11 Things We Didn’t Know Last Week

News, discoveries and … fun. 1. You can make your own Mars Rover with NASA’s $189 littleBits Space Kit. (Learn more at littleBits) 2. It looks like George Clooney will lose bets with Nicole Kidman and Michelle Pfeiffer – he’s engaged to marry a second time. (Learn more at AARP) 3. Your dollar bill might carry bacteria linked to stomach ulcers, acne, pneumonia and staph infections. (Learn more at AARP) 4. Atari once buried as many as 750,000 ‘E.T.’ game cartridges in …

How to Defeat Space Aliens: A Moviegoer’s Guide

Their scientific and technical know-how make the International Space Station look like a Tinkertoy (well, it actually does kinda look like a Tinkertoy…). Still, as Tom Cruise proves in his new movie, Oblivion, it is surprisingly easy to fight back against space aliens. These classic sci-fi flicks provide an excellent primer in last-line-of-defense strategies against invaders from beyond the stars:       Teach Them Yoga War of the Worlds (1953; 2005) With those spindly arms and legs, the bending …

Carlo Rambaldi: In Motion Pictures, He Put the ‘Special’ in Special Effects

If you were enthralled by the diminutive, charming protagonist of Steven Spielberg’s E.T., the towering ape in the 1976 remake of King Kong,  or the hideous, homicidal beast in Ridley Scott’s Alien, thank Carlo Rambaldi. Rambaldi, a special-effects wizard who died Aug. 10 at age 86  in his native Italy, won Academy Awards for visual effects for all three of those films. Spielberg hailed Rambaldi as “E.T.’s Geppetto,” a reference to the fictional woodcarver who created Pinocchio, but Rambaldi’s skills …