This week in science – Feb. 5

Mark Hendricks, Science & Technology Editor Ω

The event horizon might not be so inevitable

A new paper by Stephen Hawking says that black holes as we know them may not exist. Phil Plaity/Flickr Commons

A new paper by Stephen Hawking says that black holes as we know them may not exist. Phil Plaity/Flickr Commons

A new paper by Stephen Hawking is set to disprove the notion of black holes as we know them. According to Hawking, it is impossible for there to be an event horizon.

The event horizon in a black hole is the point at which the velocity necessary to escape the gravitational pull of the black hole is greater than the speed of light. In simple terms, it’s the point from beyond which, it is impossible for light to escape.

According to Hawking, the concept of an event horizon clashes with quantum physics. Because of the lack of an event horizon, there can be no black holes as we know them. Hawking instead proposes an eventual horizon, that holds matter and energy for a period of time before releasing it.

Hawking’s paper has not yet been published or peer reviewed.

Find out more: arxiv.org/abs/1401.5761

Autistic brains at rest generate more information

Autistic children's brains produce 42 per cent more activity at rest according to a new study. Liz Henry/Flickr Commons

Autistic children’s brains produce 42 per cent more activity at rest according to a new study. Liz Henry/Flickr Commons

A new study from Case Western Reserve University reveals that autistic children’s brains produce 42 per cent more information at rest than non-autistic children.

The study offers this as an explanation for autistic children’s behaviour of retreating into themselves, a common characteristic of the disorder.

“Our results suggest that autistic children are not interested in social interactions because their brains generate more information at rest, which we interpret as more introspection in line with early descriptions of the disorder,” Roberto Fernández Galán, senior author and associate professor of neurosciences at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine said in a press release.

This study backs up a new theory about autism called the Intense World Theory. This theory states that autistic children are are in a constant state of over-arousal due to increased neural activity.

Find out more: casemed.case.edu/newscenter/news

New drug may eliminate cancer cells in bone marrow

A new study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has revealed a new drug that can wipe out the reservoirs of cancer cells in bone marrow that cause the return of cancerous tumors.

This is a problem that is often faced after antibody treatment of cancerous tumors, which mark the tumors and allow the body’s own antibodies to eliminate them. But cancerous cells that lie within the bone marrow are not affected by this treatment.

The new drug stimulates the immune response in bone marrow that can eliminate the reservoirs of cancer cells that hide in bone marrow.

“We’re not talking about the development of a new drug, we’re talking about the altered use of an existing therapy,” Michael Hemann, one of the senior authors of the study said in a press release. “We can operate within the context of existing treatment regimens but hopefully achieve drastic improvement in the efficacy of those regimens.”

Find out more: web.mit.edu/newsoffice