Tag: Beer

Beer improves your memory, claim mice

4-mouse-in-beer-alternative-uses-for-beer-things-beer-is-good-for-besides-drinkingThirsty boffins at Oregon State University have discovered that doses of xanthohumol, a flavonoid found in beer improved memory and thinking.

True, the experiment was conducted on a group of mice who were not knocking back pints in the snug at the Rat and Handgun. Instead they were injected with flavonoids, found in hops.

Last year, researchers discovered that a flavonoid found in celery and artichokes could potentially fight pancreatic cancer, which is less headline worthy than anything mentioning beer.

The researchers treated the mice with dietary supplements of xanthohumol over the course of eight weeks to see if xanthohumol could affect palmitoylation, a naturally occurring process in animals  – including humans – that’s associated with memory degradation.

The mice then went through a series of tests to gauge whether or not the treatments had improved their spatial memory and cognitive flexibility. For the younger mice in the group, it worked. Tragically older mice in the group found that xanthohumol didn’t seem to have any effect and they just sat around moaning about the rodents of today and how Margaret Thatcher was a brilliant leader.

Xanthohumol is rare and hops are the only known source. The dose the mice were given could be found by drinking 2,000 litres of beer a day for six weeks.

Still, the findings suggest the compound could one day be used medicinally to treat cognitive problems in humans.  Which is ironic because we drink beer to forget.  We can’t remember what, which means that it is working.


Robot created to pour drinks

ROBOT FRIDGEA robot which can pour its master another drink  has been created by scientists.

Researchers at Cornell’s Personal Robotics Lab have taught their creation to forsee human action with the task of refilling a person’s cup when it was nearly empty, without having to be asked – great for the silent and legless types at parties.

However, there are pitfuls. To be able to carry out the task the robot has to plan its movements in advance and then follow the plan. But if a human sitting at the table happens to raise the cup and drink from it,  the robot might pour a drink into a cup that isn’t there.

Nevertheless there’s also benefits. In another test, the robot observed a human carrying an object toward a refrigerator and helpfully opened the refrigerator door.

From a database of 120 3-D videos of people performing common household activities, the robot has been trained to identify human activities by tracking the movements of the body – reduced to a symbolic skeleton for easy calculation – breaking them down into sub-activities like reaching, carrying, pouring or drinking, and to associate the activities with objects. Since each person performs tasks a little differently, the robot can build a model that is general enough to match new events.

Observing a new scene with its Microsoft Kinnect 3-D camera, the robot identifies the activities it sees, considers what uses are possible with the objects in the scene and how those uses fit with the activities.

It then generates a set of possible continuations into the future – such as eating, drinking, cleaning, putting away – and finally chooses the most probable. As the action continues, it constantly updates and refines its predictions.

The research was supported by the U.S. Army Research Office, the Alfred E. Sloan Foundation and Microsoft.

Hema S. Koppula, Cornell graduate student in computer science, and Ashutosh Saxena, assistant professor of computer science, will describe their work at International Conference of Machine Learning, June 18-21 in Atlanta, and the Robotics: Science and Systems conference June 24-28 in Berlin, Germany.

Booze boffins recreate 150 year old beer

beerA beer spanning back from 170 years ago will be reproduced using modern techniques.

Booze boffins at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland have set their sights on reproducing a beer that was found preserved in five bottles at the bottom of a Baltic Sea shipwreck.

They have now cracked open these bottles, which were rescued in 2010 from a shipwreck that is believed to have sunk in the Åland archipelago southwest of Finland in the 1840s, and are analysing the contents in a bid to recreate the original recipe for modern industrial production methods.

The beer,  we doubt it was drinkable, was preserved as a result of the wreck’s darkness and low seabed temperatures. The salt water was kept at bay as a result of the pressure inside the corks.

Once the boffins have deciphered the formula and made a recipe, they will hand it over to the  Stallhagen brewery of Åland for reproduction and sales.

It is thought that drinkers will be able to get their hands on the brew from June 2014 with all profits given to charities focusing on the sea and environment.