War is bad, curry is good – and good news for mice

Your friendly neighbourhood Weekender has long and loudly proclaimed the merits of a good curry, generally at around midnight following some much-needed refreshment of the liquid variety.

And now science has finally caught up to us. Yep, the editor of Chemical and Engineering News, Lauren Wolf, explains in the mag’s new issue that pharmaceutical companies are pouring money into developing medications for Alzheimer’s disease.

Whilst producing drugs can be expensive, one likely candidate is curcumin, which is extracted from turmeric – the dusty-flavoured, yellow-orange spice that gives many curries their distinctive taste and colour. Some jiggery-pokery is required to work out how to get sufficient doses into the brain, apparently, so in the meantime we’re off to do our bit for science and have Bombay potatoes for lunch, just in case.

Agile-brained readers of Weekender (there is no other kind) will also be pleased that telling the truth is good for your health, both physically and mentally. Anita Kelly plus Liujan Wang of the University of Notre Dame said that research indicated that Americans lied on average 11 times a week.

The 110-person sample ranged in age from 18 to 71 with an average of 31 years old. Half of them were told to stop lying for 10 weeks, whilst the others weren’t. A link was found between telling the truth and improved health when tested across white lies and major lies.

“Statistical analyses showed that [an observed] improvement in relationships [for those who told fewer lies] significantly accounted for the improvement in health that was associated with less lying,” said Wang, who despite his porn star name is a statistician. Honest.

Killer wasp drones

Meanwhile, in the horrendously overfunded land of war, Boeing engineers and researchers from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory have managed to create evil flying killer wasps. Kinda. For some reason, they are proud of the fact that they can get ScanEagle autonomous drones to communicate with each other and perform like a swarm of insects.

Gabriel Santander, programme director, said the technology might one day “enable warfighters in battle to request and receive time-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information directly [from airborne vehicles quicker 
than the ground control stations”.

“Swarm network technology has the potential to offer more missions at less risk and lower operating costs,” he cackled, before being set upon by rogue tribes of flying ZX81s who’d escaped 
from a previous experiment.

Enough with the killing, already – there’s good news for the mice at last. Yep those put-upon live research critters should be proud to hear (with the massive ear on their backs) that science has created what they call microfabricated bioreactors which, when human cells are delivered therein, can mimic how organs react to medicines.

Vanderbilt University in the United States has been given a grant of US$2.1 million to develop these “microbrains” which is part of the National Institutes of Health’s initiative to solve brain function mysteries including viral infections, epilepsy, obesity and Alzheimers. Which is kinda where we came in. See you down the curry shop.