Discovered: The black hole that takes up the most space; running can hurt as well as help heart health; keep your eye on the ball is good advice after all; developing a universal cancer blood test.
Quit crowding out your galaxy, supermassive black hole. Don't you just hate when inconsiderate people hog all the room in some confined space? Well, boy would you hate it in galaxy NGC 1277, home to the largest black hole, proportionally speaking. German astronomer Remco van den Bosch from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and his colleagues located a supermassive black hole that isn't the biggest known to scientists, but it is the biggest in relation to its home galaxy, which in this case is pretty tiny. The black hole in question (picture above) is 17 billion times more massive than our sun and could be a burnt-out quasar that's been around since the dawn of time. "This discovery throws a big wrench in the idea that supermassive black hole growth and galaxy growth are tightly connected throughout the universe," comments UC Berkeley's Nicholas McConnell. [New Scientist]
Exercise is ... bad for you? Everyone wants you to exercise more. Your doctor, your significant other, Michelle Obama. Now, thanks to a few new research items, slackers have some science to back up their desire to stay glued to the couch. An editorial in the British journal Heart cites recent studies showing that vigorous running and other endurance exercise may cancel out its heart health benefits. In one study of 52,600 people, moderate runners in general had a 19 percent lower death rate, but hardcore exercise addicts reversed that mortality figure. "Running too fast, too far and for too many years may speed one’s progress toward the finish line of life," the researchers writing in Heart conclude. Obviously, such claims are controversial, with Hartford Hospital cardiologist Paul Thompson claiming scientists manipulated data. [The Wall Street Journal]
To improve your golf swing, just stare at the ball, seriously. "Now keep your eye on the ball, son," said every camcorder-wielding dad teaching his son how to swing at a golf ball. Turns out those were very wise instructions, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter's Mark Wilson. He and his colleagues found that intermediate golfers improved more just by focussing on the ball rather than learning a bunch of fancy new swing techniques. This Quiet Eye training "seems so obvious," says Wilson. But "the fact is that many people do not look at the right place at the right time." [The New York Times]
A universal cancer blood test. Screening for cancer can be an expensive, time-consuming, and sometimes invasive process. That's why many researchers are working to develop a simple cancer test that only requires a blood sample. Cancer cells release strange DNA into the bloodstream, but so far scientists can only detect it in advanced-stage sufferers. They hope that with more funding and advances in genome sequencing technology, they'll be able to produce a simple, universal cancer test in the near future. "Circulating tumor DNA is going to have a great future in all aspects of cancer management," says Carlos Caldas of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Research Institute. "This is an exploding field." [Science Now]