Posts Tagged ‘monday’

Dancing with the ‘Star Wars’: Billy Dee Williams cha-chas as Lando

Actor Billy Dee Williams channeled Lando Calrissian with his crowd-pleasing Star Wars Cha-Cha routine for his Dancing with the Stars debut.

Actor Billy Dee Williams channeled Lando Calrissian with his crowd-pleasing “Star Wars” cha-cha routine for his “Dancing with the Stars” debut.


Shimmying stormtroopers. R2-D2 beeping to disco music. Lando Calrissian taking Princess Leia for a spin on the dance floor. While it sounds like one of the gaming levels in “Star Wars Kinect,” this was the “Dancing with the Stars” debut of actor Billy Dee Williams and his dance partner Emma Slater.

Dressed in a costume reminiscent of his role as Lando Calrissian, Williams began the cha-cha number flanked by stormtroopers and announced by a beeping R2-D2. His dancing partner donned a costume inspired by Princess Leia’s metal bikini in “Return of the Jedi,” as well as her famous hair buns.

MECO’s disco remix of the “Star Wars” and “Cantina” themes accompanied the dancers, complete with a spinning intergalactic backdrop. And yes, even the stormtroopers danced.

Williams, age 76, is no spry Jedi. His past health battles with arthritis and two hip replacements may deter him from being a top competitor on the hit show, but his impressive showmanship is worthy of a Lobot slow-clap.

While Ewoks cheered from the audience, the judges weren’t as impressed, giving the number the lowest score of the night.

Comparing Williams’ dancing technique to C-3PO’s robotic moves, judge Bruno demanded the drama of Darth Vader. Judge Carrie Ann called Williams “the most relaxed dancer I’ve ever seen” and asked him to step it up next time. Judge Len was impressed Williams remembered his routine and its overall entertainment value.

Billy Dee Williams may not have impressed Princess Leia as Lando Calrissian in Star Wars, but he makes up for it with a dance number that might impress the likes of Jabba the Hutt.

Billy Dee Williams may not have impressed Princess Leia as Lando Calrissian in “Star Wars,” but he makes up for it with a dance number that might impress the likes of Jabba the Hutt.


Of course, this isn’t the first time a celebrity contestant on “Dancing with the Stars” has shown off fancy Force footwork. ‘N Sync’s Joey Fatone also paid tribute to “Star Wars” by dancing the tango dressed as a Jedi, with his partner dressed in a costume modeled after Slave Leia’s bikini — all to the “Star Wars” theme.

While Fatone’s dance number was much more energetic than Williams’ slower moves, “Star Wars” numbers never fail to excite the show’s audience. Perhaps it’s not the skills that matter, but the heartfelt passion behind the dance routine itself that makes even Ewoks get up and yell “Yub Nub.”

Tune in to “Dancing with the Stars” on Monday nights at 8 p.m. on ABC for more dancing by Williams, and if we’re lucky, a few more stormtroopers.

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‘Smart tags’ can sense when food or medicine go bad

The green tag on the container indicates that the product inside is no longer fresh.

Chao Zhang)

What if you never had to do a smell test for spoiled milk again? Instead of having to take a whiff of the sour liquid, you could just check the color of a small tag placed on the container.

This is exactly what researchers at Peking University in Beijing, China, are working on: color-coded “smart tags.”

These corn kernel-sized tags can be stuck to containers of food or medicine and have the capabilities of determining whether the food has gone bad or if the medications are still active. What’s more, these tags will reportedly cost less than one penny each.

“This tag, which has a gel-like consistency, is really inexpensive and safe, and can be widely programmed to mimic almost all ambient-temperature deterioration processes in foods,” lead researcher Chao Zhang said in a statement.

While most food and medicine have expiration labels, sometimes products are subjected to unanticipated high temperatures that could lead to early spoiling. Zhang said the smart tags could even take these sorts of variables into account. The color-coding on the tags would indicate the quality of the food or medicine on a range of 100 percent fresh to 100 percent spoiled.

“In our configuration, red, or reddish orange, would mean fresh,” Zhang said. “Over time, the tag changes its color to orange, yellow and later green, which indicates the food is spoiled.”

The science behind the tags is based on tiny non-toxic metallic nanorods that change color as they react to the length of time microbes grow in food. For example, “the gold nanorods we used are inherently red, which dictates the initial tag color,” Zhang said.

The smart tag research was presented on Monday at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society. The smart tags aren’t yet available, but the Peking University researchers said they are currently in the process of reaching out to manufacturers.

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See physicist surprised by news his Big Bang theory was right

Stanford Professor Andrei Linde celebrates the apparent validation of his theory of cosmic inflation.

Video screenshot by Eric Mack/CNET)

Physicists on Monday revealed a major discovery in our understanding of how everything got started by spotting gravitational waves that can be traced back to the exponential expansion that occurred in the fractions of a second after the Big Bang.

These ripples in space-time back up a theory of cosmic inflation developed by physicists Alan Guth and Andrei Linde in the early 1980s. Linde is now a professor at Stanford and could not hide his excitement when he first learned of the discovery from his colleagues.

“These results are a smoking gun for inflation, because alternative theories do not predict such a signal,” he said in a statement. “This is something I have been hoping to see for 30 years.”

Stanford Assistant Professor Chao-Lin Kuo took a cameraman and some champagne with him when he delivered the news to Linde at his home that one of his major life works had just been confirmed.

Give it a watch below. It’s a nice reminder that there’s a human side to scientific discoveries that can seem so inconceivably distant from our daily lives. Cheers, Professor Linde!

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Evidence of the Big Bang found in a cosmic ‘double rainbow’

It might not look like much, but this is the evidence of where we came from.

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics)

While you were thinking about where you’ll be spending St. Patrick’s Day on Monday night, the hard-working folks at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics were sharing the first direct evidence of a concept first put forward by Albert Einstein almost a century ago that helps explain where we — and everything else in the universe — come from.

If your list of to-dos and projects doesn’t suddenly seem a little less impressive by comparsion, then congratulations! You’re a narcissist.

If you want to cut right to it, scientists have spotted the remnants of the until-now-theorized massive, mind-melting exponential expansion of the universe that occurred in the one trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang. This evidence comes in the form of gravitational waves that Einstein predicted back in 1916 as part of his theory of general relativity.

These waves, also often described as “ripples in space-time,” were detected using a specialized instrument located at the South Pole called BICEP 2 that basically stares into the vast nothingness of space and measures the polarization of the faint background radiation believed to be left over from the Big Bang.

“Our team hunted for a special type of polarization called ‘B-modes,’ which represents a twisting or ‘curl’ pattern in the polarized orientations of the ancient light,” co-leader Jamie Bock of the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Lab said in a release.

To think of it another way, imagine being able to spot and measure the subtle difference between the two arcs of the most crazy full-on double rainbow ever, which just happens to be left over from the super-intense thunderstorm that created the universe.

If you’re still thinking this isn’t a big deal, consider that there’s already plenty of chatter about a Nobel Prize for what’s just been announced. And, of far greater existential importance, consider where these gravitational waves come from. If they were generated by an event during which the entire universe suddenly burst forth from a point that was smaller than an atom, that means the waves we now have evidence for not only originate from the beginning of space and time, but also from a moment in which quantum mechanics (the branch of physics that describes how things work at a sub-atomic scale) and general relativity (which deals with the universe at a much larger scale) must have been working together at the same scale.

In other words, further study of gravitational waves could help resolve the conflicts between relativity and quantum physics you may have heard other physics geeks talk about — it’s sometimes described as a “theory of everything.”

At a press conference on Monday, researchers from the team involved in the discovery also pointed to the potential for further research into gravitational waves and the intense cosmic inflation that occurred after the Big Bang to create a “new regime of physics” that could provide new insight into “what is possible at extremely high energies.”

“This has been like looking for a needle in a haystack, but instead we found a crowbar,” said co-leader Clem Pryke of the University of Minnesota.

There is, of course, the possibility that this research doesn’t hold up under the heightened scrutiny it’s bound to face in the coming weeks and months, but for the moment, everyone involved seems pretty confident. For a quick visual primer on the discovery, check out the video below.

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Crave giveaway: $500 shopping spree from Shopping

Hmmm, so many choices… (Click to enlarge.)

Screenshot by Leslie Katz/CNET)

Readers have loved past shopping sprees at Shopping, so we’re back with another one, and it’s big-ticket.

This week’s winner gets a $500 gift certificate from the massive online retailer, which sells everything from consumer electronics to furniture, clothes, shoes, jewelry, toys, sports gear, and well, more stuff upon stuff. Yep, $500. And next week marks a great time to go all consumer-crazy up on Shopping, since it will hold a big sale, with goods up to 70 percent off sitewide.

So how do you go about scoring a $500 blank check from Shopping (formerly There are a few rules, so please read carefully before you start composing your shopping list.

  • Register as a CNET user. Go to the top of this page and hit the “Join CNET” link to start the registration process. If you’re already registered, there’s no need to register again.
  • Leave a comment below. You can leave whatever comment you want. If it’s funny or insightful, it won’t help you win, but we’re trying to have fun here, so anything entertaining is appreciated.
  • Leave only one comment. You may enter for this specific giveaway only once. If you enter more than one comment, you will be automatically disqualified.
  • The winner will be chosen randomly. The winner will receive one (1) gift certificate from Shopping, with a retail value of $500.
  • If you are chosen, you will be notified via email. The winner must respond within three days of the end of the sweepstakes. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen.
  • Entries can be submitted until 12 p.m. ET on Monday, March 17.

And here’s the disclaimer that our legal department said we had to include (sorry for the caps, but rules are rules):


Good luck.

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Kissing YouTube video goes viral (oh, no, it’s an ad)

Nice clothes.

Tatiana Pilieva/YouTube; screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET)

Here is the lesson from the Web this week: it takes just a couple of days to get 25 million people to pay attention.

All you have to do is show them other people enjoying their first kiss. And, preferably, being slightly embarrassed about it because they’re total strangers.

This fine artistic ruse emerged on Monday, courtesy of filmmaker Tatiana Pilieva.

Here were 10 pairs of people meeting for the very first time, locking eyes, and, shortly thereafter, lips.

We sighed in wonderment. Well, not all of us. Some of us were suspicious about the fact that these people were, on the whole, remarkably pretty.

Of course they’d want to kiss each other. Pretty people generally do. In fact, there is evidence that all pretty people ever do is kiss other pretty people.

Moreover, these people seemed to have the casual, well-dressed air of models — the sort of models you’re supposed to believe are real people, but who actually aren’t.

And so, once millions and millions stared at this video and marveled at the pairs that had been brought together, some news seeped onto Twitter.

A fashion house called Wren Studio offered a tweet that read, in part, “To celebrate the debut of our Fall 14 collection, we asked 20 strangers to kiss for the first time.”

As Wren Studio’s founder and creative director, Melissa Coker, told Fashionista: “I emailed a bunch of people I know, through my personal life, through Wren. I tried to be diverse. Some of them are musicians. But the guy with the tattoos, he actually works at Wren.”

Business Insider offers that the majority of the featured strangers were “models, actors, and musicians with plenty of experience acting in front of a camera.”

Well, indeed. Snogging a stranger on camera is not a simple task. Indeed, snogging a stranger in front of other people without a camera isn’t always easy.

Still, I am most impressed by the fact that this is an ad for the fall collection. There is symbolism here.

You see how ahead of their (your) time these fashion people are? They know what you’ll be thinking and feeling in six months’ time.

What you’ll be thinking and feeling right now is whether any of the couples in the video are still together. And why some fashion studio had to spoil your fantasies.

The Web giveth, the Web taketh away.

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15 space organizations join hunt for missing Malaysian jet

An Indonesian Air Force military surveillance aircraft searches the Malacca Strait for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370.

Indonesian Air)

As the latest piece of technology to be enlisted in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, satellites have the eyes of the world watching them as they watch us.

On Monday, a crowdsourcing platform called Tomnod, along with parent company DigitalGlobe, launched a crowdsourcing campaign to enlist the help of citizens in scouring satellite images to search for the plane that disappeared on March 7.

China has followed that up by activating the International Charter on Space and Major Disasters to join the hunt on Tuesday. The goal of the charter is to enlist space data from 15 member organizations to provide assistance in the case of a “natural or technological disaster.” The charter describes such a disaster as “a situation of great distress involving loss of human life or large-scale damage to property, caused by a natural phenomenon, such as a cyclone, tornado, earthquake, volcanic eruption, flood or forest fire, or by a technological accident, such as pollution by hydrocarbons, toxic or radioactive substances.”

Now that the charter has been activated, space scientists around the planet will enlist the satellites available to them to gather images from the suspected area in which flight MH370 disappeared. The hope is that one of those images will pick up something that can direct search and recovery efforts.

Satellites are just one of the tech tools involved in the massive multi-national aircraft hunt that already includes the use of 42 sophisticated ships and 39 high-tech aircraft combing the waters according to the BBC. For example, listening devices are being lowered into the water to pick up the “ping” of the black box, and sophisticated MH60 Seahawk helicopters from the United States are employing Forward Looking Infra-red (FLIR) cameras that arm the searchers with night vision.

The International Charter on Space and Major Disasters was most recently activated on February 13 to help with monitoring the Mount Kelud volcano explosion on the Indonesian island of Java. Prior to that it’s been used to monitor flooding, forest fires, snowfalls, cyclones, oil spills and other damaging events around the world. It was also used to assist in recovery efforts from earthquakes, including the one that rocked Japan in March 2011 and caused a devastating tsunami and the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear plant. The charter has been activated 400 times in its history, but Tuesday represents the first time it was called into service to look for a missing aircraft. The only other transportation-related event for which it’s been used was to assist in gathering data after a train full of dynamite exploded in North Korea on April 23, 2004.

The charter, which began after Vienna’s Unispace III conference in 1999 with three agencies, has grown to its current membership of 15 organizations with the Russian Federal Space Agency being the most recent to join in 2013. Other member organizations include the European Space Agency, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and China’s National Space Administration. The US member organizations include the United States Geological Survey and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After the charter has been activated, data typically starts coming in within 24 hours, according to a report in

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Watch robotic pole dancers shake their actuators

Tobit Software)

No job is sacred any more: Even the technology trade show booth babe’s role has been taken over by robots. Lexy and Tess the robotic pole dancers drew a crowd Monday at the CeBit IT show in Hanover, Germany.

The pair were upgraded models for the Tobit Software booth, which has been displaying the dancers for a few years now. Designed by British artist Giles Walker, they’re made from 12V motors found in
cars (the kind that control the windshield wipers); have LED arrays instead of faces; and are controlled via PC, while their “male” counterpart, a DJ with a megaphone horn for a head, looks on.

Tobit altered the robots, which cost around $39,500 each, to make them a bit more “interesting,” a representative told RuptlyTV. “We changed them to get more color, we changed them to get bigger breasts,” he said, also indicating that the robots are now controllable via an
Android smartphone.

The dancing itself seems rather tame — the robots stand in place and gyrate their hips a little and move their free arms — so perhaps not every human achievement can be replicated by a robot. One that could dance like Anastasia Skukhtorova? Now that would be something.

(Source: Crave Australia via The Verge)

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Site lets people search satellite images for lost Malaysian plane

DigitalGlobe has collected around 3,200 square kilometers of imagery that can be analyzed by Tomnod users.


Netizens are turning to a satellite imagery crowdsourcing platform called Tomnod to help find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, the jetliner that mysteriously disappeared Saturday while in flight from Malaysia to Beijing with 239 people on board.

Tomnod, which relies on satellite imagery from parent company DigitalGlobe, allows people to volunteer their time to comb through images, tag objects of interest, and solve real-world problems.

Monday, Tomnod and DigitalGlobe formally kicked off a crowdsourcing campaign to help find the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared from radar screens after entering the Gulf of Thailand. Authorities are still searching for the jetliner and trying to determine what went wrong.

People can assist in the search by joining the Tomnod volunteer team and tagging important locations and objects, such as potential airplane wreckage, in available satellite images, which are being updated regularly. Sunday, DigitalGlobe’s satellites collected around 3,200 square kilometers of imagery from the Gulf of Thailand that can be analyzed by the Tomnod community.

DigitalGlobe purports to operate the world’s most advanced constellation of commercial imaging satellites, and the company provides its imagery to Google. DigitalGlobe also maintains a subscription service called FirstLook that provides emergency professionals with Web-based access to timely imagery.

DigitalGlobe said Tuesday that Tomnod is fielding an “unprecedented level” of Web traffic after kicking off the campaign. The company also said that it has new image collections that it plans to make available as soon as possible.

DigitalGlobe acquired Tomnod in 2013. The site was used by thousands of volunteers to tag 60,000 objects in the first 24 hours after a typhoon hit the Philippines in November 2013.

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NASA asks citizen scientists to become ‘asteroid hunters’

If dangerous asteroids are discovered, NASA may be able to plan asteroid-capturing expeditions.

Image courtesy of NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office)

NASA is looking for citizen scientists to help save planet Earth.

The space agency announced Monday that it is launching an “Asteroid Data Hunter” contest series to reach out to people to help create algorithms to identify asteroids zooming around outer space. NASA will give away $35,000 in awards to competition winners.

Millions of asteroids are thought to be currently orbiting the sun and scientists want to be sure to identify as many of them as possible. Why? So humans don’t go the way of the dinosaurs.

While NASA deemed Earth safe last year from a colossal asteroid that was slated to hit the planet in 2036, there have been other near misses and small-asteroid collisions over the past few years. A previously undetected 20-meter asteroid crashed into Russia last year with the force of 500,000 tons of TNT, which injured roughly 1,000 people.

“Current asteroid detection initiatives are only tracking one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun,” Planetary Resources president and chief engineer Chris Lewicki said in a statement. “We are excited to partner with NASA in this contest to help increase the quantity and knowledge about asteroids that are potential threats, human destinations, or resource rich.”

NASA’s goal is to discover those unknown asteroids and then track and characterize them. For the contest, citizen scientists will be allowed to study images taken from ground-based telescopes to see if they can develop improved algorithms for identifying asteroids. If dangerous asteroids are found, NASA could determine if they’d be viable for a re-direction into a lunar orbit.

“Protecting the planet from the threat of asteroid impact means first knowing where they are,” Prizes and Challenges Program executive Jenn Gustetic said in a statement. “By opening up the search for asteroids, we are harnessing the potential of innovators and makers and citizen scientists everywhere to help solve this global challenge.”

NASA’s contest kicks off on March 17 and will continue for the next six months.

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