"My subject is a barren one – the world of nature, or in other words life; and that subject in its least elevated department, and employing either rustic terms or foreign, nay barbarian words that actually have to be introduced with an apology. Moreover, the path is not a beaten highway of authorship, nor one in which the mind is eager to range: there is not one of us who has made the same venture, nor yet one Roman who has tackled single-handed all departments of the subject."Naturalis Historia
was written by Pliny the Elder
between 77 and 79 CE and was meant to serve as a kind of proto-encyclopedia discussing all of the ancient knowledge available to him, covered in enough depth and breadth to make it by a reasonable margin the largest work to survive to the modern day from the Roman era. The work includes discussions on astronomy, meteorology, geography, mineralogy, zoology and botany organized along Aristotelian divisions of nature but also includes essays on human inventions and institutions. It is dedicated to the Emperor Titus in its epistle to the Emperor Vespasian
, a close friend of Pliny who relied on his extensive knowledge, and its unusually careful citations of sources as well as its index makes it a precursor to modern scholarly works. It was Pliny's last work, as well as sadly his sole surviving one, and was published not long before his death attempting to save a friend from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum
, famously recounted by Pliny's eponymous nephew Pliny the Younger
Here is a reasonable translation that is freely available to download from archive.org for your edification. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb
on Dec 16, 2013 -
With the momentous series finale of Breaking Bad just hours away, fans of the show are hungry for something, anything to wile away the time before the epic conclusion tonight. So why not kick back and chew the fat with your fellow MeFites with the help of a little tool I like to call "The Periodic Table of Breaking Bad." [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Sep 29, 2013 -
"The military’s secret Cold War experiment to fight enemies with clouds of psychochemicals. Decades after a risky Cold War experiment, a scientist lives with secrets." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Dec 10, 2012 -
"I would point out to you that medical explanations are modern. That Americans today want medical explanations for things that in the 19th century would have been explained by hysteria, and in the 18th century would have been explained by religious conversion experiences in the context of the Great Awakening, when people were having these types of fits, and in the 17th century by witchcraft."
posted by empath
on Jan 30, 2012 -
Last week Johnson & Johnson announced
that it is lowering the maximum daily dose for single-ingredient Extra Strength Tylenol from 8 to 6 pills per day (from 4,000 to 3,000 mg). [more inside]
posted by hat_eater
on Aug 4, 2011 -
"In the Bible, God appeared to Ezekiel as a “wheel within a wheel”. Spirals and concentric circles are commonly found in petrogylphs carved by cultures long dead. Similar visual effects are reported during extreme psychological stress, fever delirium, psychotic episodes, sensory deprivation, and are reliably induced by psychedelic drugs." Form Constants and the Visual Cortex
, or Where Psychedelic Visuals Come From.
posted by Taft
on Mar 15, 2011 -
In an attempt to curb the production of crystal meth, more than 30 states have now outlawed or require registration for common lab equipment. In Texas, you need to register the purchase of Erlenmeyer flasks or three-necked beakers. The same state where I do not have to register a handgun, forces me to register a glass beaker.
America's War on Science: Chemistry sets
and model rockets
, the staples of any geeky childhood, have essentially become a thing of the past.Wired
has more on how a security obsessed society is robbing both children and adults of the opportunity to discover science for themelves.
posted by [expletive deleted]
on Jun 17, 2007 -
Nootropics ("smart" drugs)
- all wish to be smarter, correct ? And - while exercise, nutrition, learning, travel, and social interaction (the last 3 via release of neurotrophins
) effectively do this, Nootropic drugs have been researched since the 1950's and have been shown to cause at least short term cognitive function enhancement. Piracetam, the first of this drugs, shows promise
in the treatment of Alzheimer's and Attention deficit Disorder. Alas, as with poor little Algernon
, the effect seems temporary
. Nootropics can be a little difficult to acquire
in the US. Beer is not a nootropic, but sex on the other hand.....
posted by troutfishing
on Mar 5, 2004 -
- you need more brain cells
. Just take one of these
twice a day. New research
shows that antidepressants may not work as we thought
at all, rather they actually stimulate growth of cells in the hippocampus area of the brain. This may all be for the good - but it seems strange that we release millions of happy pills and market them as safe without knowing for sure what they do. Perhaps its the money
posted by grahamwell
on Aug 9, 2003 -
is being hailed as the key to better treatments for the Parkinson's disease, marking a complete turnaround from a few weeks ago when ecstasy was condemned for causing the disease.
posted by semmi
on Nov 7, 2002 -
ADHD/ADD and Drug Abuse
They found a link between children with common 'behavioral' disorders and drug abuse later in life. Well what do you expect when we teach kids that the best way to deal with a problem is to turn to drugs (ritalin).
posted by crackheadmatt
on Dec 20, 2001 -
seems to be societies new legal LSD. In the 60's acid could cure anything. If you were feeling down, tune in turn on and drop out and everything will be good. Timothy Leary
was a huge part of this whole "acid culture", but as Hunter S. Thompson so eloquently put it "He crashed around America selling consciousness expansion, without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all those people that took him seriously." In the end the acid culture failed, but we have yet to learn the lesson that everything can not be cured with a magic pill or some powder, you can't just add some water and cure societies problems like making instant soup. Could this belief in drugs that Tim Leary promoted during the 60's have lead to the overmedication of children today? Those old acid heads that have since become working stiffs that have kids still believe in the back of their minds in "better living through chemicals" and allow doctors to over prescribe their kids chemicals such as Prozac
. Do you think that there could be a connection between this overmedication and school violence?
posted by bytecode
on Sep 1, 2001 -
Scientists test hallucinogens for use in treating mental illness:
Hallucinogenic drugs like LSD and peyote — derided as toys of the hippie generation — are increasingly drawing the interest of neurologists and psychiatrists who want to test the idea that they may be valuable tools in treating a range of mental disorders. The researchers involved in the new work are not suggesting that people start medicating themselves with hallucinogens. Still, Dr. David E. Nichols, a professor of pharmacology and medicinal chemistry at Purdue, believes the drugs' potential should be investigated. Nichols, an expert on hallucinogenic drugs, said there were reports that symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder, like washing one's hands dozens of times a day, subside under the influence of psilocybin, a hallucinogen derived from mushrooms. (Note: it's a New York Times link, free registration required.)
posted by jhiggy
on Mar 14, 2001 -