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J.J. Abrams' Irresistible New Nerd Bait

Oct. 27 2008, Published 7:07 a.m. ET

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it comes to capturing the hearts and minds of American geeks, no one does it better than super-producer J.J. Abrams. He made Jennifer Garner a techie pin-up with Alias, helped IT guys everywhere socialize with chats about "the others" with Lost, and he will become their undisputed king with his new Star Trek movie next year. But no Abrams project has inspired as much unadulterated dorkery as his upcoming untitled thriller (currently known by the codename "Cloverfield" and by its release date, "1-18-08").

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What began as a mysterious, handheld-camera trailer for a monster attack film—it started airing this weekend at Transformers screenings, natch—has exploded into a full-on viral phenomenon, complete with stop-frame YouTube analyses, digital deconstructions of the creature's roar, and vigilante mathematics to decode logarithms in the teaser clip and in two grainy photos on the official homepage.

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