Here’s the good thing about ginseng – it’s worth a ton of money and it’s in the ground, fresh for the taking in 19 states. You know what I’m going to say next, right? Yeah, harvesting wild ginseng is really difficult. Forget about the whole scaling a mountain through the rain looking for a few…

Americans today constantly have their eyes locked on screens — their phones, tablets and televisions. Workweeks are getting longer and the retirement age is getting older. There’s an obsession with money and material goods. But a handful of people are rejecting these ways of life. They’re moving away from cities, living off the land and…

A Quick History of Moonshine

There are few better ways to immortalize one’s name than to put it on alcohol. John Jameson knew this. So did the brewers and propagators of tequila and cognac. Moonshine, of course, is not named for a place, but it may as well be. The vast majority of Americas moonshine is and has always been…

Our Curiosity

You may know that the 2nd anniversary of the Curiosity rover reaching Mars occurred a little over a month ago.  In fact, for those of us who work here at NGC, we’re treated to a full scale model of the Curiosity rover each day upon entering the building (though recently our new friend Spinosaurus is…

It’s in energy drinks and dietary supplements. People take it to stimulate their immune system, lose weight and even cure erectile dysfunction. And while it is cultivated en masse on large, specialized farms, most harvesters would rather scour a mountaintop to find increasingly scarce quantities of it. Ginseng is a strange crop. Widely sought-after for…

As the War on Drugs rages on with no end in sight, a catalyst for the conflict’s beginning has reemerged: heroin. National trends clearly indicate that heroin use is on the rise once again. And while heroin’s popularity today hasn’t triggered usage levels akin to the drug’s ‘70s heyday,  if upward trends continue, there’s a…

Love at first sight. A “sixth sense.” That feeling in the pit of your stomach that something’s not quite right. Our brains guide our actions, but as it turns out, you make a lot of decisions that you’re not even aware of making. That split-second feeling in your gut that overrules your logical thinking skills…

Passing through security in the airport or subjecting your luggage to screening at the border is a notoriously serious affair in the U.S. And while this has only increased since 9/11, these transit hubs and points of entry (POEs) remain highly important in the federal government’s war on drugs, as law enforcement attempts to make…

Robbing Drug Dealers

In ghosts of political scandals past, President Obama once remarked in an interview that his favorite character from the critically-acclaimed drama The Wire was easily the shotgun-wielding outlaw Omar Little. This was a somewhat shocking claim to many who didn’t watch the show – Omar was not only a part-time drug dealer, he was a part-time…

Why do we get angry? On some levels, it’s a primal instinct, one of our oldest and most primitive emotions, hard-wired into our brains by evolution. Anger is also societal, with American culture more accepting of hostile displays in public (to which anyone who’s ever been stuck in rush hour can attest). As it turns out,…

It’s not easy to generalize about why people choose certain drugs, particularly over an extended period of time. The popularity of different drugs tends to rise and fall, based partially on availability and economics and partially on taste. I’ve written about PCP’s resurgence in parts of the mid-Atlantic and how pharmaceutical painkiller abuse primed suburban…

The confidential informant walks a thin line, and expressions like “snitches get stitches” may be putting it lightly. Last night’s episode of Drugs, Inc. followed a drug dealer as he attempted to hunt down a CI. The CI can be a vital part of criminal investigations, especially in identifying individuals involved in criminal enterprises. But…

Tennessee’s Opiate Crisis

Heroin’s on the rise again in the U.S. And while it’s re-saturated some urban markets that witnessed major heroin waves in the 70s and 80s’, heroin’s begun creeping into different communities where opiate abuse was historically much lower than the national average. Tonight’s episode of Drugs, Inc. follows a team of drug cops who are…

When it comes to conventional thinking about men and women’s brains, cliches tend to take over: men are from mars, women are from venus. Women are more emotional, while men think with their…testosterone.  As any thinking person can guess, the differences actually are far murkier, with much of our conventional wisdom about how men and…

Heroin on the Rise

The War on Drugs is over the hill. And while the government has spent billions trying to curb addictions and bust up drug markets, official efforts have yielded few results. Last night’s episode of Drugs, Inc. followed the comeback of a substance that sparked the fiercest battles of the War on Drugs. Heroin use has…

Over 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world—so many that linguists estimate one language dies out every two weeks. But one of the most important languages to your life, one that affects your every interaction with others, is communicated without a sound. Your brain is hyper-sensitive to body language, reading and judging others by their movements and postures…

PCP in D.C.

Last night’s episode of Drugs Inc. explored D.C.’s growing PCP market. And while the episode focuses mainly the drug’s rise in the nation’s capitol, the resurgence isn’t limited to the area – indeed, PCP is also on the rise in Philadelphia and some other cities in the Mid-Atlantic region. But for those who remember PCP…

How much do you know about your noggin? On July 14, Brain Games returns with an all-new season of myth-busting and truth-telling about why your brain works the way it does. This season explores the physiology of our everyday lives, explaining our relationship with food, our mindless addictions, our empathy towards others and the ways…

The Nicholas Cage gun-kingpin biopic “Lord of War,” may have performed modestly at the box office, but not without trying. The film has all the trappings of “business-of-war” drama, highlighting the opulence, yet danger and morally bankruptcy of international arms trafficking trade. But while some international traffickers certainly make massive paydays obtaining proper end-to-end certificates and…

5 Bear Myths Debunked

Throughout this season of The Savage Line, the animal guards have showcased their limited non-lethal options in dealing with bears that threaten human populations. Killing these predators is oftentimes illegal, unwise or unethical, so the guards leaned on their professional knowledge of animal behavior to find ways to discourage the bears from entering settlements. Scientific…

There’s no part of the drug trade that isn’t dangerous, but transporting drugs can be one of the most risky stages of the process. On the season premiere of Drugs, Inc., the crew exposes the veins of Salt Lake City’s drug trade from the viewpoint of a DEA agent, an addict, a smuggler and a…

The Alaskans on Life Below Zero lead very different lives. Sue Aikens keeps her Kavik camp alive, the Hailstones help their family thrive, and Glenn lives to scavenge in the wild. But on the season finale of Life Below Zero, the survivalists all share one common goal – thwart the land’s predators, or turn into…

The three-part series “Wonder Of Dogs” examines the roles that dogs play in human society, and how these roles have evolved and changed in strange, exciting and unexpected ways. President Harry Truman is widely thought to have said “if you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” A sarcastic comment on the cutthroat nature…

Arctic Wisdom: End Times

Even for the pros, survival is precarious in Alaska’s wilderness. From dodging mountains of snow to adapting to climate change, life is never easy for the Alaskans on Life Below Zero. And with just two episodes left in the season, the Arctic survivalists are battling to make it through the winter. The ever-resilient Sue Aikens vanquishes obstacle…

On last week’s episode of The Savage Line, animal guard Cory Valdes stumbled upon a fer-de-lance, a vicious snake whose name in French, roughly translated, means “lance head.” But while most know the snake as such, it has another, slightly less memorable name: Bothrops lanceolatus. Why does a snake with such an interesting, aggressive name…