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Comic-Con mines past for future hits on 50th edition

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A smorgasbord of sequels, prequels and reunions from “Terminator” to “Game of Thrones” awaits thousands of misty-eyed comic book geeks and sci-fi nerds descending on San Diego this week for the world’s largest celebration of pop culture fandom.

The 50th edition of Comic-Con International will see 135,000 cosplayers, bloggers, movie executives and humble fans pile into a sweaty convention center for glimpses of their heroes, in town to promote the next mega-hit films, TV shows and comic books.

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This anniversary edition promises to be more nostalgia-laden than most — among those expected to appear are Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton, who will soon reunite on screen for the first time since 1991’s “Terminator 2” for Paramount’s killer cyborg sequel “Dark Fate.”

Also pushing hard on sentimental buttons will be Patrick Stewart, attending a panel for the launch of CBS’s new Star Trek series in which he reprises the fan-favorite role of Captain Jean-Luc Picard after almost two decades.

And lackluster reviews be damned: the cast of “Game of Thrones” — or at least a hardy few — will reassemble to dissect HBO’s fantasy epic in front of an audience that has had little time to cool down since Mad Queen Daenerys and her dragons brought the franchise crashing to a conclusion.

With author George R. R. Martin rumored to be attending, devotees who have kept the faith will be scouring for details of the numerous prequel series believed to be in development.

– Netflix –

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Kicking things off on Wednesday evening is New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.’ now-traditional “Scare Diego,” which for the second year running will offer fans insights into evil clown slasher “It: Chapter Two,” based on the 1986 Stephen King novel.

Netflix may be newer to the game, but it too is mining the archives in search of its next big hit.

A prequel series to classic 1982 fantasy film “The Dark Crystal” is generating buzz, with its combination of old-fashioned puppetry and cutting-edge visual effects aiming to cast a spell on old and young alike.

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In its search for the next “Game of Thrones” the web streaming giant is set to lift the lid on “The Witcher,” starring Superman actor Henry Cavill as the monster hunter from a series of cult 1990s Polish novels which spawned a lucrative video game franchise.

Another set of magical books getting the premium TV treatment is Philip Pullman’s acclaimed “His Dark Materials” trilogy, which will be previewed by HBO on Thursday.

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Cast members James McAvoy, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson will attend.

– ‘Phase Four’ –

Marvel Studios returns after skipping an edition and is expected to announce which characters from its comic-book back catalog will next be mined for its hyper-successful “cinematic universe.”

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After the recent “Avengers: Endgame” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home,” it is now time for “Phase Four” of the juggernaut of interconnected superhero films.

Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige is in town, and hopes are mounting that he and billed “surprise panelists” will unveil identities of the eight untitled Marvel films on parent company Disney’s release slate.

A standalone film for Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and a fourth “Thor” movie are among those widely thought to be in the works.

“Avengers: Endgame” directors the Russo brothers will also stop by to discuss the making of a film edging ever-closer to toppling Avatar’s global all-time box office record.

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The absence of any DC Universe movies from Warner Bros. has been coolly received by superhero fans, however, while film studio giants Sony and Universal are skipping this year entirely.

And sure to stir controversy in some of the internet’s darker depths is an early glimpse at The CW’s new “Batwoman” series, featuring Ruby Rose as an openly lesbian, feminist superheroine.


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How we found a special maths equation hidden in rat whiskers

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Rats have up to 70 whiskers on their faces, varying hugely in size and shape. Almost every mammal possesses whiskers, but these rodents are what we call “whisker specialists”, meaning they have super-sensitive, moveable hairs that they use to explore and sense their surroundings.

Rat whiskers can vary hugely. In our recent research, my colleagues and I analysed 523 whiskers from 15 rats and found that each whisker had a different length and shape. We wanted to investigate more about the shape of these hairs as a first step in understanding what rats feel through their whiskers.

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Mitch McConnell targeted by new group that plans to take him down — and anyone who supports him: report

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According to an exclusive report from Axios, a new group has been formed with the express purpose of making sure that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is ousted in the 2020 election with a plan to also go after his closest allies.

The report states that "a new independent expenditure group called Fix Our Senate will launch on Tuesday to go after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, " declaring, "McConnell is already the least popular politician in America — now, we’re going to shine a light on McConnell and every ally who supports him."

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2020 Election

Don’t be fooled – most independents are partisans too

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Will Donald Trump win reelection in 2020? To find out, you’d think you could just look up whether more Americans are registered as Republicans than Democrats.

But the truth is, it doesn’t really matter which party you register with on paper. Besides, 19 states don’t even register voters by party.

What really matters is what political scientists like myself call your “political identity” – your psychological attachment to a political group, such as a party or an ideological movement.

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