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Fruit flies have a pigment in their tiny brains that allows them to tell the difference between night and day, according to new research. Scientists previously understood how six biological pigments called rhodopsins in the eyes of fruit flies allow them to filter light, discern objects and detect temperatures. But the study published in the journal Nature today described how a seventh rhodopsin expressed in the flies' central brains was important in discerning night from day.

Why you should care: The discovery could teach researchers how to deal with degenerative disorders that affect human vision.

Explain the science: Photopigment rhodopsin in human eyes intercept light as the first step in a biological process to actually perceive light. Now that scientists know fruit flies also have a seventh rhodopsin expressed in their brains that works in this light-filtering process, they hope to be able to better understand (and eventually treat) retinitis pigmentosa and other degenerative eye diseases in humans.

How they did it: Researchers disabled the seventh rhodopsin in some fruit flies and discovered that they couldn't adjust to circadian rhythms the way normal fruit flies could, confirming the pigment's role in adjusting to night and day cycles.

Go deeper

Using apps to prevent deadly police encounters

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Mobile phone apps are evolving in ways that can stop rather than simply document deadly police encounters with people of color — including notifying family and lawyers about potential violations in real time.

Why it matters: As states and cities face pressure to reform excessive force policies, apps that monitor police are becoming more interactive, gathering evidence against rogue officers as well as posting social media videos to shame the agencies.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
11 hours ago - Technology

TikTok gets more time (again)

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The White House is again giving TikTok's Chinese parent company more to satisfy national security concerns, rather than initiating legal action, a source familiar with the situation tells Axios.

The state of play: China's ByteDance had until Friday to resolve issues raised by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. (CFIUS), which is chaired by Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin. This was the company's third deadline, with CFIUS having provided two earlier extensions.

Federal judge orders Trump administration to restore DACA

DACA recipients and their supporters rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court on June 18. Photo: Drew Angerer via Getty

A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, giving undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children a chance to petition for protection from deportation.

Why it matters: DACA was implemented under former President Obama, but President Trump has sought to undo the program since taking office. Friday’s ruling will require Department of Homeland Security officers to begin accepting applications starting Monday and guarantee that work permits are valid for two years.

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