There Can Be Only One
Snake v Crocodile in Northern Queensland
A month after its release, Naughty Dog
's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us
is being hailed as one of the best games of all time
, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics
Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth
, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps
), leaving behind lush wastelands
of elegant decay
teeming with monsters
and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies.
Into this bleak vision of desperate violence
journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future.
Boasting tense, immersive gameplay
, compelling performances
from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score
from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla
, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men
to Cormac McCarthy's The Road
, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite
and Half-Life 2
as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements
. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages
And don't miss the 84-minute documentary
exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
is a BBC nature documentary narrated by David Tennant that takes a breathtaking flight on the wings of birds across six continents and experiences some of the world's greatest natural spectacles from a bird's-eye view. There are some full episodes up on YouTube (including South America, Africa, and the Making Of)
, but in particular these two clips caught my eye: Feral Cat Hunting
and Peregrine Falcon Hunting
"Richard Lewis is director of Durrell's Madagascar programme
. Here he speaks
about how the team and the local villagers are working to protect the world's rarest tortoise
. This includes the drastic measure of "defacing" the beautiful shells in order to make the animals worthless on the black market."
The BBC Springwatch webcams are four live webcams
showing herons, nesting pied flycatchers, a buzzard, and a barn owl.
Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth
. The culmination of five years of field work
, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques
in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups
-- including many sights
rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular
, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries
, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta
, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score
from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes
for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough
. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
The BBC nature series, Human Planet, has been mentioned here
before. Photographer Timothy Allen traveled with the film crew and has created this audio slideshow
. [more inside]
Vanessa Mae Nicholson is one of Britain’s most successful
young musicians. A classical violinist
and former child prodigy
who self-describes her crossover style as "violin techno-acoustic fusion
," her fans praise her modern creativity and frenetic
. But is her talent learned or genetic? Documentary from BBC1 in 2008: Vanessa Mae - The Making of Me
. [more inside]
Want to take better nature photographs? BBC Wildlife Magazine has published a stack of their 'masterclass' features
online. [more inside]
"Papers that are scientifically flawed or comprise only modest technical increments often attract undue profile. At the same time publication of truly original findings may be delayed or rejected."
In an open letter
addressed to Senior Editors of peer-review journals, Professor Austin Smith
) and another 13 stem cell researchers from around the world have expressed their concerns
over the current peer review process employed by the journals publishing in the field of stem cell biology. [more inside]
The significance of the dinosaurs' death has been greatly exaggerated
. This article in Nature discusses how mammalian evolution accelerated independent from the death of dinosaurs. The theory was derived from a "supertree
" [pdf ~ 1mb] of mammals and how common ancestors have branched out. Coolest info-graphic ever.
Birds that rap
and cows with accents
. The big picture is urban adaptation
, which is pretty cool. (...and the egg
The Natural World
is yours to play with now courtesy of the BBC
, but only if you live in the UK!
The BBC have released their wildlife archives as part of the Creative Archive Licence
, including unseen clips from the new Planet Earth
Unfortunately, it's only available to those who live in the UK because "the member organisations who supply the content are funded with public money to serve the UK population."
Ground-based astronomy could be impossible in 40 years because of pollution from aircraft exhaust trails and climate change, an expert says.
Mating Leopard Slugs entwine
- one of the untold wonders of the animal kingdom captured on video....
The BBC gets up close and personal
with Life in the Undergrowth
in their new wildlife documentary. A must see for any animal, insect or
David Attenborough fan...
(If the main vid link doesn't work for you try it from here
- realplayer needed)
First it was purple frogs that consorted with known dinosaurs
, and now they've been joined by their three-headed brethren
[warning: gratuitous frogs].
'A colossal squid
has been caught in Antarctic waters, the first example of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni retrieved virtually intact from the surface of the ocean. ' Related (old news from January) :-
giant squid attacks boat
More squid sites :- Search for Giant Squid
a Smithsonian exhibit about a 1999 expedition. 'Whether living or extinct, on land or at sea, in literature or in life, large animals have long fascinated people. The largest animals have been known and hunted since prehistory: whales, walruses, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and large fishes... However, one large animal has gone almost unnoticed or certainly unobserved in its habitat. That animal is the giant squid. Although these animals have been found in the nets of commercial fishermen, in the stomachs of sperm whales, and washed ashore on different continents, no scientific information has been gathered by direct observations of live giant squid ... '
The UnMuseum's article on the giant squid