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The Day The Earth Stood Still: Three Things You Might Not Know About The SF Classic

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DayStillFeatWhen The Day the Earth Stood Still hit theaters in 1951, it brought to the screen the qualities that made the genre so fascinating and durable on the page. Sure, there was a flying saucer, and a robot, and a space man from another world…but this wasn’t a cheesy invasion from beyond the stars. It was a grim reminder that mankind had finally harnessed the power needed to destroy itself utterly, and a warning that our species would not be allowed to transport its violence beyond our homeworld…even if that meant our cosmic neighbors had to wipe us out first. Like the best science fiction, The Day the Earth Stood Still used the trappings of the fantastic and the futuristic to examine very real problems and questions.

The Day the Earth Stood Still opened on this day in 1951. To celebrate the iconic adventures of Gort and Klaatu, we decided to highlight a few bits of trivia you might not know about director Robert Wise’s sci-fi classic. (And let’s just all put the Keanu Reeves version out of our minds…)

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Scientists Reveal Their Favorite Works Of Science Fiction

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Here at GFR we cover anything that fits under the umbrella of our twin loves: science and science fiction. And just as the bleeding edge of our scientific understanding is forever pushing the boundaries of our science fiction, SF is itself inspiring fans to take transform their love of starships, robots, and the like into careers in real scientific fields. So what are some of the science fiction movies, shows, and books that real-life scientists love best? The Huffington Post recently asked a handful of scientists precisely that.

PermutationCityDr. Max Tegmark is a cosmologist and physics professor at MIT, and the scientific director of the Foundational Questions Institute, which provides grants to “catalyze, support, and disseminate research on questions at the foundations of physics and cosmology.” Tegmark cites Greg Egan’s 1994 science fiction novel Permutation City as his favorite, explaining that Egan’s “explorations of the ultimate nature of reality blew my mind and inspired my own research.”

Dr. Sean Carroll is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology, and the author of books including The Particle at the End of the Universe and From Eternity to Here. He lists another semi-obscure work you might want to add to your Kindle: Robert L. Forward’s Dragon’s Egg. Carroll says, “It’s a story about life on the surface of a neutron star, which would ordinarily be considered completely outlandish. A good reminder that ‘life’ might take on very different forms than we ordinarily imagine. Here’s the Dragon’s Egg synopsis from Amazon:

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Seven Things To Watch Instead Of Transformers: Age Of Extinction

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AgeFrankly, there’s probably not a lot we can say to sway you when it comes to seeing or not seeing Transformers: Age of Extinction this weekend. You should already know whether or not you’re a fan of Michael Bay’s particular brand of Kool-Aid — and now that I think about it, a grinning mug full of sugar-water bursting illogically through a brick wall is a fairly concise metaphor for Bay’s Transformers franchise in the first place. They should just go ahead and slap “Oh yeah!” on all of the posters. But assuming Age of Extinction is not on your to-do list, and assuming Snowpiercer isn’t playing anywhere near you, we’ve got seven superior alternatives to pouring Bay’s digital excess into your eye holes.

Since the Transformers movies are based on a cartoon and thus, at least theoretically, they should be suitable for all ages, we’re including a variety of different choices here, all of them involving robots in one way or another. And to hear GFR’s Nick tell it, you could marathon all of these in a row and it’d still seem shorter than sitting through Age of Extinction. Hit the jump for all our picks!

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Neil DeGrasse Tyson Counts Down His Top Ten Sci-Fi Movies

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Live Long & ProsperNeil deGrasse Tyson is the closest thing modern science has to a rock star. To call him this generation’s Carl Sagan isn’t too far off. The Harvard-trained astrophysicist has a unique ability to take complex theoretical concepts and make them accessible to a wide audience, and be totally engaging at the same time. Hell, he even helped reboot Sagan’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, which wraps up its 13-episode run this Sunday on various Fox channels.

Over the years, Tyson has also taken it upon himself to chime in on various movies that may not be using science in the proper way, or that have blatantly ignored the laws of physics. He absolutely eviscerated that scene J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek Into Darkness where the Enterprise hides underwater. So you have to assume that, given his penchant for pointing out scientific flaws in movies, he must watch a fair amount of them. Hero Complex took it upon themselves to get in touch with him and inquire about his tastes in the genre. What follows are Neil deGrasse Tyson’s top ten favorite sci-fi movies, in chronological order, with one honorable mention. You may find some of them surprising.

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Cross The Streams With Spaceballs, Future Folk, And The Day The Earth Stood Still

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Just when it looked like Netflix was taking a hit by dumping a ton of classic movies from their library, they came right back and added an embarrassment of riches. That’s the kind of thing that helps put bread on the Cross the Streams table. Now if only we could get some legs for it. While we’re busy eating off the floor, check out the latest in streaming sci-fi. You don’t even have to use the Schwartz.

spaceballsSpaceballs (Netflix Instant and Hulu Plus))
Check the radar, because it looks like one of the most quotable movies in existence is available to watch tonight, tomorrow night, and for the rest of time, hopefully. Science fiction spoofs isn’t exactly a genre that gets a lot of attention, and Spaceballs is the granddaddy of them all, directed by a Mel Brooks at the height of his powers, before the disappointing Life Stinks. Is there anything about this movie that I can tell you guys that you don’t already know? Probably not, but don’t call me chicken, mog.

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More Human Than Human: Our Picks For The Best Synthetic Partners To Watch Our Backs

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J.J. Abrams and former Fringe exec producer J.H. Wyman hit it out of the part with this week’s two-part Almost Human premiere, launching a show that already looked to have serious potential all the way to the top of our must-see-TV list. Karl Urban and Michael Ealy make a great pair as John Kennex and Dorian, a haunted cop distrustful of synthetics and his atypical android partner, respectively. Hopefully the show will beat the odds like Fringe did and settle in for a long and fruitful run.

But in the meantime, we got to thinking about what we would do if we were in Kennex’s position. If we had to pick an android partner, who would we want watching our back as we were out there protecting the world from dangerous cutting-edge tech and ruthless criminals? Here are our top picks.

CameronCameron (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles)
Sure, the Terminator series provides several options when it comes to pairing up with a capable and combat-ready synthetic partner, but our vote has to go to Summer Glau’s Cameron from Fox’s short-lived Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. And not just because she looks like Summer Glau. Robert Patrick’s T-1000 has the versatility of that whole liquid metal thing, but frankly even if the IT department assured us he had been reprogrammed, we’d never feel comfortable turning our back on the thing. Arnold’s T-800 model proved that it could be just as good a protector as a killer, but he sort of stands out in a crowd. I mean, so does Summer Glau, but in a very different way. Arnold Schwarzenegger is many things, but “subtle” is not among them. Part of the advantage of having an android partner is the element of surprise, and if you were to ask a random person to describe what a murderous cyborg might look like, you’re likely to end up with a sketch of T2-era Arnold Schwarzenegger. On the other hand, the bad guys would never see it coming when Cameron lifted them over her head and tossed them out a window.

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