Category Archives: space & science

Review: National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars

Angry Birds Star WarsIt’s that most wonderful time of the year when all the Star Wars gift books come out. So which ones are worth putting on your gift list for the year?

National Geographic Angry Birds Star Wars: The Science Behind the Saga has a fairly self-explanatory title. This book, targeted at the teenage reading level, gives you cute little stories about the adorable Angry Birds Star Wars characters, but also delves into the science associated with it. Astronomy. Physics. Science history. There’s a little bit for everyone in there. And since it’s National Geographic, you know they’ll have it right.

This is probably a fun book even if you haven’t gotten yourself aggravated by Angry Birds Star Wars, yet. (Why am I so bad at that game?) Many of the facts concern the science behind Star Wars, as well. And the graphics are bright and colorful.

Both the hardcover and paperback versions are reasonably priced. So if you’re trying to find something on the lower end for folks to get you, this would be a good one to add to your wish list.

Star Wars museum exhibits on the move!

Where-Science-Meets-Imagination-x-wingAlready thinking about travel plans for the summer and rest of 2013? The traveling museum exhibitions for Star Wars and Indiana Jones are!

Announced on Thursday with Billy Dee Williams on hand with the mayor of San Jose (yes, San Jose!), alongside Pablo Hidalgo and members of the 501st and Rebel Legions, San Jose’s Tech Museum of Innovation will be hosting the final stop of the Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination exhibition from October to next February.

Where-Science-Meets-Imagination-logoThe exhibition has been traveling around the US since 2005 (see my pictures from when it was at Santa Ana’s Discovery Science Center), and is currently wrapping up its stay at the Orlando Science Center (ends April 7). Over the summer, it will be at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis (May 25 – Sept. 2). This exhibition brings out props and costumes from the Star Wars films and connects them to real world science and technology, such as space travel, prosthetics, maglevs, and robotics.

Star Wars Identities logoMeanwhile, the Star Wars Identities exhibition, which started in 2012 in Montreal, and focuses on the concepts of identity, through origins, influences, and choices, will be ending this weekend in Edmonton’s Telus World of Science to move to Ottawa’s Canada Aviation and Space Museum from May 10 to September 2.

Indiana Jones The ExhibitionFinally, the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibition is wrapping up its first US stay, at Santa Ana’s Discovery Science Center, closing April 21. Presented by the National Geographic Society, it highlights the real science of archaeology, and connects it to the four Indiana Jones films with both real world artifacts and movie props, costumes, and artwork. I had a chance to see the exhibition last weekend, and provided an in-depth report earlier. While I am told that this exhibition will be moving onto a new location, it hasn’t been announced yet.

The Empire responds to White House nixing Death Star construction

Construction_of_the_Death_StarWith the White House responding to the petition to research and build a Death Star, the Empire has issued its own statement on the decision by the United State not to build a giant planet-destroying space station in a post on the StarWars.com blog.

Calling Earth an unimaginatively named planet, the press statement quotes both Governor Tarkin and Admiral Motti on their views for why our world has decided against building the Death Star, and smoothing over any concern about that design flaw that was cited by the White House.

White House responds to Death Star petition

death-star-7The White House has given an official response to the online petition “Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016″, which has over 34,000 signatures. In a response entitled “This isn’t the petition you’re looking for”, Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the Office of Management and Budget, points out some of the key issues against building the not-quite-ultimate power in the universe:

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

With plenty of links, Shawcross continues the response with examples of what the U.S. is doing to develop other Star Wars-esque technologies, including laser-wielding robots on other planets (Mars Rover), and fostering greater interest in STEM careers.

Probably another key consideration would be the additional security risk to prevent the Death Star plans from being stolen.

Remembering Sally Ride, first American woman in space

Today we say goodbye to a woman who inspired many, if not all of us, in Club Jade.

You can read about her life on her wiki page, her science education company website, or any of the regular news outlets.

Yes, she contributed to science, to the space shuttle program, and to science education.  You’ll read about those at the sites above.

However, it’s the stories you will not read as part of the official record that are the most important when it comes to the impact Sally Ride had on the hearts and minds of children growing up in the 80′s through today. 

Club Jade’s own Paula tweeted earlier today:

I had the honor of meeting Sally Ride when I was twelve. She encouraged me to pursue science so I could follow her to the stars.

My earliest memory of Sally Ride was seeing her picture on a wall in a classroom, with the simple note of “First American Woman in Space – 1983″.  My first report in that class was on her because of that picture and caption and it made me a fan for life.  I wanted to go to space camp, I was driven to learn more about science and technology, and I was absolutely empowered to never let anyone tell me “girls can’t do X”.  All because of Sally’s example.  Thank you Sally Ride, for giving so many of us young girls an example of what we too could achieve.

I’d like to invite you to share how she impacted your life, no matter how small, in the comments below.

Sorry, nerds: Tupac hologram at Coachella was not actually a hologram

A lot of George Lucas jokes have been made over a ‘hologram’ performance by dead rapper Tupac Shakur at the Coachella music festival on Sunday, but it wasn’t a hologram at all.

Coachella’s Tupac was a 2-D creation of Digital Domain Media Group, who won a visual effects Oscar for aging Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. And it was projected using technology dating from the 19th Century:

The effect relies on an angled piece of glass in which a “ghostly” image is reflected. “A piece of glass can be both transparent and reflective at the same time, depending on how it’s situated relative to the audience,” said Mr. Steinmeyer, pointing out the secret.

In the Victorian version of the trick, the glass reflected an actual actor, situated out of sight in near the orchestra. On Sunday night, the image was projected on a piece of Mylar—a highly reflective, lightweight plastic—stretched on a clear frame.

A similar effect was used in 2003 to project an image of Frank Sinatra. Virtual Tupac may go on tour later this year with other (living) hip-hop stars

Star Wars Identities exhibition unveils some spiffy new images

With the Star Wars Identities museum exhibition opening in Montreal in April, the exhibition’s ad agency, Bleublancrouge released some additional promotional images by Louis Hébert for the show: a series of six character mosaic portraits highlighting the factors that build up identity. Zoom in or check out the full set of images on geek-art.net: Darth Vader, Yoda, C-3PO, Queen Amidala, Boba Fett and a stormtrooper.

Put on by X3 Productions, Star Wars Identities opens at the Montreal Science Centre on April 19 and continues through September 16, then moves onto Edmonton’s Telus World of Science in October. The exhibition, which will showcase a large archive of original props and costumes while focusing on the science of identity, will then move onto Europe, Asia and the Pacific Rim over the course of 6 years.

Star Wars Identities exhibition to start in Montreal in 2012

Star Wars Identities has been revealed! Lucasfilm is launching a new Star Wars-themed traveling museum exhibition in 2012. Using the characters of Anakin and Luke Skywalker as examples, the exhibition explores the core concepts of human identity, both in the real world and for fictional characters: their origins, influences, and choices. Lucasfilm and Montreal’s X3 Productions, its partner on the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology traveling exhibition, will be using a collection from the Lucasfilm Archives to develop an interactive journey that will allow visitors to go on a quest to develop their own personal Star Wars identity.

Star Wars Identities will run at the Montreal Science Centre from April 19 through September 16, 2012 before hopefully touring other museums around the world. Go to the exhibition’s official website at starwarsidentities.com/. Looks like Dunc’s guess on what Identities would be just impacted on the surface.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology exhibit, which premiered this year at the Montreal Science Centre, will be opening in the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum in Valencia, Spain this December, and running through September 2012.

In the news: Will 300 sequel make a movie star of Joel ‘Uncle Owen’ Edgerton?

Rising star. Joel Edgerton has worked steadily in Hollywood since Attack of the Clones, but a big name he isn’t – yet. He’s currently in talks for a role that could change that, Vulture reports – the lead in the sequel to 300, Battle of Artemisia. (UPDATE: Vulture is now saying Edgerton is also being offered the role of Ilya in Steven Soderbergh’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. remake. )

Edgerton starred in September’s Warrior, last month’s The Thing and will play Tom Buchanan in next year’s high-profile adaption of The Great Gatsby alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan.

Home entertainment sales up. A trade group reports that home entertainment spending has risen 5% in the third quarter – the first increase since 2008. Helping drive the rise are Blu-ray sales, up a whopping 58% from a year ago. I can think of one recent release that may have helped with that…

Science! NASA has awarded three scientists $100,000 to “study the ability to trap and move objects using laser light,” aka tractor beams. Evil overlord wannabes everywhere are plotting in joy. For inspiration, check out Gadget Review’s list of Star Wars tech that now exists.

Commercials. British electronics retailer Dixons is the latest business to borrow Darth Vader for an ad campaign. The spots will debut Saturday.

George Lucas: Steve Jobs saw “true potential in everything he touched”

The news that Apple co-founder and technology titan Steve Jobs passed away yesterday. The news was hard to miss last night, and while I generally try to stay away from posting ‘real’ news here on Club Jade, I couldn’t let it pass without some mention.

Jobs’ connection to Star Wars is tenous at best – he bought Pixar from George Lucas for $4M in 1986. Lucas said in a statement, “The magic of Steve was that while others simply accepted the status quo, he saw the true potential in everything he touched and never compromised on that vision. He leaves behind an incredible family and a legacy that will continue to speak to people for years to come.”

I’ve been using Apple products since 1999, and much of the site you see here was produced on them in one way or another. Whether or not you’re a fan, it’s hard not to admit that the Apple Jobs created and later revived has been a driving force in technology and pop culture. Thanks, Steve.