Misc. Nerdiness

harry_potter books

Here’s another reason for Harry Potter fans to cheer their favorite books and author J.K. Rowling.

According to three new studies conducted by Loris Vezzali of the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, people exhibit a marked difference in empathy and tolerance for others before and after reading the Harry Potter books.

The article, published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, studied how children and university students treated “out-groups” and found that subjects who read the books were more accepting of those people who are different than they are:

We conducted three studies to test whether extended contact through reading the popular best-selling books of Harry Potter improves attitudes toward stigmatized groups (immigrants, homosexuals, refugees). Results from one experimental intervention with elementary school children and from two cross-sectional studies with high school and university students (in Italy and United Kingdom) supported our main hypothesis.

Scientific American summarized the study result this way:

Of course there are many factors that shape our attitudes toward others: the media, our parents and peers, religious beliefs. But Vezzali’s work supports earlier research suggesting that reading novels as a child — implying literary engagement with life’s social, cultural and psychological complexities — can have a positive impact on personality development and social skills.

I gotta say, that’s pretty cool. I think I may need to thank my parents for starting me reading as early as they did.

(io9 via The Mary Sue)

after toontown

We loved them growing up and revisit them often, but have we ever really thought about what happened to our favorite cartoon characters as time went on?

Artist Steve Cutts thought about it and made an animated short that shows us all how fleeting cartoon fame can be.

Watch it after the break.

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Everyone likes playing with duct tape but what we usually end up making isn’t that impressive. Rianna of DuctTapeDesigns makes beautiful duct tape portraits that make all our silly flower and wallet creations look juvenile. The images are so good, you’d swear they were painted. She’s got Bataman, Iron Man, Dexter and even a Dalek and the TARDIS.

See more pictures after the break.

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Puffin UK has re-released its series of Doctor Who novellas with beautiful new cover art. Each book is about a different doctor and features a minimalist design of that Doctor’s outfit. Stories are penned by an amazing roster of authors that includes Neil Gaiman, Eoin Colfer, and Richelle Mead. The series is currently available for preorder in a slipcased set on Amazon and is slated to be available on US shores on November 18th.

See the rest of the covers after the break.

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batinder frame

In keeping with the spirit that superheroes are just like us and remembering that Batman has his own version of pretty much anything, artist Frank Macchia has created a perfect late night glimpse into the life of Batman.

Late night searches on Batinder. So many choices!

You can view the gif (with sound) after the break.

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pine marten

You’ve likely wondered what your Patronus would look like, and so has Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. She was recently asked about this on twitter, and said that her patronus would be a pine marten. This adorable little squirrel-fox thing is very rare in Britain but is found in large numbers in Ireland and Scotland. Isn’t it just the cutest Patronus ever?

On that note, Rowling also teased the possibility of a Patronus test coming to Pottermore, so you may have an official answer to this question soon.

See the tweets after the break.

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Browncoats will never give up hope that Firefly will make a triumphant return, but there’s nothing at all on the horizon officially. Instead, we have this fantastic fan film, The Verse, created by the folks at Loot Crate. It’s technically not Firefly, but it’s about as close as we’re gonna get.

You may be familiar with Loot Crate as the monthly subscription service that delivers a box of geeky goodness to doorsteps every month. This month it’s a Galactic box full of Firefly-themed products, making this the shiniest month ever. That’s why they’ve given us this 16-minute film that was written by fans, for fans, and even has props produced by Quantum Mechanix. Clearly, this was a labor of love that took the combined effort of Browncoats from all corners.

The stars of the short talk and look like the cast of the show. Makes you wonder if they’re a bunch of Browncoats, too. That cast includes Ryan Caldwell, Jennifer Wenger, Zack Finfrock, Peter Weidman, Tybee Diskin, Alex Marshall-Brown, Ewan Chung, and Vic Mignogna. They’ll make you want to kick back and watch the show all over again.

See the film after the break.

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If you haven’t watched Orphan Black, then you might be wondering what all the fuss is about, and we’re wondering what is wrong with you because it’s an amazing show. You sit on the edge of your seat each episode thinking you finally get what’s going on with all the clones, but soon realize there’s another level to it and you don’t know anything. Kind of like Jon Snow, but without the whole furred cloak.

This infographic created by PeetaIsMyHero is proof positive that everyone should be watching Orphan Black. Any show that causes viewers to utter an infinity loop of “Wait…what the f*uck?” has got to be good.

See the infographic after the break.

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What if the characters of Frozen were actually Pokémon Gym Leaders? They are in art imagined by Isaiah Stephens, and they look like they were made for the roles. He illustrated Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Hans as members of the Gym in the game, and I hope cosplayers run with these costume designs and that they also manage to recruit or capture some pocket monsters.

See more of Stephens’ work after the break.

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make a wish patrick stewart

This photo of Patrick Stewart hugging a young fan at Dragon Con would be fantastic on its own, but when you know more about the moment captured here by photographer James Barker, it hits warp speed on the awesome and feels.

Barker posted the photo on his Facebook page with the following explanation:

This is my favorite Dragoncon 2014 photo. The Make-a-Wish foundation made it possible for 10 year old Dawn, who has a life threatening illness, to meet Patrick Stewart backstage. He was about to speak to a packed room of 2000 people, but they sat down and he really focused on her; they talked for about 15 minutes. As things are winding down and she and her family are getting ready to go, Dawn unexpectedly throws him this huge hug, and you can see the happiness in both their faces. Bravo Sir Patrick! #classact #patrickstewart #dragoncon

The Make-A Wish coordinator who helped make this happen said that Patrick Stewart also gave Dawn a shout out in his panel and Dawn couldn’t stop grinning.

If you want to help contribute to more wishes like this one, you can go to wish.org. I’m sure there are lots of kids like Dawn who’d love to have their wish come true.

(via Reddit and Buzzfeed)