This week in science was filled with experiments on mental illness with one test finding the connection between anxiety and fast heart rates while the other is a breakthrough in "psychedelic therapy". When it comes India, India's ISRO is making Chandrayaan-related progress while the country should also prepare for some massive guests from Colombia. 

1- Faster heartbeats can cause anxiety, a study in mice shows

It is a common occurrence for thoughts of fear and anxiety in the human brain to cause physical changes elsewhere in the body. For instance, the heart rate and breathing of some people can increase in such situations. But scientists have always wondered if the vice versa is also possible. Now, with a bunch of mice, the researchers have found out that the reverse can indeed be true.

Stanford University California's Karl Deisseroth and his team of fellow neuroscientists increased a mouse's heartbeat (from 660 beats to 900 beats) through artificial means arriving at the conclusion that the increased heart rate led to feelings of anxiety within the mammal. 

So, why is this research important? Further findings can help in understanding more about the origins and treatment of chronic anxiety in humans. This seems obvious given how to test any and every human issue, our scientists resort to testing these issues on mice first. The origins of the word "labrat" seem more obvious than ever. 

2- Test for Chandrayaan-3’s cryogenic engine a success. Mission will start in June 2023. 

On February 28, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) reported that the flight acceptance hot test of its CE-20 cryogenic engine was a success. This engine is crucial because this will end up powering the upper stage of the launch vehicle intended for the upcoming lunar mission Chandrayaan-3. 

3D Render of Chandrayaan 3 (photo-ISRO)

The test was conducted on February 24 for a duration of 25 seconds at the ISRO Propulsion Complex's High Altitude Test Facility at Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. The propulsion module, lander module, and rover module are the three main components of the interplanetary Chandrayaan-3 expedition. Due to the complexity of the mission, radio-frequency (RF) communication channels must be established between all of these modules.

Chandrayaan-2 was successfully launched and inserted into lunar orbit in 2019, but its lander crash-landed on the moon’s surface when it deviated from its trajectory while attempting to land on September 6, 2019, due to a software glitch. (photo-PTI)

The mission is a follow-up to Chandrayaan-2 and will prove ISRO's capacity to safely land and wander on the Moon. The mission will hopefully be launched in June if all tests go according to plan. 

3- New study suggests that psychedelics can increase cellular growth, offering hope for future of antidepressants

Gone are the days when psychedelic substances were just seen as "trippy drugs" as scientists are actively trying to understand the depth behind its mind-altering effects even under a field known as psychedelic therapy. Now, a new study published in Science magazine suggests that psychedelic compounds like DMT can actually promote cellular growth in the human brain. Basically, these substances can lead to the regrowth of dendrites that receive signals from other brain cells. 

ALSO READ: Psychedelics can make your brain grow more cells but they are no magic solution

Since many mental illnesses have been connected to damaged dendrites, this has significant implications for the treatment of numerous mental illnesses. 

This is good news since psychedelic therapy may function more quickly and effectively than conventional antidepressants, which can take a while to act. It's crucial to keep researching these substances to see whether they can aid further sufferers of mental health issues. With that being said, it is advisable to have a skilled professional to provide psychedelic therapy in a secure environment. 

4- New population control plan for Pablo Escobar’s hippos: send them to India

Notorious drug kingpin Pablo Escobar imported four hippoptamuses to his native Colombia. The humungous mammals kept on reproducing and starting new generations even after Escobar's death in 1993, only causing further pressure on the Colombian government. Now, amids pressures from animal rights activists, the authorities are planning to transport some of the hippos to Mexico and India. 

Environmental authorities estimate there are about 130 hippos in the country's Antioquia province and their population could reach 400 in eight years. (photo-AP)

The hippos would be lured with food into iron containers that would transport them to their new habitat. It's still uncertain why Mexico and India are being considered as the Escobar hippos' new home as their species is actually endemic to African territories. If the Indian authorities do confirm this news, then it would mean that the African cheetahs aren't the only new guests our country would be getting!

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