Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

Here are today's must-reads!

Flaming dinosaur by Greg Broadmore!

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011SModel spacecraft demonstrates the real-world principles behind a tractor beam
Joseph Shoer of Cornell University has built a levitating model spacecraft to demonstrate how a tractor beam could potentially work in real life. In the video, Shoer uses a "ludicrous" neodymium magnet to manipulate his non-ferromagnetic model which floats on air.

Hear the haunting conch shells that helped rule the Andes long before the Incas

Three thousand years ago, a civilization ruled the Andes Mountains of South America. Not much is known about this pre-Incan civilization, but we do know beautifully decorated conch shells were played like musical instruments and used as parts of religious ceremonies. Now archaeologists and acousticians have teamed up to figure out what the shells sounded like and what purpose they served.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011STransformers return to TV this Friday with new animated series
Transformers: Prime is the latest computer-animated incarnation of the long-running franchise, executive produced by the writers of the Transformers movies and reuniting the original voices of Optimus Prime and Megatron. After the show's initial five-part miniseries last year, Transformers Prime returns this Friday with the rest of its 26 episode season. We recently got a chance to see Friday's episode as well as hear from executive producers Roberto Orci and Jeff Kline on what lies ahead for the show.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011SFirst reviews of Simon Pegg's Paul: Great, but it's no Shaun of the Dead

Paul is probably the most anticipated science fiction comedy of the year. Two road-tripping nerds, played by Shaun of the Dead's Simon Pegg and Nick Frost, meet an alien "gray" named Paul, who turns their world upside-down. It's our favorite comedy duo going to Comic Con and traveling with an alien! The film has had its premiere in the U.K., and the first reviews have been trickling out online. How does the film stack up?

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011How does the Chinese remake of What Women Want stack up to the original?
What Women Want was sort of a weird romantic comedy to begin with — Mel Gibson gains the ability to "hear" women's thoughts, and his mental voyeurism somehow becomes romantic. But how does this story do when it's remade for Chinese audiences a decade later? We watched the Chinese remake, starring Andy Lau and Gong Li, and here's what we thought of it.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011Without language, numbers make no sense
People need language to fully understand numbers. This discovery – long suspected, and now backed by strong evidence – may shed light on the way children acquire their number sense.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011An early obituary for Smallville, the show that just wouldn't die

Smallville is a show of beguiling contradictions. It's about Clark Kent, but no one refers to him as "Superman." It's steeped in DC comics arcana, but began its existence as a WB teen drama. It's been on the air longer than Seinfeld, but almost no one owns up to watching it. Let's delve into those wacky idiosyncrasies of this once unkillable superhero drama, whose series finale air date was announced today.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011Every Amazing Detail from 5 Superbowl Trailers
Yesterday's Superbowl was our first real look at a bunch of new must-see movies. And all those 30-second TV spots were jam-packed with Easter eggs and hints about what characters and situations we're going to be discovering this spring and summer. Here are scores of screencaps, showing everything you might have missed.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

Humans have been playing with toys for over 4000 years
When we try to understand past civilizations, we usually focus on political structures and religious rituals - the sorts of things that form the cultural backbone of a fledgling society. But humans know how to mix in a little play with all that work...and in this mysterious, 4000 year old civilization on the Indus River Valley, playing with toys might have been far more important than we ever imagined.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011SIs Transformers 3's Optimus Prime a giant robotic butterfly?
If you saw last night's new Transformers 3 trailer, you may have noticed some new hot Optimus Prime gliding, smashing and robot bashing action. We've got an exclusive look at the brand new Transformers: Dark of the Moon toys from the Hasbro Mechtech line which seem to show off Optimus Prime's awesome new wingspan.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

Using surgery to predict the health of the U.S. economy
Last year, some brave minds realized that, "To the best of our knowledge, there have been no previous studies evaluating the correlation of the US economy and hand surgery volume." I know, I'm shocked too. So they set out to determine whether the amount of hand surgeries could predict the strength or weakness of the US economy. The answer may surprise you.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

What if you died on the most important day of your life? Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon talk Daytripper
What would it be like to die on the day you met your future spouse? How about the day your career really took off? Or the day your first child was born? Such is the conceit of Brazilian twin brothers Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon's new graphic novel Daytripper (DC/Vertigo). The book follows Brás de Oliva Domingos, a São Paulo obituary writer, and the many potential demises throughout his life.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

10 black scifi characters who aren't turned into cannon fodder
One of the unfortunate cliches of the science fiction genre is that black supporting characters often become cannon fodder before the first act is over. For every Captain Sisko there are dozens of black redshirts who meet their doom at the hands of prosthetic-headed aliens; and for every Will Smith hero there are hundreds of other black characters who are shot down early - even when they seem smarter and faster than everybody else. But not always. Today, we count off ten awesome black scifi characters who aren't turned into cannon fodder in TV and movies.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

400 hungry wolves overrun Siberian town of 1,300
Frigid temperatures in the small town of Verkhoyansk in Russia's Sakha Republic have led to the formation of an unnaturally large pack of livestock-hungry wolves. In the past four days, 30 horses have been devoured by this massive pack. Here are some possible Syfy Movie titles we can take away from this . . .

Trailer from Steven Spielberg's Terra Nova promises time travel with dinosaur action
Last night Fox aired the first ever footage of its time-traveling Jurassic Park/Avatar mash-up Terra Nova. Not much is revealed, but you do get a few very short glimpses of a few dinosaurs! Check it out.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

How long can a severed head really live?
Knocking someone's head clean off their body has always seemed to be a surefire way to kill them. It kills vampires. It kills zombies. It kills Highlanders. There's nothing like a beheading to make sure that something stays dead. But how long does it take to die?Knocking someone's head clean off their body has always seemed to be a surefire way to kill them. It kills vampires. It kills zombies. It kills Highlanders. There's nothing like a beheading to make sure that something stays dead. But how long does it take to die?

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

The mysterious Superman female lead could be a famous villainess. Plus why Robin might be in Batman 3 after all!
We might know who the mysterious female lead of the Superman reboot actually is, and it's a famous baddie from a classic Superman movie... although don't count out Lois Lane just yet. The latest insane rumor for The Dark Knight Rises says Robin will be involved, but we have our doubts. Plus James Cameron talks filming underwater in the Avatar sequels, more Spidey reboot set photos, as well as casting updates for The Avengers, Dark Shadows, Oz the Great and Powerful, and Mountains of Madness. Spoilers ahead!

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011S

Super Bowl Trailer Round-Up: Captain America, Thor, Pirates, Limitless and more!
Sneak your first peek of Steve Rogers before the superhero transformation, Robert De Niro in the drug-fueled Limitless, and Natalie Portman smooching on the Norse god Thor. Here's your comprehensive guide to all of the trailers screened at the Super Bowl.

Evening Survey: February 7, 2011

Was George Washington the victim of 18th century airbrushing?
It's not just modern magazines that tweak people's faces to fit the standard of beauty. For hundreds of years, portraits have been altered to reflect whatever ideas of beauty that people had at the time. Every woman in the 18th century appears to have the same nose. No one in the 17th century had any eyebrows to speak of. And everyone at every time had flawless skin despite limited access to soap. It's not certain that if historical figures appeared today beside their portrait, anyone would recognize them.