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Top Stories


— Biology

Bedbug genome decoded in hopes of destroying the tiny blood suckers

"Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite." The relevance of that little bedtime rhyme is growing, with every continent except Antarctica having experienced a resurgence of the critters during the past two decades. Combine that with the fact that bedbugs are becoming more and more resistant to insecticides meant to destroy them, and you can see how serious the issue is becoming. Fortunately scientists have just taken a key step in stopping the bitty blood suckers in their tracks – they've decoded the entire bedbug genome.

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— Virtual Reality

The story of Job Simulator – the absurdly fun VR sandbox for Oculus Rift, PlayStation VR and HTC Vive

Sometimes all virtual reality needs to do to blow your mind is put you in a well-polished sandbox and let you screw around. Owlchemy Labs has mastered this art, with the upcoming title Job Simulator that will launch later this year alongside the Oculus Touch controllers, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR. We sat down with CEO Alex Schwartz and CTO Devin Reimer to chat about the game's origins and striking a balance between progression and free-for-all mayhem.

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— Automotive

Ferrari 335S Spider Scaglietti sells for US$35.7 million (updated)

A Ferrari 335S Spider Scaglietti sold for US$35.7 million (€32,075,200) at Artcurial's Retromobile auction in Paris on February 5. The car narrowly failed to break the world record of $38.115 million set by a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO in August, 2014, but eclipsed the $29.605 million fetched by Juan Manuel Fangio's 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 Silver Arrow in July, 2013, becoming the second most valuable car ever sold at auction. There is however, a catch, because depending on the currency used, the sale price is indeed a world record.

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— Energy

Sodium battery contains solution to water desalination

Much scientific effort goes into shoring up both our energy and water supplies for the future, but what if both problems could be addressed by the same technology? Researchers at the University of Illinois have come up with a new battery design that not only relies on salt water to store and release electricity, but removes the salt ions from the water in the process.

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— Robotics

suitX announces "world's most affordable" powered exoskeleton – the Phoenix

When it comes to the price of most products, US$40,000 is pretty high. In the case of powered exoskeletons, however, it's cheap – at least half the typical price. Nonetheless, that's approximately what suitX's Phoenix modular exoskeleton should sell for, bringing the technology to a whole new income class. And at 27 lb (12.25 kg), it's also one of the lightest models ever made.

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— Computers

"Social AI" lets Mario and Luigi learn how to save the princess on their own

Old-school gamers will fondly remember the effort it took them to master a new Super Mario level, but thanks to a new development in artificial intelligence the pixelated Italian plumber and his friends are now teaming up to do the job themselves. Researchers from the University of Tübingen in Germany have developed an algorithm that allows videogame characters to learn from each other in human-like ways through observation and imitation, letting agents collaborate to reach a common goal. Future applications could include intelligent social support systems and swarms of modular robots that learn to perform complex actions on little human instruction.

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— Automotive

Samsung's transparent Safety Truck hits the road en route to global rollout

Craning your neck to check for oncoming traffic can be a futile exercise when you're trailing a mammoth semi-trailer on a single lane highway. If only you could see through that huge mass of moving steel, right? After a trial last year, Samsung has again taken a "transparent" Safety Truck to the roads of Argentina for further testing, with a view to expanding the technology globally later in the year.

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