Best of Last Week–How the universe became filled with light, challenging evolutionary theories and winter heart attacks

September 4, 2017 by Bob Yirka recap
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

(ScienceX)—It was a good week for space research as a team at UCLA proposed new theories of black holes from the very early universe and the role they might have played in producing the heavy elements. Also, a team at the University of Iowa proposed a theory regarding how the universe became filled with light—black holes flinging matter through cloudy surroundings allowed light to escape. A team with the Breakthrough Listen project (listening for radio emissions that signal life from somewhere else in the cosmos) reported that they had received signals from a distant galaxy sending out 15 high-energy radio bursts. And officials with NASA announced the largest asteroid in a century passed by Earth—named Florence, it measured 4.4 kilometers across and came within 4.4 million miles of striking our planet.

In other news, a team of researchers from Thailand and the U.S. reported that antidepressants have been found in fish brains in the Great Lakes region—the human medicines are reportedly building up in the brains of several fish types. And an international team found that ancient fossil footprints challenge established theories of human evolution—they were found in Crete, were approximately 5.7 million years old and were shaped much like modern human footprints. Also, a team with members from Aalto University and the University of Helsinki found that magnetic stimulation of the brain improved awareness of subjects' own cognitive abilities—it actually improved a volunteer's ability to evaluate how well they did on a tactile test. And a trio of researchers from the U.K. and the U.S. offered evidence that apes' abilities have been misunderstood by decades of poor science—mainly due to researchers preconceived notions of human superiority. Also, a team at Stanford University reported that insect eyes inspired their new solar cell design—they used micro-lenses like compound eyes in insects.

And finally, if you are one of the millions around the world worried you might be felled by a heart attack, you might want to see your doctor for testing during the winter, because a team in Sweden conducting a 16-year study found evidence suggesting that air temperature is an external trigger for heart attack—more people have heart attacks, they found, when the temperature dips below freezing.

Explore further: Researchers propose how the universe became filled with light