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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

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.

39 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Dems invoke Robert Byrd to sell Manchin on Senate rules changes

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photos: Diana Walker, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

A small group of Senate Democrats is privately invoking the legacy of late West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd in an effort to sway Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to support their plans to change the chamber's rules, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Manchin — who holds Byrd's Senate seat — has often referenced his predecessor's strong moral conviction and insistence on preserving the Senate as an institution, as justification for some of his tough positions.

House votes to ban imports from Xinjiang over forced labor concerns

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House voted 428-1 on Wednesday to pass a bill that would ban all imports from the Chinese region of Xinjiang unless the U.S. government determines that the products were not made with forced labor.

Why it matters: Both the Trump and Biden administrations, as well as several foreign parliaments, have recognized China's repression of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang as genocide.