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Monday, Dec 22nd

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These robots are ready to serve you

Robots in retailA hardware store in San Jose has a new star employee. It can speak English and Spanish, recognise any part at sight, and knows what the shop has in stock on a second by second basis.

And it's also a robot.  OSHbot, as it is called, measures roughly 5ft, and boasts a 3D scanner and touchscreen.  "It's not just robots for robots' sake, or a marketing gimmick," insists Kyl Nel, executive director of Lowe's Innovation Labs.

Lowe's is an American DIY chain, and the robot's ultimate employer.

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Shocking news: Electric eels exert remote control over prey

eels use remote controlElectric eels, those perilous predators of South America, can unleash a potent electrical jolt to wallop their hapless prey. But this zap is not used merely to stun other fish.

A new study shows that the eels use it to exert a form of remote control over their victims, causing fish that may be hiding to twitch, thus exposing their location, or inducing involuntary muscle contraction to incapacitate their prey.

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Orion spacecraft's flawless test flight puts Mars exploration one step closer

orion launchWhite smoke rose in the air and green dye coloured the ocean to guide the USS Anchorage and smaller recovery vessels to the spot where Nasa’s Orion crew capsule splashed down to Earth after a flawless and awe-inspiring test flight on Friday.

Cameras mounted inside Orion caught the casual splendour of the world turning beneath it as the empty capsule lapped the planet twice before tearing into the atmosphere on its journey home at 20,000 mph.

As its heatshield rose to twice the temperature of molten lava, Orion popped its parachutes and gently floated down, scoring a bullseye on its target landing site off the coast of Baja California in Mexico at 4.29pm GMT.

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Einstein documents digitization project complete

einstein documentsAnyone with a computer and an Internet connection can now explore more than 80,000 pages of documents left behind by the world's most famous physics genius, Albert Einstein.

The now-complete Digital Einstein project -- the online phase of the Einstein Papers project and a collaboration between Princeton University Press and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (to whom the scientist bequeathed his intellectual legacy) -- is nearly two decades in the making. Researchers began sorting through the physicist's letters, papers, postcards, notebooks and diaries in 1986.

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Intel creates a new tool to help Stephen Hawking communicate

Stephen HawkingEddie Redmayne is learning about much more than the beguiling life of Stephen Hawking, whom he plays in the recently released biopic Theory of Everything.

At Intel Labs here, the Tony-winning actor is on hands and knees to get a better look at a specially tailored communications system for Hawking, who has a motor neuron disease (MND) related to ALS that has worsened over the years, rendering him nearly paralyzed.

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World's first computer dates to 205 BCE, earlier than thought

Antikythera MechanismLong considered the world's first computer, the Antikythera Mechanism is now thought to be 100 years older than first determined, researchers said.

The bronze mechanism, discovered in 1901 in a shipwreck off the Greek island of Antikythera, was initially dated to 150 to 100 BCE, but researchers now found that it recorded a solar eclipse that happened on May 12, 205 BCE.

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Sony makes experimental e-paper watch

e-paper watchSony has developed a watch made from e-paper as part of an initiative to experiment with the use of the material for fashion products.

The Fes Watch has a minimalist, monochrome design but falls short of the features offered by smartwatches.  However, the battery of the e-paper watch could last far longer with an estimated 60 days of use.

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