Star Wars: Episode VII Rebuilding Tatooine Sets (Plus, Help Save The Originals)

STAR WARSIt seems like we’ve been writing about Star Wars: Episode VII forever now, and it feels even longer because there’s so little we know about it that’s actually been confirmed. Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher are all returning — probably. It’ll introduce their children as major characters — probably. It will involve use of the Force — probably. (Okay, that last one is more of a sure thing.) Well, you can add another detail to the probably pile, because scuttlebutt has it that the Episode VII production is recreating the iconic Tatooine sets in the desert.


DARPA Developing New Biotech Unit

darpa soldierSome government agencies struggle with budget constraints, while others reap the benefit of prioritization. DARPA clearly falls in the latter camp, having received a budget boost from the Pentagon. A hefty chunk of that money will go toward establishing a Biological Technologies Office for bolstering national security.

DARPA has previously dabbled in biotech, but the new office makes it a priority and will expand on the existing offices of Defense Sciences and Microsystems Technology. The mission of the Biotechnical Technologies Office (BTO) is to “foster, demonstrate, and transition breakthrough fundamental research, discoveries, and applications that integrate biology, engineering, and computer science for national security,” and includes “human-machine interfaces, microbes as production platforms, and deep exploration of the impact of evolving ecologies.” This opens up a host of different directions and technologies for DARPA to pursue.


Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes Stills Mount Up

Dawn of the Planet of the ApesWhat can’t those crazy apes do? If you look at these new high-resolution photos from director Matt Reeves’ Dawn of the Planet of the Apes there isn’t much that they’re not capable of. From handling shotguns to riding on horseback, these guys have evolved some serious skills.

Following the events of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, this sequel—though still a prequel to the actual Planet of the Apes—there is a full-on war going down between humans and apes, and it is not going all that well for our side. After a deadly epidemic has ripped through the human population, only a pitiful handful of survivors remain. Trying to make a home in what used to be San Francisco, they’re technically trespassing and in order to survive they will need to make a tenuous peace with the apes, lead by Caesar (Andy Serkis). Even if they do manage to reach an accord, just given the title of the movies, we know that it won’t last a particularly long time.


Defiance Gets A Season 2 Trailer And Linda Hamilton

I had high hopes for Syfy’s Defiance last year. It was nice to see the former Sci-Fi Network airing some actual sci-fi again. Plus, Farscape creator Rockne S. O’Bannon was on board as a writer and executive producer. Maybe it’s just because my expectations were set at “Farscape,” but when Defiance finally premiered, it was something of a let-down. It wasn’t bad, mind you, just…not great. But I have to admit, the new trailer for season two up top looks pretty great, and there’s one other compelling reason I’ll be giving the show a second chance this summer: Linda Hamilton.


Gloves That Turn Movement Into Music

gloveThere’s lots of cool wearable technology out there, but these gloves that convert hand movements into music are my favorites (so far). I’m a big fan of electronica, and have dabbled a little bit with music-making programs such as Ableton, through which one can run all kinds of external noise machines, such as keyboards and synthesizers. But I’m the first to admit that, unless there’s some accompanying visual spectacle, such as Amon Tobin’s projection mapping, electronica shows can be pretty lackluster. It’s not always super interesting to watch an artist on a laptop, fiddling with controls that lack the sight-to-sound structure of, say, watching a guitarist pluck away at the strings. But these music-making gloves allow artists to link physical movement with sound in a way I’ve never seen before.


Federal Bureau Of Physics Gets A Feature Adaptation From Jungle Book Writer

federal bureau of physicsI’m sure I don’t have to tell you guys how much ruins your day when a wormhole opens up in the middle of the city right when you’re trying to get some lunch. Such is the case for the civilians who live inside the world of FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics, the Vertigo Comics series from Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez. Scientific conundrums like this, and many more, are on their way to the big screen. Warner Bros. has tapped screenwriter Justin Marks, who penned the script for Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book, to take over writing duties for an FBP feature.