Two Exciting Alzheimer’s Advances: A Novel Early Detection Test Using Peanut Butter, and a Study Evaluating Coconut Oil

At present, some 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association’s 2011 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures.1

By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans, rivaling the current prevalence of obesity and diabetes.

Story at-a-glance

  • At present, an estimated 5.4 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease. By 2050, this is expected to jump to 16 million, and in the next 20 years it is projected that Alzheimer’s will affect one in four Americans
  • The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first senses to be adversely affected by cognitive decline.
  • In patients with Alzheimer’s, the ability to smell peanut butter through the left nostril was found to be significantly impaired
  • Patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s have been enrolled in a clinical study—the first of its kind—to evaluate the effects of coconut oil versus placebo. Results are expected in about a year
  • Previous investigation suggests that ketone bodies, an alternative fuel for your brain that your body makes when digesting coconut oil, might offer profound healing benefits in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease

Since treatments are few and rarely effective, early diagnosis and prevention become all the more important.

Interestingly, simple tools like a tablespoon of peanut butter and a ruler could potentially be used to confirm a diagnosis of the disease in its early stages. As reported by Medical News Today:2

“Jennifer Stamps, a graduate student in the University of Florida (UF) McKnight Brain Institute Center for Smell and Taste, and her colleagues reported the findings of a small pilot study in the Journal of the Neurological Sciences.3

Stamps came up with the idea of using peanut butter to test for smell sensitivity while she was working with Dr. Kenneth Heilman, one of the world’s best known behavioral neurologists, from the UF College of Medicine’s department of neurology.

…The ability to smell is associated with the first cranial nerve and is often one of the first things to be affected in cognitive decline… She thought of peanut butter because, she said, it is a ‘pure odorant’ that is only detected by the olfactory nerve and is easy to access.”

The pilot study tested the ability to smell of 24 patients diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment. To perform the test, the patient was asked to close their eyes and mouth, and hold one nostril closed while breathing normally through the other.

Using a ruler, the clinician measured the distance between the open nostril and the peanut butter, marking the distance at which the patient was able to detect the distinct odor. After a 90 second delay, the procedure was repeated with the other nostril.

They discovered that those diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s (which was done through other clinical testing) experienced a significant difference in their ability to detect the odor between the two nostrils. According to the featured report:

“[T]he left nostril was impaired and did not detect the smell until it was an average of 10 cm closer to the nose than the right nostril had made the detection in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

This was not the case in patients with other kinds of dementia; instead, these patients had either no differences in odor detection between nostrils or the right nostril was worse at detecting odor than the left one.”

Of course, it’s too early to tell whether this test might be reliable enough to become widely used. More research needs to be done. But according to Stamps, the test can be used to confirm a diagnosis. The team is planning to study patients with mild cognitive impairment next, to assess whether it might help predict a future diagnosis of Alzheimer’s.

Benefits of Coconut Oil Make Headlines Again

In related news, Florida researchers are also looking into whether coconut oil might be of benefit against Alzheimer’s. Three years ago, I published Dr. Mary Newport’s theory that ketone bodies, an alternative fuel for your brain that your body makes when digesting coconut oil, might offer profound benefits in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease.

At the time I said that, should her theory turn out to be accurate, it could be one of the greatest natural health discoveries in a long time. Now, Dr. Newport’s research is being used to launch one of the first clinical trials of its kind to test her theory. The research is being done at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute.

Sixty-five patients diagnosed with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s have been enrolled to evaluate the effects of coconut oil on the disease, compared to a placebo. Dr. Newport hopes to have the results within a year.

This issue strikes close to home for Dr. Newport, whose husband has been battling the disease for years. As reported by CTV News:4

“While there is currently no clinical data showing the benefits of coconut oil on the prevention and treatment of dementia, Newport — whose husband Steve was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 51 — said she began to see improvements after starting him on four teaspoons of coconut oil per day.

‘Before the coconut oil, he could not tie his shoes. His weird slow gait… That improved. He walked normally and he was able to start running again.

He was able to start reading again, his conversation improved dramatically and then over several months we saw improvements in his memory,’ Newport said. Prior to starting him on coconut oil, Newport said none of the existing medications were working.”

Coconut Oil Appears to Be an Ideal Brain Food

There are only two types of fuel your body can convert into energy: carbs/sugar, or fat. Again, ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy. And a primary source of ketone bodies are the medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil. In fact, coconut oil contains about 66 percent MCTs.

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are fats that are not processed by your body in the same manner as long-chain triglycerides. Normally, a fat taken into your body must be mixed with bile released from your gallbladder before it can be broken down in your digestive system.

But medium-chain triglycerides go directly to your liver, which naturally converts the oil into ketones, bypassing the bile entirely. Your liver then immediately releases the ketones into your bloodstream where they are transported to your brain to be readily used as fuel.

While your brain is quite happy running on glucose, there’s evidence suggesting that ketone bodies may actually help restore and renew neurons and nerve function in your brain, even after damage has set in. Interestingly, the mechanism of this MCT-ketone metabolism appears to be that your body treats MCTs as a carbohydrate and not a fat.  This allows the ketone energy to hit your bloodstream without the normal insulin spike associated with carbohydrates entering your bloodstream. So in effect, coconut oil is a fat that acts like a carbohydrate when it comes to brain fuel.

How Much Coconut Oil Might You Need?

Therapeutic levels of MCTs have been studied at 20 grams per day. According to Dr. Newport’s calculations,5 just over two tablespoons of coconut oil (about 35 ml or seven level teaspoons) would supply you with the equivalent of 20 grams of MCT, which is indicated as either a preventative measure against degenerative neurological diseases, or as a treatment for an already established case.

While more research certainly needs to be done in this area as well, I see no reason not to incorporate coconut oil in your diet, or the diet of a loved one who is exhibiting symptoms of brain degeneration. Coconut oil has so many profound health benefits; it’s not going to do any harm.

It’s worth noting that people tolerate coconut oil differently, and you may have to start slowly and build up to these therapeutic levels. My recommendation is to start with one teaspoon, taken with food in the mornings. Gradually add more coconut oil every few days until you are able to tolerate about four tablespoons. It’s best to take it with food, to avoid upsetting your stomach.

Low-Fat Craze Has Likely Contributed to Dramatic Rise in Alzheimer’s

A number of seriously flawed nutritional guidelines have contributed to more than a few health problems in the US, and the low-fat craze (aimed at preventing heart disease) is toward the top of that list. Not only does avoiding healthful fat promote heart disease, it also promotes brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

According to neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter, fat avoidance and carbohydrate overconsumption are at the heart of the Alzheimer’s epidemic—which is an entirely preventable disease, driven by lifestyle factors such as diet. Dr. Perlmutter’s book, Grain Brain, provides a powerful argument for eliminating grains from your diet to protect your brain health. Another major factor is the development and increased consumption of genetically engineered (GE) grains, which are now pervasive in most processed foods sold in the US. Unfortunately, despite dire need, there’s little money available for research into treatments using regular food items. As Amanda Smith, Medical Director at University of South Florida (USF) Health Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute told CTV News:

“The pharmaceutical industry is in this — of course to make money for their companies, and of course they want to help people theoretically — but at the end of the day it is about dollars and cents, and so money gets invested in things that are new or patentable rather than things that are sitting on the shelf already.”

Intermittent Fasting Can Also Increase Ketone Production

There are two additional ways to increase ketone production: restricting carbohydrates, and intermittent fasting. Personally, I believe all three of these strategies are best applied together, as you need to replace the lost carbs with high quality fat (and coconut oil certainly fits that bill), and intermittent fasting will help your body shift to burning fat as its primary fuel. It takes about six to eight hours for your body to metabolize your glycogen stores, after which you start to shift to burning stored fat, and hence producing ketone bodies.

Contrary to more stringent and challenging fasts, intermittent fasting simply involves timing your meals to allow your body to enter the fat-burning “window.” To be effective, the length of your fast must be at least 16 hours. For example, this would mean eating only between the hours of 11am until 7pm, or noon until 8pm. You can restrict it even further — down to six, four, or even two hours if you want, but you can still reap many of the health benefits associated with intermittent fasting by limiting your eating to an eight-hour window each day.

I recommend easing yourself into this type of eating schedule. Start by not eating anything for three hours prior to bed, and then gradually extend the time before you eat breakfast each day to the point that you have skipped breakfast and have your first meal at lunch. This typically takes a few weeks to a few months. Also, this is not something that needs to be done continuously once your body has shifted to fat burning mode. However, your desire to eat will be dramatically reduced so you won’t feel the need to eat like you did before shifting your body’s primary fuel burning preference.

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Brain Function and Avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease

Knowing that Alzheimer’s is a preventable disease, predicated on your lifestyle choices, puts the power into your hands.  Diet is paramount, and the beauty of following my optimized nutrition plan is that it helps prevent and treat virtually ALL chronic degenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease.

People who experience very little decline in their cognitive function up until their deaths have been found (post-mortem) to be free of brain lesions, showing that it’s entirely possible to prevent the damage from occurring in the first place… and one of the best ways to do this is by leading a healthy lifestyle. The following guidelines will help you protect your brain health well into old age:

Avoid sugar and refined fructose. Ideally, you’ll want to keep your sugar levels to a minimum and your total fructose below 25 grams per day, or as low as 15 grams per day if you have insulin resistance or any related disorders.

Avoid gluten (primarily wheat). Research shows that your blood-brain barrier, the barrier that keeps things out of your brain where they don’t belong, is negatively affected by gluten. Gluten also makes your gut more permeable, which allows proteins to get into your bloodstream, where they don’t belong. That then sensitizes your immune system and promotes inflammation and autoimmunity, both of which play a role in the development of Alzheimer’s.

Optimize your gut flora by regularly eating fermented foods or taking a high-potency and high quality probiotic supplement.

Increase consumption of all healthful fats, including animal-based omega-3. Beneficial health-promoting fats that your brain needs for optimal function include organic butter from raw milk, clarified butter called organic grass-fed raw butter, olives, organic virgin olive oil and coconut oil, nuts like pecans and macadamia, free-range eggs, wild Alaskan salmon, and avocado.

Contrary to popular belief, the ideal fuel for your brain is not glucose but ketones. Ketones are what your body produces when it converts fat (as opposed to glucose) into energy. The medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) found in coconut oil are GREAT source of ketone bodies, because coconut oil is about 66 percent MCTs. In fact, ketones appear to be the preferred source of brain food in patients affected by diabetes or Alzheimer’s.

Also make sure you’re getting enough animal-based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil. (I recommend avoiding most fish because, although fish is naturally high in omega-3, most fish are now severely contaminated with mercury.) High intake of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA help by preventing cell damage caused by Alzheimer’s disease, thereby slowing down its progression, and lowering your risk of developing the disorder.

Reduce your overall calorie consumption, and/or intermittently fast. As mentioned above, ketones are mobilized when you replace carbs with coconut oil and other sources of healthy fats. A one-day fast can help your body to “reset” itself, and start to burn fat instead of sugar.

As part of a healthy lifestyle, I prefer an intermittent fasting schedule that simply calls for limiting your eating to a narrower window of time each day. By restricting your eating to a 6-8 hour window, you effectively fast 16-18 hours each day. To learn more, please see this previous article.

Improve your magnesium levels. There is some exciting preliminary research strongly suggesting a decrease in Alzheimer symptoms with increased levels of magnesium in the brain. Unfortunately, most magnesium supplements do not pass the blood brain levels, but a new one, magnesium threonate, appears to and holds some promise for the future for treating this condition and may be superior to other forms.

Optimize your vitamin D levels with safe sun exposure. Strong links between low levels of vitamin D in Alzheimer’s patients and poor outcomes on cognitive tests have been revealed. Researchers believe that optimal vitamin D levels may enhance the amount of important chemicals in your brain and protect brain cells by increasing the effectiveness of the glial cells in nursing damaged neurons back to health.

Vitamin D may also exert some of its beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s through its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Sufficient vitamin D is imperative for proper functioning of your immune system to combat inflammation that is also associated with Alzheimer’s.

Keep your fasting insulin levels below 3. This is indirectly related to fructose, as it will clearly lead to insulin resistance. However, other sugars (sucrose is 50 percent fructose by weight), grains and lack of exercise are also important factors. Lowering insulin will also help lower leptin levels which is another factor for Alzheimer’s.

Eat a nutritious diet, rich in folate, such as the one described in my nutrition plan. Vegetables, without question, are your best form of folate, and we should all eat plenty of fresh raw veggies every day.

Avoid and eliminate mercury from your body. Dental amalgam fillings, which are 50 percent mercury by weight, are one of the major sources of heavy metal toxicity, however you should be healthy prior to having them removed. Once you have adjusted to following the diet described in my optimized nutrition plan, you can follow the mercury detox protocol and then find a biological dentist to have your amalgams removed.

Avoid aluminum, such as antiperspirants, non-stick cookware, vaccine adjuvants, etc.

Exercise regularly. It’s been suggested that exercise can trigger a change in the way the amyloid precursor protein is metabolized,6 thus, slowing down the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s. Exercise also increases levels of the protein PGC-1alpha. Research has also shown that people with Alzheimer’s have less PGC-1alpha in their brains7 and cells that contain more of the protein produce less of the toxic amyloid protein associated with Alzheimer’s. I would strongly recommend reviewing the Peak Fitness Technique for my specific recommendations.

Avoid flu vaccinations as most contain mercury, a well-known neurotoxic and immunotoxic agent.

Eat blueberries. Wild blueberries, which have high anthocyanin and antioxidant content, are known to guard against Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases. Like any fruit though, avoid excesses here.

Challenge your mind daily. Mental stimulation, especially learning something new, such as learning to play an instrument or a new language, is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s. Researchers suspect that mental challenge helps to build up your brain, making it less susceptible to the lesions associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Avoid anticholinergics and statin drugs. Drugs that block acetylcholine, a nervous system neurotransmitter, have been shown to increase your risk of dementia. These drugs include certain nighttime pain relievers, antihistamines, sleep aids, certain antidepressants, medications to control incontinence, and certain narcotic pain relievers.

Statin drugs are particularly problematic because they suppress the synthesis of cholesterol, deplete your brain of coenzyme Q10 and neurotransmitter precursors, and prevent adequate delivery of essential fatty acids and fat-soluble antioxidants to your brain by inhibiting the production of the indispensable carrier biomolecule known as low-density lipoprotein.

Other Natural Treatments for Your Anti-Alzheimer’s Arsenal

Finally, there are a few other nutritional recommendations worth noting for their specific benefits in preventing and treating dementia. So, although your fundamental strategy for preventing dementia should involve a comprehensive lifestyle approach, you may want to consider adding a few of these natural dietary agents to your anti-Alzheimer’s arsenal. These four natural foods/supplements have good science behind them, in terms of preventing age-related cognitive changes:

1.Astaxanthin is a natural pigment with unique properties and many clinical benefits, including some of the most potent antioxidant activity currently known. As a fat-soluble nutrient, astaxanthin readily crosses your blood-brain barrier. One study8 found it may help prevent neurodegeneration associated with oxidative stress, as well as make a potent natural “brain food.”

The molecules of astaxanthin neutralize free radicals and other oxidants without being destroyed or becoming pro-oxidants themselves in the process. It’s is a unique molecule whose shape allows it to precisely fit into a cell membrane and span its entire width. In this position, astaxanthin can intercept potentially damaging molecules before they can damage your cells.

You can get some astaxanthin by taking krill oil, which is a fantastic omega-3 fat supplement. But you can boost your astaxanthin even MORE by adding a pure astaxanthin supplement to your nutritional regimen. For optimal absorption, make sure to take krill oil and/or astaxanthin with a fat-containing meal, since both are fat-soluble.

2.Ginkgo biloba: Many scientific studies have found that Ginkgo biloba has positive effects for dementia. Ginkgo, which is derived from a tree native to Asia, has long been used medicinally in China and other countries. A 1997 study from JAMA showed clear evidence that Ginkgo improves cognitive performance and social functioning for those suffering from dementia. Research since then has been equally promising. One study in 2006 found Ginkgo as effective as the dementia drug Aricept (donepezil) for treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s type dementia. A 2010 meta-analysis found Ginkgo biloba to be effective for a variety of types of dementia.

3.Alpha lipoic acid (ALA): ALA can stabilize cognitive functions among Alzheimer’s patients and may slow the progression of the disease.

4.Vitamin B12: A small Finnish study published in the journal Neurology9 found that people who consume foods rich in B12 may reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s in their later years. For each unit increase in the marker of vitamin B12, the risk of developing Alzheimer’s was reduced by two percent. Remember, sublingual methylcobalamin may be your best bet here.


OFF THE RECORD Scientists Believe They Have Discovered A Parallel Universe That Interact With Our World

Quantum mechanics, though firmly tested, is so weird and anti-intuitive that famed physicist Richard Feynman once remarked, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” Attempts to explain some of the bizarre consequences of quantum theory have led to some mind-bending ideas, such as the Copenhagen interpretation and the many-worlds interpretation.

Now there’s a new theory on the block, called the “many interacting worlds” hypothesis (MIW), and the idea is just as profound as it sounds. The theory suggests not only that parallel worlds exist, but that they interact with our world on the quantum level and are thus detectable. Though still speculative, the theory may help to finally explain some of the bizarre consequences inherent in quantum mechanics, reports

The theory is a spinoff of the many-worlds interpretation in quantum mechanics — an idea that posits that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual, though parallel, world. One problem with the many-worlds interpretation, however, has been that it is fundamentally untestable, since observations can only be made in our world. Happenings in these proposed “parallel” worlds can thus only be imagined.

MIW, however, says otherwise. It suggests that parallel worlds can interact on the quantum level, and in fact that they do.

“The idea of parallel universes in quantum mechanics has been around since 1957,” explained Howard Wiseman, a physicist at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, and one of the physicists to come up with MIW. “In the well-known ‘Many-Worlds Interpretation’, each universe branches into a bunch of new universes every time a quantum measurement is made. All possibilities are therefore realised – in some universes the dinosaur-killing asteroid missed Earth. In others, Australia was colonised by the Portuguese.”

“But critics question the reality of these other universes, since they do not influence our universe at all,” he added. “On this score, our “Many Interacting Worlds” approach is completely different, as its name implies.”

Wiseman and colleagues have proposed that there exists “a universal force of repulsion between ‘nearby’ (i.e. similar) worlds, which tends to make them more dissimilar.” Quantum effects can be explained by factoring in this force, they propose.

Whether or not the math holds true will be the ultimate test for this theory. Does it or does it not properly predict quantum effects mathematically? But the theory is certain to provide plenty of fodder for the imagination.

For instance, when asked about whether their theory might entail the possibility that humans could someday interact with other worlds, Wiseman said: “It’s not part of our theory. But the idea of [human] interactions with other universes is no longer pure fantasy.”

 Watch the video discussion. URL:

DARPA is Working to Make Homes That Grow And Can Repair Themselves


DARPA has just launched the Engineering Living Materials program, with a vision to create building materials that grow on-site. The materials would be used to construct buildings that repair themselves and adapt to the environment.


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has certainly had its hand in making the gizmos and gadgets we enjoy into a reality. The agency is still hard at work blazing the trail for the tech of the future, issuing challenges for the creation of the most advanced things on this Earth.

It has issued a new challenges, this time in the field of construction. DARPA has just announced the Engineering Living Materials program, a program to develop building materials that grow on site, repair themselves, and even adapt to the environment. “The vision of the ELM program is to grow materials on demand where they are needed,” said ELM program manager, Justin Gallivan, in a press release. “Imagine that instead of shipping finished materials, we can ship precursors and rapidly grow them on site using local resources.”


While this seems like a tall order, some of the precursor technologies are already here. There have been great strides in the field of 3D-printing, with finished products appearing from scratch. This sort of printing has actually transitioned to living tissue:

Other than 3D printing of living tissue, there has also been self-repairing concrete, biologically sourced structural materials made from inexpensive feedstocks, packing materials derived from fungal mycelium, and building blocks made from bacteria and sand. So, get excited about the inevitable Youtube channel of self-reparing condos.

ELM hopes to combine these technologies, creating non-living scaffolds that support living tissue and engineered cells. The end goal is that these scaffolds are no longer needed, that biological cells can be genetically engineered to have these structural properties.

DARPA sees that research on developmental pathways and three-dimensional development of multicellular systems will be key to this challenge.

Scientists Have Pinpointed the Gene Responsible for Down Syndrome


A team of researchers from Singapore and the United Kingdom have discovered an enzyme that regulates sperm and egg cell production, which may be linked to Down Syndrome, Patau Syndrome, and other chromosomal aberrations.


Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes in every cell in their bodies, except for their reproductive cells or gamete cells (sperm or egg), which contain 23 chromosomes. The reason why chromosomes come in pairs is that one pair comes from the egg, and the other from the sperm. So when gametes fuse with each other, they end up as a single cell having two copies of each chromosome.

Gamete cells are produced by a process called meiosis — a type of cell division with two rounds of nuclear division, to make sure that the number of chromosomes in the parent cell is halved. Sometimes, though, errors occur during cell division, which may result to offsprings having abnormal number of chromosomes — a phenomenon called aneuploidy.

Aneuploidy causes Down Syndrome — the most common genetic condition, Patau Syndrome, and other genetic disorders. It is also the leading cause of miscarriage.

Image Credit: iStock/koya79


The research team, led by Dr. Prakash Arumugam from the National University of Singapore, noted how the process of meiosis can affect chromosomal irregularities: “Understanding how meiosis is regulated is of great importance to understanding the causes of aneuploidy and genetic disorders in human,” said Dr Gary Kerr and the team, writing in the journal Scientific Reports.

The researchers have discovered a particular enzyme which plays an essential role in chromosome segregation in meiosis. They identified this enzyme as PP2ACdc55, which is involved in various cellular processes. It was also shown from the research team’s previous findings that PP2ACdc55 plays a vital role in controlling the timing of meiosis, thus preventing the cells from prematurely exiting phases of cell division.

The scientists tracked the enzyme on yeast models using fluorescent tagging, and analyzed the resulting mutant yeast strains, characterized the mutations and determined the role of the Cdc55 gene. Their results suggest that the gene might have a role in meiotic chromosome segregation. This is, without a doubt, a step forward, but we still don’t know what causes the process to go wrong.

The “Gremlins” Are Coming!—Meet DARPA’s New Air-Launched Drones


Several companies will attempt to make the “Gremlins” program a reality. They now have the challenge of creating a system of reusable unmanned vehicles that can launch from bigger aircraft such as bombers or jets.


While drone technology has crept up to the civilian market, with multiple modifications made for the tech-savvy consumer, large scale drone research is still firmly in the hands of the military. DARPA is at the forefront of this, with multiple research programs into the military use of drones.

Now it’s at it again, developing another milestone for the boys in green.

DARPA has awarded Phase 1 contracts to several companies who will attempt to make the “Gremlins” program a reality. They now have the challenge of creating a system of reusable unmanned vehicles that can launch from bigger aircraft like bombers or jets.

In particular, four companies have been selected: Lockheed Martin, Dynetics of Alabama, Composite Engineering, and General Atomics Aeronautical Systems of California. The companies are tasked with using their technical genius to conjure up launch and retrieval techniques, low-cost airframe designs and develop the drones’ navigation system and digital flight controls.

Learn more about DARPA in the video below:


The Gremlins program, revealed last year, seeks to show the feasibility of conducting safe, reliable operations involving multiple air-launched, air-recoverable unmanned systems.

The goal of the program is to have bombers or transport aircraft launch groups or swarms of reusable unmanned vehicles called gremlins for intelligence and reconnaissance purposes. When the gremlins complete their mission, a C-130 transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air, and then return to base where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours.

Gremlins are expected to last 20 uses, and may also launch from fighters and other small, fixed-wing platforms when bombers are out of range.

Such air-launched drones are primarily a cost-reducing program, bridging the gap between missiles that are one-use only, and reusable systems that are costly to maintain. The program aims to prove that such systems could provide significant cost advantages over expendable systems, spreading out payload and airframe costs over multiple uses instead of just one.

The Gremlins program is named for the imaginary, mischievous imps whom World War II airmen blamed for the frequent mechanical woes that beset their planes.

No word yet as to what happens if you feed them after midnight.

New Law Requires all Dogs in the UK to be Microchipped


As of April 6, 2016, UK law requires all dogs that are eight weeks old or older to have microchip implants. Microchips will address “reckless” ownership, as well as save taxpayers’ cash that would otherwise be used to look after strays.


As of April 6, 2016, UK law requires all dogs eight weeks or older to have microchip implants.

If a pooch is caught without the microchip implant, the owner will be given 21 days to comply with the new regulations. In cases where the dog owner is negligent, he or she will be made to pay a fine. In such cases, the authorities could also take the dog away from the owner, have it implanted with the microchip, and then compel the owner to pay for the procedure anyway.

In a BBC report, Simon Blackburn of the Local Government Association, said thatmicrochips will address “reckless” ownership, as well as save taxpayers’ cash that would otherwise be used to look after strays. Moreover, the microchips will make it easier and quicker to return dogs to their owners in case they are stolen or lost.


The microchip that the UK government wants implanted into dogs is about the size of a single grain of rice. Dogs Trust — the country’s largest dog welfare charity — explained, “with the use of a specially designed implanting device, the microchip is injected through a sterile needle under the dog’s skin, right between the shoulder blades.” The procedure causes a mild discomfort similar to what is felt during a standard vaccination.

The chip is assigned a unique number that can be read by a scanner. The number corresponds to the dog owner’s contact details. All this information is logged on a central database. If the dog ever goes missing, all the authorities have to do is use the scanner to find out who the dog’s owner is and how to get in touch with him or her.

Currently, it’s estimated that more than 1.45 million dogs still need to be implanted with microchips. In any case, when dogs are out in public, they’re still required to wear a collar with a tag that states the name and address of the owner. The microchip, though, serves as the fail-safe feature.

Check Out This Walking Robot—3D Printed and Fully Functional in Just 22 Hours


What do you get when you give MIT researchers an inkjet printer and 22 hours? A walking, fully functional 3D printed robot.


MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence lab (CSAIL) just managed to print a robot anchored on a process they call, ‘printable hydraulics’—which allows them to create pumps filled with liquid in the manufacturing process. In short, it allowed them to 3D print a walking robot.

Their achievement highlights the opportunities that 3D printing has for the production of functional machines. “All you have to do is stick in a battery and motor and you have a robot that can practically walk right out of the printer,” says CSAIL director, Daniella Rus.


To print these functional machines, the team used an inkjet 3D printer that releases drops of material that are just a fraction of the width of human hair. Structural areas are built using photopolymer placed on the deck and hardened using UV light.

After a lot of trial and error related to what materials—liquids and solids—would work best, the team found a combination that managed to successfully print a working robot in just a single printing session.

The team believes this is the best way to print multiple materials, as it offers precision and control in terms of where materials are placed. Though it is still in its early days, the method has nevertheless been able to produce a hexapod that could move via 12 hydraulic pumps built within the body.

Including the addition of a motor, the entire process took just 22 hours to complete.

Eventually, the team hopes to improve the process so that they can produce something from scratch during emergency situations—such as search and rescue missions, where the printed robot can be used to haul civilians out of disaster zones.

Scientists Create Building Blocks of Life in Lab Comet


Scientists from the French Institut de Chimie de Nice (CNRS) have successfully shown that ribose, a key building block of genetic material, can form in the interstellar ice making up comets. They were able to find ribose in artificial comets produced in the laboratory.


The origin of life is one puzzle that has, well…puzzled us. Popular theories suggest that the chemical soup of young Earth, with the help of volcanic eruptions and volatile weather, mixed and churned simple chemicals into increasingly complex ones. Eventually, it is thought that this process led to the formation of life as we know it.

Others say that asteroids and comets “seeded” the Earth with simple sugars, and maybe even primitive microbes. And it seems that last one may just be true after all.

Watch the video:

Scientists from the French Institut de Chimie de Nice (CNRS) have successfully shown that ribose, a key building block of genetic material, can form in the interstellar ice making up comets. They made this discovery as they were able to find ribose in artificial comets produced in the laboratory.

Other basic building blocks of life have already been found in artificial, laboratory created comets and, indeed, in real life meteorites. Amino acids, which make up proteins, and nitrogenous bases, a major component of nucleic acids, have both been found in these comets.

The finding of RNA in an artificial comet allows scientists to study the origins of this molecule- and by extension, the origins of life in the planet.


To conduct the experiments, an artificial comet was made. A mixture of water, methanol, and ammonia was placed in a high vacuum chamber at 200°C. This simulated the formation of dust grains coated with ice, the raw material of comets.

The result was then irradiated with ultraviolet light, similar to conditions during the formation of a solar system. This was then warmed to room temperature, to simulate approach to the Sun.

The Institut de Chimie de Nice then analyzed its chemical composition, using multidimensional gas chromatography coupled with time-of-flight mass spectrometry. This showed several sugars, one of which was ribose.

Diversity and relative abundance then suggested that these sugars came from formaldehyde, which is found in space and forms from water and methanol)

The success of this study completes the list of the molecular building blocks of life that can be formed in interstellar ice, and strengthens the theory that life on Earth came from a place other than Earth.