Discovered: The Hubble telescope finds a fifth moon circling lowly non-planet Pluto; global warming takes a toll on cows; watching nanoparticles break up blood clots is fun; scorpion venom is actually good for you (sometimes).
Pluto may not be a planet, but it's got four more moons than we do. Sure, Pluto was stripped of its planet-hood back in 2006, but the little guy is out to prove a point. Astronomers already knew about four moons orbiting Pluto, and now they can confirm a fifth, thanks to new images from the Hubble Space Telescope. It's Pluto's smallest known moon, and it goes by the catchy name S/2012 (134340) 1—or P5, for short. Alan Stern, principal investigator behind a NASA spacecraft that will fly by Pluto system in 2015, announced the discovery this morning on Twitter. [The Christian Science Monitor]
Global warming responsible for under-producing udders. Climate change researchers aren't the only ones getting antsy about global warming. Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that cows are so stressed out by climate change that they're unable to produce their usual output of milk. Using U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics, a team of economists were able to isolate specific regions where global warming has had more of an impact on cows. "If you look at milk production in the Southeast versus the Northwest, it’s very different,” said Guillaume Mauger, a co-author of the paper. Cows seem to be happier in Northern California, but the poor gals are particularly on edge in Florida. [University of Washington]
Blood clot-busting nanoparticles look neat. Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have developed smart nanoparticles that can destroy blood clots. This time-lapse video footage of the particles at work is pretty mesmerizing. Watch as this clot in a lab mouse's bloodstream dissolves:
Sometimes poison is the best medicine. Certain bacterial infections, like those caused by the potentially deadly bacterium MRSA, are doggedly resistent to all the antibiotics doctors throw at them. Which is why the research on scorpion venom out of China’s Wuhan University is so interesting. Scientists there have found peptides in scorpion venom that can kill off drug-resistent bacteria and heal skin infections in mice. And that's promising for humans, because, "The infections that we create on the backs of mice are not all that different from those that occur on humans," according to immunologist Michael Zasloff of Georgetown University. [Wired]