses” like asthma and the flu.

High homicide rates throughout the city also foster a culture of trauma and stress among children. Officials recognize the extent to which gun violence particularly affects youth, although limited resources make it difficult to curb the problem. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Behavior Risk Survey concluded that many youth skipped school out of fear of violence, and more students were likely “to be threatened on school property with a weapon one or more times” than anywhere else. Altogether, thirty-six children died in Detroit as a result of violence in 2010.

While there is a concerted effort to expand medical services to youth, as hospitals and private organizations develop strategies to improve child health, Detroit’s economic chaos may foil those plans. Last year, Detroit became the largest city to file for bankruptcy — planting the seeds for 24,000 retirees to lose health benefits on March 1. The Motor City is far from economically secure enough to overhaul the systemic problems exacerbating child mortality. Nevertheless, 500,000 people throughout Michigan will be eligible for Medicaid in April, which will provide health insurance for many women with children.

Is Monsanto Killing the Monarch Butterflies, Too?


How our least favorite conglomerate may be ridding the world of our favorite insect.

Monsanto may have just found yet another reason to be hated.

The Monarch Butterfly’s life cycle has always been in sync with the seasonal growth of milkweed, which remains the only plant in the planet’s ecosystem that the butterfly larvae will eat. The emergence of milkweed across the world has made generations of monarchs travel from Mexico to as far north as Canada in an effort to feed off of the spring-time plant.

Now, however, the World Wildlife Fund has announced that the number of monarchs reaching Mexico in the last year has been falling steadily, and has reached the lowest level on record, found in 1.7 acres across 11 sanctuaries, down from the high of 45 acres in 1996.

The reason is simple: As Slate reports, the monarch population began to steadily sink as a result of grasslands rapidly being wiped out in favor of corn and soybean fields—a rate of loss, the report states, comparable to the deforestation of Brazil and Indonesia. Monsanto Company’s well-known, utterly toxic  Roundup Weed Killer is largely to blame for the decline, since it kills everything around it inlcuding milkweed, which is down by 80%.

“We have this smoking gun,” said Karen Oberhauser, a conservation biologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is the only think that we’ve actually been able to correlate with decreasing monarch numbers.”

While there have been a number of other possible scenarios for the butterfly’s disappearance (two years of unusual spring weather in the United States, and fluctuating dismally cold and scorching hot weather patterns), the substantial loss of milkweed seems to be the most likely cause.

There are still places in the United States that have an abundance of milkweed (there are only slight decreases in the number of monarchs in New Jersey and northern Michigan) but if the general notion of how big business agriculture is changing the landscape of our world’s ecosystem doesn’t change—drastically—then the Monarchs may just be the be one among many to go.

High bowel uptake on 18F-FDG PET scans in patients taking metformin.


 63-year-old male was referred to the endocrine clinic for the management of advanced thyroid cancer. Nine years before presentation, he underwent a thyroidectomy for a 7-cm Hürthle cell carcinoma with metastatic nodes in the lateral neck. A radioactive iodine ablation showed uptake only in the thyroid bed.

  • Within 1 year, he had a macroscopic nodal recurrent in the lateral neck. A radioactive iodine whole-body scan did not show uptake in the metastatic tumor. A PET scan with 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) showed increased uptake in nodes in the anterior mediastinum and lateral neck consistent with non-iodine avid metastatic thyroid cancer. His thyroglobulin levels have risen from 12 ng/mL in October 2010 to 20 ng/mL in October 2012 to the current levels of 1,607 ng/mL, suggesting progression of the metastatic thyroid cancer. His other significant medical history includes type 2 diabetes treated with metformin, pioglitazone and insulin glargine (Lantus, Sanofi-Aventis), and recent renal stones.
FDG accumulation in the intestines

A recombinant human thyroid-stimulating hormone 18F-FDG PET/single-photon emission CT (SPECT) scan was performed. There were multiple hypermetabolic pleural-based masses in the right thoracic cavity. The two largest masses measured 4 cm x 2.4 cm and 3.3 cm x 3.5 cm with maximal standardized uptake value (SUVmax) of 13, consistent with metastatic disease. It was noted that there was intense 18F-FDG accumulation in the intestines (Figure 1, patient 1) compared with a different patient not taking metformin (Figure 1, patient 2). The CT scan showed a staghorn calculus in the right renal collecting system and a small left renal cyst. No renal mass was seen. The fused images of the 18F-FDG SPECT and CT scans clearly demonstrated the FDG accumulation occurred in the intestines. Thyroid cancer is not known to metastasize to the intestines. A literature search was performed.

A prospective study demonstrated that intestinal 18F-FDG uptake was significantly increased in patients with type 2 diabetes who take metformin compared with patients with diabetes who do not take metformin or controls without diabetes.

When seen, the intestinal uptake occurs in all segments of the intestine. Metformin treatment was associated with increased uptake in the small intestine (OR=15.9, P<.0001) and the colon (OR=95.3, P<.0001) compared with patients not taking metformin. The uptake is typically intense and diffuse in the small and large intestine in both the bowel wall and lumen (Figure 2). The pattern can be variable with some patients showing focal or segmental uptake as shown in this patient (Figure 1, patient 1) compared with minimal intestinal uptake in patients without diabetes or those with diabetes not taking metformin (Figure 1, patient 2).

Figure 1. Coronal views of 18F-FDG SPECT/CT scan. Patient 1: Patient with diabetes mellitus taking metformin. Patient 1 has intense segmental uptake (green arrows) in his large and small bowels compared with Patient 2 who does not have diabetes mellitus and is not taking metformin.

The focal or nodular appearance of uptake is similar to the appearance of cancerous or precancerous lesions. Segmental high 18F-FDG uptake may imply inflammation, whereas diffusely high uptake (Figures 2, 3) is not often associated with pathology. The mechanism of increased intestinal FDG uptake in the gut by metformin is not clear; 18 F-FDG and D-glucose are transported into cells by glucose transporters. Many malignant tumors express higher numbers of glucose transporters with a higher affinity for glucose than normal cells, which permits increased glucose intake into the cancerous cells. It has been proposed that the 18F-FDG uptake in the digestive tract caused by swallowed secretions, metabolically active smooth muscle or mucosa or colonic bacterial uptake.

Figure 2. Axial views of 18F-FDG SPECT/CT scan. Patient 3: Patient with diabetes mellitus taking metformin. Patient 3 has intense and diffuse uptake (green arrows) in the transverse colon.

An unknown, reversible condition

Metformin-induced high 18F-FDG uptake in the intestine may result in false-negative and false-positive results. Fortunately, this phenomenon is reversible. A small study of 10 patients with paired 18F-FDG PET scans before and after stopping metformin demonstrates that stopping metformin 2 days before significantly reduces the gut uptake in all segments of the intestines while having no significant changes in blood glucose level. Two of the 10 patients in this small study with paired scans revealed colorectal malignancies that could not be identified while the patient was on metformin.

This observation that metformin significantly increases 18F-FDG uptake in the colon and small intestine is largely unknown to endocrinologists. Because metformin is now the first-line drug for the management of type 2 diabetes, it is important that endocrinologists recognize that metformin may interfere with the interpretation of 18F-FDG uptake in the abdomen.

The intense gut uptake can mask a malignant lesion and lead to a false-negative 18F-FDG PET scan. Similar to the protocol to stop metformin before contrast administration to protect renal function, it also is important to stop metformin before an 18F-FDG scan to prevent increased intestinal 18F-FDG uptake.

Figure 3. Colorized 18F-FDG SPECT  PET scan fused with CT scan.  Another example of intestinal uptake in a patient with diabetes mellitus taking metformin. Patient 4 has intense and diffuse uptake (green arrows) in the small and large intestines. A. Coronal view. B. Mid-abdomen axial view. C. Lower pelvis axial view.

Images reprinted with permission from: Stephanie L. Lee, MD, PhD

Metformin cessation 48 hours before a PET scan is apparently sufficient to reduce bowel uptake in most patients without a significant increase in glucose levels. It is required that the blood sugar is less than an institutional threshold (200 mg/dL at Boston Medical Center, but may be as low as 140 mg/dL at other PET centers) to prevent a false-negative 18F-FDG scan.

Despite concerns that stopping metformin may allow sugars to rise and compete with 18F-FDG to prevent tumor uptake, limited clinical data suggest this is not a major problem. Future studies are needed to more clearly define this phenomenon.