If 2015's pop culture scene had its own Facebook page, how would its Year in Review play out? Below our some of our suggestions based on the bizarre and downright awesome ideas that made the world of entertainment go 'round in 2015.
The dress color illusion
It was the question that split families, embroiled dinner conversations, and made people flee social media: Is this dress blue-and-black or white-and-gold? The resulting answers were so varied and mystifying (it's clearly white and gold!), that every outlet from the morning news shows to every major newspaper somehow covered the controversy. According to science, it's all just an illusion courtesy of the way our eyes perceive light. It's also worth noting that while most of us saw only two colors, there were several people with more evolved eyeballs who saw dozens of hues.
Pluto steals the spotlight
For space nerds, 2015 was a year to remember. Not only did the commercial space industry get a much-needed boost from the likes of Blue Origin and SpaceX (with both sticking landings of vertical rockets), but we also had Matt Damon and "The Martian" throw some much-needed blockbuster support behind a future manned mission to Mars. The clear winner of 2015, however, was the little dwarf planet that turned out to be one of the most photogenic jewels of our solar system. After a nine-year journey, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft sent back photos of Pluto showed a geologically active world of mountains, plains and glaciers. "Many landforms have their own distinct colors, telling a complex geological and climatological story that scientists have only just begun to decode," writes NASA editor Tricia Talbert.
The return of 'Star Wars'
A true pop culture phenomenon –– that's the best way to describe what undoubtedly will become 2015's biggest movie. "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Disney's first film as the new owners of the beloved franchise, was a solid hit out of the park. Not only did it manage to make the inner-child in all of us squeal with delight, but it also handedly erased the bad taste that was the prequel films. Whether that magic can continue indefinitely (Disney has a "Star Wars"-related film planned for every year going forward) is anyone's guess, but it feels great to reconnect with a galaxy far, far, away.
Jon Stewart leaves 'The Daily Show,' opens animal sanctuary
After 16 years behind "The Daily Show" news desk, Jon Stewart said goodbye and promptly took off for his 15-acre farm in New Jersey. The comedian and his wife, Tracey Stewart, then surprised everyone by announcing they were opening an animal sanctuary. Called Bufflehead Farm, the site will become the new arm of the national animal rescue nonprofit Farm Sanctuary. "We bought a farm in New Jersey with the intention of starting a farm sanctuary of our own with an educational center, but what I’m announcing tonight is that our farm is actually going to be the New Jersey branch of Farm Sanctuary," Tracey announced in October. "We’re going to build new advocates, new curious learners, and new leaders for this very important movement.”
Cats and cucumbers don't mix
It's just a vegetable to you, but the sudden appearance of a new object can trigger a cat's fight-or-flight response. (Photo: Ashley Smith/YouTube)
If a dog's version of hell is one filled with smoke alarms and vacuum cleaners, we learned this year that a cat's version is most certainly lined with cucumbers. For whatever reason (possibly related to an innate fear of predators), placing a cucumber behind most unsuspecting felines will make them react in sheer terror. In late November, the Web exploded with videos of people sneaking cucumbers behind their cats and the dramatic chaos that ensued. While this appears humorous, animal experts warn that such pranks are really not a good idea.
“Your pets rely on you to keep them safe," Dr. Frank McMillan, director of animal well-being studies at Best Friends Animal Society, told MNN. "Intentionally scaring your pet violates this trust.”
The future of 'Back to the Future' finally arrived
On Oct. 21 at approximately 4:29 p.m. Pacific Time, we all officially joined Marty McFly in the "future" promised to us by "Back to the Future II." While many of the technologies promised by the hit 1989 sequel, including flying cars and "JAWS 19," have yet to become a reality, we're happy to report progress on hoverboards, self-driving vehicles, and yes, even self-lacing sneakers.