The forest moon of Endor , is a moon in the Star Wars universe. It is a forested world covered by giant trees. It first appears in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, in which it is the body in whose orbit the second Death Star is constructed, and is the home of a race of furry aliens called Ewoks. The moon later appears in the Ewok TV movies Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure and Ewoks: The Battle for Endor, as well as the animated Marvel Comics series Star Wars: Ewoks. It also inspired the exterior queue for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Wikipedia.

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News Article | December 16, 2015

No indications of life have yet been detected on any of the nearly 2,000 scientifically confirmed exoplanets, so we don't know if any of them are inhabited by Wookiees or mynocks, or play host to exotic alien bar scenes (or even bacteria, for that matter). Still, a quick spin around the real exoplanet universe offers tantalizing similarities to several Star Wars counterparts. The most recently revealed exoplanet possessing Earth-like properties, Kepler-452b, might make a good stand-in for Coruscant—the high-tech world seen in several Star Wars films whose surface is encased in a single, globe-spanning city. Kepler-452b belongs to a star system 1.5 billion years older than Earth's. That would give any technologically adept species more than a billion-year jump ahead of us. The denizens of Coruscant not only have an entirely engineered planetary surface, but an engineered climate as well. On Kepler-452b, conditions are growing markedly warmer as its star's energy output increases, a symptom of advanced age. If this planet (which is 1.6 times the size of Earth) were truly Earth-like, and if technological life forms were present, some climate engineering might be needed there as well. Mining the atmospheres of giant gas planets is a staple of science fiction. NASA, too, has examined the question, and found that gases such as helium-3 and hydrogen could be extracted from the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune. Gas giants of all stripes populate the real exoplanet universe; in "The Empire Strikes Back," a gas giant called Bespin is home to a "Cloud City" actively involved in atmospheric mining. The toadstool-shaped city provides apparent refuge for a fleeing Princess Leia and company—at least until Darth Vader wreaks his usual havoc. Many of the gas giants found so far by instruments such as NASA's Kepler Space Telescope are so-called "hot Jupiters"—star-hugging behemoths far too thoroughly barbecued to be proper sites for floating cities. One recent discovery, however, shows that gas "exogiants" can orbit their stars at distances remarkably similar to those in our solar system. An international astronomical team discovered a twin of our own Jupiter, orbiting its star at about the same distance as Jupiter is from the sun. The star, HIP 11915, is about the same age and composition as our sun, raising the possibility that its entire planetary system might be similar to ours. This not-so-hot Jupiter, about 186 light-years away from Earth, was detected using the 11.8-foot (3.6-meter) telescope at La Silla Observatory in Chile. Bespin's atmospheric layers include a band of breathable air, ideal for floating cities. In our galaxy, emerging technology allows us to read out the components of real exoplanet atmospheres—including gas giants (though so far none show signs of habitable layers). And tasting the atmospheres of smaller, rocky, potentially habitable exoplanets soon could be within reach. Astronomers using K2, the second planet-finding mission of the Kepler space telescope, recently detected three such planets orbiting a nearby white dwarf star. The starlight shining through the atmospheres of these planets could reveal their composition in future observations. The planet Mustafar, scene of an epic duel between Obi-Wan Kenobi and Anakin Skywalker in "Revenge of the Sith," has a number of exoplanet counterparts. These molten, lava-covered worlds, such as Kepler-10b and Kepler-78b, are rocky planets in Earth's size range whose surfaces could well be perpetual infernos. Kepler-78b, roughly 20 percent larger than Earth, weighs in at twice Earth's mass; a comparable density means it could be composed of rock and iron. That might make it, like Mustafar, suitable for mining, although its extremely tight orbit around its sun-like star, along with scorching temperatures, provides an unlikely arena for industrial operations—or for fencing with lightsabers. Kepler-10b isn't much more pleasant. The first rocky world discovered using the Kepler telescope, it also hugs its sun, some 20 times closer than Mercury orbits ours. A balmy day on Kepler-10b means daytime highs of more than 2,500 Fahrenheit (1,371 Celsius), even hotter than lava flowing on Earth. The surface, free of any kind of atmosphere, might be boiling with iron and silicates. At 3,600 degrees Fahrenheit (1,982 Celsius), however, CoRoT-7b has Kepler-10b beat. This well-grilled planet, discovered in 2010 with France's CoRoT satellite, lies some 480 light-years away, and has a diameter 70 percent larger than Earth's, with nearly five times the mass. Possibly the boiled-down remnant of a Saturn-sized planet, its orbit is so tight that its star looms much larger in its sky than our sun appears to us, keeping its sun-facing surface molten. The planet OGLE-2005-BLG-390, nicknamed "Hoth," is a cold super-Earth that might be a failed Jupiter. Unable to grow large enough, it had to settle for a mass five times that of Earth and a surface locked in the deepest of deep freezes, with a surface temperature estimated at minus 364 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 220 Celsius). That most likely means no "Hoth"-style tauntauns to ride, or even formidably fanged abominable snowmen (aka "wampas"). Astronomers used an extraordinary planet-finding technique known as microlensing to find this world in 2005, one of the early demonstrations of this technique's ability to reveal exoplanets. In microlensing, backlight from a distant star is used to reveal planets around a star closer to us. The planet lies toward the heart of the Milky Way, where a greater density of stars makes microlensing events more likely. The one-time event revealing the distant Hoth was captured by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, or OGLE, and confirmed by other instruments. We won't have to travel 20,000 light years, however, to visit icy worlds. Saturn's smoggy moon, Titan, where the Cassini spacecraft's Huygens probe landed in 2005, is pocked with methane lakes and socked in permanently with thick, hydrocarbon haze. The freeze is so deep that water ice is no different from rock. Another Saturn moon, Enceladus, looks like a snowball but harbors a subsurface ocean much like Jupiter's moon Europa, another ice ball with a likely ocean underneath. That ocean would be warmed by tidal flexing as the little moon orbits Jupiter. Luke Skywalker's home planet, Tatooine, is said to possess a harsh, desert environment, swept by sandstorms as it roasts under the glare of twin suns. Real exoplanets in the thrall of two or more suns are even harsher. Kepler-16b was the Kepler telescope's first discovery of a planet in a "circumbinary" orbit—circling both stars, as opposed to just one, in a double-star system. This planet, however, is likely cold, about the size of Saturn, and gaseous, though partly composed of rock. It lies outside its two stars' "habitable zone," where liquid water could exist. And its stars are cooler than our sun, and probably render the planet lifeless. Of course, we could look on the bright side (so to speak). When the discovery was announced in 2011, Bill Borucki, the now-retired NASA principal investigator for Kepler at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, California, said finding the new planet might actually broaden the prospects for life in our galaxy. About half of all stars belong to binary systems, so the fact that planets form around these, as well as around single stars, can only increase the odds. A more recently announced exoplanet, Kepler-453b, is also a circumbinary and a gas giant, though its orbit within its star's habitable zone means any moons it might have could be hospitable to life. It was the tenth circumbinary planet discovered using the Kepler telescope. Kepler-22b, analog to the Star Wars planet Kamino (birthplace of the army of clone soldiers)), is a super-Earth that could be covered in a super ocean. Watery, storm-drenched Kamino makes its appearance in "Attack of the Clones." The jury is still out on Kepler-22b's true nature; at 2.4 times Earth's radius, it might even be gaseous. But if the ocean world idea turns out to be right, we can envision a physically plausible Kamino-like planet, with the help of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. An ocean world tipped on its side—a bit like our solar system's ice giant, Uranus—turns out to be comfortably habitable based on recent computer modeling. Researchers found that an exoplanet in Earth's size range, at a comparable distance from its sun and covered in water, could have an average surface temperature of about 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius). Because of its radical tilt, its north and south poles would be alternately bathed in sunlight and darkness, for half a year each, as the planet circled its star. Scientists previously thought such a planet would seesaw between boiling and freezing, rendering it uninhabitable. But the MIT scientists' three-dimensional model showed that the planet, even with a relatively shallow ocean of about 160 feet (50 meters), would absorb heat during its odd polar summer and release it in winter. That would keep the overall climate mild and spring-like year round. The shallow depth, by the way, would be ideal for Kamino-style ocean platforms, allowing construction of covered cities at the ocean surface, where armies of clones could march and drill in peace. Fly me to the exomoon Endor, the forested realm of the Ewoks, orbits a gas giant and was introduced in "Return of the Jedi." Detection of exomoons—that is, moons circling distant planets—is still in its infancy for scientists here on Earth. A possible exomoon was observed in 2014 via microlensing. It will remain forever unconfirmed, however, since each microlensing event can be seen only once. If the exomoon is real, it orbits a rogue planet, unattached to a star and wandering freely through space. The planet might have hung on to its moon after somehow being ejected during the early history of a forgotten planetary system. A team of Japanese, New Zealand, and American astronomers analyzed data gathered in 2011 with telescopes in New Zealand and Tasmania, and suggested the possible exomoon. They said a small star accompanied by a large planet also could have caused the same lensing effect. More exomoons might soon be popping out from the depths of space. The Harvard-based Hunt for Exomoons with Kepler, or HEK, has begun to scour data from Kepler for signs of them. In early 2015, the researchers examined about 60 Kepler planets and determined that existing technology is sufficient to capture evidence of exomoons. The hunt could have powerful implications in the search for life beyond Earth. If exomoons are shown to be potentially habitable, it would open another avenue for biology; habitable moons might even outnumber habitable planets. Could they have bustling ecosystems, with life forms even more exotic than Endor's living teddy bears, swinging between trees Tarzan-style? Stay tuned. Breaking up is hard to do In "A New Hope," Princess Leia's home planet, Alderaan, is blown to smithereens by the Empire's Death Star as she watches in horror. Real exoplanets also can experience extreme destruction. A white dwarf star was caught in the act of devouring the last bits of a small planet in 2015, observed with the help of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory. White dwarfs are super-dense stellar remnants about the size of Earth, but with gravity more than 10,000 times that of our sun's surface. Tidal forces could rip a planet caught in its pull to shreds. Observers thought at first they were seeing a black hole in the act of feeding inside a star cluster on the Milky Way's rim. X-ray observations, however, matched theoretical models of a planet being torn apart by a white dwarf. A similar observation of a closer white dwarf was made by K2 in 2014. In this case, a tiny rocky object, probably an asteroid, was being vaporized into little more than a dusty ring as it whipped around the star every 4.5 hours. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope also picked up signs of debris from a likely asteroid collision in 2014. But rather than a sign of planetary destruction, the colliding asteroids could be part of a construction site. This young star—about 1,200 light years away and only 35 million years old—is surrounded by a ring of dust where such collisions are frequent. The smashed and broken bits fuse into larger and larger agglomerations, eventually forming full-sized planets. Our own solar system might once have looked very similar, if anyone was watching. Explore further: Kepler marks five years in space

Some of the planets discovered around stars in our own galaxy could be very similar to arid Tatooine, watery Scarif and even frozen Hoth, according to NASA scientists. Sifting through data on the more than 3,400 confirmed alien worlds, scientists apply sophisticated computer modeling techniques to tease out the colors, light, sunrise and sunsets we might encounter if we could pay them a visit. Some of these distant worlds are even stranger than those that populate the latest Star Wars film, "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story." And others are eerily like the fictional planets from a galaxy far, far away. A real planet in our galaxy reminded scientists so much of Luke Skywalker's home planet, they named it "Tatooine." Officially called Kepler-16b, the Saturn-sized planet is about 200 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus. The reality of its two suns was so startling, George Lucas himself agreed to the astronomers' nickname for the planet. "This was the first honest-to-goodness real planetary system where you would see the double sunset as two suns," said Laurance Doyle, an astrophysicist with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute and Director of the Institute for the Metaphysics of Physics, who discovered the planet using NASA's Kepler space telescope. A person on Kepler-16b would have two shadows. In a storm, two rainbows would appear. Each sunset would be unique, because the stars are always changing their configuration. Building a sundial would require calculus. Astronomers have discovered that about half of the stars in our Milky Way galaxy are pairs, rather than single stars like our sun. So while Kepler-16b aka Tatooine is probably too cold and gaseous to be home to life, or a hopeful desert farm boy, it's a good bet that there might be a habitable Tatooine "twin" out there somewhere. George Lucas has a fondness for desert planets, and at least one NASA scientist thinks he's on the right track. "Desert planets are possible. We have one right here in our solar system in Mars. We think desert planets elsewhere could be even more habitable than Mars is," said Shawn Domagal-Goldman, an astrobiologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. He likes Lucas' proliferation of arid worlds because he believes it might reflect the galaxy we live in. "The recurring theme of desert worlds in 'Star Wars' is really interesting, because there is some research that shows that these would be likely habitable worlds to find," said Domagal-Goldman, who is, among other things, a climate scientist. Desert worlds are not only a very real possibility, but they are probably very common, he said. They could be hot, like Tatooine and Jakku, or cold, like Mars and Jedha in "Rogue One." "The lack of water on a desert planet might be what makes it more habitable. Water amplifies changes to climates and can cause planets to end up being really hot like Venus, or really cold like Europa," said Domagal-Goldman. There is a world named Hoth in our galaxy—an icy super-Earth discovered in 2006. It reminded scientists so much of the frozen Rebel base they unofficially nicknamed it after the planet that appears in "The Empire Strikes Back." The planet's scientific designation is OGLE 2005-BLG-390L, after the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) that found it. Our galaxy's Hoth is too cold to support life as we know it. But life may evolve under the ice of a different world, or a moon in our solar system. On Earth, it's been found inside volcanoes, deep ocean trenches, even the frozen soil of Antarctica. NASA is currently designing a Europa mission to look for life under the crust of Jupiter's icy moon Europa. And Saturn's moon Enceladus also contains an underground ocean that could harbor alien life. For the scientists who characterize exoplanets, the most important planet to study is Earth-the only known planet with life. And life on Earth began in the ocean. "We need Earth climate science to help us understand planetary habitability and the potential diversity of life on exoplanets," said astrobiologist Nancy Kiang, a research scientist at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. As an astrobiologist, her job is to model the kind of plant life that might exist on planets around other stars—also known as exoplanets. We haven't confirmed the existence of ocean worlds like the perpetually rainy Kamino in "Attack of the Clones," or worlds with oceans, like the beachy Scarif from "Rogue One." But we have found frozen ocean worlds in our solar system, in the moons Europa and Enceladus. We may even be able to glimpse an ocean on an exoplanet in the not-so-distant future. "Ocean glint can be detected over large distances," said Victoria Meadows, a professor at the University of Washington and director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute's Virtual Planetary Laboratory. Such a glint was first observed reflecting from the liquid methane seas on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. Both the forest moon of Endor, from "Return of the Jedi," and Takodana, the home of Han Solo's favorite cantina in "The Force Awakens," are green like our home planet. But astrobiologists think that plant life on other worlds could be red, black, or even rainbow-colored. A few months ago, astronomers from the European Southern Observatory announced the discovery of Proxima Centauri b, a planet only 4 light-years away from Earth, which orbits a tiny red star. "The star color would be peachy to the human eye," Meadows said. "And the planet would appear dark purple to light purple, looking at it from a spacecraft." From the surface of Proxima b, the sky would appear to be periwinkle. The light from a red star, also known as an M dwarf, is dim and mostly in the infrared spectrum, as opposed to the visible spectrum we see with our sun. The planet also doesn't have sunrises or sunsets like Earth: one side always faces its sun. "If you have photosynthetic organisms, they would always get fixed amounts of light all the time. It would be a permanent sunset around the planet. You would see a gradation of color," Kiang said. Just as seaweed changes color from green to dark brown as you dive deeper into the ocean, plants on a red dwarf planet may brilliantly change color from the day side to the night side. And that could mean rainbow plant life. Just about any 'Star Wars' planet In the "Star Wars" universe, Lucas and company envision scores of worlds bustling with intelligent beings. In our galaxy, we know of only one such world so far-Earth. But NASA exoplanet scientist think we have a fighting chance of finding life beyond our solar system. The next few years will see the launch of a new generation of spacecraft to search for planets around other stars. The Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and NASA's James Webb Space Telescope will attempt to determine what's in the atmospheres of other planets. Then, in the next decade, the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope (WFIRST) will bring us images of exoplanets around sun-like stars. That's one step closer to finding life. "The idea of life on other planets resonates with people on a very personal level," Doug Hudgins, NASA's program scientist for exoplanet exploration, said of the "Star Wars" films' enduring popularity. "They portray this image of a universe that is teeming with life." "We are at our heart explorers," he said. "We want to know what's out there. Through the imaginings of George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry, we get to feel for a bit of time like we really can go out and explore the stars." Explore further: Tatooine worlds orbiting two suns often survive violent escapades of aging stars

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-IP | Phase: NMP.2011.1.4-1 | Award Amount: 9.56M | Year: 2012

It is vital that nanomanufacturing routes facilitate an increase in production whilst being green, sustainable, low cost and capable of producing high quality materials. Continuous hydrothermal synthesis is an enabling and underpinning technology that is ready to prove itself at industrial scale as a result of recent breakthroughs in reactor design which suggest that it could now be scaled over 100 tons per annum. Academic specialists with international reputations in reactor modelling and kinetics and metrology will develop the know how needed to scale up the current pilot scale system. Selected project partners with expertise in sustainability modelling and life cycle assessment will quantify the environmental impact and benefits of a process that uses water as a recyclable solvent, whilst producing the highest quality, dispersed and formulated products. In addition to scale up production, the process will be improved through case studies with industrial end users in four key areas printed electronics with SOVY; surface coatings with CRF, PPG and SOVY; healthcare and medical with ENDOR and CERA; hybrid polymers and materials with TopGaN and REPSOL. Further value will be added to the Project by working on new materials that have been identified as key future targets but cannot be currently made, or made in significant quantities. The consortium is founded on the principle that the whole value chain (from nanoparticle production to final product) must be involved in the development of the technology. This will not only inform the development stages of the production process but also maximise market pull, rather than simply relying on subsequent technology push.

This invention discloses a new conjugate compound that comprises at least one HA oligomer derivatised through one thiolated linker, whereby it binds to at least one metal nanoparticle, such as, for example, a gold nanoparticle. Moreover, it discloses methods of obtaining it, as well as the use thereof in a cosmetic treatment, and cosmetic compositions that contain them.

News Article | November 21, 2015

For the past several nights I’ve come home from work, walked my dog, cooked and ate dinner, and then immersed myself in Star Wars: Battlefront, the uber-hyped online shooter that publisher Electronic Arts expects will shift 13 million copies through next March. Unlike seemingly every other adult on the planet, I have never seen the original Star Wars trilogy. I’m sure they’re fine films, but my parents tell me that Darth Vader scared me as a youngster, thus putting me off the series for the duration of my formative years. I did see Episode 1 in 1999, but reliable sources tell me that real Star Wars fans would like to “burn it with fire,” so I’m not sure that counts for much. Which brings me back to Battlefront. The game’s whole existence appears to be predicated upon players becoming starry eyed at the sight of events like Emperor Palpatine slinging lightning bolts at his opponents, or kneecapping a—checks Wookipedia—AT-AT by pulling a cable around and around its legs. If events like these mean nothing to you—and they mean absolutely nothing to me—then it’s hard to see why you’d play Battlefront instead of the likes of Battlefield, Call of Duty, or Halo, none of which require a deep understanding of lore to fully enjoy. (And anyway, the less Halo lore you know, the better.) This is not to say that Battlefront is a bad game, full stop. It’s not! It’s just that if you haven’t fallen under the spell of George Lucas’ universe there’s not a lot to keep you playing. Part of the problem is that there’s not a whole lot to do. The game touts several different modes, but most these are typically variants of well-worn multiplayer modes like deathmatch and capture the flag. The most compelling is called Supremacy, in which teams of as many as 20 players take and hold different points on the map before the end of a 10-minute time limit. It’s basically a tweak of Conquest, a popular mode from Battlefield. (DICE, a Swedish developer, makes both Battlefront and Battlefield.) I also rather enjoyed a mode called Droid Run, in which players have to track down, capture, and hold onto three robots—excuse me, droids. The game also only ships with four primary environments (Endor, Hoth, Sullust, and Tatooine) that are then split into 12 different maps. That’s… not a lot, but as highlighted by a YouTube video, EA is already selling a $50 DLC “season pass” that promises more maps in the coming months. One thing that I was able to appreciate was how beautiful everything looks. The game is gorgeous. The environments, from the snow swept expanses of Hoth to the windy speeder bike trails on the Forest Moon of Endor, Battlefront screams PS4 in a way that, say, Fallout 4 screams PS3-and-a-half. The frame rate also hums along at a steady 60 frames per second, with the action never bogging down in the heat of combat. And the sense of scale the game conveys when you try to shoot down an AT-AT Walker from the ground is right up there with Shadows of the Colossus. Battlefront is a strange one. On one hand, if you’re the kind of person who dissects Japanese trailers for scraps of new information about the upcoming movie, Battlefront’s mere existence is likely worth celebrating. On the other hand, if you have zero connection to the wider Star Wars universe then the fanservice bursting from the game’s seams won’t mean much to you, and you’re better off scratching that “I need a multiplayer shooter in my life” itch with something else. Electronic Arts provided Motherboard with a retail PS4 code of the game.

If you are a Star Wars fan, then getting one of Propel's battle drones is an absolute essential. Now, you can recreate the famous speeder bike chase scenes in Endor from Return of the Jedi and immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe by playing one of Propel's toy drones. The collection features three remote-controlled drones that can fly at blistering speeds of up to 30 miles per hour in just 3 seconds. Choose from the classic T-65 X-Wing Starfighter, Darth Vader's TIE Advanced X1, and the Empire's 74-Z Speeder Bike. But if you are a Han Solo fan, you'll have to wait for next year to get the Millennium Falcon drone. Aside from the three vehicles, Propel's Star Wars collection also includes an Imperial Scout trooper and comes in a special limited-edition packaging. The battle quads are packaged in a wax-sealed box that is shaped like the grid-like interiors of an Imperial ship from the movies. When the box is opened, it lights up and plays a soundtrack from the movie. The toys stand out because they are highly detailed. Every ship is handpainted, and even the screwdriver used to install the toys' batteries comes in the shape of a lightsaber. "We want to keep them as true to the ships in the Star Wars films as possible," says Jack Bishop, head of development at Propel. If you are a total amateur to drone flying, you can use the T-mode setting of the toy, which allows you to set a limit to how high it can fly so it does not go off too far, or fly over the fence. There is also a simulator app that you can choose to play first to familiarize yourself with the game's controller. How To Play With Star Wars Battle Drones Just like in the movies, the drones fire lasers at each other in an aerial combat. Each game can have up to twelve drones fighting each other simultaneously. The battle drones communicate with each other in real time. Once your toy gets hit in the battle, it will be broadcast and everyone will know how many lives you have left. You get to have 7 minutes of flying for every charge, but you can swap it out with the extra battery to make the flight (and fight) time longer. Now, you can have a Star Wars-themed holiday season by watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and buying this toy collector's item from Propel. © 2017 Tech Times, All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.

News Article | December 2, 2016

If you grew up with Star Wars you probably had dreams of becoming a pilot and flying epic space battles. Well now Propel is bringing this dream from a long time ago and a galaxy far away to reality with Star Wars Battle Quad drones. After launching in the UK, Propel’s Star Wars Battle Quad are now officially available in the United States. Retailed for $239 Brookstone and other retailers, you’ll have your choice between a T-65 X-Wing, Tie Advanced X1 (Darth Vader’s personal whip) and 74-Z Speeder Bike picked from the forest moon of Endor. Propel tells us a Millennium Falcon model is in the pipeline but isn’t available yet as the company is still working out the kinks of making what is essentially a pointed frisbee fly right. Each drone isn’t a cheap knock off either. They’re all carefully sculpted with intricate panel lines and details like a high-end collector’s model. That said, Propel had to make some concessions to turn these classic Star Ships into air worthy quadcopters. The X-Wing has a pelican-like gullet to make room for a battery along with two offshoots protruding from the main fuselage to support the two front rotors. Meanwhile, the Speeder Bike is nowhere as sleek as its film adaptation. The Tie Advanced X1 makes the smoothest transition to drone form as the body of the model simply stand on its rotors like four peg legs. On top of taking the shapes of your favorite childhood spaceships, the Battle Quads are a ton of fun to fly around. Able to reach a max speed of 40mph and accelerate from 0 to 35mph in three seconds, these things really zip around quickly. What’s more, these drones firing freaking lasers. You’ll be able to play out dogfights thanks to each drone being equipped with infrared sensors and emitters. Of course, no one just automatically becomes an ace pilot overnight. And so Propel has created a training program within to help drone fliers both young and old slowly ramp up their flying skills. An upcoming smartphone app will include a virtual training simulation that teaches users how the controls work and how to fly the drone. From there, users can switch the drone into a mode that keep the drone level and limits the speed to 10mph until they feel safe to take the training wheels off. At a launch event in New York, we got to play around with the drone in safety mode that was fun, but we can’t wait to really take this thing outside and fly about. The only negative thing we can pick out from these drones so far is you only get 6 to 8 minutes of flight time out of the batteries and fully recharging takes about 30 minutes. The good news two extra batteries are included in the box. Speaking of which, even the collectors box each drone comes in is special. Upon opening the package you’ll be greeted with a light up panel reminiscent of the Death Star interior and a speaker sounding off with the classic Star Wars fanfare. Overall, we think this is the drone Star Wars fans have been waiting for. The Battle Quads are also one of the best drones to pick up for kids if the training modes can really prevent them from crashing the drone immediately.

News Article | July 2, 2015

Any "Star Wars" fan will tell you that the Battle of Endor was a crucial moment for Rebel forces trying to overthrow Darth Vader and his attempt to build a second Death Star. If it wasn't for Han Solo, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, Luke Skywalker, C-3PO and R2-D2 helping to take down the Empire -- not to mention the countless Ewoks who ended up giving their lives that day -- where would we be today? As part of its new "Real Fake History" series that parodies History Channel shorts, YouTube channel Machinima takes a closer look at the Battle of Endor from "Star Wars Return of the Jedi." Ken Burns-like documentary-style interviews feature two co-pilots who were also in the Millennium Falcon cockpit with Lando Calrissian and Sullustan smuggler Nien Nunb that fateful day when they attacked the second Death Star and lead the Rebels to victory. The former Rebel pilots, Bill Bendix and Mark Stargazer, talk about the stressful mission that almost didn't succeed. "We don't know what to do," Bendix said in the video. "We didn't have any training. They just put us in uniforms and threw us in there and said, 'Help out Lando.' And to make matters worse, I don't speak Sullustan. So I had absolutely no idea what Nien Nunb was saying." "Who the hell brings in a co-pilot that doesn't speak the same language as everybody else?" Stargazer asked. "It's unprofessional! What are you saying?! We're under attack!" He's got a good point. Not everyone can speak alien languages, especially during a war. Han Solo understands the Wookiee language of Shyriiwook, and of course, Huttese. Luke Skywalker can decipher droid beeps and Jawaese. And C-3PO knows all the languages including Ewokese (though technically some of those phrases are Tibetan). Luckily, Lando perfectly understood Nunb's native tongue of Sullustese (which is derived in real life from a mix of Kenyan languages Haya and Kikuyu), even if the other pilots didn't, and they ultimately helped the Rebels win the war again Darth Vader and the Empire, once and for all. More historical events to be dissected in upcoming "Real Fake History" episodes include the Battle of Castle Black from "Game of Thrones," the Battle of New York City from "The Avengers" and the Battle of Hong Kong from "Pacific Rim," just to name a few. New episodes of "Real Fake History" air Tuesdays on Machinima.

News Article | September 11, 2015

I’d heard all the stories: it was a narrative mess; a mash-up of first-person shooters and role-playing games, armed with a fistful of bad sci-fi tropes and writing to match. There didn’t seem to be a lot of middle ground with the game; it was either slavish devotion or outright hatred. But I had a brand-new PlayStation 4 on the way, so when I got home that night I ordered the first physical copy I could find. I wasn’t worried about The Taken King or expansions. I figured I’d use the game as a periodic distraction, just like I’d played Bungie’s Marathon trilogy back in the day. It didn’t quite work out that way. I still remember when I made that fateful decision. It was a summer night, and I’d had a couple of drinks, prowling around Los Angeles with some coworkers after a week of E3 tomfoolery. As we chattered along in the back of an Uber, we decided it was time for one more drink. (It’s always “just one more,” though of course it never really is.) We walked down the hallway of the hotel toward the bar in the back, and that’s when my colleague Sam Byford said the magic words. “Plante’s going to start it, too. I’ll get up early to play with you; I don’t care.” When I first started, nothing really stood out as problematic. I whipped up my character (an Awoken Hunter with red hair, natch), and after getting through the set-up mission I proceeded to run around the Tower realizing I had no idea what the hell was going on. My savior was Peter Dinklage. How bad can things be when Tyrion Lannister has your back? If you’ve never played Destiny, Dinklage provided the voice for your Ghost, a sort of floating robot spirit guide / deus ex machina that guides your trip. If you have played Destiny, then you know that Dinklage’s performance has been despised since the game’s earliest days. But for me, he was a companion and a friend; I was running through this post-apocalyptic galaxy doing ridiculous things against ridiculously named villains (the Vex? Really?) but how bad can things be when Tyrion Lannister has your back? It was only well after my Destiny chipping had grown into a daily habit (and the ensuing internet research began) that I realized other people didn’t like Dinklage’s performance. But I didn’t care whether the wizard he was talking about came from the moon or from Endor; I was in with Tyrion. But as my skills improved I realized something very sinister was at play. Because Destiny is both a shooter and an RPG, you spend a lot of time gaining experience so you can level up. Levelling up to get stronger, levelling up to wear better armor, levelling up to take advantage of more powerful weapons. When you hit a certain point, it becomes a brutal, slogging grind — and that’s not even taking into account the bizarre experience-plus-equipment formula the game used when you hit level 20. (It involved magic armor and something called Light; that system has thankfully now been fixed.) A therapist would point to some sort of latent obsessive-compulsive disorder Destiny became a sort of virtual to-do list for me: proceed along the story levels, complete bounties to work up points and currency to buy other things, rinse and repeat. For somebody like me, who spends a lot of time arranging the apps on their smartphone screen just so, there was something strangely appealing to it. I’m sure a good therapist would point to some sort of latent obsessive-compulsive disorder, and a need to bring order to the universe, but either way Destiny soon became an obsession. I’d grab a quick hour of gameplay after work, only to realize I’d somehow warped to 1AM. At which point I needed to wrap things up, of course, with another quick 15 minutes (that inevitably turned to another hour). My girlfriend, who had kindly requested I not turn into a gaming junkie when the PS4 arrived, started to ask about the clicking in the background when we’d talk on the phone. Or why I couldn’t remember certain topics that we’d discussed. Or why I talked about Peter Dinklage a lot. Look, I’m not proud, but I’m not going to lie to you, either. Crisis struck: I had to go on vacation Over the weeks, my obsession increased as I zeroed in on a level 30 character. That was a signpost of particular importance, because as I fell deeper into the game I did become interested in those expansion packs and the upcoming The Taken King. Players that hit level 30 when The Taken King came out would get exclusive digital stuff, you see, labelling them as early adopters who had taken on the challenges of Destiny well before The Taken King brought it to the commoners. (I’m fully aware that none of this makes any sense, but such is the power of gaming addiction.) At level 27, crisis struck: I had to go on vacation. Vacation where I wouldn’t be able to play my precious Destiny, stranding my ginger-haired avatar without means of advancing. I checked in on him with the Destiny mobile app during brief down moments, just to see what he’d accomplished (and where I could improve; the kill-death ratio on my last few missions hadn’t been so hot). And I made the mistake of reading some of the "grimoire cards" that are part of the game; little snippets of backstory and context that would have been integrated into the story in any kind of cohesive experience, but here were relegated to the backwaters of the web and mobile apps. And that’s when the emptiness started to creep in. After I got back home, I threw myself back into the game, rapidly advancing until I completed the story and hit level 30. I urged other friends to buy the game and join me in co-op missions, desperate to recapture that initial feeling of magic. I preordered The Taken King and began exploring the missions that came in the game’s first two expansion packs. I maxed out at level 32, high-end armor and weaponry across the board. I even started up a new character, hoping that beginning again with a Titan would somehow fill the void. It all came crashing down on August 14th. I was getting ready to head to Anaheim to cover an event, and just before I jumped in the car I saw the news: Xûr (a magical salesman that shows up in the game every week) was selling Gjallarhorn (a super-fancy rocket launcher). It was a coveted weapon, and my endorphins kicked into high gear as a single thought surged forth in my consciousness: I must have this. I turned on the TV and powered up the PS4. One quick trip to the Tower, and Gjallarhorn would be mine. I got there. I found him. He had it. And I was two credits short. "I can just play a quick mission to make up the difference," I thought. I tried. I failed. I looked at the clock. I had a 90-minute drive and a hotel check-in ahead of me. I could still do this. I tried again. It was one of Destiny’s no-bullshit group missions, where you can only resurrect if a team member revives you. If you all go down, it’s game over. We fought against the villain — some crazy wizard skull-looking thing in a room full of metallic scaffolding — and it was like being in an Iron Maiden video with a sniper rifle and a robot costume. I went down. The other two teammates got me back up. They went down. I got them up. Like being in an Iron Maiden video with a sniper rifle and a robot costume Then one of the players quit. There were two of us left. We battled hard, fast, back and forth as legions of monsters and magical glowing orbfire shot out at us. (I’m sure there’s a grimoire card explaining what the orbfire is made of, but I never found it.) Then I went down one final time. I waited for my teammate to revive me… and then he succumbed. I left the house and drove to the conference. I posted one sorrow-filled missive online, and then went inside. I don't know what's worse — that I understand this headline, or that I'm away from home and can't take advantage. — Bryan Bishop (@bcbishop) August 14, 2015 When I emerged two days later, I came back to the game, but my heart wasn’t in it. Sure, I was finally improving in some of the competitive Crucible matches, but that wasn’t what intrigued me about the game in the first place. And then the final crushing blow, a piece of news I’d missed after I’d returned from vacation: Dinklage was out, and gaming voice-over artist Nolan North was in. With The Taken King days away now, I’ve thought about returning to my former home. Bungie has promised a bit more of a coherent narrative this time around, which could be the thing to lure me back in and make me care again. I leapt online yesterday, in fact, to give the new levelling-up system a whirl. I couldn’t even remember how to wield my arc blade. I think it’s better that way. Although I never did play with Sam. Read next: Why I'm still addicted to Destiny, one year later

News Article | December 22, 2015

By Sara Mortensen, Digital Content Marketing Specialist, The Nature Conservancy When I first began working at The Nature Conservancy, I never thought I would be writing about Star Wars. The original Star Wars trilogy made up the majority of only a handful of movies my family had when I was a child. My impressionable young mind instantly fell in love with all of the characters, but the humans took second place to the creatures that inhabited its fantastical world. When I got an email from my coworkers saying they wanted to collaborate on a story in anticipation of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I could tell the Force was strong with this one. Whether it was the awakening of my inner child or jitters from the entire pot of coffee I had just consumed I could not tell, but I discovered as we brainstormed ideas that we don’t have to travel to a galaxy far, far away to see the creatures of the Star Wars universe. Their inspiration is all around us! Take, for example, the American Bison — one of the most iconic North American mammals. I recall watching them from the window of my dad’s old Bronco when we would embark on road trips across the northwest and I could have sworn I was instead looking at a gathering of Wookies. I wouldn’t have known it then, but these magnificent beasts were once hunted to extinction in the 19th century. Only now are they making their return to the prairie. In fact, when the Conservancy assisted in the return of bison at the Nachusa Preserve in Illinois, it impelled the first appearance of bison east of the Mississippi River in nearly 200 years! Now bison live to capture the imagination of future generations, including children who have yet to see the resemblance of Chewbacca in their wooly manes. © A Kermode bear or "spirit bear" on Gribbell Island in the Great Bear Rainforest of Canada. The 21-million-acre Great Bear Rainforest is the largest coastal temperate rainforest on Earth. Credit: Jon McCormack And who else could be more beloved by a nerdy young girl than the Ewoks? Cute and fuzzy, charismatic and silly, it is no surprise that I took to them as quickly as I did. Their resemblance to bears I had seen in our national parks and preserves truly brought them to life, particularly the Kermode Spirit Bear that dwells in the Great Bear Rainforest, similar to what we may find on the planet of Endor. The Great Bear Rainforest in British Columbia is a vital cultural and economic resource in which the Conservancy is working to successfully implement ecosystem-based management. Through this approach, we can meet the needs of the natural system as well as the people, plants and animals depend on it for survival. © A peninsular bighorn sheep grazing on sagebrush and other woody plants in the California desert. Credit: Robb Hannawacker Though I had never seen bighorn sheep up close, I often admired the beauty of their bold, curving horns and sandy coat from photos I had seen in nature magazines. When I first saw the banthas in Episode IV: A New Hope, it was obvious that these magnificent creatures were George Lucas’s inspiration. Although we won’t see any bighorn sheep traveling with any Tusken Raiders, they can be found across much of the western U.S. And while the unsavory characters in Tatooine and Mos Eisley are not threatening their existence, the Conservancy is working to protect the habitat of bighorn sheep by reducing the impact of climate change and site development. Luckily, we already have heroes protecting the people and creatures of Star Wars from destruction, and we don’t need to wield a light-saber or be trained in the ways of the Force to protect our own planet. Change starts with us and, together, we can save these creatures from falling to the Dark Side. Even small steps to help the planet, like biking instead of driving to work, unplugging your appliances when they aren’t in use, or composting your food scraps, make a big difference.

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