Inverse Daily

Shakespeare is brilliant ... at helping war veterans treat PTSD

Plus: You’re going to want to shake hands with a robot. Trust us.

One of my favorite feature stories published on Inverse in some time went up over the weekend. It’s our lead story today.

The main character is a man named Frank Lesnefsky, who, back in September 2009, had just returned to the U.S. from his second deployment to Iraq.

“I felt like my soul was inside a race car,” Lesnefsky, 43, tells writer Stav Dimitropoulos. “I started drinking to try to calm.” In 2014, after several of his army buddies died from suicides and overdoses, he decided to pursue therapy.

Shakespeare as therapy has roots in art therapy, but the therapy program Lesnefsky joined mixes in quantitative and psychosomatic data to support its use as a treatment for post-traumatic stress syndrome.

Veterans like Lesnefsky are advocates for its use, while scientists see it as a noninvasive treatment capable of catalyzing change — a technique that heart measurements and brain scans suggest may help change the body and brain for the better

Keep scrolling to get the link for this story. We also have stories based on Mars, in your gut, in the darkness of space, and with a robotic friend. I’m Nick Lucchesi, editor-in-chief for Inverse. I’m glad you’re here.

This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for May 19, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.

“Shakespeare’s heightened language has long reflected the soldier’s internal struggle,” Alisha Ali, an associate professor of applied psychology at New York University and DE-CRUIT’s lead researcher, tells Inverse.

Glenn Harvey for Inverse

Shakespeare can treat PTSD DE-CRUIT is a program that combines theater and psychotherapy to treat trauma in veterans. Scientists see it as a non-invasive treatment capable of catalyzing change. It’s our latest feature. It’s by Stav Dimitropoulos:

“Like King Richard in Richard III, Frank Lesnefsky has also been haunted by ghosts. In September 2009, Lesnefsky returned to the U.S. from his second deployment to Iraq. He thought memories of the “complete obliteration of the human body” he witnessed on the battlefield wouldn’t stay with him forever. He was ready to leave the past behind.

Keep reading this compelling feature story.

More stories about the 🧠:

How does China’s Mars robot compare to the United States?

Perseverance vs. China’s Zhurong Mars rover China's first Mars rover, Zhurong, landed successfully on May 15. Bryan Lawver shows how the historic rover compares to NASA's latest Mars mission, Perseverance.

“Chinese news agency Xinhua confirmed over the weekend that the country’s first Martian rover, Zhurong, touched down in the early hours of May 15.

“The landing marks not only China’s first rover on Mars but also the first non-American rover to survive the trip — not counting the Soviet Union’s Prop-M rover, which couldn't be deployed when its lander failed.”

See the images and learn how the U.S. rover is different from China’s.


Go ahead, let the robot touch you From science fiction to science labs, robot hands seem to be all around us — but are they really the best appendage for the job? Maybe not, reports Sarah Wells:

“When NAO, a 22.6-inch-tall robot designed by Softbank Robotics, reaches out with its three plastic-coated fingers to comfortingly pat the hand of a German student, it does so with all the humanity it can muster.

“Cold to the touch and unblinking, the toy-like robot jerked its arm through space to gently and prescriptively place its not-quite-human hand down — ‘touch-release, touch-release, touch-release,’ a report on the interaction published this month describes.”

Read the rest of this surprisingly normal story.

Related robot stories:

HD 100546 and its dusk disk on the left with a budding protoplanet on the right.

ESO/NASA/ESA/Ardila et al.

The ingredients for alien life Complex organic molecules exist in planet-forming disks even around hot stars, astronomers find — promising for alien life arising in these systems. Erika K. Carlson has the story:

“Every star and planetary system in the universe was once just a cloud of gas and dust. These humble dust clouds, astronomers have found, are rich with organic molecules necessary for life. Their cool temperatures, chemical compositions, and other factors make them really good at forming these vital compounds.

“When one of these clouds gets dense enough, it collapses to become a spinning disk, and eventually, a star and its planets. The collapse, and the new star, heats up the gas and dust in the disk. If the disk gets too hot, it’s possible that the organic molecules would be destroyed, making it far less likely for planets born in this disk to have important molecules required for life to form.”

Keep reading about the actually very simple formation of planets.

More about the final frontier:

Microbes aren’t limited to our intestines — and fasting can affect the way they’re distributed across the digestive system.


How fasting changes your gut microbiome Animal studies on intermittent fasting’s effects on the gut microbiome suggest the eating pattern could be used for good, reports Sophie Putka:

“Little living things deep in our bowels hold a mysterious grasp on the balance within our bodies. One change to our food regimen — what we eat, how much of it, and when — and the biological harmony can be thrown off.

“This we know. What we don’t know is exactly how the tiny microbes that make up the gut microbiome harness their power. This knowledge is necessary for truly understanding what fasting does to the gut microbiome.

“But in the meantime, animal studies on intermittent fasting’s effects on the gut microbiome do suggest the eating pattern could eventually be used for good — potentially as a treatment for diabetes, a way to boost immunity, and a way to transform ‘bad fat’ to ‘good fat.’”

Find out if fasting causes a shift in gut flora here.

Read this during your fast:

Grace Jones, the Jamaican-American model, singer, songwriter, record producer, and actress, celebrates a birthday today. HBD to an icon.

Steve Rapport/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Thanks for reading. Oh, and if you’re a Gmail user, be sure to drag this email to your Primary tab so you never miss a mailing. I found this video on YouTube by a guy named Igor — stay with me — who works at a travel agency (I think). Igor made a video and uploaded it to YouTube to show you how to drag your emails to the Primary tab in Gmail. Igor, you are amazing. WATCH THE IGOR VIDEO ON HOW TO DRAG YOUR EMAILS TO THE PRIMARY TAB. BE LIKE IGOR!

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  • Before we go, happy birthday (🎂) to these folks: JoJo Siwa (18), Grace Jones (73), Amanda De Cadenet (49), Pete Townshend (76), Sam Smith (29), Malcolm X. (Source: AP.)

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