New Year's Eve Google Doodle

New Year’s Eve is celebrated around the world, and it’s been an annual Google tradition to release a special animated doodle on this date. For New Year’s Eve 2018, it’s two animated purple elephants in party outfits, with the one on the left blowing balloons while a second is seen throwing popcorn into its mouth. There’s a clock on top that is just about to hit midnight, and if you click through the doodle, you’ll get search results for the places where people across the world are waiting to ring in the new year. Read more for an actual Google Doodle short film about Mister Rogers as well as a picture of the very first doodle.

Universe Extra Dimensions Dark Energy

A team of Uppsala researchers may have solved the dark energy puzzle that might be constituting 95% of the universe. Their report, published in the journal ‘Physical Review Letters’, claims that the universe in which we live in a nook is actually an expanding bubble in an extra dimension. The Uppsala researchers created a new model with dark energy and our universe riding on an expanding bubble in an extra dimension, and the simulation revealed that our universe is accommodated somewhere on the edge of this bubble. Read more for another video and additional information.

NASA New Horizons Ultima Thule Pluto

NASA’s New Horizons probe is set for a New Year’s Day flyby of a small body known as 2014 MU69, unofficially called Ultima Thule — “beyond the known world” — after traveling three years and a billion miles past Pluto. Ultima Thule is basically an occupant of the remote Kuiper Belt, a vast domain beyond the Neptune’s orbit populated by uncounted dwarf planets and a reservoir of frozen pieces left over from the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago. Read more for another video and additional information.

Studio Ghibli Theme Park
No, this isn’t an exclusive opportunity for a billionaire or lottery winner, but rather a real Studio Ghibli theme park that’s set to open in 2022, built on the Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute City, Japan. The attractions will be based on popular animated movies like ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ and ‘Spirited Away,’ while the main gate resembles the buildings from ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’. Currently, a basic plan of the park has been released, showcasing a few of the rides, attractions, and forest trails. It will be themed after the iconic, European-style brick buildings seen in many Ghibli movies, as well as include statues of boars, spiders, and other creatures. The local government says that the park will be built at the Expo 2005 Aichi Commemorative Park in Nagakute city. Read more for a video, additional pictures and information.

Stan Lee 96th Birthday

Photo credit: Jun Chiu
Stan Lee would have turned 96-years-old today, and Marvel honored the late comic book legend with a Tweet that read: “Happy Birthday, Stan. Thank you for everything.” Despite stepping away from regular duties at Marvel in the 1990s, he teamed up with Peter Paul in 1998 to start a new Internet-based superhero creation, production, and marketing studio, called Stan Lee Media. After that, Lee, Gill Champion, and Arthur Lieberman formed POW! (Purveyors of Wonder) Entertainment in 2001 to develop film, television and video game properties. Read more for more Stan Lee fan tributes.

Black Mirror Bandersnatch

Think of “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch” as an interactive movie, and it’s streaming now on Netflix. This “choose your own adventure” film lets the viewer(s) make choices that alter the direction of the story, similar to the popular series of books from the 1980s and 1990s. Set in the 1980s, it follows Stefan (Fionn Whitehead), a troubled young video game programmer who is trying to adapt a choose your own adventure book into a game. You can decide on what cereal Stefan will eat, the type of music he’ll listen to, and eventually life or death. Read more for another video and additional information.

Launch Fireworks Fortnite Week 4

Fortnite: Battle Royale continues to celebrate the 14 Days of Fortnite, and now, the main challenges are focusing on New Year’s as players can fireworks. In Week 4, players have to launch fireworks at three different locations to help ring in the New Year early next week. These aren’t an actual item or explosive, but rather specific locations towards the outer edges of the map where players can interact with a single firework candle stuck into the ground, aimed outward towards the ocean. What happens when you launch them? They explode just like typical fireworks. Read more for a video showing all of the locations.

Sony Mirrorless Camera LEGO Skin
Photo credit: LIFE+GUARD
Have you always wanted a functional LEGO camera, and already own a Sony mirrorless shooter? Well, Taiwan-based company LIFE+GUARD has the LEGO skin just for you. Not only does it look cool, but this colorful brick pattern also acts as a protective skin for the Sony a7 III and a7R III cameras. Each piece was carefully cut and is designed to fit snugly around the camera. Read more for additional pictures and information.

Star Wars Galaxy's Edge Land Disneyland Disney World

Disney has just released a behind-the-scenes video for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, which is set to open in 2019 at both Disneyland (summer) in California and at Disney World (fall) in Florida. This sneak peak gives us a preview of two of its main attractions: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance and Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run. “It will be jaw-dropping and incredibly emotional to walk into the land for the first time, to actually be standing there amongst the buildings, amongst the ships and have this feeling that it is all real, that it has been brought to life, and it is right there in front of you. It’s overwhelming,” said Carrie Beck, vice president of Lucasfilm Story Group. Read more for pre-alpha Millennium Falcon ride footage and additional information.

Classical Art Internet Memes

Photo credit: Bored Panda
For those who have never seen or heard of an internet meme, it’s basically a piece of media that spreads, often as mockery or for humorous purposes, and takes the form of an image, GIF or video. They can be a word or phrase, sometimes including intentional misspellings (such as lolcats) or corrupted grammar (such as in doge, all your base are belong to us, etc.). This is what happens when classical art gets turned into internet memes. Read more to see some of the most popular examples from this year, compiled by Bored Panda.