Movies NONE

Star Wars Episode VIII has been delayed

It was bad news for Star Wars fans recently, as they learned the next film in the series has been delayed by more than half a year.

But there are a few reasons to believe this is actually a good thing, according to a Forbes report.

After the incredible showing of Star Wars Episode VII in the box office this December, Disney has decided to bump Episode VIII from May to December 15, 2017. Episode VII was also supposed to be released in the summer before it was moved to December, and Disney has decided based on the returns of the first film. December might be the best tiem for the next one.

There are a few reasons why this might be a good thing, Forbes writes. For one thing, more time gives writer and director Rian Johnson time to tweak the script and getting better shots. It’s a main reason why J.J. Abrams pushed Disney to move the film back. The director will have more time to adjust to the reaction of the first film, which tells him what characters were fan favorites and may need more screen time.

Another reason to bump Episode VIII is because Disney has another big movie upcoming that it probably doesn’t want competing with Star Wars: Guardians of the Galaxy volume 2. The movie would have opened just a few weeks before Star Wars, not giving it much time before inevitably being swamped by Star Wars. Instead, Pirates of the Caribbean will take Star Wars’ place in May 2017.

And finally, December just feels like a better time for episodic movies like Star Wars, while the summers can be for the more stand-alone Star Wars movies that are approaching release.

Music NONE

Adele wows fans in televised Radio City concert

Adele was at Radio City Music Hall in New York on Nov. 17, and fans were able to watch it in all its glory Sunday night.

The show came three days before her album 25 dropped, an album that shattered records and has sold more than 5 million copies already, according to an <a href=””>MTV report</a>.

It was the first time Adele was back on stage since performing “Skyfall” at the Oscars in 2013.

And things got emotional at several points in the performance. She opened with “Hello. It’s me,” a teaser of what was to come in her show.

Then she honored the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris with the song “Hometown Glory” as images of Paris were shown. A total of 130 people died during the attack, which happened just four days before this concert.

But there were more moments to come. While singing “Chasing Pavements,” an entire string section suddenly showed up to accompany her, and they were also featured in a variety of other songs throughout the night.

She also showed off her singing chops by hitting the high note in “When We Were Young,” showing why she’s one of the most successful pop stars in the world.

NONE Science

Pollinator Week reminds people to bee grateful to insects

We all remember 2007’s Bee Movie, right? As weird as that movie was, it had an important lesson behind it; insects, specifically bees, are important to our environment and food chain because they are chief pollinators.

And we’re lost without pollinators. That’s why we take a week to celebrate them.

According to Ag Professional, this year scientists are focusing on bee stresses. It is no new news that the population of bees around the world have been on a downward spiral in the last ten years or so. This trend cannot continue; bees are just too important.

And while corn does not need pollinators like bees, the National Corn Growers Association (NCGA), along with 40 other organizations that make up the Honey Bee Health Coalition, see the importance of these magnificent insects and are doing all they can to help bees succeed.

“We are committed to improving the health and viability of pollinators as part of our overall sustainability efforts,” said NCGA president Chip Bowling. “We are also engaged to assure steps being taken to help pollinators are well researched and based on science.”

And while there are other pollinators out there, butterflies, moths, beetles, we would be lost without the bee. NH Voice notes that bees are primary pollinators, meaning they seek out pollen, whereas for most insects and animals it happens unintentionally.

It is why many are hoping a new project, titled Bee City USA, a commitment to push for awareness and safe practice to ensure the survival and rehabilitation of bees across America.

“The Bee City USA approved pollinator garden program encourages homeowners, businesses, schools, organizations, farmers and gardeners to create pollinator habitats that support pollinator populations,” wrote a local reporter for the Ashland Daily Tidings.


A Monopoly musical? It could be hitting Broadway stages sooner than you think

Movie adaptations of board games haven’t always fared so well in the past. We all remember Battleship, and while 1985’s Clue has built a small underground following today the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes state it’s nothing to write home about.

So Hasbro has decided to take their games in a different direction. Instead of the silver screen, they’re hitting the open stage.

According to, Monopoly is the latest Hasbro game to get its own star treatment in the form of a Broadway musical. Titled Monopoly: The Musical, all that’s known about it is that it will involve audience interaction. Everything else has been kept under wraps.

Everything except for the excitement.

“We are excited to work with The Araca Group to bring Monopoly to life on Broadway and across the country,” said Simon Waters, a General Manager and and Senior Vice President at Hasbro. “Monopoly is one of the most iconic gaming brands of all time. Hasbro is dedicated to delivering new and exciting ways for consumers to interact with all of our brands, and this stage adaptation will do just that; offering fans a unique and immersive experience for people of all ages.”

Surprisingly, Monopoly getting star treatment isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. With humble beginnings in 1903 and a start-up during the Great Depression, The Independent noted that Monopoly is currently sold in 103 countries around the world in 37 languages, making it the best selling board game of all time.

And this isn’t the game’s first attempt at Hollywood stardom either. Universal Pictures were developing a Monopoly-based movie before dropping out in 2012. And while it’s a small victory, there was a fun Monopoly game show in the 1990s on ABC-TV.

Plus, with a big company like Araca behind it, who co-produced Wicked, the idea may stand a chance. Araca Group CEO Matthew Rego sees potential in the humble board game, and cannot wait to work with such a classic family game.

“We are thrilled to work with Hasbro and extraordinarily talented creative minds to develop a stage adaptation of Monopoly,” said Rego. “Araca has always been committed to bringing material to the stage that thrills audiences’ imaginations, touches their hearts and ignites fits of laughter. Being given the opportunity to do so with iconic Hasbro brands such as Monopoly was almost too good to be true.”


Unusually high number of hot Jupiters found in star cluster

Scientists have located an unexpected number of “hot Jupiter” exoplanets in the star cluster known as Messier 67.

Tech Times explains that so-called hot Jupiters are large planets that orbit their stars at a very close distance.  While Jupiter itself takes twelve Earth years to orbit the sun, hot Jupiters are in such tight orbits that they take fewer than ten Earth days to complete one orbit around their host stars.

Scientists believe that these super-hot exoplanets form at a greater distance from their stars and then spiral closer into their short orbit distances.  Until the recent discovery of a number of hot Jupiters in Messier 67, it was thought that the gas giants would not be able to form in a dense open star cluster.

Using data from an assortment of telescopes and instruments, primarily the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) High Accuracy Radial velocity Planet Searcher (HARPS) spectrograph, researchers were able to determine that hot Jupiters appeared more often around stars in the Messier 67 cluster than near stars outside of clusters.

“No hot Jupiters at all had been detected in open clusters until a few years ago,” Luca Pasquini of the ESO said.  “In three years the paradigm has shifted from a total absence of such planets – to an excess!”

“This is really a striking result,” Anna Brucalassi of the Max Planck Institute said in a statement. “The new results mean that there are hot Jupiters around some 5% of the Messier 67 stars studied — far more than in comparable studies of stars not in clusters, where the rate is more like 1%.”

The team suspects that the densely packed stars in the cluster may have pushed the giant planets closer together.

“We want to use an open star cluster as a laboratory to explore the properties of exoplanets and theories of planet formation,” Roberto Saglia of the Max Planck Institute said. “Here we have not only many stars possibly hosting planets, but also a dense environment, in which they must have formed.”

The study was published the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.


Sleepy? Reaching for coffee or soda might not do the trick

The first thing many adults do after getting up is reach for a cup of coffee. Many swear to its ability to provide a jump-start to the day that, if they didn’t have it, they would be lost without. But for those not getting enough sleep, coffee might not be enough.

According to Nature World News, those who suffer from insomnia or do not otherwise get a good night’s sleep each night should stay away from caffeinated beverages, as they won’t give you the energy you desire. Three nights in a row of inadequate sleep seems to be the limit to what some would call the magical restorative powers of a hot cup of coffee.

“These results are important because caffeine is a stimulant widely used to counteract performance decline following periods of restricted sleep,” said Tracy Jill Doty, lead author of the study done by the American Academy of Sleep and Medicine.

Science World Report reported that the experiment consisted of 48 people who got only five hours of sleep for a total of five nights. Of those 48 people, half were given 200mg of caffeine each day while the other half were given a placebo. They were then tested on mood, sleepiness, wakefulness, and reaction time, along with spontaneous cognitive tests throughout their day.

In the first two days the group with the 200mg of caffeine had faster reaction times and better results, but by day 3 the caffeine had little to no effect.

“The data from this study suggests that the same effective daily dose of caffeine is not sufficient to prevent performance decline over multiple days of restricted sleep,”said Doty. “This is particularly important information for the military, where war fighters may have restricted sleep and may also be using caffeine.”

NONE Science

Baltimore’s National Aquarium to release dolphins into refuge

With the release of the documentary Blackfish in 2013, there has been intense debate on whether killer whales should be kept in aquariums. Recently dolphins have wriggled their way into this debate with the help of the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

According to WSAV-TV, the National Aquarium is relocated eight of their dolphins to a refuge in either the Florida Keys or the Caribbeans, with plans to release all of their remaining dolphins to the refuge by 2020 if all goes according to plan. This move is the first to be made involving the release of aquatic mammals instead of alternative methods such as the constriction of larger enclosures.

“There’s no model anywhere, that we’re aware of, for this,” said John Racanelli, the current CEO of the National Aquarium. “We’re pioneering here, and we know it’s neither the easiest nor the cheapest option.”

They will have to tread carefully though, as rehabilitation into a more open environment can come with its risks. Keiko, the whale from the 1993 family movie Free Willy and two dolphins in 1996 didn’t have success when it came to being set free in what critics are calling “glorified sea pens.”

Luckily, the National Aquarium is taking their time with the location.

“[The location] will have full-time staff, excellent water quality in a temperate climate, isolation pools for medical care or temporary refuge from harmful conditions and barriers to stop breeding among the dolphins or mingling with wild dolphins,” assured Racanelli.

Even though the move will not happen for another four years, it has caused some mixed feelings, though none quite sum up the bittersweet feeling like 10-year-old Ella Ransome’s.

“I think they should be free,” said Ransome to the Sun Herald. “But I’m sad that they’re leaving. I’ll miss them.”


Scientists detect most distant oxygen in ancient galaxy

Astronomers have spotted the furthest known evidence of oxygen in the universe.

According to EurekAlert, an international team of scientists used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) to make the observation.  The oxygen was found in a galaxy called SXDF-NB1006-2, which is one of the most distant known galaxies.  It’s a great distance means that scientists are collecting data on the galaxy as it was only 700 million years after the Big Bang.

The researchers set out to look into the presence of heavy chemical elements that reveal the level of star formation in the galaxy.  Study of such an old galaxy yields insight into the state of the universe during the period known as cosmic reionization.

“Seeking heavy elements in the early universe is an essential approach to explore the star formation activity in that period,” lead author Akio Inoue of Osaka Sangyo University said. “Studying heavy elements also gives us a hint to understand how the galaxies were formed and what caused the cosmic reionization,” he added.

The reionization occurred when the first space objects began to shine, ionizing the previously neutral gas filling the universe.  Exactly what sort of objects kick started the reionization is a mystery, and studies of extremely distant galaxies may offer some clues.

The discovery of ionized oxygen in SXDF-NB1006-2 makes the case that oxygen existed in the universe within 700 million years of its birth.  The amount of oxygen, however, is lower in the distant galaxy than in our own sun.

“The small abundance is expected because the universe was still young and had a short history of star formation at that time,” Naoki Yoshida of the University of Tokyo said. “Our simulation actually predicted an abundance ten times smaller than the Sun. But we have another, unexpected, result: a very small amount of dust.”

The ionized oxygen indicates that many gigantic, bright stars populated the galaxy.  The relative lack of dust allows for the stars’ ultraviolet light to escape and ionize large amounts of gas well beyond the galaxy’s borders.

“Something unusual may be happening in this galaxy,” said Inoue. “I suspect that almost all the gas is highly ionized.”

“This is an important step towards understanding what kind of objects caused cosmic reionization,” Yoichi Tamura of the University of Tokyo said. “Our next observations with ALMA have already started. Higher resolution observations will allow us to see the distribution and motion of ionized oxygen in the galaxy and provide vital information to help us understand the properties of the galaxy.”

The study will appear in the journal Science.


Gravitational waves detected from a second source

Scientists have detected another round of gravitational waves, this time from a new source.

The first-ever detection of gravitational waves, described as ripples in space-time, occurred late last year.  According to NPR, the newly detected waves seem to have originated at the site of another black hole merger, and were detected with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).

“It looks like there are going to be more of these black holes out there than we imagined,” David Reitze of LIGO said.

Gravitational waves were first predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago.  His theory held that gravity distorts the fabric of space and time, and that a highly energetic event involving bodies of high mass, such as black holes colliding, would send out ripples through the universe.

There are two LIGO detectors, both located in the United States.  LIGO measures miniscule changes in the lengths of 2.5-mile-long detectors, which are fitted with lasers and mirrors to make precision measurements of subatomic lengths.

The most recently detected gravitational wave signal originated 1.4 billion light-years from Earth.  The black holes involved in the collision seem to have been about eight and fourteen times the mass of the sun, combining into a massive single black hole about 21 times the sun’s mass.  One solar mass was converted into gravitational waves that traveled all the way to LIGO.

“This is like Galileo turning his telescope to the sky 400 years ago,” Reitze said. “We’re now looking at the universe in an entirely new way, and we’re going to learn new things that we can’t learn any other way.”

The study has been accepted for publication in the journal Physical Review Letters.


Deep space molecule may help explain origins of life

Simple molecules existing around the galactic center show off a spectrum of light that makes them possible clues in the mystery of how life developed on Earth.

The Washington Post explains that molecules found on Earth can be chiral, which means they are right- or left-handed.  Whether such molecules are oriented in a right- or left-handed way deeply impacts their function.  Almost all life forms rely on left-handed molecules, but scientists are unsure as to why or how the trend got started.

“You could just as easily imagine us building things out of right-handed molecules,” Brandon Carroll of the California Institute of Technology said. “So asking how and why we settled on what we did is one of the biggest unanswered questions in biology.”

The advantage to skewing in one direction or another with chiral molecules is that more complex forms can be produced when every molecule of one type is facing the same way.  DNA, for example, owes its shape to coordinated chiral molecules.

A team of researchers have now found the first example of a chiral molecule residing in deep space. The team used data from the Green Bank Telescope Prebiotic Interstellar Molecular Survey (PRIMOS) to observe evidence of the chiral molecule propylene oxide (CH3CHOCH2) in a huge star-forming cloud called Sagittarius B2.

The molecules were detected by observation of which wavelengths of radio light were reflected or absorbed.  Each type of molecule has a distinct set of frequencies, and the radio light detected in the cosmic cloud could only have been produced by propylene oxide.

Future study will hopefully determine whether the propylene oxide in Sagittarius B2 is mostly right- or left-handed.  Finding a bias towards left-handed molecules would make an intriguing case for Earth’s life originating from molecules of interstellar gas and dust.

“One plausible theory is that a small excess of left-handed molecules was produced in interstellar space before our solar system was formed, and biochemical processes on the young Earth amplified that initial interstellar excess,” Ben McCall of the University of Illinois said.  “This theory can only be tested by observing chiral molecules in space, and this work sets the stage for such tests.”

Understanding more about the handedness of different types of chiral molecules in the universe could reveal how unique Earth may or may not be when it comes to the development of life.

“Ideally, we should strive to detect other chiral species, especially those of interest in biology or found in meteorites,” Stefanie Milam of NASA said.  “This is a very exciting discovery for astrobiology.”

The study was accepted for publication in the journal Science.