Top stories: martian methane, the oldest genome in the Americas, and two tricks to tell whether someone is sick | Science

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Top stories: martian methane, the oldest genome in the Americas, and two tricks to tell whether someone is sick | Science


Ancient Americans arrived in a single wave, Alaskan infant’s genome suggests

One of humanity’s greatest migrations was the ancient trek from Asia to North America. But exactly when early settlers crossed the now-submerged land known as Beringia is hotly debated. Now, the oldest full genome to be sequenced from the Americas—from an 11,500-year-old infant—suggests that some settlers stayed in Beringia while another group headed south and formed the population from which all living Native Americans descended.

Telescopes around the globe power up their search for Earth-like planets

Before Kepler, the NASA spacecraft that hogs the headlines for finding new worlds, the workhorses of exoplanet identification were ground-based instruments that measure tiny stellar wobbles caused by the gravity of an orbiting planet. They are now undergoing a quiet renaissance. The new generation of these devices may best Kepler at finding a true Earth twin: a planet with the same mass as ours, orbiting a sunlike star once a year.

Trump proposes vast expansion of offshore drilling

The Trump administration on Thursday unveiled a new 5-year plan that would allow more drilling in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic oceans with more than 90% of the outer continental shelf open for leasing. The move comes days after the Trump team proposed weakening offshore drilling safety equipment rules, saying they create an unnecessary burden for the industry. The proposal will replace the current 5-year plan scheduled to run through 2022.

On Mars, atmospheric methane—a sign of life on Earth—changes mysteriously with the seasons

From the pasture to the swamp, methane emissions on Earth are the effluvia of life. So what are whiffs of the gas doing on barren Mars? Trace detections of the stuff there have fueled debates about their sources. Last month, NASA scientists announced a new twist in the tale: a seasonal cycle in the abundance of martian methane, which regularly rises to a peak in late northern summer.

Two ways you can tell someone is sick just by looking at them

When you’re sick, it’s written all over your face. That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds sick people share facial features that reveal they might be contagious. Pale skin and hanging eyelids were the best predictors of illness, according to the research. So, if staying healthy is part of your New Year’s resolution, perhaps give tired looking friends and colleagues a wide berth.

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