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Friday, Feb 27th

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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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'Eye of Sauron' black hole helps astronomers measure cosmic distances

Eye od Sauron black holeThanks to the "Eye of Sauron" black hole, researchers have developed a new way to measure large cosmic distances. The supermassive black hole sits in the middle of an active galaxy known as NGC 4151 -- a galaxy that resembles the fiery red evil eye of Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings films.

An intimate understanding of how black holes behave is key to the new measurement technique. Astronomers know that nearby gas is constantly being sucked into active black holes. As it's pulled inward, the gas heats up and emits ultraviolet radiation. That heated gas transfers its heat to a ring of dust that orbits the black hole.

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9,300-year-old mummified bison discovered in Siberia

Siberian bison mummyMembers of the Yukagir tribe in Siberia discovered a 9,300-year-old frozen bison mummy complete with all its organs and even some fur.

Details of the necropsy of the animal, which was discovered in 2011, were presented recently at the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's annual meeting in Berlin.  The animal, dubbed the Yukagir bison mummy, is a steppe bison or bison priscus, which went extinct after the Ice Age. Never has a steppe bison mummy been found so complete.

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