Excerpts from science, technology, environment and health reports from around the web.

Canines have lateralised brains—just like people

Sinister v dexterous. Commie v Tory. The difference between left and right carries more meaning to human beings than mere matters of handedness and symmetry. And so it is with man’s best friend as well. For in dogs, too, left and right signal different things. Specifically, it is in the way they wag their tails. And for dogs, like people, it is the left-hand side that is sinister.

The story started a few years ago when Giorgio Vallortigara of the University of Trento, in Italy, and his colleagues, established that dogs wag their tails to the right when they see something pleasant, such as a beloved human master, and to the left when they see something unpleasant, such as an unfamiliar dominant dog. What Dr Vallortigara did not establish then was whether such signals are meaningful to other dogs. Now, he and the team from the previous study have done just that.

Exoplanet discovered to be Earth-sized and covered in lava

Astronomers have found that another world is quite similar to our own: It has a radius just 1.17 times and a mass only 1.9 times that of Earth. Though its size is familiar, it has the troubling problem of orbiting about 100 times closer to its star than our own planet.

That means surface temperatures on the planet, called Kepler-78b, range from 2,240 to nearly 5,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Kepler-78b is basically a planet of lava. The scorched world zips around its parent star, completing a year every eight and a half hours.

NASA sends ISRO peanuts for Mars trip via Facebook

As ISRO’s scientists prepare themselves for a landmark-making launch of the Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on November 5, their counterparts in NASA, the U.S. space agency, have extended their good wishes for the mission by sending them some ‘lucky peanuts’.

The good wishes were posted on ISRO’s eight-day-old MOM Facebook page.

Simulations help study impacts of aerosols over India

Scientists say that computer-aided simulations of seasonal dust emissions and transport using regional climate models (RegCM) can help overcome the lack of ground-based data on aerosols rising over the Indian sub-continent.

Aerosols are colloids of fine particles suspended in the air that come from natural sources or man-made activity and are known to impact the climate and human health.

Reindeer eyes turn blue in winter, study finds

Reindeer may be best known for fictional Rudolph's glowing red nose, but now scientists find the animals can alter color elsewhere as well — the backs of their eyeballs change from gold in the summer to blue in the winter.

This change in color helps reindeer eyes capture more light during the dark winter months in the Arctic, scientists added.

Building cars out of batteries isn’t as crazy as it sounds

The high cost and limited range of electric vehicles can make them a tough sell, and their costliest and most limiting component are their batteries.

But batteries also open up new design possibilities because they can be shaped in more ways than gasoline tanks and because they can be made of load-bearing materials. If their chemistries can be made safer, batteries could replace conventional door panels and other body parts, potentially making a vehicle significantly lighter, more spacious, and cheaper. This could go some way toward helping electric cars compete with gas-powered ones.