Reader’s Scigest 30-04-15

paracetamol_400x600By Bruno Martin and Sadie Bartholomew

Painkiller Plus

Scientists at The Ohio State University have found that the over-the-counter analgesic paracetamol (also known as acetaminophen) blunts emotions as well as relieving physical pain. Previous research had shown that the drug could suppress psychological pain such as distress related to social rejection. The new study, however, shows that it is just as effective at numbing positive feelings; during the experiment, subjects who had taken paracetamol rated their emotional response to both pleasant and disturbing photos less extremely than those who had taken a placebo. The results highlight concerning side-effects, as paracetamol is an active ingredient in more than 600 medicines.

Return of the LHC

After two years of downtime for extensive upgrading, the Large Hadron Collider is back in action. Proton beams were sent around the tunnel of the particle accelerator in both directions at low energy in early April, as part of an operation to ensure the machine was functioning correctly. Now particle physicists at the Geneva-based laboratory CERN are steadily increasing the beam energy and will start colliding the particles head-on when it has reached 13 TeV – almost twice the energy achieved in the initial three-year run. In such a high-energy regime, the team are hopeful about making new discoveries about fundamental physics, such as detecting dark matter or uncovering hidden dimensions.

Photograph: Jean-Etienne Poirrier via Flickr

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