TIME medicine

There Could Soon Be a Pill to Make Us More Compassionate

How brain chemistry influences compassion

Biology may have a lot to do with our behavior, especially in social situations. And that means our social interactions could be manipulated by a pill.

That’s what a new study, published in the journal Current Biology, suggests. A group led by researchers at University of California Berkeley and University of California San Francisco shows that by manipulating a brain chemical, people can become more compassionate and act in prosocial ways to equalize differences.

In the study, 35 men and women visited the labs two times; each time they were randomly given a pill that keeps levels of dopamine, which is involved in reward and satisfaction, or a placebo. Neither the participants nor the scientists knew which pills were given when. The volunteers were then asked to divide money between themselves and a strangers.

When the researchers analyzed the results, they found that when the people were given the dopamine drug, they were more likely to share the money equitably compared to when they took the placebo.

The results certainly aren’t the answer to promoting more compassion in society, but they do hint that behaviors like social interaction might be affected by changing basic biological systems in the brain. “We have taken an important step toward learning how our aversion to inequity is influenced by our brain chemistry,” Ignacio Sáez, one of the study’s authors and a postdoctoral researcher at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, said in a statement. “Studies in the past decade have shed light on the neural circuits that govern how we behave in social situations. What we show here is one brain ‘switch’ we can affect.”

Read next: 14 Emotional Dispatches From Key Ebola Fighters

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TIME wrestling

Mexican Wrestler Dies After Hit in the Ring

Other wrestlers continued fighting before realizing Ramirez wasn't moving.

Mexico’s Pedro Aguayo Ramirez, a popular member of the country’s ‘Lucha Libre’ wrestling world, died Saturday after a blow during a bout in Tijuana. He was 35.

Ramirez was fighting Oscar Gutierrez in a team matchup when he was apparently hit in the neck and went limp against the ropes, the Associated Press reports. Referees and other wrestlers continued fighting for several minutes before realizing Ramirez wasn’t moving.

The local prosecutor’s office said he was taken to a hospital nearby and pronounced dead at 1:30 a.m. Ramirez began wrestling as a teen, following his after father, a well-known wrestling personality.

TIME Research

There’s New Evidence About How Life on Earth Began

Getty Images
Getty Images Conceptual artwork of ribonucleic acid.

Some support for the primordial ooze theory

How did life on Earth start? Did it emerge from the primordial ooze as is popularly believed, or did it land here from a comet or some other celestial body?

A new study in the journal Nature Chemistry provides strong evidence that the ingredients necessary to concoct the first life forms did indeed exist on earth. The scientists say that they used hydrogen sulfide, hydrogen cyanide and ultraviolet light—three basic elements that were available pre-life as we know it—to create the building blocks of compounds that eventually led to the genetic material that all life on earth holds in common, DNA.

The process also likely got some extraterrestrial help. They speculate that meteorites might have reacted with nitrogen in the atmosphere to create hydrogen cyanide, and that in water, that chemical could have interacted with both hydrogen sulfide and the sun’s UV light.

TIME medicine

5 Things to Know on World Down Syndrome Day

World Down Syndrome Day 2014 Celebrated in Indonesia
Robertus Pudyanto—Getty Images A girl with Down syndrome takes part in planting a tree during World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, 2014 in Surabaya, Indonesia.

From how it happens to what it does

Saturday is World Down Syndrome Day, a day recognized each year by the United Nations to raise awareness about the genetic disease. Here are five things you need to know about Down syndrome.

1. Down syndrome is caused by an extra set of chromosome 21. Every cell in the body has 23 pairs of chromosomes, one from each parent, but Down occurs when one parent contributes extra genetic material. Older mothers have a higher chance of having a Down baby.

2. More than 400,000 people live with Down in the U.S.

3. The most common symptoms of Down include cognitive delays, low muscle tone and a small stature.

4. People with Down can lead full, independent lives. They are, however, at higher risk of developing heart, respiratory problems and certain cancers.

5. People with Down are living much longer than in the past, thanks to treatments for their health issues. While the average life expectancy in 1983 was 25 years, today it is 60 years.

TIME Internet

Now You Can Own a Piece of Disney’s Magic Kingdom

Disney Monorail
Getty Images

Now is your chance to buy an original piece of the monorail that whisked people to the happiest place on earth—if you can afford it.

An eBay user is offering a car from the original train, for a steal—the opening bid is $169,000, and the monorails were valued at $6 million when they went into use at the park’s opening in 1971. So far, more than 800 people have viewed the page, but none have bid.

It’s used, obviously—in its prime, it transported 150,000 guests per day around the park.

TIME Environment

The World’s Water Supply Could Dip Sharply in 15 Years

A warning ahead of World Water Day

Global water resources may soon meet only 60% of the world’s water demands, the United Nations warned in a dire new report.

The World Water Development Report, issued ahead of World Water Day on Sunday, says demand for water around the world will increase by 55% over the next 15 years. With current supplies, that means only 60% of the world’s water needs will be met in 2030.

The reason for the shortfall include climate change, which causes irregular rainfall and dwindling underwater reserves. The results of the shortage could be devastating to agriculture, ecosystems and economies. With less water, health could also be compromised.

New policies that focus on water conservation, and more optimal treatment of wastewater, could alleviate some of the shortfall.

“Unless the balance between demand and finite supplies is restored, the world will face an increasingly severe global water deficit,” the report says.

TIME movies

Watch Vin Diesel’s Emotional Tribute to Paul Walker

Walker died in a 2013 car crash

Vin Diesel said this week that “I lost my friend” when Paul Walker died in a 2013 car crash.

“When the tragedy happened, I lost my friend,” the actor said of his late Furious 7 co-star during an advance screening in Los Angeles. “I lost my brother.”

“This was a very, very personal and important film for us,” Diesel said. “It was in some ways the hardest movie I ever had to do.”

Walker, 40, was killed in a car crash in November 2013 during a break in filming. His two brothers and stand-ins replaced Walker to complete the movie.

TIME Cancer

Pesticides Used in Pet Collars and Home Sprays Connected to Cancer

A World Health Organization group says five pesticides may be cancer-causing

Five pesticides used in pet collars and home insect sprays could cause cancer in humans, health officials said in a new report.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organization (WHO), evaluates studies on chemical compounds and ranks them by the strength of evidence of their cancer-causing effects. The new report, appearing in the journal Lancet Oncology, classifies glyphosate, malathion and diazinon as probable carcinogens. For these, there is only limited evidence that the compounds can cause cancer in animals or people.

Glyphosate is a widely used herbicide around the world, and its use has increased since crops have been genetically modified to resist the spray. It has been detected in low amounts in water, air and food. Malathion is used to control insects in both agriculture and in homes, and people can be exposed via sprayings and through food. Diazinon is used in more limited quantities in agriculture and homes, after regulations restricted spraying in the U.S. and Europe.

The pesticides tetrachlorvinphos and parathion received a slightly stronger designation as possible carcinogens because there is more evidence for their cancer-causing effects in animals, but still little information on their effect on people. Both of these possible carcinogens are already restricted; tetrachlorvinphos is banned in the European Union while still allowed for use in livestock and pet collars in the U.S. Parathion was banned in both the U.S. and Europe in 2003.

The classifications won’t appear on the labels for these products, but serve as the latest review of scientific evidence that governments and international organizations can rely on to create their own regulations.

TIME viral

Watch This Little Boy Adorably Pretend to Be Ed Sheeran

We’ve all done it: Lip-mouthed and mumbled our way through a song. But probably not as adorably as Daniel Breki with his electric blue plastic guitar. Complete with head cocks and hitting all the high notes, he does an irresistible version of Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud.”

Who needs the words when you’ve got cuteness?

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