Today in research:the upside about being embarrassing, the organic chemist whose work led to synthetic pot, and a nifty new simulation of the universe.

  • Researcher who invented synthetic pot now just gets a lot of misguided emails. The Los Angeles Times published an interesting read on the bearded organic chemist, John W. Huffman, whose research is credited with kickstarting the designer marijuana movement. And Gawker compressed it into this headline: "Dude Who Invented Fake Weed Can't Believe You Actually Smoke That Stuff." So, yes, there's that part of the story. "Anybody who uses them is playing Russian roulette," said Huffman to the Times. But another interesting item in the piece was how often the guy gets confused for someone that he's not. The paper notes: "Huffman laughs as he describes emails assuming he has created a super form of medical marijuana or has profited by designing lucrative marijuana substitutes." [The Los Angeles Times via Gawker
  • The upside of awkwardness: Embarrassment linked to trustworthiness in small study.  Sometimes it's difficult to read too much into studies that are based on corralling a small number of college undergrads to play hypothetical games that are designed to show "generosity" or indicate trustworthiness. This is no knock on the UC Berkeley research team who came to that conclusion based on such experiments that "people who are easily embarrassed are also more trustworthy, and more generous." It's a fun tidbit at least. [UC Berkeley]
  • A 'magic' thing about hallucinogenic mushrooms: they change your personality.  Bloomberg dryly relays from new, widely circulated, research that people who took mushrooms were "more likely to show increases in a personality trait dubbed 'openness,' which is related to creativity, artistic appreciation and curiosity." The vague personality trait observation they found among users apparently lasted for these people when the researchers checked in a year later. [Bloomberg News]
  • Researchers devise a nifty, new simulation of how our complete universe looks.  U.C. Santa Cruz researchers are touting their computer simulation as the "most accurate simulation of the universe to date." But, while apparently mathematically sound, it looks like an iTunes music visualization in the video embedded below, especially with the awe-struck classical music playing in the background. To be fair, it still gives an impressive sense of dimension, especially as the rotating bluish dots that comprise our universe zoom in a little bit. [Eurekalert - Press Release]