Brand New Isaac Asimov Essay Mulls the Origins of Creativity @ io9

Brand New Isaac Asimov Essay Mulls the Origins of Creativity

In 1959 Issac Asimov wrote an essay on where new ideas come from. It wasn't found until fifty-five years later, when Arthur Obermayer, scientist and friend of Asimov, cleaned out some of his old files. It is as illuminating now as it was then.

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These Paper Masks Are Halloween Costumes Made Easy @ io9

These Paper Masks Are Halloween Costumes Made Easy

And polygonal. While you're considering making some of your own Halloween decorations , you can also consider getting some of these paper mask patterns from Steve Wintercroft.

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“Avengers: Age of Ultron” trailer leaked @ Bureau 42

The “Avengers: Age of Ultron” teaser trailer leaked today, before next Tuesday’s scheduled release. Rather than fight, Marvel first blamed Hydra, and then embraced the leak and offered the full resolution edition of the trailer.

They Come Here to Appreciate the Abstract Beauty of Skyscrapers @ io9

They Come Here to Appreciate the Abstract Beauty of Skyscrapers

Even when we are cyborgs, our skins hardened into exoskeletons and our lungs tuned to breathe whatever gasses are available, we will still share at least one thing with our human ancestors. We will never tire of looking out over our cities, watching their lights wink on in darkness.

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Haven preview: “Nowhere Man” @ Sci-Fi Storm

In the next episode of Haven,Audrey & Nathan are reunited, but trouble – and Troubles – aren’t far behind. Check out this sneak peek for “Nowhere Man” as well as the latest “Inside Haven“, and tune in Friday at 7/6c!!! And you NEED to tune in, and let Syfy know you are watching! Tweet about the episode with the hashtag #Haven5! The show is in danger!

Ancient Europeans were lactose intolerant for 5,000 years after switching over to agriculture. @ io9

Ancient Europeans were lactose intolerant for 5,000 years after switching over to agriculture. DNA extracted from skulls dating from 5,700 BC to 800 BC shows that Europeans carried the genes for lactose intolerance. But that didn't stop them from eating dairy products like milk and cheese for 4,000 years. The study shows that genomes can shift as new technologies emerge.

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Z Nation renewed for second season; sneak peek at “Welcome to the FU-Bar” @ Sci-Fi Storm

As we reported on Twitter Monday, Z Nation‘s second season has already been given a green light, which will debut sometime in 2015. Z Nation has been doing amazing in its Friday 10PM slot, becoming the most watched cable show in that slot.

Meanwhile, in the next episode, the the hurt of REDACTED’s loss (even I haven’t seen it just yet – how many times do you have the opportunity to yell at the creator of a show for spoiling it for you? :) ) is still fresh on the survivors’ minds when they stumble upon a gun show that makes the apocalypse look serene. Check out this sneak peek for “Welcome to the FU-Bar”, and tune in Friday at 10/9c!

Wild mountain goats in the Italian Alps have gotten significantly smaller over the past few decades @ io9

Wild mountain goats in the Italian Alps have gotten significantly smaller over the past few decades in response to a warming climate. Call us crazy, but rising seas seems a small price to pay for adorable tiny goats. Thanks, global warming!

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NFL Fans By U.S. County, According to Twitter @ io9

NFL Fans By U.S. County, According to Twitter

Earlier this year, Facebook used information gathered from its users to determine the most popular NFL team in every U.S. county . Now, Twitter has released its own map of NFL fandom in America – and Twitter's version is interactive.

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Person of Interest Delivers One of the Most Disturbing Episodes Ever @ io9

Person of Interest Delivers One of the Most Disturbing Episodes Ever

Just in time for midterm elections, Person of Interest pulled out all the stops with a story of vote tampering, political corruption, and the real difference between good and evil. This was seriously punch-you-in-the-gut storytelling.

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Well, THAT Was Surprisingly Easy, Supernatural @ io9

Not that we're really that surprised or anything. But last night's Supernatural definitely felt like it was a little too easy. Spoilers follow...

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UPDATED with trailer: Avengers 2 trailer leaks online -- This is what you missed @ Blastr

We were promised a trailer next week for Avengers 2: Age of Ultron during last night’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and guess what, we got it sooner -- for the briefest of moments. And you best bet your Aunt Petunia's flowers it was good.

In what almost looked like it was a spam link as we started seeing it populate our social media feed this evening, the trailer was indeed living on the The Film Stage site before being taken down – and exploding the Twittersphere in the meanwhile.

In fact, even Marvel had to weigh in on its Twitter feed:

The trailer included some of the footage that lucky Hall H attendees saw at last July's San Diego Comic-Con, along with a whole lot of new stuff. 

Ultron, voiced by James Spader, provides a menacing, slightly metallic voice throughout the trailer: 

“I'm going to show you something beautiful ... everyone screaming for mercy ... you want to protect the world but you don't want it to change ... you're all puppets tangled in strings ... strings ... but now I'm free ... there are no strings on me”

Moody, solitary piano keys play, which gives way to a creepy kid rendition of "I've Got No Strings" from Pinocchio (way to make use of the parent company library, Marvel!):

We see a city in the distance at sunset, then inside its borders are terrified citizens. In another cut is a crowd, seemingly protesting. A robotic hand emerges from a molten liquid and flexes, then more screaming people. We encounter our heroes; Captain America walks in slow motion into wreckage, an alert Hawkeye spins around and a backlit Thor stands in front of a smashed cityscape. 

And here's Ultron, mangled but shambling into Avengers Tower, where the heroes -- in plain clothes -- stand to meet him for the first time. The next face we see close-up is Robert Downey, Jr. He looks pretty concerned as the bot-who-will-be-Ultron picks up a Stark drone and crushes his head. 

The message here is pretty clear: Things get real bad real fast in this flick. There is no shortage of destroyed cities, terrorized citizens and authorities fighting something off camera. Every hero we see early on in the trailer shows them walking slowly, looking forlorn and beat down. Poor Bruce Banner is crouched and shuddering, clearly terrified … then stumbling through the snow, presumably post Hulk-out. A hospital bed wheels down a hall, and there’s a close-up of surgical equipment. 

Ultron, Quiksilver and Scarlet Witch appear to exchange a moment in some sort of factory before the evil droid’s armies swarm a mountain (the same one with the castle, which Iron Man looked up at earlier and Cap stormed into?). The heroes, inside an old structure, appear shocked enough to make Thor drop Mjolnir. Tony Stark says, “It's the end of the path I started us on,” to which Black Widow replies, “Nothing lasts forever.” Yeah, so this is seeming like Stark's fault.

Oh hey, there’s Nick Fury, briefly. But who is that bearded dude with the funky haircut looking really angry/nervous? 

Cue a really pissed off Scarlet Witch among some wreckage. We don't know a lot of about the Maximoff kids but they pop up a lot in this trailer. And here's the moment fans have been excited about for a while (especially since Marvel promised it in concept art in its TV special): Stark’s Hulkbuster armor facing down against the angry green giant. A series of action cuts show Widow dropping out of a Quinjet on a motorcycle, hitting the ground running riding. Lots of angry hero faces and Cap on another cycle follows.

While there’s a brief moment of tenderness between Hulk and Widow, things seem not so nice when Thor lifts Stark by the throat and Hulk throws a car at the Hulkbuster -- then punches through that car.

And … more destruction, along with Cap’s broken shield. At last, we see a nice close up of the cleaned-up super nasty Ultron. 

Then title logo. 

What is particularly interesting is not what who see – although no Vision – but the UK release date of April. That’s right, not the US date of May 1.

Was this the trailer that will be revealed after next week’s S.H.I.E.L.D.? We will have to wait and see, but this was certainly pretty official looking and chockfull of new footage. 

Did you see the Avengers 2 trailer before it was pulled? What did you think about it?

UPDATE: Marvel has pulled the trigger and officially released the trailer on its YouTube page, now with the corrected May release date. Check it out and let us know what we missed in our initial write-up.

Air New Zealand's New Hobbit Video Is Greatest Flight Safety Film Ever @ io9

In honor of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the folks at Air New Zealand have updated their Hobbit-studded flight safety video with even more special effects madness and costumed flight attendants—plus cameos from Elijah Wood, Peter Jackson, and Sylvester McCoy.

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Face Off will return in January for 8th season, with a different format @ Sci-Fi Storm

As we broke on Twitter on Monday afternoon, Syfy’s hit make-up effects competition Face Off, with the prosthetics not even dry yet on the 7th season (the finale airs next Tuesday), will return for Season 8 on Tuesday, January 13th at 9/8c, but with a slightly new format, and the theme of “Return of the Champions”.

In a twist on the show’s traditional format, three former champions, Rayce Bird (Season 2), Anthony Kosar (Season 4) and Laura Tyler (Season 5), will return in the premiere and select teams of five new artists who they will coach throughout the season.

Season 8 will also feature the full-time return of fan-favorite and Academy Award-winning judge, Ve Neill, who recently wrapped work on The Hunger Games franchise.

After an exciting and high-stakes season of competition highlighted by themes of life and death, three artists remain in the fight for the title of Season 7 Face Off champion – Cig Neutron of Los Angeles, CA by way of New Castle, IN; Drew Talbot of Pittsburgh, PA by way of Wood River, IL; and Dina Cimarusti of Chicago, IL. For their final challenge, they will each create a pair of knights, one representing life and one representing death that will have to withstand the trials of battle. The Season 7 finale of Face Off airs Tuesday, October 28 at 9PM ET/PT on Syfy.

Here's The Hulkbusting First Trailer For Avengers: Age Of Ultron @ io9

Here's The Hulkbusting First Trailer For Avengers: Age Of Ultron

The trailer for Avengers: Age of Ultron has arrived online a bit early, showing off Iron Man's Hulkbuster armor and Ultron himself in creepy, creepy action—along with the MCU's version of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch. Update: Official trailer now up in all its hi-res glory!

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The Best times An On-Screen Adaptation Strayed From The Book @ io9

The Best times An On-Screen Adaptation Strayed From The Book

The disappointing changes made in the on-screen adaptations from some of our favorite books have been well catalogued. But what about the times when the on-screen adaptation diverted from its source material, for the best?

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MIT's Science Fiction Society Has 60,000 Books And Some Zany Traditions @ io9

MIT's Science Fiction Society Has 60,000 Books And Some Zany Traditions

Reason number 5,000,000,000 to wish you'd gone to MIT... There's a great article in MIT News Magazine about the MIT Science Fiction Society, with its incredibly awesome library. Which started with a wooden crate dragged between dorm rooms in 1949 and is now a massive storehouse of awesome.

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Where The Word "Cosplay" Actually Comes From @ io9

Where The Word "Cosplay" Actually Comes From

'Cosplay did not suddenly appear,' says Nobuyuki Takahashi. He should know: Takahashi helped invent the word itself.

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Adrianne Palicki's Mockingbird Outfit On Agents Of SHIELD Is SO GOOD @ io9

Adrianne Palicki's Mockingbird Outfit On Agents Of SHIELD Is SO GOOD

You may have seen the first Marvel Cinematic Universe appearance of Bobbi Morse, the agent codenamed Mockingbird, in last night's Agents of SHIELD . But you haven't seen her in her official Mockingbird superhero outfit, because Marvel just released the first pic — and it's damn near perfect.

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Beautiful junkbot rayguns @ Boing Boing

This Is How We Imagined Aerial Warfare 120 Years Ago @ io9

This Is How We Imagined Aerial Warfare 120 Years Ago

These gorgeous illustrations from the late nineteenth century reveal what people imagined air combat would be like in the future. It's pretty spectacular — and weirdly prescient, too.

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Spartan super-soldiers head to Hell in extended trailer for Halo: Nightfall @ Blastr

Halo Nightfall Trailer [Official]

Earlier this week, we brought you a featurette previewing the latest live-action movie for Halo: Nightfall, which bridges the plot gap between events in Halo 4 and leading up to next year's Halo 5: Guardians.  Now Xbox has released the full battle-crazed trailer for Halo: Nightfall, with Spartan soldiers investigating alien activity on a Halo ring.   Directed by TV's Sergio Mimica-Gezzan and produced by Ridley Scott and David Zucker, this ambitious sci-fi film introduces the rocky origins of Jameson Locke (Mike Colter), operating in a hellacious hail of bullets and slashing energy swords.

Halo: Nightfall debuts Nov. 11, 2014, with the epic box set, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, on Xbox Live and the Halo Channel.

(Via Superherohype)

Which States Have The Most Restrictive Voting Laws? @ io9

Which States Have The Most Restrictive Voting Laws?

Republican candidates are poised to gain next month from new election laws in almost half the states in the U.S., where additional requirements defy a 50-year trend of easing access to the polls. This infographic shows where it's the most difficult to cast your ballot.

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Cosplay We Love: Beetlejuice with pet sandworm @ Blastr

Whoa, sandworms!  Ya hate 'em, right?  Fearing his creepy Beetlejuice outfit was missing more eerie elements, high school technology teacher and admitted cosplay addict Mr. Noack added a sandworm puppet to his amazing diorama costume.   Here's the bio-exorcist lurking around a cool replica of the Maitland mansion while possessed Adam and Barbara figures linger near his gravestone with the hilarious shrunken head safari hunter loitering on the stairs.

Have a look at the ghoulish gallery below and keep a safe distance from any Zagnut bars ...

(Via Fashionably Geek)

13 plot twists that utterly ruined good horror movies @ Blastr

Perhaps nothing gets moviegoers buzzing like a good plot twist. Unfortunately, that has led many filmmakers to believe that every great film must have some startling revelation, an unexpected turn that makes the audience rethink what they have seen up until that point. Good films can stand on their own without having some crazy narrative revelation shoehorned in; in fact, sometimes it's the twist itself that rots a good movie from the inside out. See what we mean by examining these quality horror films that turned sour by sticking a weird change into the storyline.

It goes without saying that the following list will contain SPOILERS for the films in question. You've been warned.

Did we miss a scary flick that twisted itself to death? Let us know in the comments!

You Probably Never Realized How Marble Is Harvested, But It's Beautiful @ io9

You Probably Never Realized How Marble Is Harvested, But It's Beautiful

Ever wondered how marble is harvested? The process, documented in this stunning short by Italian artist and filmmaker Yuri Ancarani, is utterly transfixing.

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Which Series Did You Love — Until It Killed Your Favorite Character? @ io9

Which Series Did You Love — Until It Killed Your Favorite Character?

Death adds real stakes to a fictional universe. If nobody ever dies, then nothing feels real. And yet some deaths don't just diminish us all, they just plain ruin a series. For good. Which science fiction or fantasy series lost its heart, or just became less good generally, when one character died?

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More Damning Evidence That Dr. Oz's Green Coffee Bean Diet Is A Scam @ io9

More Damning Evidence That Dr. Oz's Green Coffee Bean Diet Is A Scam

Earlier this year, the fat-burning effects of green coffee bean extract – an extract touted by daytime TV's Dr. Oz as a "miraculous" weight-loss aid – were called into question by the Federal Trade Commission. Now, the 2012 study purporting to demonstrate the extract's effectiveness has been retracted.

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The MASSIVE total cost of Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy so far @ Blastr

We're now two months away from the release of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the final film in The Hobbit trilogy and, very likely, the final Middle-earth movie (the Tolkien estate still owns the film rights to Middle-earth books like The Silmarillion, and they're not too happy with Hollywood these days) from Peter Jackson, who earned international acclaim, millions of dollars and 17 Oscars (including a record-tying 11 for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King) for his Lord of the Rings film trilogy. 

Though they've certainly made plenty of money -- the first two films have earned just shy of two billion dollars at the box office -- Jackson's Hobbit films have faced pleny of criticism, particularly for the decision to stretch what was originally a two-film adaptation into a three-film one. The story certainly feels stretched out to a lot of viewers, but it's hard to argue with box-office results. Warner Bros. anticipated making plenty of cash from these films -- and they have -- so they were happy to dish out plenty of cash to make the films happen. How much? Well, even if you're accustomed to reading about mega-budget movies, that total might surprise you.

According to financial documents filed in New Zealand this month, reported on by the Associated Press, the Hobbit trilogy cost $745 million as of March of this year. We don't know if that number includes the cost of marketing and distributing the films thus far, but it also doesn't include the post-production money that's been spent between March and now, or the marketing money that will be spent between now and the final film's December release. So, no matter how you slice it, this is a lot of money to spend on a film franchise. 

To put that number in some context, the Lord of the Rings trilogy cost somewhere in the neighborhood (the final budget is disputed) of $300 million to make. According to this particular inflation calculator, that still adds up to less than $400 million today (if you calculate from 2003, when Return of the King was released). It's worth noting that we don't know exactly how much of that money (if any) went to marketing and distribution, and that most budget figures we see are estimates (though the Hobbit numbers are from actual financial documents filed in New Zealand, where the films are made). Plus, if you look at a film like The Avengers, which had an estimated budget of $220 million when it was released in 2012, you can see how a franchise could pile up a total cost of three-quarters of a billion dollars over the course of three movies. 

So, yes, it's a massive amount of money, but it seems to be resulting in very robust box-office returns for Warner Bros. Whether the quality of the resulting films is up to your standards is something you'll have to settle yourself. 

(Via The Playlist)

This recut of the Star Wars prequels tries to turn all three into one decent movie @ Blastr

If you’re gearing up for a Star Wars rewatch and want to avoid the prequels as much as possible, this could definitely save you a few precious hours.

The folks at Double Digit have taken all three prequel films — The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith — and sliced and diced that footage into a svelte runtime just under three hours. Yeah, that’s right — they chopped the total run time more than in half, and still seem to have hit the narrative high points and strengthened a few others.

Heck, axing most of Jar Jar’s scenes make this a must-watch, anyway. The creators claim many large plot pieces have been removed or changed to strengthen the core relationships between Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala. The recut was inspired by Topher Grace’s similar project.

If you have the time and want to give it a shot, check out Turn to the Dark Side: Episode 3.1 (Special Edition) below and let us know what you think. Just hurry up — we’d think Disney will have this thing yanked offline sooner rather than later:

(Via The Playlist)

Edward Norton looks back on not being the Hulk in Marvel's The Avengers @ Blastr

<div id="file-159981" class="file file-image file-image-jpeg"> <div class="content"> <img src="http://www.blastr.com/sites/blastr/files/styles/media_thumbnail/public/EdwardNortonTheIncredibleHulk.jpg?itok=amptVEkV" width="100" height="100" alt="" title="" /> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">In 2010, Edward Norton and Marvel parted ways over the role of Bruce Banner/Hulk amidst a boatload of drama. Four years later, the actor has a new outlook on things.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Back then, Marvel implied that Norton (who took over the role from Eric Bana for <em>The Incredible Hulk</em>) was dropped because he lacked the “collaborative spirit of [<em>The Avengers'</em>] other talented cast members,” while Norton’s agent shot back that Marvel’s decision to let him go was purely a matter of money. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Whatever the real reason, the actor followed this with a <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=167684&amp;id=101925766514531#!/photo.php?pid=167684&amp;id=101925766514531">very classy post on his Facebook page</a> in order to express how sad he was that he wouldn’t be joining Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in <em>The Avengers</em>.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Now, four years on, Norton has a bit of a different explanation as to what happened back then. Here’s what he said in an interview with <em>NPR</em>’s Terry Gross on <em>Fresh Air</em>:<o:p></o:p></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal">“My feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to. I really, really enjoyed it. And yet, I looked at the balance of time in life that one spends not only making those sorts of films but then especially putting them out, and the obligations that rightly come with that. There were just a lot of things—I wanted more diversity. I sort of chose to continue on my path of having a diversity of experiences. Maybe on some unconscious level, I didn’t want to have an association with one thing in any way degrade my effectiveness as an actor, in characters. I think you can sort of do anything once, but if you do it too many times, it can become a suit that’s hard to take off, in other peoples’ eyes. And if I had continued on with it, I wouldn’t have made Moonrise Kingdom, or Grand Budapest, or Birdman, because those all overlapped with [Avengers]. And those were more the priority for me, but I continue to be a fan and I’m really, really happy I got to do it once.”<o:p></o:p></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal">The role, of course, ultimately went to Mark Ruffalo, who did an absolutely fantastic job as Banner/Hulk; and whether it was Marvel who dumped Norton first, or Norton who ultimately quit, may not really matter. Sill, what do you guys think of Norton's new explanation?</p><p class="MsoNormal">(<a href="http://www.npr.org/2014/10/21/357637203/ed-norton-on-birdman-wes-anderson-and-why-40-makes-him-proud">NPR</a> via <a href="http://insidemovies.ew.com/2014/10/22/edward-norton-reflects-hulk/">EW</a>)<o:p></o:p></p>

These 'sexy' Lord of the Rings costume designs aren't what you'd expect @ io9

These 'sexy' Lord of the Rings costume designs aren't what you'd expect

It's less than 10 days to go till Halloween, and that means there's weird, wonderful and just plain awful 'sexy' costumes out on shelves everywhere - but this trio of lovely Lord of the Rings-themed designs by MJ Alexander are for characters who don't usually get the Sexy treatment.

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Deadspin Here's How 9/11 Truther Pete Carroll Would Have Prevented The Iraq War | Gizmodo The Hoverb @ io9

Scare Your Neighbors With These DIY Halloween Decorations @ io9

Scare Your Neighbors With These DIY Halloween Decorations

Still worrying over Halloween decorations? We've got you covered. We scoured the Internet for the best of the best Halloween goodies and brought you a list of the greatest gags and boos. Some are simple, DIY, cheapy-cheap creations; others may take a bit of finesse. But they are all sensational.

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New Constantine footage reveals first look at Angelica Celaya's Zed @ Blastr

The show might just be making its debut this Friday, but NBC’s Constantine series has already had its fair share of shake-ups. Want to get a peek at the latest addition to the cast?

As has been well documented, Lucy Griffith’s character Liv — who was conceived as a series regular — has been dropped from the show after the pilot. So, who took her place? DC character Zed, played by Angelica Celaya. Now, thanks to a newly released clip dropped ahead of the series premiere, we have our first look at her in action.

Having seen the pilot, we can attest that Griffith’s character was not a great fit for the series. Going back to the comic canon, Zed has some guts and should be a great foil for Matt Ryan’s Constantine — as is displayed in the clip below. Heck, that one minute below shows off more chemistry than the entire original pilot with Griffith. So, yeah, probably a good change.

The scene below seems to show Constantine and Zed’s first meeting. Not sure if this is one of the reshoots for the pilot, or a clip from a future episode, but regardless, it’s great to finally get a peek at what should be a major player in this DC adaptation. Check out the footage and let us know what you think:

Constantine debuts this Friday on NBC. Will you be watching?

(Via Comic Book Movie)

An astronomer discovered the first exoplanet almost 100 years ago - we just didn't realize it until now @ Blastr

As far as modern-day astronomy is concerned, the first confirmation of exoplanets outside our solar system came when a team spotted two planets orbiting a star back in the early 1990s. But apparently an astronomer actually spotted the first exoplanets back in 1917 -- we just didn’t realize it.

As io9 notes, new research by UCLA physics and astronomy professor Ben Zuckerman has determined that Dutch astronomer Adriaan van Maanen seemingly spotted one of the first white dwarf stars 14 light-years away while working at the Mount Wilson Observatory near Los Angeles. The star was named “van Maanen 2.” It turns out that the first evidence of the existence of exoplanets was actually tucked away within van Maanen’s research notes.

Here’s an excerpt from the Physics arXiv Blog breakdown of Zuckerman’s discovery:

The photosphere of a white dwarf should contain only hydrogen and helium, which is what the spectra of a standard white dwarf shows. Anything else that falls into the star should rapidly sink beneath the surface and so be unlikely to show up.

But the spectrum of van Maanen 2 contains evidence of all kinds of heavier elements.

In recent years, Zuckerman and other astronomers have shown that these elements can only come from rocky debris orbiting the star. In other words, these elements come from asteroids regularly falling into their parental white dwarf and burning up.

These elements show up in the spectra of lots of white dwarfs. Indeed, various studies of the spectral characteristics of this debris have revealed the make-up of asteroids orbiting other stars for the first time.

One question that Zuckerman and others have puzzled over is why asteroids are regularly falling into white dwarfs. And this has led them to a fascinating discovery.

It turns out that all of these white dwarfs are surrounded by rocky debris and at least one large planet. It is the gravitational perturbations from this planet that cause the asteroids to collide with each other and then spiral into their parent star....When [astronomers] find white dwarfs with heavy elements in their spectra, they now consider this good evidence of an extrasolar planet.

It’s absolutely amazing the difference some hindsight can make when we look back at research done almost a full century ago. Van Maanen was on the right track, but no one could figure out exactly what he was looking at.

Let’s keep digging, scientists — who knows what other breakthroughs could be hiding in those dusty notebooks?

(Via io9, Physics arXiv Blog)

Read Our Exclusive Excerpt from Gail Carriger's Waistcoats & Weaponry @ io9

Read Our Exclusive Excerpt from Gail Carriger's Waistcoats & Weaponry

Gail Carriger has been burning up the bestseller lists with her Finishing School series, and now you can read an exciting excerpt from book three, Waistcoats & Weaponry. Warning: Bladed fans ahead!

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Earth 2: World’s End #3: The League of Verbal Abuse and an Earth One visitor @ Blastr

Every Wednesday, we speak with author Daniel H. Wilson for a detailed recap of Earth 2: World’s End, the weekly DC Comics title he’s spearheading about an alternate earth devastated by its prolonged war with Apokolips. In this Blastr exclusive, we explore the issue with Wilson on the day it hits stands, and offer a sneak peek of what readers can look for in future installments.

This week, we talked about our heroes, under the influence of K’Li (aka War, the Fury of Apokolips), fighting one another with their fists and a barrage of personal attacks. Also, Dick Grayson begins his heroic rise while John Constantine pops in for a surprise visit.

K’Li talks about the master of the pits at the beginning of the book. Is there more than one threat emerging on Earth-2 aside from the Court of Apokolips and the planet's collision course?

You tend to think of Apokolips as under the domain of Darkseid, who is mysteriously absent and has been throughout Earth-2. (Some of my favorite scenes have been at the Court of Apokolips where you see Darkseid is not there. I particularly love Paternus because he’s always freaking out and worried about what’s going to happen to Apokolips. It tickles me to see the bad guys so concerned about themselves when they’re wreaking all this havoc on earth.)

But there are definitely two threats, and that’s what’s fun about issue three. We see our heroes decide to go down into these pits in order to face this threat. And the other threat is Apokolips heading towards earth. 

When we meet K’Li’s master, will it be someone we recognize?

You’ll absolutely recognize the master as a character who’s appeared already in the Earth 2 monthly but never fully realized, or had a plotline that came to fruition. 

How is this collision course with Earth-2 –- which is mutually assured destruction -- a good maneuver for the Court for Apokolips?

As Commander Khan points out, there must be something they’re missing. There must be something about Apokolips they don’t understand. Really, it’s just teasing that we don’t know everything about Apokolips yet. 

John Constantine arrives on the scene in this issue. Is this Earth One’s Constantine?

Yes, he is. I coordinated with Ray Fawkes on bringing Constantine over for a cameo in our series. He is having his own adventure in Earth-2 in much more detail in the Constantine series. 

Will he be kicking around for a while or is this a one-panel cameo?

Yeah, I think he hangs out for about six issues. 

This is paired with a Doctor Fate scene. Does this suggest magic is at play with the events of Earth-2?

I love playing magic against technology, and love contemplating whether magic really is a form of technology people don’t understand -- and perhaps even the gods don’t understand how their powers work. It is interesting when you look at the New Gods, they’re not necessarily casting magic spells but just are very powerful. Figuring out the common thread between technology, magic and godlike powers is something we play with in this series. That’s why you see Fate and Jimmy Olsen intermingling. In my mind, in Earth-2, Jimmy Olsen is very much an embodiment of technology; that’s where his abilities lie. And Doctor Fate is all about magic. When you put them together, it leaves you contemplating that relationship.

So we’ll see Jimmy, Fate and Constantine interacting?

Not Constantine, but it’s really "John Constantine," what he does: a little random, a little tragic and a little awesome. He has his own path, and Fate interacts with Jimmy more. I’m not up to date with what Ray has done with the Constantine issues that have yet to come out, but I do think in that series Fate has some interactions with John. I hand Fate off at some point and he finishes his role in Earth-2.  Which is a bummer because you have to focus on just a few and can’t have everybody!

We’ve seen these Strongholds before but spend a little more time there in this issue with Dick Grayson and his family. What is the purpose of these camps?

Earth-2 has been under attack for a long time, and with Project Beyond, we saw all the world’s leaders and wealthy people try to escape -- only to be murdered by Brutaal. Everybody’s been through a lot, and these strongholds exist to protect the remaining citizens after cities have been totally ravaged by war. 

It seems like Dick Grayson is building towards something; where are we going with him?

I really love Dick Grayson’s story, and he’s going to be with us for the entire series. We really took our time with him and the Graysons, and other characters familiar to fans of his that are going to show up later to accompany him. We are watching his ascent to hero status for sure, and things are going to go way beyond the stronghold. By the time we get to Issue 26, Dick Grayson is going to be hard to recognize.

It is like we’re seeing the emergence of Crime Alley in the stronghold. Tragedy just seems ready to strike at any moment to the Grayson family.

Yeah. Well, I will just give you a tease by saying that often there are catalysts to tragedy … just to tie that back to John Constantine.

Amazonia just seems loaded with egomaniacs. Is it a good place to be?

It’s really the only safe place on the planet. It is the only place where people can really make plans in a safe environment instead of just reacting to threats. This is the last place people are able to think about how to respond. All the brainy people are there, and this is of course the stuff I write, so blame me for anything that happens there. I love in Issue Three you see Mister Miracle, Fury, Barda meeting, in an antagonistic way, with the World Army headquarters in Amazonia and see that relationship get forged. Eventually you’ll see New Gods and brainy humans working together. What is in the first few issues is really just the beginning of all the relationships that will play out over the course of the series.

We have Robert Crane and Ted Holland examining the Mother Box, and Crane gets pretty messed up in the process. What is the importance of these characters?

They’re dabbling in technology that’s way beyond their level. Crane wants to understand it, and thanks to his robotic body he can get closer than most people, but ultimately you don’t choose the Mother Box, it chooses you. 

Amazonia is kind of a nerve center of intelligence, as in spies and spycraft. What’s happening in there in this laboratory is really interesting. I’m doing the lettering on Issue Seven, and it kind of comes together around then. It is one of my proudest contributions to the mythology. What plays out around the study of Mother Boxes and the interaction with them. 

What was your favorite part of this issue?

One of my favorite parts is seeing the good guys fight each other and say the worst, meanest personal things they could say to one another as a result of K’Li. That was fun to see, and I’m excited to combine action with emotion by having them try to hurt each other physically but also emotionally. That adds stakes. You can only watch people punch each other with no effect so many times, so when you’re able to get an emotional side it’s a stronger fight scene. Meanwhile War is walking away in silhouette while the heroes are fighting in the background. She has done what she came to do and just walks away. She’s such a badass.

This Tale Of An Owl Starts As A Nature Film—And Ends As A Revenge Flick @ io9

At first, The Hidden Life of the Burrowing Owl seems to be an animated nature film, explaining the life and ecology of its subject. But after the cartoon turns tragic, it becomes clear that you don't want to mess with this burrowing owl.

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Novel Review: Tigerman @ Bureau 42

Pulp conventions and comic-book tropes coexist with a quasi-realistic setting and political questions both timeless and contemporary, as a good man on a doomed island becomes a hero in order to impress his surrogate son— and encounters something more dangerous than he anticipated.

Title: Tigerman
Author: Nick Harkaway

First published in July 2014.
ISBN: 0385352417
ISBN-13: 978-0385352413

Available from Amazon.uk, Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, and as a kindle.

Premise:

The island of Mancreu sits in limbo. The British—the last colonial power to possess it—will be leaving soon. Countries and corporations have used it for extralegal purpose, and its own toxicity will soon render it uninhabitable. The toxic Clouds, indeed, have already affected animals, plants—and human beings. A decision has been made to purge the place, to kill it with fire.

Lester Ferris, a British soldier who has served in Afghanistan, acts as the local sheriff during the island’s final days. Lacking a family of his own, he takes interest in a bright, media-educated boy as a kind of surrogate son. He attempts a curiously playful and dangerous act of avengement and justice on behalf of the boy, only to discover himself involved in much more serious stakes.

High Point:

Tigerman may be something akin to a superhero in a comparatively realistic thriller, but his creation and actions comment astutely on heroism, contemporary politics, and environmental issues in an intelligent manner.

Low Point:

The romance plot helps give the characters depth, but it has been given too little attention, especially given the weight a certain relationship acquires in the conclusion.

The Scores:

Originality: 4/6 The book deliberately uses familiar tropes, but Harkaway often uses them in original ways.

Imagery: 5/6 The novel features some fascinating, barely-plausible fight sequences in a fascinating and disturbingly plausible setting. Harkaway also does an admire job of evoking the world as various characters see it.

Story: 5/6 The story develops slowly, and the significant twists only occur in the final chapters. Harkaway’s style and the comparative novelty of the situation will entertain most readers as the pieces fall together.

Characterization: 5/6 Lester Ferris and the Boy have been developed plausibly.

Emotional Response: 5/6 We’re in an interesting space between realism and fantasy. Gradually, the superhero, Tigerman, takes on a bizarre reality. Will it be enough to save Lester and his associates when he faces international cabals? And what happens when Bad Jack, “Mancreau’s resident fairy king” (7), a legendary supercriminal, also turns out to be real, and holding darker secrets than Tigerman?

Editing: 5/6 The Boy’s English, distilled from American movies, the internet, and comic books, could be real speech. It also represents the culture that informs many people today; his language differs from literary English, used by the sort of person “so appalled by the staggering complexities of meaning which could be found in the word ‘piss’that he felt it was necessary to read Paradise Lost and The Mayor of Casterbridge in order to be certain he wasn’t getting the wrong end of the stick” (88). The Boy speaks through memes and tropes. It’s a fascinating commentary, often amusing, occasionally annoying.

Overall score: 5/6 It takes considerable power to combine so many genres convincingly, and Harkaway, to his credit, makes Tigerman work. Those wanting more of a typical thriller/adventure may find portions of this novel a tad taxing.

In total, Tigerman receives 34/42

The Coldest Object In The Universe Has Been Created In An Italian Lab @ io9

The Coldest Object In The Universe Has Been Created In An Italian Lab

For a period of 15 days, a cooled copper mass enclosed in a cryostat container may very well have been the coldest object in the Universe. At -273.144 degrees Celsius, it nearly achieved absolute zero. The technique, which resulted a world record, could produce important new insights into exotic particle physics.

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Why Superhero Movie Fans Need To See Birdman @ io9

Why Superhero Movie Fans Need To See Birdman

Even in a year with some pretty notable superhero films, Birdman is a pretty significant movie about superheroes. This darkly surreal satire about an aging actor struggling with his superhero past is full of magical-realist touches and tugs at our national obsession with big heroic narratives. And here's why superhero fans really ought to see Birdman.

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In Just 5 Panels, This Comic About Life And Death Will Melt Your Heart

This comic by Construction Paper and Tears is short and simple, but no less affecting. It serves as a miniature picture book, recasting the dance of life and death as a romance. Go read it and have a good sigh.

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Game of Thrones' book reading fans were given a bit of a shock yesterday when set pictures from the TV show's upcoming season revealed another huge change from the source material - but amid the concern, there was some hope. Sometimes, change can do us all some good when it comes to adapting our favourite works.

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Halo: Nightfall is a live-action, five-part digital series that leads up to Halo 5: Guardians. This trailer introduces the backstory of Halo 5's new playable character Jameson Locke as he and his team are caught up in a horrific terrorist attack.

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​On The Flash, Barry Allen Has A Serious Gas Attack

It appears that eating all that cheese last week may be hazardous to the Flash's health. Because this week the metahuman/supervillain/freak Barry must battle can turn himself into a cloud of poison gas — but the real danger may be some seriously substandard scriptwiring.

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A Rock Monster Tries To Save A Town In This Film. Someone Call Pixar. @ io9

A Tale of Momentum & Inertia is just one minute long, but it contains the sort of drama and humor we always hope to see in CG feature films. A rock monster tries to stop a falling boulder from crushing the village at the base of a mountain.

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How The Hot Zone Created the Worst Myths About Ebola

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How Do Artificial Sweeteners Trick Us Into Tasting Sugar?

We know they're not sugar, but artificial sweeteners still have a way of making us taste sugar (or at least something close to it). But just how do they do that?

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The Innovation Economy Is Killing The Military-Industrial Complex

The Pentagon funnels billions of dollars into a handful of defense contractors. But the technology that the military really wants is largely being produced by commercial companies with cutting-edge R&D departments. The military-industrial complex as we know it is coming to an end.

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The ancient Egyptians built the pyramids to inspire awe, but could they have known that they would also inspire idiocy? For millennia, individuals have gazed upon these edifices, seeing them not as they are, but as projections of their own beliefs. Here are ten of the strangest theories—no aliens required.

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DC plans 2015 'rebrand' of acclaimed Vertigo Comics impint @ Blastr

If you've been reading comics at any point in the past two decades, there's a good chance you've crossed paths with a book published by Vertigo, and there's also a good chance you became addicted to that book. Founded in 1993 by editor Karen Berger as a place to publish DC's more mature titles, it has since evolved into an imprint for creator-owned comics entirely separate from the events and characters of the DC Universe. Vertigo's 21-year history is packed with acclaimed, award-winning titles that frequently rank among the greatest comics ever, including SandmanFablesAstro CityPreacherY: The Last ManTransmetropolitan100 Bullets and many more. 

DC Comics as a whole is going through a major transition right now, as the company prepares to move its comic-book operations to the West Coast to work alongside other DC Entertainment divisions already located in California. In a new interview about that transition, the state of the market and future plans for the company, DC co-publisher Jim Lee noted that this exciting time for the company will also include a "rebrand" of Vertigo. 

"If you look at what we’re going to do in 2015 (which I’m not at liberty to discuss at this moment), possibly first quarter next year, you’ll see that we’re going through a major effort to rebrand the imprint," Lee said. "That’s going to come about through the projects themselves.

"We’re working on a hit list of the top creators in the business and we have some exciting news to unveil in the early part of 2015."

Lee, as he himself noted, didn't elaborate on just what this rebrand would entail, but his remark about "the projects themselves" combined with his remark about "top creators" makes it at least sound like Vertigo's hoping to launch a new slate of creator-owned titles next year that will draw the same kind of attention Image Comics has been getting lately for its diverse, genre-spanning lineup of titles from writers like Ed Brubaker, Scott Snyder, Jason Aaron, Matt Fraction, Kelly Sue DeConnick and more. Lee also emphasized that the imprint "can't rest on [its] laurels," because Vertigo doesn't have the benefit of ongoing characters like Superman to keep readers coming back. When the creators end the story in a Vertigo book, that's it, and the publisher then has to go out and find new stories. Lee also noted that this rebrand might extend beyond comics.

"We work very closely with Geoff Johns and his group to maximize the impact of these projects, not just through publishing, but beyond through the Warner Bros. family," Lee said. "That’s been a part of our strategy. Stay tuned to 2015; there’s a lot of amazing things in the works."

Again, we don't know any specifics of what DC's got planned for Vertigo, or which creators the company might be drawing in to do work there. Next year does seem like a great time to take some risks and push the imprint in a new direction, though. Not only will DC as a whole be relocated, but Vertigo's current crown jewel and longest-running series, Fables, will end in early 2015 after 13 years of publication. A modern classic of comics will be over, so it'll be a good time for Vertigo creators to drum up some new classics.

We'll keep you posted on any Vertigo Comics announcements in the coming months.

(Via ICv2)

How Piracy Benefits Companies, Even If They Don't Admit it @ io9

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We've talked a lot about the legality of piracy a lot here at Lifehacker, but really, you're probably breaking the law everyday anyway . However, piracy can sometimes have its benefits. Even to the companies who own the copyrights.

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First look at Adrianne Palicki in her full Mockingbird SHIELD suit @ Blastr

<div id="file-159976" class="file file-image file-image-jpeg"> <div class="content"> <img src="http://www.blastr.com/sites/blastr/files/styles/media_thumbnail/public/Mockingbird1_0.jpg?itok=aCAvAsNz" width="100" height="100" alt="" title="" /> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal">Following Adrianne Palicki’s (<em>G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Friday Night Lights</em>) kick-ass debut on <em>Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.</em> last night, Marvel has released the first official image of the actress fully suited up in her “Tactical Suit” as Mockingbird.<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Not only that, but we also got some concept art, giving us a clearer look at the outfit. And now that she’s <strong>SPOILERS&nbsp;</strong>a full member of S.H.I.E.L.D. again, after an undercover stint as an Hydra agent, Bobbi Morse is now back to being a blonde. But do blondes really have more fun?<o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">Costume designer Ann Foley explained how this suit actually plays homage to the character’s comic-book roots:<o:p></o:p></p><blockquote><p class="MsoNormal">“It's important to me to keep certain elements, but we had to change it, obviously, for practicality, because it had to fit into our world. It had to have a kind of tactical feeling to it too so that it made sense in our universe. <o:p></o:p></p><p class="MsoNormal">She's got rivets that are in the straps across her chest, and those are there as a tribute to the buttons that go down the side of her [most recent] costume [in the comics], as well as the colors that we were using, [which] are a tribute as well. Her colors are navy blue and white with a little bit of black in there, [but] white would not have been pretty on camera so we changed it to grey. [We] still tried to maintain the original style of what was in the comic book because [with] that white panel that goes up her center and down her legs, [so] we've mirrored that in her costume but in gray instead of white.”<o:p></o:p></p></blockquote><p class="MsoNormal">So have a look at the gallery below, and let us know what you guys think of Mockingbird’s costume. Also, how did you like the introduction of Bobbi Morse on last night’s <em>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.</em>?</p><p class="MsoNormal">(<a href="http://marvel.com/news/tv/23510/get_tactical_with_your_first_look_at_mockingbirds_suit_in_marvels_agents_of_shield.">Marvel</a> via <a href="http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/JoshWildingNewsAndReviews/news/?a=109755">Comic Book Movie</a>)<o:p></o:p></p>

We finally know when we'll see the Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer @ Blastr

Back in July, writer/director Joss Whedon and company wowed fans during Marvel's Hall H panel at San Diego Comic-Con with a teaser trailer for Age of Ultron, the much-anticipated second Avengers film that will pit Earth's Mightiest Heroes against the deadly A.I. supervillain of the title. Those lucky enough to be in Hall H that night to see the footage quickly flooded the 'net with their reactions, and the rest of us just had to sit and watch them freak out, wishing we were there too. Well, it seems the wait to see the Age of Ultron trailer is finally almost over.

Last night, in the final seconds of this week's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. broadcast, Marvel announced that the world broadcast premiere of the Age of Ultron trailer will take place during the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. broadcast next week. The announcement did not specificy exactly when the trailer would hit, so it could be anytime between 8 and 9 p.m. EST. It also, as CBR points out, said "broadcast premiere," so it's possible the trailer could drop online sometime before next Tuesday. In any case, we at least know that by 9 p.m. EST next Tuesday, we'll have seen it.

So mark your calendars: Oct. 28 at 8 p.m., turn on ABC and wait to see what's next for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. 

Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters May 1, 2015.

(Via CBR)

The Sky Is Not Blue – So Why Does It Look Blue? @ io9

The latest installment of MinutePhysics tackles the enduring question of why the sky appears blue, and the less common (albeit related question) of why the sun appears yellow.

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Flash Review: “Things You Can’t Outrun” @ Bureau 42

While the Flash takes on a metahuman who can become toxic fog, we witness the firestorm of activity experienced by the supporting characters on the night Barry and his adversary were transformed.

Title: “Things You Can’t Outrun”

Directed by Jesse Warn
Written by Alison Schapker, Grainne Godfree

Grant Gustin as Barry Allen / The Flash
Candice Patton Candice Patton as Iris West
Rick Cosnett as Eddie Thawne
Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow
Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon
Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells
Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West
John Wesley Shipp as Henry Allen
Patrick Sabongui as Captain David Singh
Al Sapienza as Detective Fred Chyre
Michael Benyaer as Araz Darbinyan
Robbie Amell as Ronnie Raymond /
Anthony Carrigan as Kyle Nimbus / The Mist

Full cast and crew information may be found at the imdb

Premise

The Flash faces a metahuman villain who kills— and cannot be touched.
We also touch on some key moments in the supporting characters’ lives.

High Points

The team approach begins to coalesce, even if Ramon, in an amusing bit, demonstrates that he needs to familiarize himself with police codes.

Low Point

The Fastest Man Alive encounters a man who can turn into mist and poison him—and he stands there waiting to inhale.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6

Effects: 5/6 The effects remain serviceable, but some work better than others.

Acting: 5/6

Story: 5/6 We have a very Arrow-influenced episode, with a present-day villain, a flashback plot, references to the overall season arc, and some relationship drama. The flashbacks did a fair job of expanding the personalities of some supporting characters; the plotting needs to be less formulaic.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6

Overall: 5/6 The Flash takes greater pains than the Arrow or the Canary to conceal his identity from his family.

We have a villain who remains alive, held illegally by Team Flash. Since he was already under a death sentence, ethical issues are mitigated somewhat. I do wonder how he’s going to eat, however.

In total, “Things You Can’t Outrun” receives 34/42

Additional Thoughts

In addition to laying the groundwork for Firestorm’s appearance, we had references, mostly playful, to the Flash Museum, a metahuman prison, and the Blue Devil. But did one of the passers-by in the opening scene resemble Clark Kent?

Wrecks From WWII Convoy Battle Discovered Off North Carolina Coast @ io9

Wrecks From WWII Convoy Battle Discovered Off North Carolina Coast

Researchers from the NOAA have discovered two sunken vessels from a Second World War convoy battle about 30 miles off the coast of North Carolina. The German U-boat 576 and a merchant ship, Bluefields, were found just a few hundred yards apart. The find shows just how close the war came to American shores.

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The Chemistry Principle That Determines Whether Candy Is Hard Or Soft @ io9

The Chemistry Principle That Determines Whether Candy Is Hard Or Soft

While the variety of candies seems endless, all of them fall into two main categories: crystalline (typically soft and creamy) and non-crystalline (generally hard and brittle). The deciding factor is how the preparation process manipulates the sucrose molecules within sugar. Mmm, crystallization.

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