Thanassis Stavrakis / AP

Scientists may have discovered a new way to gain a window into our past: DNA samples from parchment made from animal skin, per The Atlantic.

  • How it came about: Matthew Collins, an archaeologist at the University of York, realized that medieval manuscripts around the world provide a chronologically-sourced repository of animal DNA available for study.
  • The advance: The team collected and analyzed DNA from eraser crumbs left after routine cleanings of the parchment. Scientists have used DNA collected from the environment (eDNA) to test for the presence of elusive endangered species in creeks, for example, but it hadn't been used to study books.
  • Why it matters: The technique, if verified through peer review, could offer researchers new insights into history via the study of DNA — like uncovering information about old trade routes and epidemics.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
26 mins ago - Technology

Amazon wants to flood America with Alexa cameras and microphones

Photo: Amazon

In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant.

The big picture: Updating popular products and expanding its range to car alarms and in-home drones, Amazon extended its lead in smart home devices and moved into new areas including cloud gaming and car security. The new offerings will also fuel criticism that the tech giant is helping equip a society built around surveillance.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

Oil's turbulent long-term future

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The oil sector is facing risks from all sides.

Why it matters: Risk in the industry is nothing new. But these are especially turbulent and uncertain times. The industry's market clout has waned, the future of demand is kind of a mystery, and future U.S. policy is too, just to name three.

Meadows on Wray's voter fraud dismissal: "He has a hard time finding emails in his own FBI"

White House chief of staff Mark Meadows dismissed FBI Director Chris Wray's testimony that the U.S. has never historically seen evidence of widespread voter fraud, including by mail, during an appearance on "CBS This Morning" on Friday.

Why it matters: Meadows' statement highlights the Trump administration's strategy to sow doubt in November's election results by challenging the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, which are expected to skew heavily in Democrats' favor.

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