Today in The Force Awakens: Six Star Wars technologies we might see for real

real-star-wars-landspeeder-split→ Popular Science points out six Star Wars technologies that may not be as far away as we think. Most shocking? There’s already a robot ball.

Why racial diversity in The Force Awakens matters.

→ Chris Taylor implores fans to stop overthinking the new teaser. Alas, it is in vain, but I’m sure he knows that.

→ Rumor corner: Jason on Making Star Wars has more thoughts on the beginning of the film, given what we heard yesterday. And there are yet more 4chan/Reddit ‘spoilers,’ including at least one direct contradiction to what we heard yesterday from the same ‘source.’

Mythbusters takes on Star Wars tonight

Mythbusters-StarWars-titleThe circle is now complete! Mythbusters, the Discovery Channel show that attempts to confirm or bust urban legends and Hollywood magic by recreating the circumstances and using science to explain, is leading off their 2014 season with a special devoted to Star Wars.

The January 4 episode (Discovery at 8pm ET/PT) features hosts and former ILM special-effects experts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, along with team members Grant Imahara, Tory Belleci, and Kari Byron as they verify the plausibility of several epic Star Wars stunts. Joined by R2-D2, Chewbacca, members of the 501st Legion and actress Sophia Bush, the two build teams will take on some of the favorite scenes, hoping to find out answers to questions posed by Star Wars fans for years:

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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.

EUbits: Shadow Games mini-excerpts, looking at recent SW comics, and a real Crystal Star?

While a lot of talk this week has been focusing on the changes coming in the Star Wars Blu-ray release, there’s also been some news and chatter in the world of the Expanded Universe:

Shadow Games: Del Rey has posted two mini-excerpts from Shadow Games on the Star Wars Books account on Facebook. The novel, by Michael Reaves and Maya Kaathryn Bohnhoff, comes out at the end of November.

Mini-excerpt #1 (from last week):

“Confidence,” Dash retorted, annoyed at being pulled out of his pleasant reverie. “The Outrider is twice the ship the Falcon is.” As far as he was concerned Solo’s boat was a scow compared with Dash’s heavily modified YT-2400.

Mini-excerpt #2:

“Then where am I supposed to come by these steely-eyed, laser-toting…characters?”

A smile curved Kendara Farlion’s lips and her teeth showed, white and even in her face. “I never thought I’d say this, but there are advantages to being from Mos Eisley. I know exactly where to look for that kind of character.”

Comics:

Favorite Scenes: Del Rey asked fans on Facebook to identify favorite scenes from the novels. A lot of deaths pop in: Anakin Solo, Ganner, Chewbacca (I guess fans have mellowed a bit on that) and Thrawn, as well as scenes from the X-Wing (both comedic and action scenes), Republic Commando, and Darth Bane series. Did not see any mentions of Waru or the Black Fleet Crisis, and that makes me sad.

Fact mirrors Star Wars fiction: Discovered: A real life “Crystal Star” (well, a crystallizing former star) – Formerly a white dwarf star, this planet is believed to be turning into one giant diamond. At 4,000 light-years away, it’ll take a while for this rock to be a girl’s best friend. Also, did not see any mentions of Waru, and that makes me sad again.