The Week In Science: Dark Lightning, Horse Poop, Secret Faces At The Louvre

 @rpalmerscience
on April 13 2013 1:18 PM

This week at IBTimes, we covered lots of neat science: We took a look at how global warming has made it more likely to enjoy a glass of wine from Yellowstone 40 years from now; an Eastern European folk remedy for bedbug infestation; and the physiological nature of a New Orleans hangover cure.

But there was much more out there that we couldn't get to last week! To make up for it, here's a roundup of other findings and discoveries from the past week:

• Penn State scientists came up with a new way to harmonize the Maya Long Count calendar (the one that definitely didn't predict the world ending last December) with our modern Gregorian calendar, thanks to carbon dating. [ScienceDaily]

• In cheery news, thanks to environmental protection laws, many populations of sea lions, whales and other marine mammals in the waters off the U.S. have largely recovered from their brush with extinction in the 1970s. [University of Vermont]

• Speaking of the disco age, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter might have snapped a photo of a Soviet Mars lander that arrived on the Red Planet in 1971. [Space.com]

• Stanford University scientists found a way to make brains mostly transparent, allowing researchers to highlight neuron connections and networks. [Nature]

• Saturn is a lot rainier than we previously suspected. Meanwhile, over on the ringed planet's largest moon Titan, there's a strange cloud of ice forming at the south pole. [NASA; also NASA]

• Australopithecus sediba, an ancient hominid that bears features similar to both chimpanzees and modern humans, walked pigeon-toed, had front teeth that look like ours and was likely a vegetarian, researchers concluded. [Discovery News]

You might not think about your spleen all that much, but this unassuming organ (located to the left of your liver) performs a vital function in filtering your blood. There are some very rare cases of people being born without spleens, and Rockefeller University researchers have just pinpointed the gene responsible. [Rockefeller U.]

• Swedish scientists were able to induce a “phantom limb” sensation, normally experienced by amputees, in people with intact limbs. [LiveScience]

• Researchers called for more satellites to study the invisible phenomenon of “dark lightning,” which could potentially produce the gamma ray radiation equivalent of a full-body CT scan for airborne airplane passengers. In other news designed to keep you on the ground, shifts in the jet stream caused by climate change could result in bumpier plane rides. [CBS News; National Geographic]

• Enzymes in horse poop could hold the key to better biofuel production methods. [Los Angeles Times]

• Breeding chickens with bigger gizzards might be better for the environment, as they could  help the birds poop less. [ScienceDaily]

• The same kind of body-scanning technology used at airports uncovered a mysterious Roman man's face underneath a fresco at the Louvre. [LiveScience]

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