Il Promoteo

 

Il Promoteo
Birth of the child…
Ralph Pitre

 

  • Sangre Carmesí

Maribel couldn’t stop looking at the massive red stain, she didn’t feel like crying except to stare and tell what she saw. As if she wasn’t, for now, Grace’s granddaughter, just a witness… later she would cry.

It was a crimson red spotlight. The only real light in the apartment was a dim yellow lamp on the desk away from the open window. However, there, at the window, the blood, still glistening as fresh paint on a broad canvas, was filling the room with a ghastly red glow; the wheelchair, the floor, the walls around the window, covered in blood; a blood red spotlight.

After racing back across town to the apartment and fumbling with the keys, Maribel finally opened the door to find the crimson stain spotlighting the empty wheelchair by the window. “She was gone, my grandmother was gone. The window was open, the wheelchair and the floor around it covered in blood. I call her every night after I get home from visiting her every evening after work like I did tonight but she wasn’t answering. I was worried so I came right back over.”

“I called the police.”

Detectives Gentile and Espinoza stood over Maribel seated on the sofa across from the window. CSI was still working the room and uniformed officers were canvasing the building.

Gentile looked back toward the window… Sounding like sheet metal hanging from a cord banging up against the concrete wall, damn dog incessant barking.

“And the aide?”

“How did you know she had an aide?”

“Your grandmother’s an invalid, I would assume she has some sort of aide.”

“Machaela, is here during the day, everyday.”

“I’ll need her contact info.”

“OK…”

“Go ahead, you were saying?”

“Well, Machaela is a good woman you know.”

“I’m sure she is but go on.”

“Well as usual, last night Machaela left as soon as I got here. I stayed to make sure Grandma ate something cause she wouldn’t if we didn’t make her. All she’d have is a cookie from the tin which she does anyway late at night after I put her in bed. I can tell when she gets out of bed anyway, finding crumbs on the floor leaving a trail to the window where she likes to put herself in the wheelchair, she can’t sleep, she gets bored just laying in bed alone so she gets up, Machaela has found her in the wheelchair, asleep by the window covered in crumbs. I can’t imagine who would want to hurt her, she has nothing of value except what’s of value to herself. She really is so sweet, I can’t imagine…”

“Does your grandmother have anybody in the building or the neighborhood she doesn’t get along with?”

“I doubt it. She spends her days sitting in that wheelchair, it’s how she gets around the apartment, rarely using the walker. She stays in the apartment, sitting by the window looking out on the street, peeping into neighbors apartments in the building across the alley.”

“Maybe somebody didn’t like her looking out the window, they didn’t like what she might have seen.”

“It’s a good neighborhood, nothing really bad ever happens here. What could she have seen.”

“We’ll canvass the neighborhood,” Gentile turned to Espinoza, “maybe she saw something in one of those apartments she shouldn’t have.” Standing and pointing towards the window Gentile says, “Like what’s that little building on the roof there with the skylight, is that a penthouse apartment? If you could call it that?”

Gentile noticed the penthouse the moment he walked into the apartment. A ramshackle outcropping, a bad idea that became the building’s architectural cancer, simply ugly because someone decided they wanted to have a penthouse apartment.

“She did tell me about something strange she saw in that apartment. I never thought anything of it, I thought she was making it all up. I was traveling so I never saw but I called every night and Machaela didn’t seem to bother to look but my grandmother saw a man, a very large green man. The first she saw him lying on a table, connected to machines and tubes and wires like he was in the hospital, but the green man never seemed to move she said, didn’t seem to be alive, I told her that it is was probably a mannequin. But she insisted it was man. She said there was a doctor there too. He opened and closed the shade and did other things on the machines, she told me that during the day they would pull back the giant shade covering the skylight, that’s when she saw him, in the sunlight in the middle of the day.”

“Well I’m sure someone else must have seen it too. We’ll have to…”

“There are no apartment windows on this side of the building.”

“Excuse me, who are you?” A small well built mature man walked into the apartment.

“I’m the building manager, Benny.”

“There’s not one other window on this side?”

“No, all the apartments have windows front and back, nothing on either side wall except for Grace’s.”

“You know who manages that building across the way?”

“I manage it.”

“Perfect, well then I guess you’re gonna escort us over there aren’t you?

“Yeah, sure.”

‘That damn dog was getting louder. Too damn early dog just barking away like that!’

Grabbing a flashlight, Gentile walked to the window.

“Anybody put a flashlight down into the alley yet?”

“My grandmother said the green man opened his eyes.”

Turning back to Maribel, “Wait, so he was alive?”

“I don’t know I told you. I always thought it was a mannequin or that she was seeing things, I told you I never saw the green man, when I got here from work to check on her yesterday the skylight shade was closed. But she said the green man opened his eyes and looked up at her and she kept saying that for days after that the green man would stand looking up through the skylight, looking at and the doctor finally noticed and frantically pulled the skylight shade.”

Gentile looked out through the window at the covered skylight then down to the alley. ‘Like the dog was gnawing at something, it was growling furiously and barking like a machine gun’, but he couldn’t see the dog or anything, garbage and boxes lots of boxes, otherwise the alley was clean.

“Does a doctor live in that penthouse apartment, Benny?”

“No, he’s a scientist I think…”

“A scientist? In Brooklyn?”

“Yeah, Brooklyn’s got scientists…Fil, Filiberto’s his name, he’s got two roommates or regular visitors who stay often, one’s an IT guy and the girls’ a lawyer.”

“Well, lets take a walk Benny.” Gentile led them out, “Call me when you guys are done we’ll be in the other building.”

 

  • Il Cane

In the alley between apartments, walled off from the outside the dog barked with increased anger, screaming, until Gentile walked up to the wooden wall, touching it gently, as he would. The dogs snout brushed against the wall, sniffing heavily, whimpering… suddenly started to bark, roared viciously. Gentile backed away, “I love dogs”, he said.

“And he loves you,” replied Benny, Espinoza snickered.

“They always do, lets go,” he motioned.

 

  • Il Prometeo

 

“Come on we’ll take the lift.” Benny wave them both on the lift, “Its slow and creepy but it won’t kill your legs like those stairs around us. Cracked marble steps, each feels like they was made for a giant.”

“Excuse me mister Brooklyn scientist”, Gentile exclaimed looking up the elevator shaft. “Living in a penthouse apartment, is that expensive?” Remarked Gentile to Benny.

“Well its just an extension of the seventh floor, a separate staircase down the hall from the seventh elevator landing but its nothing more than an isolated shack on top of the roof, so no, not expensive.”

“How old is this building?” Asked Espinoza.

“What is this an open house?

“Just asking.”

“Very old,” continued Benny. “Before most buildings in this part of Brooklyn were built. It was a private home at first, called Il Prometeo, after that one owner turned it into an asylum before it was turned into rentals in the 30’s”.

“The Prometheus?” Said Espinoza.

“Correct! You know Italian, Detective?”

“You know Italian?” Repeated Gentile.

“When my wife and I traveled to Italy a couple of years ago and already knowing Spanish I was able to pretty much able guess my way through Italian.”

 

Approach the stairs to the penthouse. He’s not renting any Apts, the whole building is silent…

 

Upon beginning the climb up the short flight of stairs a terrible cluster of screams and a roar rained down from the penthouse. Guns drawn and Benny ordered to get back downstairs, both detectives jump up to the short penthouse landing and straddle the penthouse door. Into his police radio com on his vest Gentile, whispered forcefully for backup and received no answer. A moment and Espinoza stepped back, facing the door and kicks the door down, bursting in to the room. Sudden silence. A small room, a waiting room, a chair, a couch and coffee table and a kitchenette to the right. A man cowed in the corner to the left between the wall and the end of the couch, shaken with fear. He said nothing. Espinoza pressed the wall to his back as he slid across to pull the man along the wall and out of the apt. “Get downstairs and wait, help is coming.” Pushed down, the man hurried away.

 

Silence. The silence that comes with the realization that you’ve waded in too deep and no amount of swimming would get you back alive. Lilly stood with her back against the entry door, Fil sat on the floor below the living room window closest to the bedroom watching Meier as he stepped slowly toward the bedroom door. “I can hear him, Fil.”

“Fil what have you done?”

“What do you mean, Lily? It worked. You said it would never work, that I couldn’t make it happen and I did.”

“This doesn’t mean it worked. This is worse, worse than it not working at all. That thing in there – “

“My proof.”

“You’ve created a monster.”

“It was just hungry.”

“And when it gets hungry again? What then? And you Meier. Who are you, Igor to his Frankenstein?”

“What?”

Knock at the door…

When she arrived detective gentile was there, about Grace. You mind if I look in the room, the spare room, its the only room visible from her apt. Well there a lots of apts visible across the alley. True and I’ll check those soon enough but the only window visible from her window that has its shade down is the one in this apt that has its shade pulled down and  from here I don’t see another window with a shade pulled. Well sorry if you had any real valid cause to enter you’d have a warrant. Excuse me detective mind if I pass? And you are? None of your business really but friends of this apts tenant. Sorry. They close the door upon entering. They moved onto knock on other apartment doors.

Noises from Fils apt.

Detectives break the door down. The door to the room opposite the entry was beginning to shatter. A great human-like angry growl comes from the room…

The Monster reveals itself disappears, struggles to be one or the other… There is blood everywhere… Grace Harold everywhere…

beats his way out of the apt… climbs to roof from where he falls

The monster was being kept in the spare bedroom…visible or invisible, conjured or manufactured in a 3d printer from vegetable matter?

  • La Vita Dopo

Dr Scoma, the late shift pathologist, alone now for years, after having been married for fifteen…surrounded by death…muses that here is an opportunity to make life…

 

Vitto left so many notes, a detailed Bible of his ideas, called Il Prometeo, all that went into creating this thing and his diary. Makes me wonder what triggered everything. Did he find the building or did the building find him. Vitto moved into the building to complete the project, an idea he’s been working on for over twenty years. He needed the sun, and the rain, everything needed to create a being.

 

Strata, an adopted child.

 

History of Il Prometeo, the house, how, why and who built it?

 

God the absent father. Never around when you need him always there to beat you down whenever the stress of existence beat him down. God! Come back, God…the being that created and nurtured his child grows tired of parenting and leaves behind an unfinished creation.

 

Dr, what is this thing? A thing. A being of some sort. I don’t think Fil had any real idea of what he was doing. That device, what was it? A 3D printer actually. A what? Yeah, believe it or not, that’s what it is, a room size 3D printer. Didn’t know they came that big. Well they make them big enough to build houses. Well think of it, any assembly line robot is a 3D assembly machine, just doesn’t produce the material for assembly, a 3D printer does but even then it has to be given the molecular elements to produce the material to eventually “print” the object in addition to being given the actual design in an understandable language. That’s really the genius here, he devised a plan, a design for an artificial human, whose brain was part of the whole body, not centralized in the head but a hive brain where each body part, each molecule could think for itself a being that would produce an output, basically telling the printer how to complete him. He had hundreds of drawings and papers detailing his plan, a notebook filled with his intentions…but his problem was the monsters mind and soul…it had neither, at least not at birth. The soul and the mind, the brain are products of age, development and experience…molded and sculpted over time to produce a mind, a soul, a self, which the monster had none of. All beings are born infant, almost incomplete.

 

He plans with a friend to steal the evidence of the case. What does it matter, after the case is closed, there’s no one to arraign, no charges to consider, everyone related to the case is dead…once the case is officially closed the evidence will disappear into a locker…I’d have to leave evening behind, the job, my life…

The Dr muses, perhaps the key is creating an infant…not a full grown being.

Just finish your report Alex, so I can finish mine…

 

And the evidence?

 

Lock it up

 

Gentile, we gotta problem. Crain was working the evidence locker that day when two men, dressed in black, go figure, showed up with the precinct Captain with a Federal court order looking for what evidence was left of the Frankenstein case. (Made sense). But it was gone. Not all of it, just the most important part. Strata called it the head, the device spider shaped with a metal head and a thousand eyes and six extending arms. Captain was pissed, so were the Feds but they weren’t showing it. Immediately the captain personally organized a team to look for Strata the obvious choice for the felony having left for vacation three weeks prior then calling in his final notice that he wouldn’t be coming back. Once the captains team had arrived at Strata’s apartment the new tenant had already moved in…

 

How the hell did anybody find out about the case anyway. That was quick. Usually most cases move up the food chain unnoticed, just paper work to be stored but this… every agency, has a snitch working both sides feeding the right people the right information. Fucking federal vampires everywhere keeping wraiths at bay waiting to suck some info up their way.

 

At the TSA, what a beautiful child.

 

Alex vacationing in Maldive, beach combing with an infant tucked and sleeping in a forward carry pouch, surrounded by young girls admiring the child…

Months pass, the Dr had retired and births a child with a young man. You think they’ll let us get married in this country. You haven’t even asked me. Will you marry me?

 

Players:

Victor to Vitto or Bittor or Vincent or Filiberto (Fil)

Lily or

Meier or

Alex to Zeus Strata

 

Notes:

 

How was Grace kidnapped and why bludgeoned. Vitto had never killed another person.

 

Remove the bludgeoning. Strangled from behind, put in a large sack. No, Adam learns to slip out of the studio. Sees him prowling the studio and the green man watching her.

The concrete walls were reinforced with a later of heavy steal liquid alloy and concrete, the windows and skylight covered in retractable steel outer shutters and yet Adam figured his way out to get to Grace.

 

Changes: Adam can see in the dark. how Grace is killed and taken by Adam a cat bringing its owner a present after Adam overwhelms Vitto and goes directly to Grace. Adam has already installed a tracking and homing device that triggers Adam to come home but doesn’t work. Adam inadvertently kills Grace and brings her home as a gift to Vitto all bludgeoned and limp. Adam treats her body like any other piece of meat when he discovers that’s all she is and wonders if Vitto is the same. Adam begins to tear Grace apart, confused that she is like Vitto, yet like the meals he has been given but the taste is different, his first taste of meat that Vitto tries to take away from him. Efforts with a tranquilizer weapon fail. Adam realizes that might be just as tasty and as one would encounter a hungry tiger, Adams seems to show anger and chases Vitto out the door; thank God for steal.

 

rarely allowing a visitor and most often it was Lilly, his girlfriend who would visit. It had been weeks since Lilly did so at his request and now he was asking her to come he had something important to show her. Fil sent Meier to pick her up. What’s he want to show me Meyer. I’m not sure how to explain it, if he even wants me to, but he never said not to. is this another prank you two have screwed. Ohhhh I wish it was. Tell me Meier. I think you can wait…its important he show you, its important to him, that he present it plus you’re a lawyer. You both are in trouble again aren’t you? Well its hard to explain, just keep an open mind.to pick her up. What’s he want to show me Meier. I’m not sure how to explain it, if he even wants me to, but he never said not to. is this another prank you two have screwed. Ohhhh I wish it was. Tell me Meier. I think you can wait…its important he show you, its important to him, that he present it plus you’re a lawyer. You both are in trouble again aren’t you? Well its hard to explain, just keep an open mind.

 

Do you know a Grace Harold? Well she’s a tenant of the building across the alley. Ohhhh really? I don’t know her. Well she’s missing and we’re conducting an investigation. From which apt? That one up there with the open window. Well maybe she ran away? Maybe, but she’s eighty and wheelchair ridden for the most part. Ohhhh I see. Just asking if you might have seen or heard anything suspicious last night. Ohhhh no no I didn’t, I’m down the hall you see. Down the hall from what? Do you know the guy who lives in that apt? Um…

Fils focus lost in a void spoke up and said, “we went all the way, its gotten out of hand.”

 

The door to the apt they first knocked on across from the suspect sit opens. You guys knock on my door? Gentile goes to her while Espinoza continues with the old lady.

 

Fil lived alone…technically, in a shack the owner called a penthouse cause thats what it was, a one bedroom shack on the roof. A living room, which he pretty much lived in, a small kitchen and a bathroom in between. The bedroom, he didn’t sleep in his bedroom. This was a rare rooftop apt with a skylight in the bedroom doubling as a studio. Once was probably a former tenants if not the original owners studio; being the polymath, the studio was his except now, it was a nursery…Fil stood against the door to the studio, back to it he turned pressing his ear to listen and he could hear the man quietly sobbing, groaning as if in deep pain.

FDA Recognizes Psilocybin As ‘Breakthrough Therapy’ for Depression

The designation could be a prelude to approving the forbidden psychedelic drug as a medicine.

Jacob Sullum|Oct. 25, 2018 1:45 pm
Capture
WikipediaThe only reference to psilocybin on the Food and Drug Administration’s website appears in the agency’s Bad Bug Book: Handbook of Foodborne Pathogenic Microorganisms and Natural Toxins, where the psychedelic compound is described as a “neurotoxin” found in mushrooms. But according to the FDA, psilocybin is also a “breakthrough therapy” for major depression.
That designation, which the company seeking approval of psilocybin as a medicine announced this week, means “preliminary clinical evidence indicates that the drug may demonstrate substantial improvement over existing therapies.” Based on that evidence, the FDA agrees to “expedite the development and review of such drug.”
The FDA’s dueling portrayals of psilocybin as a scary fungal neurotoxin and a promising treatment for depression are part of a broader story about forbidden drugs, including MDMA, marijuana, and LSD, whose benefits scientists are once again studying with government approval after decades of neglect. The rehabilitation of these substances, which may ultimately make them available as prescription drugs, is a far cry from the pharmacological freedom that libertarians favor. But it represents a welcome return to empiricism in an area of public policy long driven by irrational prejudice.
A preliminary 2016 study sponsored by COMPASS Pathways, a British life sciences company, found big improvements in a dozen subjects with “treatment-resistant major depression” who received psilocybin in a “supportive setting.” After one week, their mean score on the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptoms, which has scale ranging from 0 to 27, had fallen from 19.2 to 7.4, a 61 percent drop. Most of that progress was still apparent at three months, when the mean score was 10, or 48 percent lower than the baseline. Last August the FDA approved COMPASS Pathways’ plan for Phase 2 clinical trials, which will involve 216 subjects at 12 to 15 research sites in Europe and North America.
Psilocybin research involving patients with life-threatening illnesses has found even more dramatic psychological improvements. A randomized, double-blind study reported in 2016 found that cancer patients who received active doses of psilocybin experienced an average reduction of 78 percent in depression and 83 percent in anxiety, based on an evaluation six months after their sessions. A similar study reported at the same time found that psilocybin-assisted psychotherapy “produced rapid, robust and enduring anxiolytic and anti-depressant effects in patients with cancer-related psychological distress.”
Like MDMA, which the FDA also has deemed a “breakthrough therapy” and may approve as a treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder as soon as 2021, psilocybin is a psychotherapeutic catalyst that is meant to be taken no more than a few times, as opposed to a mood-adjusting drug taken every day. The striking results of these studies suggest the former approach may hold more promise of substantial, long-term improvement.
“This is great news for patients,” COMPASS Pathways Executive Chairman George Goldsmith said in the press release announcing the FDA’s “breakthrough therapy” designation. “We are excited to be taking this work forward with our clinical trial on psilocybin therapy for treatment-resistant depression. The FDA will be working closely with us to expedite the development process and increase the chances of getting this treatment to people suffering with depression as quickly as possible.”
If the FDA does approve psilocybin as a medicine, the drug will have to removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is supposed to be reserved for drugs that have no accepted medical use. In a 2018 Neuropharmacology review, Johns Hopkins psychologist Matthew Johnson and three co-authors argue that psilocybin should be placed in Schedule IV, which is for medically useful drugs with a relatively low abuse potential. They conclude that “psilocybin appears to offer potential benefits to patients and little risk to public health.”

Octopuses Rolling on MDMA Reveal Unexpected Link to Humans

“They just embraced with multiple arms.”

When the California two-spot octopus isn’t attempting to bring more eight-legged cephalopods into this world, it prefers to be alone. Known to scientists as Octopus bimaculoides, the alien-like invertebrate spends most of its time hiding or searching for food, asocial males avoiding asocial females until their biological clocks say it’s time to partner up. That is, until they are on MDMA. In a groundbreaking study released Thursday, researchers describe how octopuses on the drug act similarly to a socially anxious human on MDMA: They open up.

Gül Dölen, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University and the co-author of the new Current Biology paper. She tells Inverse that when octopuses are on MDMA, it’s like watching “an eight-armed hug.”

“They were very loose,” Dölen says. “They just embraced with multiple arms.”

While MDMA is known to trigger prosocial behavior in mice and humans, it has never been witnessed in invertebrates, animals that have no backbone. Vertebrates and invertebrates have wildly divergent bodies and brain structures, and for a long time scientists didn’t think the latter had the capacity to be social. They only recently realized invertebrates deserved a second look.

Because of improvements in molecular genetic analysis, Dölen explains, we’re beginning to understand the ways in which both groups evolved from a common ancestor. The findings of the new study add evidence to the idea that social behaviors have a long evolutionary history — going back much farther than we ever believed. The electrifying results could significantly impact what we know about the evolution of brains and why MDMA-assisted therapy seems to be such a useful tool in treating post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.

“After the MDMA, it was like an eight-armed hug.”

An octopus differs from a human in ways far beyond the obvious. A heap of no bones and 33,000 genes, octopuses are belieeved to be Earth’s first intelligent beings. They are utterly different from all other animals, with a central brain that surrounds the esophagus and two-thirds of their neurons in their arms. They’re separated from humans by more than 500 million years of evolution. But despite the differences between octopuses and humans, Dölen and her colleague Eric Edsinger, Ph.D., a research fellow at the University of Chicago’s Marine Biological Laboratory, choose to focus on a single crucial similarity. The brain of the California two-spot octopus contains a serotonin transporter that enables the binding of MDMA — much like human brains.

This means that serotonin — believed to help regulate mood, social behavior, sleep, and sexual desire — is an ancient neurotransmitter that’s shared across vertebrate and invertebrate species. Dölen and Edsinger hypothesized this before the octopuses were ever bathed in MDMA.

“We needed to check the genome to make sure that the genes that encode the serotonin transporter, which is the protein that MDMA binds to, was still a binding site in octopuses even despite the fact that so much evolutionary time had passed,” Dölen explains.

“We performed phylogenetic tree mapping and found that, even though their whole serotonin transporter gene is only 50 to 60 percent similar to humans, the gene was still conserved. That told us that MDMA would have a place to go in the octopus brain and suggested it could encode sociality as it does in a human brain.”

That’s a revolutionary suggestion because scientists only very recently began to accept that invertebrates are even capable of being social. After all, without MDMA, California two-spot octopuses prefer to be loners. In a 2017 study in the Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers from Queen Mary University of of London wrote the possibility that invertebrates could have emotions has “traditionally been dismissed by many as emotions are frequently defined with reference to human subjective experience, and invertebrates are often not considered to have the neural requirements for such sophisticated abilities.”

But recent studies, illustrating a shift in thinking, have shown that invertebrates like sea slugs, bees, and crabs all display various cognitive, behavioral, and phsyiological phenomena that suggest internal states reminiscent of emotions.

This is why the fact that octopuses can bind serotonin is so important. Serotonin is a key mitigator of the emotional aspects of human behavior and sociality. That octopuses, one of the most advanced invertebrates, have a similar pathway geared toward social behavior despite the fact that their brains are organized very differently suggests that sociality is spread across the animal kingdom.

“There have been studies showing that serotonin is important for social behaviors for both invertebrates and vertebrates, and this really confirms to me that it’s true that serotonin is conserved across hundreds of millions of years of evolution,” says Dölen.

This became clear when she observed how octopuses acted after they were bathed in MDMA. Individual octopuses were put into the middle zone of a glass aquarium that was divided into three. From the middle zone, the subject octopus had the option to move into the zone on either side of it. On one side, there was another octopus in a cage, and on the other, there was a “novel toy object” (a Stormtrooper figurine). Sociality was measured by the number of seconds the subject octopus spent on the side with the caged octopus compared to the Stormtrooper side. Five octopuses were used in the control experiment, and four were used during the MDMA trial.

The study design.

Watching the individual control octopuses — those that hadn’t been bathed in MDMA — during 30-minute test sessions, the researchers found that all of the octopuses spent more time with the Stormtrooper when the social chamber contained a male. When the social chamber contained a female, both male and female octopuses tentatively explored that area.

They would “push against the wall and sort of delicately touch the container that had the octopus in it,” says Dölen.

But when these octopuses were on MDMA, they were not delicate with their movements toward the caged individuals. After being placed in a bath with MDMA for 10 minutes, and then washed with saline for 20 minutes,, and they re-entered the three-zone aquarium. This time around, they spent significantly more time with the other octopus, whether it was male or female, and the eight-armed hugging commenced.

“This paper is welcomed, as the behavioral neuroscience of cephalopods is very understudied,” Dalhousie University invertebrate behavioral physiologist Shelley Adamo, Ph.D., who was not involved with the current paper, tells Inverse. Adamo also studies the interactions between behavior and physiology in invertebrate model systems. “We know little about how their brains work. This paper breaks new ground by examining the underlying molecular basis of at least one neurotransmitter system.”

But she also cautions that it’s too early to jump to conclusions because the paper’s evidence that “the octopus were engaging in ‘social’ behaviors is not especially strong.” There could be alternative explanations for all that friendliness. Maybe the drug altered their foraging behavior and the target octopus “smelled” like food (cephalopods are occasionally cannibalistic). Maybe the MDMA changed their typical hunting behavior, and being hungry could explain why both male and female octopuses were interested in the target.

“As with most interesting papers, it raises a number of questions: What would two octopus do if they were both on MDMA and they could contact one another?” Adamo asks. “The small sample size — a necessary evil for most studies on cephalopods — means that the data is not as robust as it could be.”

Dölen has two hypotheses to explain what happened. Qualitatively, it looks like octopuses on MDMA, much like humans, could just like touching in general,, and the octopus in the cage “is the most interesting object that an octopus would want to touch.” Or it could be that the drug really does make them social. The latter, she believes, is the most robust hypothesis: MDMA affects human interest in social touch as well, and that seems to be preserved in octopuses as well.

“What this says to me is that in the brain of an octopus, the neural circuits and transmitters that are required for social behavior must exist,, and they are just suppressed most of the time,” says Dölen. “Octopuses appear to suspend their asociality during important mating periods through a suppression mechanism in their brain.”

The MDMA used in the study was provided by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), the nonprofit organization that funds the FDA-approved Phase 3 clinical trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy in patients with severe PTSD. This research, Dölen says, has intrigued MAPS founder Rick Doblin, and with good reason. It suggests that perhaps the best way to gain insight into MDMA’s mechanisms and therapeutic importance isn’t by taking an fMRI picture of the brain and examining the regions it activates, which has been standard practice in MDMA research. From Dölen’s point of view, the fact that octopuses don’t have the the same brain regions as humans but still carry the genes that enable MDMA binding means that molecular and cellular information is going to be more useful than anatomical data.

“Octopuses don’t have the same parts of the brain that we think are important for social behavior, a region called the nucleus accumbens,” says Dölen.

“What we’re arguing is that the brain regions don’t matter. What matters is that they have the molecules, the neurotransmitters, and some configuration of neurons. They have the serotonin transporter,, and that’s enough.”

Measure
Measure

Rising Seas Could Cause Problems For Internet Infrastructure : NPR

Science

July 16, 2018·2:53 PM ET
Verizon crews pump water from an access tunnel in Manhattan in 2012 after flooding from Superstorm Sandy knocked out underground Internet cables.
Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15 years.
“It is actually the wires and the hardware that make the Internet run,” explains Ramakrishnan Durairajan, a computer scientist at the University of Oregon and an author of the research. The analysis estimates under the most severe model for sea level rise that more than 4,000 miles of fiber optic cable along U.S. coastlines will be underwater by the early 2030s.
The Internet is particularly susceptible to flooding because data travels through underground cables buried along roadways and through tunnels. While the massive deep sea cables that carry data under the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are designed to be permanently underwater, other infrastructure such as copper wiring and power stations are not.
If thousands of miles of cable were flooded because sea level rise, it could potentially impact Internet reliability for millions of Americans in major cities. In fact, higher temperatures and more powerful storms, both of which are more likely as the climate changes, have already affected Internet hardware.
Article continues after sponsorship
In 2015, a heat wave in Australia fried air conditioners at a key data center, cutting off a major company’s Internet service for hours. In 2012, Superstorm Sandy knocked out some Internet in New York City when floodwaters cut off power and drowned the underground cables that carry data. At the time, Verizon’s executive director of operations told The Verge that there had been a “catastrophic failure.”
After Hurricane Irma blew across Florida last year, the Miami Herald reported that many people were without Internet for weeks.
Rising sea levels will make the flooding from such storms worse, as NPR has reported. The newly published analysis sets aside storms and, for the sake of clarity, focuses on predictable flooding from sea level rise. Large, dense coastal cities such as New York, Miami and Seattle appear to have the highest risk of Internet disruption from sea level rise.
The most severe NOAA model of sea level rise shows areas that are projected to be underwater in New York (left) and Miami by 2033 in blue. Green lines represent fiber cables that deliver Internet.
Paul Barford/UW-Madison
Internet service providers say they are already thinking about the risks from flooding along the U.S. coasts.
AT&T uses fiber optic cable “designed for use in coastal areas as well as being submerged in either salt- or fresh-water conditions,” spokesman Jeff Kobs says. “In certain locations where cabling will be submerged for long periods of time or consistently exposed, such as beaches or in subways, we use submarine underwater cabling.”
One way to mitigate flood risk is to replace copper wiring with more flood-resilient cables. “After Sandy, we started upgrading our network in earnest, and replacing our copper assets with fiber assets,” says Verizon spokeswoman Karen Schulz. “Copper is impacted by water, whereas fiber is not. We’ve switched significant amounts of our network from copper to fiber in the Northeast.”
She says Verizon has also elevated buildings and power stations in areas that flood. In most cases, the company’s focus on flood risk “really has less to do with sea level change, and more to do with general flooding concerns,” Schulz explains.
The one exception is at so-called cable landing stations where undersea cables connect the U.S. Internet to the rest of the world. “For cable landing stations that are very close to the oceans and that have undersea cables, we specifically assess sea level changes,” Schulz says.
Some cities are already working on hardening Internet infrastructure to handle the effects of climate change. For example, public buildings in and around Seattle are connected by fiber optic cable meant to make the region more resilient to disasters, including floods. Other cities are rethinking how and where they build roads, which could affect where Internet infrastructure ends up; cables often follow highways and other public rights of way.
Durairajan says that upgrading hardware is one good strategy, but that avoiding Internet disruptions from sea level rise also might require companies to rethink the way data flows through their networks.
For example, he says, if some wires are temporarily flooded, “can we reroute traffic from that area, to keep communication going? Can we isolate damage at coastal areas from inland assets? We have to start the mitigation strategies and planning right now.”