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18 Celebrity Workout Videos You Might Not Know Existed

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You already know Jane Fonda has a fitness empire, but there are a slew of other celebrity exercise videos lurking out there—some of which might surprise you. Give one a shot; at the very least, you'll be entertained while you work out.

1. ANGELA LANSBURY

Thanks to her roles as Mrs. Potts, Jessica Fletcher, and Auntie Mame, Angela Lansbury has Tony Awards, Golden Globes, a Grammy, and an honorary Academy Award under her belt. She's also got a workout video, released in 1988: Angela Lansbury’s Positive Moves: A Personal Plan for Fitness and Well-Being at Any Age.

2. MARK WAHLBERG

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Want abs like Mark Wahlberg? Well, as he points out in the video, you might not ever have them. But you can give it a shot with his 1993 video Form... Focus... Fitness.

3. ESTELLE GETTY

Estelle Getty made a workout video. What else do you need to know?

4. CHER

Want the confidence to wear Cher's "If I Could Turn Back Time" outfit? You can start with her workout videos. The singer and actress released her first video, CherFitness: A New Attitude, in 1991. It was a big hit, so in 1992, she released another one: CherFitness: Body Confidence.

5. REGIS PHILBIN

There's no doubt about it—for a guy in his mid-80s, Regis looks amazing. And he wants you to know how he did it! This 1993 gem is notable for its guest appearances alone (Kathie Lee and Gelman)!

6. ALYSSA MILANO

Capitalizing on her Who's the Boss fame, then-teen sensation Alyssa Milano filmed a 1988 workout video called Teen Steam. "It was during the time when they started to pull all funding out of schools for [physical education], so there was a need for it," the actress said in 2015. Milano also sang the theme song for the video.

7. DIXIE CARTER

Julia Sugarbaker can help you limber up with her Unworkout. Even if you're not into her brand of yoga (check out "The Lion"), you have to admit that any type of exercise is more charming when accompanied by a Southern accent.

8. MILTON BERLE

Uncle Miltie may have been one of the funniest comedians in Hollywood, but losing mobility and flexibility as you age is no laughing matter. That's why he released this 1994 video that combines humor (kind of) with a low-impact workout.

9. PAULA ABDUL

Following the success of her remix album Shut Up and Dance, Paula Abdul made her Get Up and Dance workout video in 1995—and it was popular enough to be re-released as a DVD in 2005.

10. LATOYA JACKSON

The early '90s were a goldmine for celebrity workout videos. Step Up Workout with LaToya Jackson was released in 1993—and the three people who have reviewed it on Amazon give it positively glowing reviews.

11. FABIO

You may never have Fabio's luscious locks, but if you follow along with his 1993 video, you could get his rippling muscles. OK, probably not.

12. HEATHER LOCKLEAR

The 1990 video Heather Locklear Presents Your Personal Workout was filmed after she found fame on T.J. Hooker and Dynasty, but before her turn as Amanda Woodward on Melrose Place. "I had never taken aerobics before and I was doing an aerobics video,” Locklear told Conan O'Brien in 2013. “They have a little earpiece in your ear, and they’re like, 'Alright two to the right, two to the left.'"

13. CELEBRITY PARENTS

Among Richard Simmons' impressive lineup of workout videos is a gem called Richard Simmons and the Silver Foxes, geared, obviously, at fitness for seniors. His guinea pigs? Celebrity parents. Among the illustrious moms and dads are Sylvester Stallone and Farrah Fawcett's moms and Dustin Hoffman and Al Pacino's dads. Watch Richard and a few of his Silver Foxes promote the new video on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1986 above.

14. MARY TYLER MOORE

She can turn the world on with her 1994 low-impact workout, Every Woman's Workout.

15. ZSA ZSA GABOR

When you're Zsa Zsa Gabor, you don't actually have to work out. You just hire "two muscley friends" in tank tops to move your body around in various exercise positions for you while you purr "Dahhhhling."

16. GEORGE FOREMAN

You might expect a video by a boxing champion to involve boxing, but you would be wrong. George Foreman's workout is geared more toward the everyman and invites you to just Walk It Off With George. He adds a little jab here and there, and does something dubbed "the Foreman Shuffle," but for the most part keeps it pretty low-key.

17. SALLY STRUTHERS

The former star of All in the Family made a video in 1988 extolling the virtues of walking using the "Balboa Fitness Walking Technique," a type of speedwalking.

18. SHIRLEY MACLAINE

The actress channeled her interest in spiritualism and metaphysics into this 1989 video, Shirley MacLaine's Inner Workout. (Don't miss Part 2.)

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technology
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Scientists Think They Know How Whales Got So Big
May 24, 2017
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It can be difficult to understand how enormous the blue whale—the largest animal to ever exist—really is. The mammal can measure up to 105 feet long, have a tongue that can weigh as much as an elephant, and have a massive, golf cart–sized heart powering a 200-ton frame. But while the blue whale might currently be the Andre the Giant of the sea, it wasn’t always so imposing.

For the majority of the 30 million years that baleen whales (the blue whale is one) have occupied the Earth, the mammals usually topped off at roughly 30 feet in length. It wasn’t until about 3 million years ago that the clade of whales experienced an evolutionary growth spurt, tripling in size. And scientists haven’t had any concrete idea why, Wired reports.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B might help change that. Researchers examined fossil records and studied phylogenetic models (evolutionary relationships) among baleen whales, and found some evidence that climate change may have been the catalyst for turning the large animals into behemoths.

As the ice ages wore on and oceans were receiving nutrient-rich runoff, the whales encountered an increasing number of krill—the small, shrimp-like creatures that provided a food source—resulting from upwelling waters. The more they ate, the more they grew, and their bodies adapted over time. Their mouths grew larger and their fat stores increased, helping them to fuel longer migrations to additional food-enriched areas. Today blue whales eat up to four tons of krill every day.

If climate change set the ancestors of the blue whale on the path to its enormous size today, the study invites the question of what it might do to them in the future. Changes in ocean currents or temperature could alter the amount of available nutrients to whales, cutting off their food supply. With demand for whale oil in the 1900s having already dented their numbers, scientists are hoping that further shifts in their oceanic ecosystem won’t relegate them to history.

[h/t Wired]

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