Best of Last Week – Stephen Hawking's last theory, sauna bathing reducing stroke risk and health benefits of walnuts

May 7, 2018 by Bob Yirka
Taming the multiverse—Stephen Hawking’s final theory about the big bang
Stephen Hawking. Credit: Andre Pattenden

It was a big week for physics as Stephen Hawking's final theory about the Big Bang was published. The paper was written in collaboration with Thomas Hertog and suggests the universe is not only finite but is much simpler than current theories suggest. Also, a team at Yale discovered signs of a time crystal—a form of matter that "ticks" when exposed to an electromagnetic pulse.

In technology news, a team at Stanford announced that they had developed a water-based battery to store solar and wind energy. The prototype manganese-hydrogen battery is just three inches tall and can generate 20 milliwatt-hours of electricity. They suggest that once it is scaled up, it could serve as a grid-scale battery with a useful lifespan well in excess of a decade. Also, a team of engineers at the University of Buffalo upgraded an ancient, sun-powered tech to purify water with near-perfect efficiency—it involves draping carbon-dipped paper in an upside down "V."

In other news, a team of researchers at the University of Toronto announced that they had developed a portable 3-D skin printer to repair deep skin wounds. The hand-held device deposits even layers of skin directly on wounds, helping them to heal. Also, an international team of researchers concluded that the Earth's magnetic field is not about to reverse as some have speculated. And a team at the University of Kansas studied DNA sequences suggesting that just 250 people made up the original Native American founding population. And another international team of archaeologists found new stone artifacts that showed early humans were in the Philippines 700,000 years ago. Also, another international team of researchers found that frequent sauna bathing reduces the risk of stroke—the 15-year study showed people who regularly visited a sauna were 61 percent less likely to experience a stroke.

And finally, if you are one of the millions around the world looking for a relatively easy way to improve your health, you might try eating some nuts, as a team at the University of Illinois found that walnuts impact the gut microbiome and improve health by reducing LDL-cholesterol levels in adults.

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