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Rio’s Olympic Opening Ceremony

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More than 200 countries took part in the celebration of global diversity, which was broadcast to an audience of around three billion.

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It focused particularly on Brazil’s rich culture, history and natural beauty, featuring Samba dancers, and an appearance from Gisele Bündchen, before former marathon runner Vanderlei de Lima lit the Olympic Cauldron.

By all accounts, the ceremony was spectacular:

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Andy Murray led the British team into the arena:

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The Opening Ceremony culminated with plants forming the Olympic Rings, and then exploding:

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There were then fireworks.

See the full show here if you missed it:

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Suicide Squad – Review

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

 

• About

Figuring they’re all expendable, a U.S. intelligence officer decides to assemble a team of dangerous, incarcerated supervillains for a top-secret mission. Now armed with government weapons, Deadshot (Will Smith), Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie), Captain Boomerang, Killer Croc and other despicable inmates must learn to work together. Dubbed Task Force X, the criminals unite to battle a mysterious and powerful entity, while the diabolical Joker (Jared Leto) launches an evil agenda of his own.

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• Pass/Fail

Pass: EVERYTHING! Harley & the Joker were obviously the best thing about the film.. the costumes were amazing, cast were fantastic and the music really worked.

Fail: There wasn’t enough Harley & Joker in the film.. a lot of scenes were cut which upset people.. especially when they were in the trailer! – I noticed the drink bar scene was cut & Harleys bat as a gun scene..?

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• Standout Performance

Margot Robbie & Jared Leto of course!

• Who Will Like This?

Comic & DC lovers alike! Anyone who likes to see the bad guys be bad :p

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• See It Now or Wait?

Defo see it now in the cinema!!

• Is there an end credit scene?

YES! Make sure you watch it🙂

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• Highlight

OH MAN.. there are too many.. anything with harley & the joker obvs.. The car scene with the Joker.. The introduction of the Squad with their back history.. Harley in the lift..🙂

• Overall Impression

Although reviews will tell you otherwise.. this is one of my favourite films of the year.. another *I WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN NOW* straight after it finished🙂 The cast make it.. the quirky badass squad just make you love bad guys more.. Jared Leto’s incarnation of the Joker is essential to the success, along with Margot Robbie often stealing the lime light.. which I love! Leto has a smooth, blingy gangsta swagger; a modern take on the way the original comic-book creation riffed on ’30s mobsters. But it’s not his swish, purring style and elegant, slo-mo cackle that really hooks you, it’s something we’ve never seen before.. the Joker in love! Here’s a heart racing jagged new angle (cinematically at least). It’s unsettling and compelling — making me want this to be a film all by itself! But there’s more to come, surely? Judging by what Ayer’s pulled off here, you can bet there will be.. Firstly Harley’s got her own solo film.. and rumours of The Joker next.. *fingers crossed*

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• Trailer 

Oh and did you see Snapchat had a Suicide Squad filter..😛

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The Elusive Arabian sand cat spotted after 10 years’ disappearance

A cat walking along in the desert, cute, sandy coloured with some stripes on its legs

Not your average moggy: the Arabian sand cat
Mike Lane/Alamy Stock Photo

Species: Arabian sand cat (Felis margarita harrisoni)

Habitat: Deserts of Arabia, northern Africa and central Asia

Blink and you’ll miss it. The sand cat is a shy and secretive animal only seen in the desert at night.

It’s a nocturnal hunter perfectly adapted to its desert home. It doesn’t need to drink water as it can get all it needs from the small birds, reptiles and mammals that are its prey. Special hairs in its ears and on its paws keep the sand out.

Despite its wide distribution across the deserts of North Africa, Arabia and Central Asia, little is known about this elusive species.

“There’s an absence of scientists working on sand cats and very few assessments are being made to assess the behaviour, population and status of the species,” says John Newby of the Sahara Conservation Fund.

Lack of records and difficulty in spotting it means we don’t even know how well it is faring. Sand cats are listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) red list and as endangered in the United Arab Emirates, where the Al Ain Zoo is a hotspot for captive breeding programmes to try to conserve the species.

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Caught in the lights
Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi

“Sand cats are naturally rare,” says Newby. On top of that, populations are thought to be declining due to habitat loss and falling numbers of prey species.

In western UAE, the cat has only been documented in the wild anecdotally – and even such records date to 10 years or more ago.

Shakeel Ahmed, an assistant scientist at The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), grew tired of reading anecdotal reports and decided to look for the cats himself.

In 2015, he led a team studying the animals and plants of the Baynouna – a protected area in Abu Dhabi. They baited camera traps with cat food over several months and eventually managed to get 46 photos, which the team later identified as being of three individuals. Sightings were usually late on moonlit nights and at cooler times, suggesting the cats prefer medium to low temperatures of between 11 and 28 °C. Their habitat was in sparsely vegetated sand dunes.

The team also set traps for small animals, and caught Cheeseman’s gerbils and the lesser jerboa. Other sightings on the camera included the urchin beetle, and reptiles such as Arabian sand skink and gecko. All these mean there is plenty of food available in the region for the sand cat.

a sandy coloured cat looking pissed off, in close up

Joel Sartore, National Geographic Photo Ark/National Geographic Creative

The team hopes this information will help inform future conservation strategies. For example, it could be useful for work comparing the relatedness of this population to those in neighbouring Oman and Saudi Arabia.

“It is clear that field research will all be extremely valuable in putting together conservations plans for the sand cats and their habitat, as well as pin-pointing those areas and their extent that may be turned into protected areas to conserve the cats,” says Newby. “Scientists need to be doing more research on how the sand cats live in order to create a suitable protected area.”

Journal reference: European Journal of Wildlife Research, DOI: 10.1007/s10344-016-1035-8

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Skateboarding in the 2020 Summer Olympics

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Image via Olympics.org / Source: Vice


The International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted unanimously on Thursday to include skateboarding in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. The Olympics will include both men’s and women’s park and street events, with a total of 80 skaters—40 men and 40 women—competing in them.

The thinking was that skating would draw a young audience in. “We want to take sport to the youth,” said Thomas Bach, the IOC president. “With the many options that young people have, we cannot expect anymore that they will come automatically to us. We have to go to them.”

Skateboarding is just one of five sports that have been added to the Olympic program, alongside sport climbing, karate, baseball/softball, and surfing.

While it’s good news for the Olympic Committee, others—namely lots of skaters—aren’t so happy about skateboarding’s inclusion in the games, citing the fact competitive skating is always kind of lame and not really keeping in the spirit of what the sport’s “supposed” to be about.

“Skateboarding was cool because it was something different,” said one commenter on an article on the Ride Channel. “Skateboarding just took one more step toward being a lot like gymnastics or figure skating,” said another. “Damn it.”

But the decision still has its champions: International Skateboarding Federation president Gary Ream said: “I’ve always believed that if skateboarding was properly protected and supported, its appearance on the Olympic stage could change the world.”

So there you go; the 2020 Summer Olympics will take place in Tokyo from July 24 to August 9, so make sure to tune in to see exactly how the world is affected.

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Former NASA Employee VS ‘No Man’s Sky’

Images courtesy of Hello Games / Source: Vice

This is it. Following three years of waiting and a last-minute delay, one of the most anticipated video games ever, No Man’s Sky, is out in just a few days. It’s no exaggeration to place it up there with gaming’s most wanted of all time—just peruse the relevant subreddits and message boards for all the necessary evidence.

But it’s not just hardcore gamers who are slavering over the prospect of finally blasting off into the game’s procedurally generated space, in search of discovery and adventure on a scale that this medium has rarely delivered. The scientific community has its fans, too, as I found out by speaking to former NASA consultant and aviation specialist, Justin Julian. (Disclosure, at this point, as Julian is someone I’ve known for a while, but that doesn’t make him any the less a dude who worked at NASA.)

As Julian sees it, No Man’s Sky could do more than simply entertain—if it proves as popular as its developers/publishers, Hello Games, are hoping for, it could be a crucial next step for progressing our very real reaching out toward the stars.

These days, Julian is an airport manager for Anderson County Airport in South Carolina, but his time with NASA taught him that the future is always in the hands of those we teach. “Every day I passed these words on the way to my desk, ‘To Inspire the Next Generation.’ I really think this game has the potential to do that.”

NASA has been struggling over the last few decades with funding cuts and a public shift from seeing space travel as something exciting, if not absolutely necessary. But that hasn’t killed the spirits of those who firmly believe in humankind having a future somewhere other than Earth. For Julian, a game like this could be both fun and just what school-level sciences need to educate and spread interest in a way that could be conducive to NASA’s goals.

“As a gamer myself, investment values are high. It looks like you get out of No Man’s Sky what you put into it. And as a specialist, we’re teaching people how to problem solve and how to manage resources, so it’s the best of both worlds.”

No Man’s Sky has touted its procedurally generated universe as the largest and most expansive in gaming history, beyond Elite Dangerous and other space sims. It’s so large that they had to build in-game bots to explore the whole thing. This scaled representation of our unknown universe is key to what Julian believes is important for teaching players about the real thing.

“A great part of this game is sharing resources with other players. Getting things to other people that they don’t have in their native systems is so important to understanding the vastness of the universe, the scale of it. When we start looking at other places in real life, we may find new resources that can substitute and be better than our own, and that’s essential for our survival and growth.”

“Having the ability to think outside the box is the most important thing we can teach anyone.”

He has praise for the game’s willingness to be a different kind of fun, one that’s not all guns and action. “It’s not just all about storyline, or really a scripted game at all, from what’s been shown. It’s an experience, and it evolves just like the real thing. You have to use critical thinking, and there are no obvious big bosses or documented strategies to guarantee ‘winning.’ And having the ability to think outside the box is the most important thing we can teach anyone.”

In No Man’s Sky , the player assumes the role of an explorer and embarks on a mission of discovery in their very own spaceship, initially alone in the bleakness of the vacuum. In the game, you may be safe as a solo pilot, but Julian has concerns when it comes to astronauts really heading beyond our atmosphere alone.

‘No Man’s Sky,’ ‘EXPLORE’ trailer

“My biggest concern there is that people are human. People make mistakes. That could be the pilot, the mechanic, even the manufacturer of the aircraft. You like to think that there’s control and foresight there to mitigate hazards, but sometimes things happen. In aviation, we see bird strikes, foreign objects interfering with planes, weather concerns, you name it.” When asked how difficult it would be to coordinate with millions of ships in space, like the stations will do in No Man’s Sky, Julian laughs and sarcastically replies: “Oh, fun.

“Space is a dangerous environment,” he continues, “so you’re going to be dealing with problems every second of every day. Keeping everything running is going to be tough, too. Go to flightaware.com and type in Atlanta, and you’ll see all the aircraft going in and out of Georgia. What we’re looking at in No Man’s Sky is way more complex than that, and that’s crazy to think about in handling terms. We’ll have satellites, debris, and who knows what else floating around up there that could cause problems, too.”

He goes on to explain where our current technological capabilities are in comparison to what we’re seeing in the game. “Y’know, we’re actually so close to it. There are way too many variables to know fully what deep space travel will be like, but NASA currently plans to put people on Mars. That’s the next step, and there is an honest strive for it, with the same passion that was there when we put a man on the moon.”

Like Julian, many players are captivated by the wonder and scope of No Man’s Sky‘s possibilities, but ultimately its success will come down to its reception among an already substantial fan base. “I hope it engages the players’ imaginations, and I hope it engages mine as well,” says Julian. “I want people to play this game and then think about flight school or taking astronomy classes. Then maybe they’ll go even further than we can think of going now. This game really could give us the next big innovator.”

No Man’s Sky is released for PC and PlayStation 4 on August 9 in the US and the next day in Europe. Find more information at the game’s official website

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