Monday, May 25, 2015


Re-Gift of the Magi

Worldwide production of frankincense – the favored aromatic resin of wise men and infant messiahs – is dying off. One Valley man is trying to save it.

Jason Eslamieh wants you to help stop extinction – of Boswellia trees, that is, and the rewards are rich: a personal supply of fragrant, spiritually-renowned, holistically-healing frankincense. Anyone longing for some botanical beguilement should consider adopting one of its 19 species. “This is not your typical cactus or petunia,” Eslamieh says, smiling and shaking his head as if talking about a rebellious teenager.

Read more: Re-Gift of the Magi

A Star in the Making

ASU’s “Woody Allen of cosmology” finds joy in a universe without meaning.

Lawrence Krauss is a big believer in nothing. The universe started from nothing, he believes, and it will end that way, too.

The celebrated ASU scientist and professor also believes that nothing gets a bad rap. We tend to fear it, and condition our kids to reject it. “We beat it out of them, but children are natural scientists,” says the author of the New York Times bestseller The Physics of Star Trek. “How the universe began, where did we come from, where are we going – these are the questions that everyone [starts out] asking themselves.”

Read more: A Star in the Making

Not Sweating the Past

Undeterred by the infamous Sedona sweat lodge tragedy, Valley groups use the sacred tradition to battle addiction and strengthen community.

The lodge is pitch black as the meditation, prayer and songs begin. Steam leaps off a pile of red-hot river stones as the ceremony leader fans them with water from a wet sage switch. Cedar chips are thrown on the sizzling rocks – to “facilitate healing,” someone tells me later.

Soon, steam and heat fill the lodge. The smell of cedar fills my nostrils. And once again I feel a wave of uncertainty. I remember some friends’ joking warnings: “What are you thinking? Don’t you remember Sedona?”

Read more: Not Sweating the Past


Fascinating facts about the Scottsdale-based cryonics facility Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

Intrigued by our Death (un) Ltd. feature? Here are more fascinating facts and figures about Scottsdale-based cryonics facility Alcor Life Extension Foundation.

Read more: Cryo-Trivia

Rebuilding the Injured Brain

For brain injury victims, waking from a coma is not a happy ending but the beginning of a long tale of recovery. Thankfully, a unique local program is helping patients get their lives back – one Wii game and bell pepper at a time.

Austin Alcorn was born on April Fools’ Day; he always thought it was his job to make people laugh. Even after his car flipped seven times, metal and pavement banging together like the cymbals of a wind-up

Read more: Rebuilding the Injured Brain

Death (un) Ltd.

What happens to your body after death? Probably what you expect – but then again, this is Arizona, so maybe not.

The pathologists wheel you out of the elevator and place you on the examination table. Respectfully, but not gently. One of them makes a steady, confident incision across the back of your skull. Another cuts a large Y-pattern over your torso, revealing subcutaneous fat of a creamy yellow tint you’ve never seen before. Soon, your body is a painter’s easel of vivid and alien colors and exposed organ structures. You begin emitting smells that offer no polite comparison. Your brain is removed, weighed, photographed and sliced into pathological cutlets that will be shipped to labs all across the world. Your other major organs are similarly broadcast. Going out into the world. To advance knowledge. To do good.  You died all of 67 minutes ago.

Read more: Death (un) Ltd.

Thalidomide Made Good

One of history’s most feared and stigmatized drugs reemerges as a potential cure for Alzheimer’s.

“Stark weather homicide/children of Thalidomide,” is how Billy Joel year-checked 1958 in his history-cataloguing hit “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” More than four decades after the banned morning-sickness

Read more: Thalidomide Made Good