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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thanks To BP, This Is A Whale

by Image of the Day

BP Oil Spill Whale

Scientists found this sperm whale 77 miles south from the Deepwater spill site off the Gulf Coast.

Johnny Depp's Rango Trailer Has Arrived (vid)

Now we've got the trailer! Huzzah!


Comedy ExaminerScott Wampler

Just earlier today, we released the official movie poster for Gore Verbinski's latest collaboration with Johnny Depp, Rango. We also included a little teaser trailer that told us absolutely nothing about the film. Well, now Paramount's released the first full-length trailer for the film, and we've got a much better idea of what to expect when Rango hits theaters next March (in glorious 3D, we're sure). It may be the weirdest, most inexplicable kids' movie in some time, but Rango definitely looks like it'll be original. See the first trailer for yourselves below, my gentle Examiner readers...

Earlier today, we unleashed the poster on the right for Gore Verbinski's Rango, an animated comedy starring Johnny Depp due to hit next March. Now Paramount's released the first, full-length trailer for the film, and we've got a much better idea of what we can expect out of Rango. Check it out, folks:

UPDATE: Check it out at the 1:47 mark in particular-- that appears to be Hunter S. Thompson's windshield that Rango's bouncing off of, doesn't it? What do you guys think-- that's definitely supposed to be the Good Doctor, isn't is? Dig it:

That's Thompson, right? Anyway, here's the trailer:

Am I crazy, or was that Tom Waits singing on the soundtrack? It's not like I needed another reason to check out Rango when it arrives next March. Adding Tom Waits to something makes it instantly 400% cooler. Look at Book of Eli: that movie would've been pretty awesome on its own, but with just a twist of Waits, it became kick-ass. All movies should follow this lead. As for Rango, we're still unclear on the plot beyond the fact that it stars Johnny Depp as a chameleon with an identity crisis, but the picture's starting to get a little more clear with each new update the studio releases. Stay tuned for more Rango updates as they become available, my precious snowflakes!

First Direct Photo of Alien Planet Finally Confirmed

By Denise Chow Staff Writer

A planet outside of our solar system, said to be the first ever directly photographed by telescopes on Earth, has been officially confirmed to be orbiting a sun-like star, according to follow-up observations.

The alien planet is eight times the mass of Jupiter and orbits at an unusually great distance from its host star — more than 300 times farther from the star than our Earth is from the sun.

Astronomers first discovered the planet in 2008 using visible light observations from telescopes on Earth, making it the first direct photo of an extrasolar world. But at the time there was still the remote chance that it only looked like it was orbiting the star, from the perspective of Earth, due to a lucky alignment of object, star and observer.

"Our new observations rule out this chance alignment possibility, and thus confirms that the planet and the star are related to each other," said astronomer David Lafreniere, who led the research team that discovered the planet.

The new observations that confirm the planet circles its parent star were made using high-resolution adaptive optics technology at the Gemini Observatory. The observatory is an international collaboration with two identical 8-meter telescopes, located at Mauna Kea, Hawaii and Cerro Pachon in northern Chile.

Planet around young star

The host star, which has an estimated mass of about 85 percent that of our sun, is located approximately 500 light-years away in a group of young stars called the Upper Scorpius Association that formed about 5 million years ago.

The planet has an estimated temperature of over 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,500 degrees Celsius). This makes the planet much hotter than Jupiter, which has an atmospheric cloud-top temperature of approximately minus 166 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 110 degrees Celsius).

The relatively young age of the system — our solar system is 4.6 billion years old — explains the high temperature of the planet, according to the researchers. [The Strangest Alien Planets]

The contraction of the planet under its own gravity during its formation quickly raised its temperature to thousands of degrees. But, once this contraction phase is over, the planet will slowly cool down by radiating infrared light. Within billions of years, the planet will eventually reach a temperature that is much more similar to that of Jupiter.

Tale of a planet find

Lafreniere and his research team firstannounced their planet's discovery in September 2008. At the time he was at the University of Toronto, but is now at the University of Montreal and Center for Research in Astrophysics of Quebec.

In 2008, the researchers claimed that the discovery also represented thefirst picture of a planet that orbits around a star similar to our sun. Other astronomers have also made similar claims, including a 2004 discovery of an object that could be a planet or a type of failed star called a brown dwarf.

"Back in 2008 what we knew for sure was that there was this young planetary mass object sitting right next to a young sun-like star on the sky," Lafreniere said.

The close proximity of the two cosmic objects seemed to suggest that they were associated with each other, but there was a possibility — albeit unlikely — that they were unrelated and had only aligned in the sky by chance. One of the objects might have been closer or farther by considerable distance. So more observations were required to confirm the cosmic find.

The results of the study will be published in an upcoming issue of The Astrophysical Journal.

The system, known as 1RXS J160929.1-210524 (or 1RXS 1609 for short), will give scientists a unique example to study, as its extreme separation from the star seems to challenge common planetary formation theories.

"The unlikely locale of this alien world could be telling us that nature has more than one way of making planets," said the study's co-author Ray Jayawardhana of the University of Toronto. "Or, it could be hinting at a violent youth when close encounters between newborn planets hurl some siblings out to the hinterlands."

The team of astronomers initially detected the exoplanet using the Gemini Observatory in April 2008, which made it the first likely planet known to orbit a sun-like star that was revealed by direct imaging. At the time, the researchers also obtained a spectrum of the planet and were able to determine many of its characteristics, which are confirmed in the new study.

"In retrospect, this makes our initial data the first spectrum of a confirmed exoplanet ever!," Lafreniere said.

The spectrum illustrates absorption features due to water vapor, carbon monoxide and molecular hydrogen in the planet's atmosphere.

Other distant planets photographed

This is not the only exoplanet to be discovered using direct imaging.

Since initially observing 1RXS 1609, several other alien worlds have also been found, including a system of three planets that orbit around the star HR 8799. This discovery was also made using the Gemini Observatory.

The latest exoplanet confirmation is unique, however, because the planets around HR 8799 orbit much closer to their host star.

The study of 1RXS 1609 also verified that no additional large planets (between one and eight times the mass of Jupiter) are present in the system that are closer to the star.

Future observations may reveal evidence on the origin of thestrangely far-out planet. In fact, within a few years, it should be possible to detect a slight difference in the motion of the planet and its star, due to their mutual orbits.

This difference, however, will be "very small," said the study's co-author Marten van Kerkwijk of the University of Toronto, since the fastest possible orbital period is more than one thousand years.

Clocking alien planet's speed

But, using Gemini, it is possible to precisely measure the velocity of the planet relative to its host star.

This can help astronomers determine whether the planet is following a roughly circular orbit — as would be expected if it really formed far from its host star — or whether it is in a very non-circular or even unbound orbit. The latter could be the case if it formed closer to the star but was kicked out as a result of an encounter with another alien planet, researchers said.

The adaptive optics system on the Gemini telescopes were crucial to making the observations of 1RXS 1609.

"Without adaptive optics, we would simply have been unable to see this planet," Lafreniere said. "The atmosphere blurs the image of a star so much that it extends over and is much brighter than the image of a faint planet around it, rendering the planet undetectable. Adaptive optics removes this blurring and provides a better view of faint objects very close to stars."

Ducati Films Motorcycle Commercial Entirely With iPhone 4

This short HD commercial for the Ducati Multistrada motorcycle was shot using nothing but iPhone 4s. It looks great.

The Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is basically a race to the top of a mountain up a mixture or twisty roads and dirt. It's one of the most exciting and challenging races in the world of motorsports and shooting it is a challenge usually involving helicopters. The crew shooting for Ducati manages to capture "156 Turns" of the race, interviews, and on-bike camera using multiple iPhone 4s and their built-in HD video cameras, which shoot in 720p at 30fps.

From the description, the producers say they used stabilization in post-production to produce the effect of using a real camera and it's relatively seamless.

Send an email to Matt Hardigree, the author of this post, at

Samsung Epic 4G preview

We've seen our fair share of Samsung Galaxy S phones in the past few weeks, but the Sprint Epic 4G version (or the Galaxy S Pro, as we'd previously suspected it would be known) looks like it could take the cake. The phone has all the same specs as the others family members -- including a 1GHz Samsung Hummingbird processor, 5 megapixel cam, a 4-inch Super AMOLED screen, and Android 2.1 -- but it also boasts a front facing camera and a physical keyboard. So, is the new slider as epically amazing as we've been imagining? We got to spend some time with a unit this afternoon, so hit the break for some early impressions and a quick video.
  • Hardware: The Epic may not have a 4.3-inch screen like the Droid X or EVO, but at 4 inches, it's close -- and for all practical purposes, it appears to be just as large. The slide-out physical keyboard doesn't add as much girth as we expected, though it still adds to the height of the phone. While the curved edges give it a similar look to the Galaxy S we've seen overseas, it has four touch sensitive buttons along the bottom instead of those physical buttons. Oh, and about that physical keyboard, it's pretty glorious -- the keys are slightly raised and there's a bit of space between each of them. We have to admit it looks a bit odd to have a keyboard with such a big screen, but if anything it's a throw back to UMPCs or MIDs.
  • Screen: The Epic 4G has the same 4-inch Super AMOLED display as the Galaxy S and Captivate. But we aren't letting that diminish our love of it -- every time we see it we are pretty blown away by the crispness. Yet again, we didn't get to test the display in sunlight, but indoors it was seriously bright, albeit glossy. (Oh, and if you missed it, check out our head-to-head between Samsung's Super AMOLED screen and Apple's Retina display.)
  • Software: The Epic 4G will run Android 2.1 at launch, but Sprint tells us it will be rolling out the 2.2 update not too long after it hits the market. Just like the Captivate, it has the latest version of Samsung's TouchWiz skin, which isn't too distracting and actually polishes up Android a bit. It's also preloaded with Swype and Qik as well as a few Sprint applications -- including the mobile hotspot app, notably. Speaking of Qik, we did confirm that the Epic 4G has a VGA front facing cam, while the one on it's backside will take 5 megapixel shots.
  • Performance: Unlike the early version of the Captivate that we saw, the Epic 4G's 1GHz Hummingbird CPU was zippy. As you will see in the video, scrolling was super snappy and there was no noticeable lag in opening applications like Amazon's Kindle app or firing up the camcorder. Video playback also looked super smooth. Sprint's still not giving out information on pricing or availability, though we're told the price will be aggressive and the handset will be available before the end of Summer.
On that note, until we get our hands on a review unit, we leave you with a brief, standard def video of what's clearly shaping up to be Sprint's Android phone of the month:

Boob War Fourth of July Special: 13 Original Pairs of Breasts That Made America Great

Boob War Special.jpg
A holiday is a great excuse to run an overused concept into the ground. That's why the Fourth of July is a perfect opportunity for a Boob War Special Edition (cue percussive theme music) that takes a historical look at the pioneering woman--and their breasts--responsible for making our country great.

To be clear, this list isn't a compilation of contemporary Joanie-come-latelies. You won't be seeing Jessica Simpson, Scarlett Johansson, Katy Perry or Dita Von Teese gracing this entry. No, the women on this list are the ones who influenced Beyonce and even Madonna.

Here's the criteria I used for making the list:
  • Must be an American citizen, either born or naturalized.
  • Must be considered a sex symbol, whether it was only during her lifetime or continues to this day.
  • Body of work must have been revolutionary. This also means that size isn't the only thing; it's what she did with them.
Now, as we celebrate the independence of the 13 original colonies from the British, let's salute these 13 original trailblazers.

1. Marilyn Monroe
Why she's on the list Is there really any question? Marilyn has been the gold standard for more than half a century. She influenced contemporaries like Jayne Mansfield and Mamie Van Doren and later on, models like Anna Nicole Smith. Her chest x-ray recently sold for $45,000 at auction. Although this list is compiled in no particular order, Marilyn deserves to sit at the top spot.

2. Bettie Page
Why she's on the list She wasn't the first pinup girl, but she became synonymous with the artform, becoming more well-known after her 1950s heyday (thanks in part to Dave Stevens' Rocketeer).

3. Josephine Baker
Why she's on the list Singer. Dancer. Actress. Muse. Spy. Civil rights activist. Josephine Baker epitomized beauty with substance. American-born, Baker made her name in France during the 1930s and 1940s as a singer and dancer who entranced the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Picasso. She starred in three films, and when World War II broke out, she worked with the French resistance and entertained Allied troops in North Africa. In the 1960s, she spoke at the March of Washington and refused to perform before segregated audiences as part of her participation in the U.S. Civil Rights Movement. So what have you done lately with your machine gun tits, Lady Gaga?

4. Mae West
Why she's on the list Smart and business savvy, actress/singer/writer Mae West had the mouth of Sarah Silverman on the body of Pamela Anderson. Considered an early feminist, she was one of the highest paid people in the country (second behind William Randolph Hearst in 1935) thanks to her wicked and racy charm that got her censored more than once. And ladies, if you don't think you owe anything to Mae West consider these two things:

5. Lynda Carter
Linda Carter.jpg
Why she's on the list Lynda Carter made boys--and their fathers--think Wonder Woman really existed. Of course, once they saw Bobbie Joe and the Outlaw, they were glad to find out Wonder Woman wasn't a prude or a goody-goody (link NSFW).

6. Phoebe Cates
Phoebe Cates.jpg
Why she's on the list I might be breaking my rule here by including someone on the basis of a single movie scene (NSFW). But when that movie scene defined the masturbation fantasies for an untold generation, I think it's foolish to dismiss Phoebe Cates.

7. Raquel Welch
Why she's on the list Her prehistoric bikini in One Million Years B.C. caught everyone's attention. But Raquel Welch showed that she had staying power, remaining a vital sex symbol up through the 1980s.

8. Dolly Parton
Dolly Parton.jpg
Why she's on the list Do I really need to explain this to anyone?

9. Dorothy Dandridge
Why she's on the list Although not considered a traditional sex symbol, Dandridge, the first African-American nominated for an Oscar [EDIT: Specifically, the best actress Oscar, which I totally knew in my head, but I couldn't make come out of my fingers. Thanks for the catch, Anonymous], had a sultry onscreen elegance that complemented her sultry voice as a singer.

10. Hedy Lamarr
Hedy Lamarr.jpg
Why she's on the list Born in Austria (she became a U.S. citizen in the 1950s), Hedy Lamarr made a name for herself thanks to her sensual performance (which included nudity) in the Czech film Ecstasy. She moved to America, became a screen star and, like most actresses, proceeded to help develop electronic communication systems so ahead of their time that they're the basis of modern Wi-Fi systems. So go check your ego, Angelina, 'kay?

11. Rita Hayworth
Why she's on the list As a pinup and an actress, Rita Hayworth was the sex symbol of the 1940s and blazed the way for Marilyn Monroe. Boob War fun fact: Lynda Carter played Hayworth in a TV biopic.

12. Lauren Bacall
Why she's on the list Even today, if you can watch Bacall's "You know how to whistle" scene in To Have and Have Not and not become turned on, you're probably asexual. Because even if you're homosexual, you can appreciate the smoldering sexuality coming off of Bacall's lithe, young body.

13. Elizabeth Taylor
Why she's on the list The years might not have been kind to Liz, but in her day, she defined glamour and forbidden sexuality.

That's my list. Who do you think should have made the cut?

Cleopatra died of drug cocktail not snake bite


Cleopatra did not die from a snake bite but a lethal drug cocktail that included opium and hemlock, according to German scientists.

Cleopatra, as played by Elizabeth Taylor, in the 1963 film.
Cleopatra, as played by Elizabeth Taylor, in the 1963 film. Photo: Alamy

The Queen of the Nile ended her life in 30BC and it has always been held that it was the bite of an asp – now called the Egyptian cobra – which caused her demise.

Now Christoph Schaefer, German historian and professor at the University of Trier, is presenting evidence that aims to prove drugs and not the reptile were the cause of death.

"Queen Cleopatra was famous for her beauty and was unlikely to have subjected herself to a long and disfiguring death," he said.

He journeyed with other experts to Alexandria, Egypt, where they consulted ancient medical texts and snake experts.

"Cleopatra wanted to remain beautiful in her death to maintain her myth," he says on the Adventure Science show screened by the German television channel ZDF.

"She probably took a cocktail of opium, hemlock and aconitum. Back then this was a well-known mixture that led to a painless death within just a few hours whereas the snake death could have taken days and been agonising."

Cleopatra reigned from 51BC to 30BC and was the last person to rule Egypt as an Egyptian pharaoh. After she died, Egypt became a Roman province.

She was an ally of the Roman emperor Julius Caesar, and established a relationship with the Roman General Mark Anthony. They had three children together and there are letters that suggest she married him, although both were already married; she to a brother and he had a wife in Rome.

In 44 BC, after the assassination of Caesar, she aligned with Antony in opposition to Caesar’s legal heir, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavian

After losing the Battle of Actium to Octavian’s forces, Antony committed suicide. Cleopatra followed suit, aged 39 on August 12, 30BC.

16 Things You Didn’t Know About Hugh Hefner (Infographic)

What do we really know about Hugh Hefner? Sure it’s been rumored that he snorts lines of Viagra off a different playmate each morning. And yes, no one can deny that there’s a strong chance that he has an on-call STD doctor living somewhere in the Playboy Mansion. But instead of focusing on the rumors and the legends and the urban myths, let’s focus on the truth. And the truth is that there’s a lot more to Hugh than we really know. Check out this infographic produced by Online Degrees called “16 Things You Didn’t Know About Hugh Hefner.”

Infographic produced by Online Degrees

Sign Here If You Think Apple Should Give Free Cases to Fix the iPhone 4's Problems


Sign Here If You Think Apple Should Give  Free Cases to Fix the iPhone 4's Problems

Apple acknowledges the iPhone 4's reception problems. Their solution: Hold it differently or buy a case. But if this is an Apple design problem, they should fix it for real or give out cases for free.

We have evidence that proves that the iPhone 4 antenna problem was caused by an internal cultural problem at Apple, one that plagues more than just the iPhone 4, but the iPad and probably future Apple products as well.

A source in Apple's engineering team tells us that the kind of reception issues found in the iPhone 4 are a symptom of an internal issue that's been going on for a while—extremely inflexible mandates around the industrial design of products during their development. Jon Ive and his team of industrial designers can run "a little amok sometimes", they said, coming up with and steadfastly insisting on designs that, while aesthetically pleasing, cause the engineering team extreme difficulty in terms of implementation and maintaining the highest levels of functionality.

Apple engineers have evidently had a tough time trying to mitigate things, for example, like thermally-challenged designs and issues related to the fact that wireless signals don't go through metal. So perhaps this inordinate power wielded by the industrial design team at Apple is at least one factor contributing to a phone design that allows people's hands to interfere with the antenna.

Now, Apple is facing public backlash over the consequences of those design decisions.

It's a very real problem

On top of the many user submitted complaints the press received, many with video proof, we took an informal poll. The results: About 40 percent of iPhone 4 owners responded that they had seen the issue first hand. Other sites report similar percentages. Righmobilephone—a cellphone comparison site in the UK—took a pool among 836 iPhone 4 users, finding 93% affected by the problem (a theory here is that people in the US notice it less because they blame AT&T's traditionally lousy network). Of those, 63% were "particularly angered" about Steve Jobs' response, which suggested users should "avoid holding the phone in that way" to avoid loss of signal.

This is an unprecedented amount of user complaints. In our daily lives here in Gizmodo, we have experienced the problem many times, ruining an otherwise great experience. Some of us didn't run into the problem at first, but after a few days, we clearly noticed it. At this point, it seems to us that the question is not if people would experience the problem or not, but when would they experience it.

Apple's arguments and solutions

Apple argues that all cellphones' signal drops when you touch their antenna. That is true. But the difference here is that the rest of the phones don't have the antenna all around the phone itself, where the user is touching it at all times.

That's why Steve Jobs' "hold it in another way" suggestion is not a good solution. Users should be able to hold the iPhone in a natural way, whatever that way is for them. Otherwise, it's bad industrial design because it goes against the user's self-expression. It's a case of form not following function. If this were a case of the problem showing up in a few awkward, unnatural hand positions, that would be something. But the problem can be triggered by the way a right handed user generally holds the iPhone: in their left hand on the side and bottom, pecking at the screen with the other. In other words, the regular way most of us hold an iPhone when using it as a smartphone instead of a voice phone. Holding the phone any other way is unnatural, and in practical usage scenarios, unreasonable.

Apple's other solution is that people should get a case. They sell one. The bumper—barring some fix at the factory—is the only real Apple solution for this design problem.

The real solution

If Apple doesn't fix this design flaw or provides any technical fix, then they must give free bumpers to every iPhone 4 user. If they say the bumper fixes a problem that is caused by a faulty design, then it only makes sense that they should provide the bumper for free. End of the story.

Sign Here If You Think Apple Should Give  Free Cases to Fix the iPhone 4's Problems

The bumpers will negate the iPhone's beautiful design, one of its major selling points, but at least we won't have signals dropping. It may even help preventing their other design problem: The iPhone 4 is more fragile than the previous generations because of its glass backside. In addition to that, it also shatters on shock more easily because of the inner tension of the new glass material, which in addition is all oleophobic, making it more slippery.

Every product launch has its bugs. We've seen a lot this time. Many issues, like the yellow screens, will go away as manufacturing fine tunes and adjusts to solve the problems. But the antenna issue is a fundamental one, a design flaw, that won't go away as easily without adjusting the product in a deeper way.

If this was some junk phone, it wouldn't matter. But the iPhone 4 is perhaps the best cellphone there is thanks to its software and apps, its Retina display, and its camera. Some even say the reception is better than the old phone's under circumstances when the antennas aren't being shorted. So with all these great things, it's terrible that buyers should have this excellent phone ruined for them because of a single, but serious, design problem. And even worse that Apple should suggest users use their phones in unnatural ways or shell out $30—for what is essentially a double wide livestrong armband—to fix it.

Sign the petition

That's why we all should ask Apple to partially solve the phone's design problem by giving away free bumpers for every single iPhone 4 user out there. Together, we can get Apple fix their problem, whatever the solution may be, instead of dodging the issue.

It's all in your hands: If you agree with this petition, please sign it below, in the comments.

Pass this article around through Twitter, Facebook wall, your blog, or email. You can also join the Facebook petition group here:

The author of this post can be contacted at