While musicals may seem a cheesy thing to watch for many people, and may be considered a genre only for kids on Disney movies or for awful sagas like High School Musical, the reality is that some of the best and most iconic Hollywood movies are musicals with many accolades and inspiring entire generations. Some of the best musicals include:

  • La La Land (2016): While being a romantic comedy musical, this film starring Ryan Gosling as a jazz pianist and Emma Stone as an aspiring actress was praised for its screenplay and direction, as well for its performance and musical score, winning all seven awards from its seven nominations at the Academy Awards for the first time ever!

  • Les Miserables (2012): This epic historical musical is based on the novel by Victor Hugo received eight Oscars (including Best Picture) and features Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, among other high profile actors. It portrays the story of Jean Valjean, who is being hunted for decades by policemen after breaking parole during the French Revolution.

  • 8 Mile (2002): This iconic drama musical stars world-famous rapper Eminem and contains autobiographical elements from his life, as he attempts to launch his music career in a genre dominated by African Americans.

  • Ray (2004): This iconic biographical film focuses on the 30-year career of rhythm and blues musician Ray Charles which is portrayed by Jamie Foxx. This film earned Foxx the Oscar for Best Actor, as well as becoming the second actor to win all five major lead actor awards for this performance.

  • Rocketman (2019): Another biographical musical based on the life of another music god is Rocketman, telling the story of how Sir Elton John came to be the man he is today. The film stars Taron Egerton as the main star, as well as acting by Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard and Richard Madden.

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Musicals

We have been reading for months about the tragedies of the COVID-19 outbreak, so it’s time to take a breath of fresh air and see all the positive news that have come about after these challenging times.

The reaction of governments and businesses to stop the spread of the virus has brought about side effects that are positive from the environmental point of view. Thanks to satellite imagery, scientists have been able to compare pollution levels from this year versus the same period last year, and the results are astounding. We see epidemic centers like China, South Korea, Italy, and the UK drop up to 50% of their nitrogen dioxide emissions, a noxious gas that is often linked with health problems like asthma. These emissions come from car engines, power plants and other industrial processes.

While nitrogen oxide is not a greenhouse gas by itself, it is closely linked with the industries that are responsible for high levels of carbon emissions. The overall reduction of pollutants in the air can benefit not only vulnerable people, such as asthma patients, but also raise the health levels of the general population who now have access to cleaner air. Agriculture can also benefit from this, since pollution is associated with stunting plant growth. 

The lockdown in many countries has seen a decrease in the production of coal energy. In China, there was a 36% decrease in consumption of coal-powered energy, at the height of its lockdown. This is a direct consequence of people working from home and commuting less to work, as well as a decrease in flights (some airlines have cancelled close to 100% of their flights during these times), and the suspension of many non-essential businesses.

Another positive aspect of the COVID-19 pandemic is that doctors, researchers and health experts are sharing and cooperating at a global scale. A clear example is when Cuba sent an ‘army’ of white-robbed doctors to Italy to help mitigate the health care crisis there. Never before have we seen the entire world work together to overcome a common challenge.

The lessons learnt by this epidemic are going to serve us well when the next one comes. Because let’s face it, epidemics happen and they will keep coming in the future; but thanks to this experience we will now be better prepared as a global community that is ready to tackle the threat of invisible germs and viruses. Fortunately for us, the coronavirus has a fatality rate that is relatively low compared to other infectious diseases, like the SARS or Ebola. The entire planet is learning a hard lesson, but one that can ultimately save us in the future if we face a fast spreading disease that can decimate not only the elderly but also younger generations.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is definitely not a drill, let’s use it as a warning and an opportunity to request politicians, representative and leaders to strengthen our health care systems and emergency protocols, so next time we can stop an epidemic from the start before it is too late.

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On May 30 the world witnessed SpaceX’s first astronaut launch ever, which quickly became NASA’s most watched online event ever with roughly 10 million people tuning in. While originally planned to be launched on May 27, unfavorable weather conditions including thunderstorms and light rain in the area forced them to re-schedule.

The mission, a test flight called Demo-2, sent astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) and became the first American launch to deliver expedition crew to the ISS since the Space Shuttle ‘Discovery’ flew its last astronaut, Nicole Stott, back in 2009. The spacecraft called Crew Dragon with its trunk stands just under 27 feet tall and 13 feet around, and is designed to carry up to seven people safely to space.

The end of the mission is planned between June 29 and August 28, when the Crew Dragon splashdowns into the Atlantic Ocean and recovered by the GO Navigator recovery vessel, after the Crew Dragon spacecraft enters Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 17,000 mph (27,000 km/h) and enduring temperatures nearly as hot as the sun due to friction of particles when entering the atmosphere.

Back on Earth, everyone is wondering what it would be like to travel to space and see the wonders of the Earth from orbit as we follow Bob and Doug on their expedition through online updates and the news. One way you can calm your space fever is by playing Nova 7's and PULSAR: these space-themed games take bettors to distant space as they line up the interstellar symbols to win cash prizes out of this world! So, head to your device, play Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ and get ready to experience Space just like Bob and Doug with Nova 7's and PULSAR!

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