Abstracts: Obamacare Replacement, Alternative Medicine, and More

A roundup of science news from around the web — and around the world.

• House Republicans released their plan to replace Obamacare Monday. While the legislation would allow adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26 and bar insurance companies from denying coverage or charging more based on preexisting conditions, it would also do away with penalties for not having insurance and repeal essential health benefit rules. (Politifact)

Scientists gain new insight into how indigenous peoples in the Amazon shaped their environment.

Visual by iStock.com

• Are recently unearthed bacterial remains the oldest fossils ever found? If so, this discovery pushes back the birthdate of life on Earth. But as far as the scientific community is concerned, it’s hardly a closed case. (New York Times)

• Top U.S. hospitals affiliated with Yale, Duke, Johns Hopkins, and other medical research centers are promoting unproven alternative therapies, including energy healing, acupuncture, and homeopathic bee venom. (STAT)

• SpaceX is shooting for the moon with a two-man lunar mission scheduled for 2018. Some experts have their doubts about that launch date. (Scientific American)

• The Amazon’s supposedly untouched wilderness is actually full of ancient, overgrown gardens. Clusters of domesticated tree species reveal the impact that indigenous people had on Amazonian biodiversity before Europeans arrived on the scene. (Christian Science Monitor)

• Pollution from Asia wafts over the Pacific Ocean and makes for smoggy skies in the western United States — an indication that clean air is a truly global issue, scientists say. (NPR)

• Since the Zika epidemic, pregnant women in the United States who have Zika are 20 times more likely to bear children with certain birth defects. (Washington Post)

• Artificial intelligence, meet artificial intuition. Two AI programs beat professional human poker players by using a combination of new algorithms and deep machine learning to make snap decisions. (Science)

• And finally, a team of scientists grew an artificial mouse embryo from stem cells in a petri dish. Although the embryo couldn’t develop into an actual baby mouse, it could be a useful tool for understanding the biology of reproduction. (CNN)

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