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Top stories: The origin of life, the galaxy’s oldest solar system, and interspecies interbreeding
(left to right) Tiago Campante/Peter Devine; NOAA; Yousuke Kaifu

Top stories: The origin of life, the galaxy’s oldest solar system, and interspecies interbreeding

How Earth’s earliest life overcame a genetic paradox

The earliest life on Earth encountered a paradox: Why would RNA chains get longer and longer, setting the stage for the evolution of complex life forms like amoebas, worms, and eventually humans, if shorter RNA molecules reproduced faster? Now, new research suggests that longer RNA chains could have hidden out near hydrothermal ocean vents, where unique temperature conditions might have helped these complex organisms evolve.

Childhood neglect erodes the brain

New analysis reveals that children who were neglected as infants have less white matter in their brains. The finding suggests that sensory deprivation early in life can dramatically impact the brain's anatomy and may help explain long-term negative effects on behavior.

What’s your digital privacy IQ?

In an age of big data, ever more capable personal devices, and ubiquitous Internet connections, it’s hard to hide from a determined sleuth. Have we reached the end of privacy? Take our quiz to find out your digital privacy IQ!

Humans and Neandertals likely interbred in Middle East

Our human ancestors probably had sex with Neandertals, but when and where did these encounters take place? Thanks to the discovery of a skull in Israel, scientists believe Neandertals and modern humans mated in the Middle East between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago.

Telescope detects galaxy’s oldest known solar system

Astronomers have spotted the oldest known set of planets in the Milky Way: five hot and rocky worlds that are more than twice as old as our solar system. The ancient system may shed light on the early days of planetary formation in the galaxy.

White House fleshes out Obama’s $215 million plan for precision medicine

This week, the White House revealed a price tag and other details of the precision medicine initiative announced in President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week. As expected, much of the $215 million proposed to launch the multiagency initiative in the 2016 fiscal year will support building a cohort of 1 million American volunteers for genomics and other biomedical research.