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A police officer at a car crash in Texas (Robert Daemmrich Photography Inc/Corbis via Getty Images)

Genes may contain a living record of your life — or, the end of your life. In a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications, scientists describe a number of genes that change the way they're expressed after death.

Why it matters: In the future, it's possible the patterns these scientists found could be used to precisely determine someone's time of death.

What's new: Scientists had already identified a number of genes that are turned on at the moment of death. In the new study, researchers:

  • Looked for mRNA, or messenger RNA, which is present when genes are turned on, in 9000 samples from 36 different types of human tissues. The genes in muscle tissue, for example, were extremely active after death. Others, like spleen genes, were less so.
  • They searched for patterns in those genes and input the dataset into a machine learning algorithm that then determined the genetic history and time of death of 399 individuals.
  • Then, they gave the AI mRNA data from 129 other people to see if it could predict their time of death.

What they found: The algorithm could successfully approximate time of death within about 9 minutes. However, it was most accurate within the first few hours after death.

Yes, but conditions in the lab might not be as ideal as conditions at a crime scene. It's likely that if this technique is used, it will be in conjunction with other traditional ways for estimating time of death.

Go deeper

Capitol repairs, security top $30M since Jan. 6 attacks

Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

The Architect of the Capitol Brett Blanton on Wednesday said that repairs and security expenses related to the Jan. 6 insurrection have already cost more than $30 million.

The state of play: Congressional appropriations committees have allocated the $30 million for repairs and perimeter fencing around the Capitol building through March 31, per NPR.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

White House stands by imperiled Tanden nomination after Senate panel postpones hearing

Neera Tanden. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Senate Homeland Security Committee is postponing a confirmation hearing scheduled Wednesday for Neera Tanden, Axios has learned, a potential death knell for President Biden's nominee to lead the Office of Management and Budget.

The latest: Asked Wednesday afternoon whether Tanden has offered to withdraw her nomination, Psaki told reporters, "That’s not the stage we’re in." She noted that it's a "numbers game" and a "matter of getting one Republican" to support the nomination.

Acting Capitol Police chief: Officers were unsure of lethal force rules on Jan. 6

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman wrote in prepared remarks for a House hearing on Thursday that officers in her department were "unsure of when to use lethal force" during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: Capitol Police did deploy lethal force on Jan. 6 — shooting and killing 35-year-old Ashli Babbit — but have faced questions over why officers appeared to be less forceful against pro-Trump rioters than participants in previous demonstrations, including those over Black Lives Matter and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.