This is what the entire known Universe looks like in a single image.

Isn’t it beautiful? This is an illustrated logarithmic scale conception of the observable Universe with the Solar System at the centre.

Encircling the Solar System are the inner and outer planets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, Alpha Centauri star, Perseus Arm, Milky Way galaxy, Andromeda galaxy, other nearby galaxies, the cosmic web, cosmic microwave radiation, and invisible plasma produced by the Big Bang at the very edges. See below for uncropped and zoomable versions.

Created by musician and artist Pablo Carlos Budassi, the image is based on logarithmic maps of the Universe put together by Princeton University researchers, as well as images produced by NASA based on observations made by their telescopes and roving spacecraft.

The Princeton team, led by astronomers J Richard Gott and Mario Juric, based their logarithmic map of the Universe on data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which over the past 15 years has been using a 2.5-metre, wide-angle optical telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico to create the most detailed three-dimensional maps of the Universe ever made, including spectra for more than 3 million astronomical objects.

Logarithmic maps are a really handy way of visualising something as inconceivably huge as the observable Universe, because each increment on the axes increases by a factor of 10 (or order of magnitude) rather than by equal increments. The Princeton team published them in the Astrophysical Journal back in 2005, but you can browse through and download them at this website.

While incredibly helpful, logarithmic maps aren’t much to look at, so Pablo Carlos Budassi decided to make something a bit more palatable. According to Kelly Dickerson over at Tech Insider, he got the idea of turning it into a giant circle when making hexaflexagons for his son’s birthday one year. Hexaflexagons are paper polygons with a deceptively large number of faces – you probably made them in school without knowing their proper name.

entire-observable-universePablo Carlos Budassi

“[W]hen I was drawing hexaflexagons for my son’s birthday souvenirs, I started drawing central views of the cosmos and the Solar System,” Budassi told Tech Insider. “That day the idea of a logarithmic view came, and in the next days I was able to [assemble] it with Photoshop using images from NASA and some textures created [on] my own.”

Head here for a full-sized version of the image by Budassi, and watch below to see a different kind of cosmic visualisation produced by astronomers at the University of Hawaii – this one is of our Milky Way galaxy, in relation to 100,000 neighbouring galaxies:

Watch the video. URL:

Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking

New theory is an answer to a paradox that has puzzled physicists for decades


Humans could escape from black holes, rather than getting stuck in them, according to a new theory proposed by Stephen Hawking.

Unfortunate space travellers won’t be able to return to their own universe, according to Hawking. But they will be able to escape somewhere else, he has proposed at a conference in Stockholm.

Black holes in fact aren’t as “black” as people thought and could be a way of getting through to an alternative universe.

“The existence of alternative histories with black holes suggests this might be possible,” Hawking said, according to a report from Stockholm University. “The hole would need to be large and if it was rotating it might have a passage to another universe. But you couldn’t come back to our universe. So although I’m keen on space flight, I’m not going to try that.

Hawking’s proposal is an attempt to answer a problem that has tormented physicists about what happens to things when they go beyond the event horizon, where even light can’t get back. The information about the object has to be preserved, scientists believe, even if the thing itself is swallowed up — and that paradox has puzzled scientists for decades.

Now Hawking has proposed that the information is stored on the boundary, at the event horizon. That means that it never makes its way into the black hole, and so never needs to make its way out again either.


Supermassive black holes are hiding ‘like monsters under your bed’ in galaxies close to Milky Way.

But too far away to pose a threat, say researchers


Giant black holes may be lurking “like monsters under your bed” behind smokescreens in our cosmic back yard, scientists have said.

Astronomers have discovered evidence of supermassive black holes at the centre of two of our galactic neighbours.

In each case the powerful black hole is concealed behind clouds of gas and dust. Scientists now believe most large galaxies have supermassive black holes at their cores, but many are hidden from view.

One, the galaxy NGC 1448, is “just” 38 million light years from our own body of stars, the Milky Way. The other, IC 3639, is 170 million light years away. Both are classified as “active” galaxies that emit intense levels of radiation.

But they are still much too distant to pose any threat to Earth.

Black holes are places where gravity is so powerful that it traps light and distorts spacetime. They can only be detected from the last-gasp emissions of radiation from objects falling into them.

The hidden black holes were spotted by the NASA’s NuSTAR (Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array) orbiting observatory which is designed to see X-rays.

British researchers from the universities of Durham and Southampton conducted analysis of the NuSTAR data.

“They’re like monsters hiding under your bed.

“Their recent discoveries certainly call out the question of how many other supermassive black holes we are still missing, even in our nearby universe.”

Daniel Stern, project scientist for NuSTAR at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, said: “It is exciting to use the power of NuSTAR to get important, unique information on these beasts, even in our cosmic backyard where they can be studied in detail.”

New Year detox diets could be deadly, say doctors, after woman suffers seizure 

A woman drinks a green juice 

Detox diets could be deadly, doctors warn 

Doctors have warned of the dangers of New Year detox diets after a woman was admitted to hospital with a life-threatening condition after taking herbal remedies and drinking lots of water.

The previously fit and well 47-year-old woman was taken to Milton Keynes University Hospital in Buckinghamshire, over the Christmas period, after suffering a period of confusion and teeth grinding which lasted an hour. She then collapsed and suffered a seizure.

She told doctors she had consumed more fluids and herbal medicines than usual.

 The woman said she had also been taking herbal remedies for various minor symptoms and was regularly consuming milk thistle, molkosan, l-theanine, glutamine, vitamin B compound, vervain, sage tea, green tea and valerian root.

The doctors say her initial confusion and seizures were caused by hyponatraemia – a condition where there is an abnormally low level of sodium in the blood, but were initially baffled about the cause.

A woman drinks a glass of water 
Doctors think that herbal remedies could make some people more sensitive to drinking water 

However, they discovered that the valerian root combined with her excessive water intake drink may have caused her dangerously low sodium level.

“Valerian root has now been suspected in two cases associated with severe, life-threatening hyponatraemia and healthcare professionals should be vigilant to this,” said Dr Oliver Toovey, of Milton Keynes Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

“The complementary medicine market is very popular in the UK and the concept of the New Year ‘detox’ with all-natural products is appealing to those less concerned with evidence-based medicine and more with complementary medicine.

“Excessive water intake as a way of ‘purifying and cleansing’ the body is also a popular regime, with the belief that harmful waste products can thus be washed from the body.

“Despite marketing suggesting otherwise, all-natural products are not without side effects.”

Mediterranean diet could prevent brain shrinking in old age, study suggests

Acans of the brain of a normal patient (left) versus an Alzheimer's disease patient

Acans of the brain of a normal patient (left) versus an Alzheimer’s disease patient

Following a Mediterranean diet could prevent the brain shrinking in old age and help prevent cognitive decline, a new study suggests.

Scientists have known for some time that eating healthily can help stave off dementia but did not know how it protected the brain.

Now a new study shows that it may help slow down the inevitable brain shrinkage that happens in later life, keeping more brain cells active for longer.

   This adds to the growing body of evidence highlighting the importance of proper diet on our brain healthDr Sujoy Mukherjee, West London Mental Health NHS Trust

“As we age, the brain shrinks and we lose brain cells which can affect learning and memory,” said study author Dr Michelle Luciano, of the University of Edinburgh.

“This study adds to the body of evidence that suggests the Mediterranean diet has a positive impact on brain health… and may be able to provide long-term protection to the brain.”

A Mediterranean diet could stop the brain shrinking in later life 
A Mediterranean diet could stop the brain shrinking in later life 

The Mediterranean diet includes large amounts of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, beans and cereal grains such as wheat and rice, moderate amounts of fish, dairy and wine, and limited red meat

To find out if it was having an impact on the brain scientists gathered dietary information for 401 70-year-olds and then scanned their brains at the age of 73 and 76, measuring brain volume and the thickness of the cerebral cortex.

They found those who closely followed a Mediterranean diet retained more volume over the period.  The difference in diet explained 0.5 percent of the variation in brain volume, an effect that was half the size of that due to normal aging.

Dr Clare Walton, Research Manager at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “There is an increasing amount of evidence to indicate that eating a healthy diet that’s rich in oily fish, fresh veg and nuts is good for your brain and can help to maintain your memory as you get older.

“Our brains shrink by 1-2 per cent per year in old age and this study suggests that a Mediterranean-style diet could also potentially help to slow down this shrinking process.

“While the evidence suggests a Mediterranean diet can help keep your brain healthy as you age, we can’t yet say that it prevents dementia.

“What’s good for you heart is also good for your head and a healthy lifestyle that features regular exercise, a balanced diet and not smoking can help to lower your chances of dementia.”

<img src=”/content/dam/pensions-retirement/2016/11/30/Abbeyfield-House-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bq5yQLQqeH37t50SCyM4-zeERf_Wk3V23H2268P_XkPxc.jpg” alt=”Living a healthy lifestyle is known to keep people sharper in later life ” width=”320″ height=”200″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Living a healthy lifestyle is known to keep people sharper in later life 
Living a healthy lifestyle is known to keep people sharper in later life 

Dr David Reynolds, Chief Scientific Officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK,

added:“The brain, just like other parts of the body, can be affected by the way we live our lives.

“While a balanced diet is one way we can help to maintain a healthy brain, the best current evidence points to a number of other lifestyle factors that can also play a role. These include not smoking, staying mentally and physically active, only drinking in moderation and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol in check.”

Dr Sujoy Mukherjee, Consultant Psychiatrist, West London Mental Health NHS Trust, said: “It is a well-designed study in a relatively large number of healthy elderly to show that Mediterranean diet may protect from subsequent brain atrophy.

“This adds to the growing body of evidence highlighting the importance of proper diet on our brain health. ”

The study was published in the journal Neurology.

Scientists prove there was no hiatus in global warming after confirming controversial study

This NOAA Corps photo shows the deploying an Argo float to capture ocean temperature data

This NOAA Corps photo shows the deploying an Argo float to capture ocean temperature data

A reported pause in global warming between 1998 and 2014 was false, according to US-British research published on Wednesday that confirmed the findings of a controversial US study on ocean warming.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of York corroborated the results of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) research paper in 2015.

The paper had shown that ocean buoys now used to measure water temperatures tend to report slightly cooler temperatures than older ship-based systems.

Animation: 100 years of global warming in less than a minute Watch | Animation: 100 years of global warming in less than a minute

The switch to buoy measurements had hidden some of the real-world warming during the 1998-2014 period, the NOAA scientists concluded.

The NOAA paper had drawn outrage from some scientists who insisted that there had been a “global warming hiatus” and from critics who consider global warming a hoax.

The US House of Representatives, controlled by the Republican Party, had even demanded that the NOAA scientists provide lawmakers with their email exchanges about the research.

The US government agency agreed to transmit data and respond to scientific questions but refused to hand over the emails of the study’s authors, a decision supported by scientists worried about political interference.

“Our results mean that essentially NOAA got it right, that they were not cooking the books,” said Zeke Hausfather, a graduate student in UC Berkeley’s energy and resources group and lead author of the new study.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in a report published in September 2013, said the average global warming between 1951 and 2012 had been 0.12 Celsius (0.22 Fahrenheit) per decade.

But between 1998 and 2012, warming had amounted to only 0.07C per decade, indicating a “global warming hiatus”.

The 2015 NOAA analysis, which was adjusted to correct for the “cold bias” of buoy measurements, found there was no detectable slowdown in ocean warming over the previous 15 years.

Reporting in the journal Science, the NOAA scientists said the oceans has actually warmed 0.12C per decade since 2000, nearly twice as fast as the earlier estimates of 0.07C per decade.

That brought the rate of ocean temperature rise in line with estimates for the previous 30 years, between 1970 and 1999.

The new study uses independent data from satellites and Argo floats, a worldwide satellite-based location and data collection system, as well as from buoys.

The information gathered confirmed the NOAA results in 2015 were correct, the scientists said.

“We were initially skeptical of the NOAA result, because it showed faster warming than a previous updated record from the UK Met Office,” said Dr Kevin Cowtan of the University of York.

“So we set out to test it for ourselves, using different methods and different data. We now think NOAA got it right, and a new dataset from the Japan Meteorological Agency also agrees,” he said.

The new findings were reported in the US journal Science Advances.

Nasa to visit mysterious metal asteroid which could be core of lost planet

An artists impression of the Psyche spacecraft at the asteroid 

The 16 Psyche mission will launch in 2023 and the spacecraft will reach the metal asteroid in 2030

Nasa has announced a new mission to visit a mysterious metal asteroid in the heart of the solar system which could be the core of a long lost planet.

The strange chunk of metal, named 16 Psyche, is made of iron and nickel, similar to the Earth’s core, and scientists think it could be the remnants of a Mars-sized planet which existed just a few million years after the birth of the Sun.

Psyche was first spotted by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis in 1852 and named after the Greek goddess of the soul and wife of Cupid.

 Originally it was thought to be a normal asteroid of rock and ice, but in the 1980s astronomers were astonished when radar readings showed Psyche was actually made of metal. Nothing similar has ever been found.

Scientists have speculated that the 130-mile metallic boulder lost its outer shell following a number of violent collisions billions of years ago.

To find out more about the curious object, Nasa is sending a spacecraft in 2023 in a mission which will probe into the heart of planets that until now have been completely hidden from view.

<img src=”/content/dam/science/2017/01/05/psyche2-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqEDjTm7JpzhSGR1_8ApEWQA1vLvhkMtVb21dMmpQBfEs.jpg” alt=”The Psyche asteroid ” width=”320″ height=”199″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> The Psyche asteroid 
The 16 Psyche asteroid 

“This is an opportunity to explore a new type of world – not one of rock or ice, but of metal,” said Psyche principal investigator Dr Lindy Elkins-Tanton, of Arizona State University.

“16 Psyche is the only known object of its kind in the solar system, and this is the only way humans will ever visit a core. We learn about inner space by visiting outer space.”

The spacecraft will take seven years to reach Psyche, which circles in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The probe will study the metal asteroid for six months, recording its topography, surface features, gravity, magnetism.

The mission is part of Nasa’s $450 million (£365 million) Discovery programme, which is aiming to learn more about the solar system in the first 10 million years after the birth of the Sun.

A second mission will launch in 2021 to study Jupiter’s so-called Trojan asteroids, which are thought to be relics of a much earlier era in the history of the solar system.

The six asteroids are trapped by Jupiter’s gravity in two clusters that share the planet’s orbit and complete the same 12-year circuit around the Sun.

“This is a unique opportunity,” said Dr Harold Levison, principal investigator of the Lucy mission.

“Because the Trojans are remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets, they hold vital clues to deciphering the history of the solar system. Lucy, like the human fossil for which it is named, will revolutionise the understanding of our origins.”

Dr Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, said the discover mission would “boldly go” where no missions had gone before.

“Lucy will visit a target-rich environment of Jupiter’s mysterious Trojan asteroids, while Psyche will study a unique metal asteroid that’s never been visited before,” said Dr Zurbuchen.

“This is what Discovery Program missions are all about: boldly going to places we’ve never been to enable groundbreaking science.”

Dr Jim Green, Nasa’s planetary science director, added: “These are true missions of discovery that integrate into NASA’s larger strategy of investigating how the solar system formed and evolved.

“These additional pieces of the puzzle will help us understand how the Sun and its family of planets formed, changed over time, and became places where life could develop and be sustained – and what the future may hold.”

In addition to selecting the Lucy and Psyche missions, Nasa also announced that it is extending funding for its Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) project for an additional year.

The NEOCam space telescope is surveying regions of space closest to Earth’s orbit, where potentially hazardous asteroids may be found.

Chickens exhibit Machiavellian tendencies, scientists discover

Hens and roosters 

Shifty roosters will make food calls to attract mates even when no food is present  

Chickens are not as ‘bird brained’ as previously thought.

Scientists have found they are capable of greater logical reasoning than children, have distinct personalities, and even exhibit Machiavellian tendencies.

A review of previous research by scientists in the US, published in the journal Animal Cognition, has concluded that chicken intelligence has been greatly underestimated with the farmyard bird demonstrating thinking skills that are similar to mammals and primates.

They were found to be masters of deceit with males making food calls when no food was present to attract females to the area, and clucking more quietly during courtship behaviour if rivals were present, so as not to alert them to a potential mate.

<img src=”/content/dam/science/2017/01/03/2012_10-03_FSNY_Mable_hen_DSC_0254_CREDIT_Farm_Sanctuary_detail-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqC3_kSeTIOhA_2EmUwrnnGWU0d5GJoQPl2-7jbvtqIjo.jpg” alt=”Chickens exhibit logical reasoning that humans do not acquire until the age of seven” width=”320″ height=”199″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Chickens exhibit logical reasoning that humans do not acquire until the age of seven
Chickens exhibit logical reasoning that humans do not acquire until the age of seven

They also have a sense of numbers, with even newly hatched chicks able to discriminate between quantities, and do simple arithmetic.

“Unlike many other birds, chickens are categorised as a commodity, devoid of authenticity as a real animal,” said Dr Loro Marino, a senior scientist for The Someone Project, a joint venture of Farm Sanctuary and the Kimmela Center in the USA.

“But chickens have the capacity to reason and make logical inferences, a capability that humans develop at approximately the age of seven. They perceive time intervals and may be able to anticipate future events.

“Chickens are behaviourally sophisticated, discriminating among individuals, exhibiting Machiavellian-like social interactions, and learning socially in complex ways that are similar to humans.”

“The very idea of chicken psychology is strange to most people.”

<img src=”/content/dam/science/2017/01/03/2016_05-19_FSNY_DSC_1966_CREDIT_Farm_Sanctuary_detail-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqedkAEilW4a0ZEdF_CvTIr1-CIQPZG3ofWTor4UojCgk.jpg” alt=”The birds are known to have distinctive personalities ” width=”320″ height=”200″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> The birds are known to have distinctive personalities 
The birds are known to have distinctive personalities 

The birds were also found to exhibit self-control when it comes to holding out for a better food reward, and are able self-assess their position in the pecking order, two characteristics which are indicative of self-awareness.

Chicken communication is also quite complex, and consists of a large repertoire of different visual displays and at least 24 distinct vocalisations which they use to attract a mate, or sound the alarm for danger.

They also experience a range of complex negative and positive emotions, including fear, anticipation and anxiety.

Not only do individual chickens have distinct personalities, but mother hens also show a range of individual maternal personality traits which appear to affect the behaviour of their chicks.

Synthetic diamonds could one day replace GPS – and make driverless cars a reality

Motorway traffic

Drivers could one day have synthetic diamonds embedded in their cars to help them navigate, instead of GPS

 Lab-grown red diamonds with an atomic defect could one day replace GPS systems thanks to their remarkable sensitivity to magnetic waves, scientists have suggested.

A team at Element Six, a tech company based in Oxfordshire, are exploring the remarkable properties of crystals with a so-called ‘nitrogen vacancy defect’ – a gap in the atomic lattice at the heart of the diamond.

<img src=”/content/dam/business/2016/12/22/Element-Six-Shannon-Laser-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqNJjoeBT78QIaYdkJdEY4CnGTJFJS74MYhNY6w3GNbO8.jpg” alt=”Cutting tool” width=”288″ height=”180″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Cutting tool
Synthetic diamonds are mainly used for cutting tools

These diamonds have demonstrated incredible sensitivity to magnetic waves at room temperature, and are currently able to detect the passing of a car 300 metres away.

 The hope is that they could one day be attuned to pinpoint their own location on the surface of the planet by reading magnetic waves from the sun. This would eliminate the need for GPS satellites, which send signals back to earth to tell cars where they are.
<img src=”/content/dam/business/2016/07/07/facebook-satellite_3463567b-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqpJliwavx4coWFCaEkEsb3kvxIt-lGGWCWqwLa_RXJU8.jpg” alt=”satellite in space” width=”319″ height=”199″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> satellite in space
GPS relies on satellites beaming signals back to earth

Such a breakthrough could make driverless cars a reality, as it would allow autonomous vehicles to move safely around each other.

“If you have a device that is capable of sensing the surrounding magnetic fields, it also knows where it is,” explained principal research scientist Richard Bodkin. “So once you can harness all of those technologies into a single device, there is no reason why driverless cars can’t be realised.”

<img src=”/content/dam/business/spark/sme-library/volvo-driverless-cars-1-xlarge_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqeo_i_u9APj8RuoebjoAHt0k9u7HhRJvuo-ZLenGRumA.jpg” alt=”Driverless car” width=”1280″ height=”800″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Driverless car
The development of magentically sensitive diamonds could help make driverless cars a reality

However such a development could be decades away, the scientists warned. Their work is focused on improving the magnetic sensitivity of synthetic diamonds, which could also be used to replace MRI sensors. This could result in a helmet or handheld scanner that would probe a patient’s body without putting them inside an MRI tube.

Element Six primarily focuses on developing diamond-edged cutting tools for use in heavy industry, such as drill bits for oil and gas companies. It is majority owned by diamond mining giant De Beers.

The company is also looking at how to use synthetic diamonds in quantum computing, a highly theoretical field that promises computational power far in excess of today’s digital machines.

Women’s genes change during PMT, scientists find, raising hope for cure

A treatment for pre-menstrual tension (PMT) could be on the horizon after scientists found that genes go haywire as hormones change during a woman’s monthly cycle.

Up to 80 per cent of women complain of irritability, depression and anxiety in the days leading up to their period but it was widely believed to be a mood disorder triggered by fluctuations in chemicals in the brain.

For around one in 20, the condition is so severe that they need anti-depressants and can suffer disabling headaches, severe fatigue and aching muscles.

A woman with PMT 

Eight in ten women suffer some symptoms of pre-menstrual tension 

Now scientists have discovered that in women who suffer PMT (also called premenstrual syndrome or PMS) the change in hormones before their period radically alters how their genes function. Some genes, which should become active actually dial back, while others which should be quiet become more energetic.

<img src=”/content/dam/business/2016/11/30/oxford-bio-2-small_trans_NvBQzQNjv4BqqVzuuqpFlyLIwiB6NTmJwfSVWeZ_vEN7c6bHu2jJnT8.jpg” alt=”Genes start working differently as hormones change ” width=”320″ height=”199″ class=”responsive-image–fallback”/> Genes start working differently as hormones change 
Genes start working differently as hormones change 

Researchers from the National Institutes for Health (NIH), in the US, described the finding as a significant breakthrough because it proves for the first time that women are not simply suffering mood swings. In fact, their whole biology is out of joint.

“This is a big moment for women’s health, because it establishes that women have an intrinsic difference in their molecular apparatus for response to sex hormones – not just emotional behaviors they should be able to voluntarily control,” said Dr David Goldman, of the NIH.

Researchers believe that women who suffer from severe PMT are genetically much more sensitive to surges of hormones, which occur throughout the menstrual cycle.

To test whether the sensitivity was having an impact on cells, the team looked a white blood cells from women with severe PMT and compared them to the cells of women who never suffer symptoms.

White blood cells express many of the same genes as brain cells, so studying them can give a window into what is happening in the brain.

Scientists found a particular circuit of genes – known as the ESC/E(Z) complex – behaved oddly when exposed to increases in oestrogen. While the sex hormone boosted activity in the genes of women who did not suffer PMT, it had the opposite impact on those who got severe symptoms.

Dr Peter Schmidt, of the NIH’s National Institute of Mental Health, added: “We found dysregulated expression in a suspect gene complex which adds evidence that (severe pre-menstrual tension) is a disorder of cellular response to oestrogen and progesterone.

“Learning more about the role of this gene complex holds hope for improved treatment of such prevalent reproductive endocrine-related mood disorders.”

For the first time, we now have cellular evidence of abnormal signaling in cells derived from women with [severe PMT], and a plausible biological cause for their abnormal behavioral sensitivity to oestrogen and progesterone.”

The researchers are now following up the discovery  in the hopes of gaining more information about how hormones alter neurons.

In 2014 a study by Bristol University and University College London found that women are effectively going through drug withdrawal in the days before their period, triggered by low levels of the hormone progesterone.

When progesterone breaks down in the body it produces a chemical called allopregnanolone which acts on the brain as a powerful sedative and tranquiliser. When the brain is deprived of those calming chemicals it can cause low mood, they suggested.

However the study was only carried out on rats.