Science: Synthetic Pets

The oddest pets in pet-loving Britain are two electric turtles named Elmer and Elsie. They play around the home of Dr. W. Grey Walter, head of the physiological department of the Burden Neurological Institute at Bristol. Elmer and Elsie are not exactly alive. Under their shiny steel shells are no flesh & blood, but only mechanical organs. They take no interest in each other, and could not, in any case, reproduce. But wandering around Dr. Walter's house, they act much like real live animals.

Each has one photoelectric eye and a "sense of touch" that tells him he has hit an...

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