Entertainment & Gaming

The Downfall of Plasma?

The decline and fall of a technology empire (no, not Rome)

Rome was neither built nor disassembled in a day. While historians point to September 4, 476—the overthrow of the last empero—as the date it all fell apart, the fall really began decades earlier and continued for decades afterwards.

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Taking 10 Volts Straight to the Face

YouTube star plans to electrically copy expressions from one face to another

From the US PopSci team

Daito Manabe is many things—a coder, a composer, a DJ and an artist. He's also the star of one of the strangest science videos ever put on YouTube—the unpretentiously titled "electric stimulus to face -test3."

The video, which has been watched over 1.2 million times, references everything from early internet-based interactive art projects to the classic face-shocking experiments of Dr. Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne, whose 19th century photographs of electrically stimulated faces were later appropriated by Darwin to illustrate his book The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals.

Incredibly, "electric stimulus to face -test3" is merely a work in progress. Daito's ultimate plans are even stranger and more wonderful than his original YouTube hit. Read on to find out what they are...

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3-D Leagues Under the Sea

Documentarian Howard Hall's latest IMAX movie transports viewers underwater

Looking for something to do this Friday the 13th that has nothing to do with Jason Voorhees and Crystal Lake? Check out the latest IMAX film, Under the Sea in 3D and dive deep without getting wet. Attach the crazy looking glasses to your head (someday they'll figure out a way to ditch the specs) and be transported to off the coast of Australia, Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Great white sharks, garden eels and Australian sea lions seem to swim right off the screen, leaving the viewer wondering, how did they do that?

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Fun and Games

Self-deprecating adventures have a laugh at nostalgia’s expense

From the US PopSci team

Like skinny jeans and Wall Street panics, everything old is new again, especially if you're a gamer. Thank golden-age throwbacks (i.e. Street Fighter IV) and budget-priced anthologies (see: Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection), which continue to score well with misty-eyed Gen X-ers. In an unexpected comedic twist though, two refreshingly cheeky titles are suddenly making sport of treasured childhood memories. Nor can these interactive outings resist asking just how blinded joystick lovers really are by nostalgia's lenses.

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A Tear in Earth's Magnetic Field?

The Breakdown takes on The Core

From the US PopSci team

In keeping with our movie physics theme of the past few weeks, it seems appropriate to take a look at the trailer from the action "science" disaster film The Core. As with Armageddon and its deadly asteroid, The Core starts with an interesting premise -- the possible disappearance of the Earth's magnetic field.

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Game Industry Spent $823 Million Promoting Games In '08

Recession? Recession? Did anyone tell the gaming industry this?

The video game industry racked up impressive sales in 2008, pulling in more than $21 billion in sales in the United States alone. That makes for a similarly impressive marketing tab.

According to researchers at the Nielsen Company and its Monitor-Plus advertising monitoring service, the industry spent an astounding $823 million promoting its video game wares to consumers. Hey, you gotta spend money to make money, right? Surely we wouldn't complain.

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Who's Counting?

A gadget to perfect your at-home workouts

From the US PopSci team

What makes a perfect push-up? Depends on how many people are watching. But at least one company thinks they have the answer, and named their company accordingly. The Perfect Pushup has been selling its namesake device for several years: two rotating hand grips that allow a more biomechanically natural exercise. The only problem was that founder Alden Mills (a former US Navy SEAL) didn't count on people like us.

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Get Free Movies And TV Shows On BigPond

BigPond is about to give a little by offering free downloads each week

Everyone likes free stuff. That's probably why BigPond are giving away free movies and TV shows every week to download via their BigPond movies portal. There'll be new movies and episodes every week, starting with Hellboy and The Tudors season 1 episode 1.

Naturally, the downloads are DRM'd to the hilt, and will only work on Windows Media Player 11 (the same as all video downloads from BigPond). You'll need to sign up to BigPond Movies to access the films, and the offer ends on May 11. But there will be new movies and TV episodes every week, so it's not all bad.

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Make Your Own Game

Microsoft’s Kodu lets you create without coding

Developing PC and video games is a crapshoot at best. My own self-published Heavyweight Thunder took a year to build, cost a small fortune, and ultimately tanked with critics. But if Microsoft has its way, literally anyone, regardless of technical know-how, will soon have the opportunity to create jaw-dropping digital diversions.

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Top Super Bowl Ads

A highly scientific system yields the top five most popular ads; so why don't they jive with the others?

All right, we know the Super Bowl is over, but bear with us for one more article. Last week, we detailed the most scientific method there is to pick the best Super Bowl commercial, now we figure we owed you the results from this year’s testing.

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Madden Predicts the Winner

Electronic Arts's football technology is good for more than playing around

The company that claims "It's in the game" was certainly immersed in Super Bowl week. EA Sports was busy preparing teams, educating fans, and predicting the results better than the best bettors in Vegas.

In what's become a yearly tradition, the Madden '09 simulator predicted the Steelers would win Super Bowl XLIII. As seven-point favorites, it was hardly a stretch, but the predicted score was 28-24. Actual score? 27-23. Not bad for a video game. While Santonio Holmes walked away with the real MVP, many pundits could argue that quarterback Ben Roethlisburger, who received the simulated honor, deserved it just as much.

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Staying Cool in the Crunch

The art and science of anti-choking technology

What did last night's episode of The Office have in common with the Super Bowl, other than the latter preceding the former? Did anybody notice the little gadget that beeped when Michael Scott stepped close to Stanley?

After suffering a heart attack, Stanley decided to wear a "biofeedback machine" that provided an audible alert when his stress level was rising. When our favorite boss had his employees lying on a floor and envisioning "walking through a meadow," Stanley's stress would spike whenever his superior was near.

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A Greener Bowl

Four eco-friendly initiatives at the big game

On the surface, the only thing green about the Super Bowl is the 95,000 square feet of brand new turf (at a cost of US$85,000) they require to be brought into the host of the big game (okay, come to think of it, that's not very green at all). But, the NFL is doing what they can to give the appearance of being a neutral event in the decaying of our environment.

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Rubik 360 Will Probably Take That One Guy Another 26 Years to Solve

We still haven't figured out the regular rubik cube!

The Rubik's Cube folks figured out a way to make the simple puzzle even more maddening than before. For Graham Parker, the guy who took 26 years to solve the original, this is bad news.

The new puzzle, called Rubik 360, is set for an official unveiling at the German toy industry fair on February 5. Like the original, the premise is simple. It's the execution that's going to cause people to lose 26 years of their lives trying to solve it.

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Think You Can Land an A320 on the Hudson River?

A new online game lets you become the hero that saves the US Airways flight that crashed in the Hudson River in New York City

It was always going to happen. Seems now days that the second something dramatic or funny happens in the news an online game will appear just hours later. And just like clockwork, there is now an online game that relives the heroics of Captain Chesley Burnett "Sully" Sullenberger III.

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