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Technology News

Samsung is making a robot that can pour wine and bring you a drink

Called Bot Handy, and Samsung says it’ll be able to recognize objects using a camera and AI. The bot is meant to be “an extension of you in the kitchen, living room, and anywhere else you may need an extra hand in your home.” Samsung says the robot will be able to assess the material that different objects are made of so that it’ll grab them with the right amount of force. Samsung also demonstrated an updated version of Bot Care during Samsung’s CES press conference, a “robotic assistant and companion”. The robot is supposed to be something of a personal assistant, reminding you to take a break from work or that you have meetings coming up.

Volvo’s self-docking boat tech is now a reality

Penta, the maritime subsidiary of Volvo, has announced the commercial arrival of its autonomous boat docking system. Integrated Assisted Docking (AD) is designed to handle the complicated mess of driving a vessel into dock, making the pilot’s life a lot easier. When you’re trying to steer into a dock, the endless fluctuations of the tide and wind make it that much harder. Penta’s system that knows the boat’s location – using a combination of GPS, on-board sensors and dynamic positioning – and makes adjustments on the fly. The vessel’s pilot just needs to grab the joystick and point in the general direction, and the system will make the hard yards.

Science News

CRISPR gene editing used to store data in DNA inside living cells

Researchers used a form of CRISPR gene editing to insert specific DNA sequences that encode binary data – the 1s and 0s that computers use to store data – into bacterial cells. By assigning different arrangements of these DNA sequences to different letters of the English alphabet, the researchers were able to encode the 12-byte text message “hello world!” into DNA inside E. coli cells. DNA inside living cells could be a more stable medium for long-term storage in unpredictable conditions. Whereas DNA kept outside cells can be degraded, bacteria have the ability to adapt to changing surroundings and can survive under harsh conditions.

Bacteria can tell the time

Research reveals that non-photosynthetic bacteria have internal daily clocks that align with the 24-hour cycle of life on Earth. The team applied a technique called luciferase reporting, which involves adding an enzyme that produces bioluminescence that allows researchers to visualise how active a gene is inside an organism. They found that the pattern of ytvA gene levels were adjusted to the light and dark cycle, with levels increasing during the dark and decreasing in the light. A cycle was still observed in constant darkness. The research answers a long-standing biological question and could have implications for the timing of drug delivery, biotechnology, and how we develop timely solutions for crop protection.

Business News

Ben & Jerry’s debuts frozen dog treats, a passion project inspired by its pet friendly workplace

Ben & Jerry’s is debuting Doggie Desserts, which will hit its website and the shelves of grocery and pet stores this month. The line kicks off with two flavors named after its employees’ pets: Pontch’s Mix, which is peanut butter with a pretzel swirl, and Rosie’s Batch, a mix of pumpkin and mini cookies. The company will also carry pet accessories on its website, such as an ice cream cone plush toy and Ben & Jerry’s swag for dogs, including a tie-dye leash. Ben & Jerry’s, which is owned by Unilever, began developing the dog-friendly sweets early last year, but the coronavirus pandemic has expanded the number of potential customers.

Bank of America and BP are backing Prince Charles’ new climate effort

Prince Charles is leading a fresh charge to tackle the climate crisis, this time with the support of several major companies including Bank of America and BP. The Prince of Wales is launching a “Terra Carta,” or Earth Charter, and urging other firms to commit to practical action to set the planet on a more sustainable trajectory. One goal is to direct $10 billion to green causes by 2022. The charter seeks to protect the world’s natural resources and accelerate the transition to a greener future. It contains nearly 100 actions that businesses can take, including a commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner and protecting natural ecosystems.

Miscellaneous News

Saudi Crown Prince launches zero-carbon city in NEOM business zone

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince unveiled plans to build a zero-carbon city at NEOM, the first major construction project for the $500 billion flagship business zone aimed at diversifying the economy of the world’s largest oil exporter. Prince Mohammed bin Salman said the city, known as “The Line”, would extend over 170 km (105 miles) and be able to house a million residents in “carbon-positive urban developments powered by 100% clean energy”. Construction would start in the first quarter of 2021 and that is expected to contribute $48 billion to GDP and create 380,000 jobs.

Paris agrees to turn Champs-Élysées into ‘extraordinary garden’

The mayor of Paris has said a €250m (£225m) makeover of the Champs-Élysées will go ahead, though the ambitious transformation. The Champs-Élysées committee has been campaigning for a major redesign of the avenue and its surroundings since 2018. “The Champs-Élysées has more and more visitors and big-name businesses battle to be on it, but to French people it’s looking worn out.” The plans include reducing space for vehicles by half, turning roads into pedestrian and green areas, and creating tunnels of trees to improve air quality.

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