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Far from being geeky and exotic, virtual reality could be the key to a new range of innovative products. European researchers and industrialists have come together to build a world-leading community ready to exploit that promise.

Made famous by the ‘holodeck’ in Star Trek: The Next Generation, virtual reality (VR) has long had the reputation of being slightly frivolous. Yet Europe’s VR industry is emerging as a world leader thanks to new efforts to coordinate developments on a continental scale.
Studies of climate evolution and the ecology of past-times are often hampered by missing information – lost variables needed to complete the picture and thought untraceable have made too many assumptions necessary.   Scientists writing in in the June issue of New Journal of Physics have created a formula which they say will fill in the gaps in our knowledge and will help predict the future.

A new method of reconstructing missing data will shed new light on how and why our climate moved us on from ice ages to warmer periods as researchers will be able to calculate lost information and put together a more complete picture. 
GOCE (Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer), launched in March and currently progressing through the commissioning phase, has achieved a first in the history of satellite technology; an electric propulsion system able to keep the satellite completely free from drag as it cuts through the remnants of Earth's atmosphere.

GOCE is set to measure Earth's gravity field with unprecedented accuracy but doing so means that the satellite has to orbit Earth as low as possible, where the gravitational signal is stronger but also where the fringes of the atmosphere remain.  
Astronomers have found more than 300 alien (extrasolar) worlds so far. Most of these are gas giants like Jupiter, and are either too hot (too close to their star) or too cold (too far away) to support life as we know it.

Sometime in the near future, however, astronomers will probably find one that's just right – a planet with a solid surface that's the right distance for a temperature that allows liquid water -- an essential ingredient in the recipe for life.

But the first picture of this world will be just a speck of light. How can we find out if it might have liquid water on its surface? If it has lots of water – oceans – we are in luck.
Employees who have some influence at work perform better service but praise and encouragement from managers has no particular significance in terms of loyalty toward the employer.

Social recognition, recognition as an individual whose expertise and input are appreciated, is crucial for how well employees in service companies perform their job assignments. Tómas Bjarnason, a doctoral student in sociology from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, studied over 900 employees in service organizations for his thesis.   He states that social recognition contributes to increased self respect, which means that employees make a greater effort to act in the company’s best interests. 
A new robot house will be launched at the University of Hertfordshire tomorrow, Wednesday 27 Mayth.

Professor Kerstin Dautenhahn and her team at the University’s School of Computer Science have taken their robots out of their laboratory and have them “living” in a house in Hatfield, so that the academics can develop them as personal companions.  The academics will open the robot house to the media tomorrow, before launching it to the public in early June.

At the event, the academics will showcase the work they are doing to advance the relationship between robots and humans as part of the European project LIREC – Living with Robots and Interactive Companions. Different robots with mechanical and/or humanoid features will be shown.