The Week In Science: Reindeer Eyes, Hot Ocean, Fearing Snakes

on November 02 2013 10:40 AM
Reindeer-eyes1-990x660
Two dissected reindeer eyes, one from an animal killed in winter (left) and another killed in summer (right). Glen Jeffrey

This week in science, we were conveyed through space by Neil deGrasse Tyson, searched for King Henry IV’s head, and learned about how a dog’s tail wagging may be a semaphore-like sign signal for his emotional state. But there are still oodles of other discoveries that researchers unveiled this week! Here’s a roundup of what you might have missed:

Science writer Ed Yong delivers a fascinating look at why reindeer eyes change color with the seasons. You’ll be hooked from the first sentence: “When Glen Jeffery first took possession of a huge bag full of reindeer eyes, he didn’t really want them.” [National Geographic]

Texting your significant other a simple “I <3 you” can be good for the relationship, but hashing out arguments over the keyboard is not the way to go, according to a newly published study. Researchers found that while women who text their partners tend to think their relationships are pretty stable, male partners were actually less satisfied with more texts. [NPR]

A United Nations panel on climate change is warning of dire effects on global food supply in the near future. If global warming continues unabated, agricultural output may drop as much as 2 percent per decade for the rest of this century, at the same time when food demand is expected to rise by 14 percent every ten years. [New York Times]

Many dinosaur specimens in museums are a lot beefier than scientists originally thought. [Nature]

Don’t believe every topical story you read that’s based on flashy charts. A story about a global wine shortage that grabbed media attention this week was mostly based on a report from Morgan Stanley that tweaked numbers in order to produce what looked like a more dire trend in wine production – to justify investing in an Australian wine company. [Reuters]

The Pacific Ocean is heating up at an unprecedented pace. A new study finds that at its middle depths, the Pacific has warmed 15 times faster in the last 60 years than it has over the preceeding 10,000 years. [USA Today]

Humans seem hard-wired to fear snakes. A new study finds that certain neurons in our brains only fire up when we spot serpents. Our fear of snakes doesn’t seem to be learned either; both children and people that grow up in cities will spot snakes quickly, other studies have shown. Since other primates show similar tendencies, scientists think we may have inherited a wariness for legless reptiles from our prehistoric ancestors who slept in trees. [New York Times]

This weekend everyone (except those in Arizona) will be setting his or her clocks back an hour; but should we really keep playing with time? One critic has rounded up a wide range of economic and health arguments for the abolition of daylight saving time. [The Atlantic]

More News from IBT MEDIA