With his long-awaited Star Trek prequel, released in May, director J.J. Abrams managed to do what no man has done before: lend a hint of bona fide sex appeal to the notoriously nerdy franchise. Thanks to a cast of attractive young stars—including Chris Pine as a James Dean-tinged Captain Kirk and Zachary Quinto as a suitably afflicted Spock—the film has already grossed US$375 million worldwide. A sequel to the prequel is already underway.
Mad Men, the ’60s-themed TV series created by Matthew Weiner, is an immaculately curated visual and sartorial delight, but Weiner’s greatest contribution to design may turn out to be his ascot-wearing son Arlo, branded by GQ this year as America’s most stylish eight-year-old. Arlo, whose wardrobe includes bow ties, a pink waistcoat, a cane and a red velvet “Valentine’s Day suit,” says he draws his inspiration from old Hollywood legends like Frank Sinatra, Gene Wilder and Boris Karloff. He is possibly the only boy in the history of the world to have requested a top hat and monocle for his third birthday.
Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi
After the May elections in India, Indian National Congress leader Sonia Gandhi joined other observers in crediting her son, Rahul, 38, and daughter Priyanka, 37, with the party’s revival. Rahul, heir to India’s most powerful political dynasty—and one of the country’s most eligible bachelors—hand-picked candidates from the party’s youth wing, of which he is leader. His mother—the Italian-born wife of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, assassinated in 1991—is said to be grooming him to be PM.
Kim Jong Un
Only bits and pieces are known about the youngest son of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il, tapped to be the country’s next leader, according to South Korean media reports: that he was born in either 1983 or early 1984, that he is the spitting image of his father, and that he was doted on by his Japanese mother, the late Ko Young Hee, who reportedly called him her “Morning Star King.” Educated in Switzerland, Kim Jong Un is said to enjoy Western popular culture like his old man, particularly NBA basketball. He also likes to ski.
In February, the 19-year-old daughter of pro-life Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin told Fox News it is “not realistic” for adults to expect abstinence of teens. In May, she was appointed “abstinence ambassador” for the Candies Foundation, an organization devoted to educating girls about “the devastating consequences of teenage pregnancy.” Bristol—who delivered her son, Tripp, last December and announced her breakup with the baby’s father, Levi Johnson, in March—said she was proud to offer herself up as a “living example” of what not to do. Some would say she’s a chip off the old block.
Even after Harold Nicholson, a former CIA operations officer, was imprisoned in 1997 for spying for a Russian intelligence agency, he opted not to retire. Instead, operating from his prison cell, he recruited his son Nathaniel, 24, to pass secrets to Russia and collect US$41,000 in payments owed to him for past activities from Russian agents in Peru, Mexico and Cyprus. In January, both father and son were indicted. According to court documents, Nicholson hinted to Russian contacts that his other son, Jeremiah, an air force sergeant with “a security clearance” and a Russian wife, may also “hold some future value” as a spy.
Princess Di’s niece, 18-year-old Kitty Spencer, catapulted herself to fame in April when she appeared on the cover of the British society magazine Tatler. In doing so she followed in the footsteps of her mother, former model Victoria Lockwood. (Named Tatler’s “girl of the year” 25 years ago, she graced the cover in 1990.) The daughter of Diana’s brother, Charles Earl Spencer, Kitty grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, shielded from the media glare. She dates a surfer named Jasper and spends her free time on the beach or on safari. She says she wouldn’t have enjoyed growing up in England. “Our way of life is so much more relaxed,” she said.
In May, judges of NASA’s National Space Settlement Competition, in which students from around the world compete to design a space colony, chose Canada’s Eric Yam, 17, as the winner. Yam, a student at Northern Secondary School in Toronto, designed a structure called Asten—so named for the Egyptian god of divine and physical law—that would hold 10,000 citizens, all of whom would be subject to a Canadian-style point-based immigration system. Preferential consideration, Yam decreed, would go to well-educated applicants who speak one of Asten’s three official languages: English, Mandarin and Hindi.
Scientists in Japan unveiled a new “cybernetic human” in March, a five-foot-two woman who can walk, talk, blink and move like a real person. HRP-4C, who has 30 motors in her body and eight in her face, can use her eyes and mouth to express surprise and anger. Dressed in a black-and-silver space suit, she recently hit the runway in a Tokyo fashion show, but her walk was deemed clunky and inelegant. “People in the industry told us she was short and had a rather ordinary figure,” said Hirohisa Hirukawa, one of the developers. She is nonetheless priced at $287,000.
In June, Aurora, a 20-year-old beluga whale who lives at the Vancouver Aquarium, gave birth to a healthy 1.5-m calf. Staff said Aurora—whose daughter Qila, 13, and granddaughter Tiqa, 1, also live at the aquarium—remained calm throughout the 13-hour birthing process. Visitors and volunteers observed in awe as the baby emerged. “It’s simultaneously one of the most beautiful and grossest things I’ve been able to see,” said one observer.