Wednesday, December 28, 2011

OMG Facts and Other Stuff

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OMG Facts and Other Stuff

Most laugh tracks for TV were recorded in the 1950s, which means most of the people you hear laughing are dead!

In the early days of TV, comedies were shot in front of live studio audiences and were performed as short plays. I the 1950s that began to change and closed sets were used. This gave the director the ability for multiple takes and different shots and angles.
However, it inhibited the instant feedback of the live audience. TV executives feared that without the prompting of audience laughter, the home viewer would cease to react, as well. Thus, the laugh track or canned laughter was created to prompt the viewers at home.
With time, as we all know, the uproarious laughter was greatly abused. In the 1970s, the studio audience came back with the multi-camera format. The real laughter and reactions helped writers make better jokes and sitcoms became more popular.
Although annoying, at its height, the laugh track was quite sophisticated. It was a special blend and mix of all types of laughter to create the illusion of a real audience.

There is little precipitation in Antarctica since it is a polar region. It has neither lakes nor rivers and is actually the driest continent.
It is known as the world’s driest desert, because in its interior region the extreme cold freezes the water vapor out of the air.
Annual snowfall is equal to less than 5 centimeters of rain. Antarctica is also the only place in the world not claimed or owned by any country.                                     

The ability to roll your tongue 

is inherited genetically.

The percentage of the human population that has this skill ranges from 65 to 81 percent. A slightly higher percentage of females can do this than males. 
The ability to roll one's tongue is a genetic trait that historically has been used to demonstrate the concepts of dominant and recessive traits in classrooms. However, the dominant nature of the "tongue-rolling gene" has been disproved, and is no longer an acceptable example to teach genetics in the classroom. 
Via OMG Facts

A grizzly bear can smell a corpse from 18 miles away.

This is an important skill for the grizzly bear. To maintain their massive size (500 to 1700 pounds) they need to consume a lot of calories every day. Grizzlies spend nearly the entire day foraging for food. They enjoy eating salmon, but they also feast upon dead animals (carrion). With that in mind, it might not be a good idea to pretend to be dead around a grizzly bear after all. You can read more about that here
Grizzlies have good vision, particularly night-vision, since they are usually nocturnal animals, and are most active at around sunrise and sunset. Still, their sense of smell is their strongest sense by far.
Via OMG Facts

Though many find it romantic, the song “Every Breath You Take” 

by the Police was not intended 

to be a sentimental love ballad!

The song was actually written by Sting during a tumultuous divorce from his first wife, Frances Tomelty. Yes, the song is about love, but it’s quite a bit more sinister and ugly than most people realize.
Sting himself explains, “I woke up in the middle of the night with that line in my head, sat down at the piano and had written it in half an hour. The tune itself is generic, an aggregate of hundreds of others, but the words are interesting. It sounds like a comforting love song. I didn't realize at the time how sinister it is. I think I was thinking of Big Brother, surveillance and control.” 
Since he wrote the tune during the collapse of his marriage, many speculate the song functioned as a vehicle by which to express feelings of jealousy and obsession over his lost lover, though the band has subsequently denied these rumors.
Via OMG Facts

Canadian-developed HIV Vaccine Approved 

for Human Studies 

Published On Tue Dec 20 2011
By Megan Ogilvie Health Reporter
Previous studies have shown the vaccine triggers a strong immune response and has yet to show any adverse effects or safety risks. 
Previous studies have shown the vaccine triggers a strong immune response 
and has yet to show any adverse effects or safety risks. 
After two decades of research, a group of Canadian scientists has won approval to start testing an experimental HIV vaccine on humans.
The vaccine, developed by researchers at the University of Western Ontario, has received a green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for clinical human trials. Beginning in January, the vaccine will be given to 40 healthy people with HIV to test its safety.
Dr. Chil-Yong Kang, professor of virology at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario, called the FDA approval a “milestone.”
We started the basic science research two decades ago,” Kang said. “The vaccine development, we started 10 years ago. This is incredible for us to get to this stage of development.”
Kang said the vaccine, called SAV001, is the first preventative HIV vaccine approved for clinical trials to use a killed whole HIV-1 virus to activate the immune response in humans.
The strategy has been used before to develop successful vaccines for influenza, polio, rabies and hepatitis A. Kang said these past successes for other viral diseases provide hope the Canadian-developed vaccine will work against HIV.
The human immunodeficiency virus used in the vaccine has been genetically altered to render it non-pathogenic, or unable to cause disease. Kang and his research team then further inactivated the virus using chemicals and radiation.
In the past, people did not use this strategy (using a killed whole HIV virus) because people did not know how to make a safer virus and people did not know how to make large quantities of it,” Kang said. “Now we have solved those problems by the genetic engineering of the virus.”
According to the International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, there are 30 HIV vaccines currently being tested in phase 1 clinical trials around the world.
Many of these vaccines have largely focused on using one specific component of the human immunodeficiency virus to trigger an immune response. Other vaccines have used other viral vectors to create a vaccine. Right now, there is no effective HIV vaccine.
Dr. Jonathan Angel, president of the Canadian Association for HIV Research, whose research is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, said it is exciting that a Canadian scientist’s work has progressed from the basic research level to a vaccine approved for human clinical trials, meeting the rigorous criteria of the FDA.
But he also cautioned that developing an effective HIV vaccine remains a daunting task because HIV is a complex virus that scientists do not yet completely understand.
Should the SAV001 be proven safe, the vaccine will enter the second phase of clinical trials, in which it will be tested on 600 HIV-negative volunteers at high risk for HIV infection. Researchers will measure the volunteers’ immune response to the vaccine.
The third and final phase would enroll 6,000 HIV-negative volunteers at high risk for the disease. The participants, half of whom would be vaccinated and half un-vaccinated, would be tracked for three years to see how many in each group became infected with HIV.
Kang and his team received funding from Sumagen Canada, a company created in 2008 to support the development of the vaccine and a subsidiary of a Korean-based pharmaceutical venture company.

The all-star team of Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson give a near-30-minute interview on the making of their new motion-capture film, 

‘The Adventures of TinTin.’

The Adventures of TinTin finally hits theaters this week, and if early reviews are any indication, director Steven Spielberg and producer Peter Jackson have a hit on their hands (which should be no surprise considering their respective track records).
TinTin follows the exploits of Belgian comic hero TinTin, his dog Snowy, and the irascible Captain Haddock as they face down danger in the hunt for a sunken treasure. The movie, which is 30 years in the making, was filmed entirely with motion-capture technology and looks to combine both Spielberg and Jackson’s talents into a fun, Indiana Jones-style adventure.
Recently, The Hollywood Reporter had the fantastic opportunity to sit down and talk with both Spielberg and Jackson about The Adventures of TinTin. During their nearly 30 minute chat, the filmmakers discussed everything from their love of the original TinTin comics, their collaborative process, to the highly technical details of working with motion-capture technology.

Check out the interview below:

Sitting down for an extended chat with Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson would be a dream come true for any serious film fan, and it’s easy to see why. In the interview, both directors offer illuminating insights into the multi-year process of bringing the famous European comic character to life.
Of particular interest were Steven Spielberg’s comments regarding the actual process of shooting with a similar rig to the kind used by James Cameron on Avatar. While some have been critical of how TinTin‘s motion-capture looks, it’s interesting to hear Spielberg discuss how much more footage he could film in a given day with the technology.
It’s obvious why directors like Cameron and Spielberg have spoken highly of motion-capture technology. The ability to effectively see the movie in realtime is a huge creative breakthrough. Motion-capture performances may not be respected by the mainstream yet (though Fox hopes to change that with an Oscar nomination for Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes), but clearly mo-cap as a medium is here to stay.

A Very Zombie Holiday 

The lovely ladies from Team Unicorn are here to help you survive the zombie apocalypse this holiday season.

I don’t know about you, but these all seem like really solid rules to follow.
Via Geeks Are Sexy

Confused about the ending of ‘Inception’? Here’s an explanation of what really happened in the film.

Leonardo DiCaprio in Inception (explanation)
Many people walked away from Inception impressed. Some were confused, some were even feeling like they had their brains woken by the most exciting and thought-provoking movie experience to come along all year.
I realize that most people who saw Inception have already made up their minds about what they perceived the film to be (and Nolan will undoubtedly be proud of that). However, for those of you still looking for an Inception explanation, we like to offer a few thoughts.
We’ve organized things by category for you, in case you’re more interested in one facet of the film than another. If you want to read about specific points you can follow the links below:
The Rules of the Dream World, The characters and their functions, Inception Ending Explained

The Rules

So, the first thing to talk about are the rules of the dream world Nolan created for the film. With all the action that happened onscreen, it was easy to forget some of the finer details – but once the lights came up, and people had time to think, I know the question of who was dreaming which dreams certainly came up (among others questions as well).
Remember the basic premise: Cobb (the extractor) and his team are con artists, and like any con artists their job is to construct a false reality and manipulate it in order to confuse and/or fool a mark (in this case industrialist Robert Fischer, played by Cillian Murphy). Nolan takes the classic concept of a con man a step further by making Cobb and his team dream thieves, but in the end, the basic concept is still your classic con/heist movie.

Dream Levels and Dream Time

Nolan throws a lot of fancy math at you but it’s all really inconsequential. All you need to really know are the basic concepts:
The dream within a dream process puts you into a deeper state of dreaming. The deeper you go, the further removed your mind is from reality. We all know what that’s like: the deeper you sleep, the harder it is to be woken up and the more vivid and real-feeling a dream becomes. If you’re in a deep enough sleep, not even the usual physical ques to wake up effect you, such as the sensation of falling (“the kick”) or even, say, having to go to the bathroom.
By the time you reach the Limbo state it can be so difficult to wake, and the dream can feel so vividly real, that the mind stops trying to wake at all – the mind accepts the dream as its reality, like slipping into a coma.
When you wake up in Limbo you don’t remember that there is such a thing as a “real world” – as in any dream, you wake up in the middle of a scene and simply accept it for what it is. Breaking yourself out of this cycle is extremely difficult, which is why Cobb and his wife Mal were trapped in Limbo for what seemed like decades.
Time is the other factor. The deeper you go into a dream state, the faster your mind is able to imagine and perceive things within that dream state. We’re told the increase is exponential, so going deeper into dreams turns minutes into hours, into days, into years. This is why Cobb and his team are able to pull off the Fischer job while the van is still falling through the air, before the soldiers break into the snow fortress, before Arthur rigs the elevator, and all within the span of a flight from Sydney Australia to LA.
In Limbo, the mind works so fast that actual minutes can be interpreted as years gone by. When Saito “dies” from the gunshot wound he received on level 1 of the dream, his mind falls into Limbo, and Saito remains there for the minutes it takes Cobb and Ariadne (Ellen Page) to follow him into Limbo – those minutes in one dream state feel like decades to Saito in his Limbo state. By the time Cobb deals with expelling Mal’s “shadow” from his subconscious, Saito has begun to perceive himself as an old man.
Mal’s shadow stabs Cobb during the film’s climax, which throws Cobb back out into Limbo and onto the shores of Saito’s limbo house. When Cobb has to “wake” again in Limbo, his mind is muddled just like old man Saito’s brain. Through Saito’s memory of Cobb’s totem and some shared dialogue that included key trigger phrases – “Leap of faith,” “Old man full of regret, waiting to die alone,” etc. – Cobb and Saito are able to remember the meaningful conversations they had and that there is a reality they existed in before Limbo, where both of them had deep desires still waiting to be fulfilled (Cobb and his kids, Saito and his business). Once they remember that limbo is limbo, they are able to wake themselves up (likely with a gunshot to the head).
Text & Images via Screen Rant 

La Dolce Vita

This is one film I have never 

been able to figure out... 

Even after someone has explained it to me.

Detail of an iconic still from the film, showing Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in Trevi Fountain in Rome.

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