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Our Readers' Best Halloween Costumes

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At the beginning of the month, we asked for photos of your best Halloween costumes — the geeky ones, the nerdy ones, the ones of which you're particularly proud. After sifting through all the e-mails, we're proud to present our readers' best Halloween costumes. Enjoy!

(40 photos is a lot for one post, so we've paginated it as a courtesy to those of you with slower internet connections.)

Sheila S. (second from left) and friends, who know that a "group costume is infinitely more fun," spent one Halloween as Odlaw, Wizard Whitebeard, Wenda, Woof, and—of course—Waldo (Wally). "Costumes were complete with accessories (scroll, binoculars, cane, etc.), and Woof even had a personalized dog tag reading 'If found please return to Waldo'."




Amanda M. and her boyfriend dressed up as Jamie and Adam from MythBusters.


Reader Jessica V., at left, knows how to turn lemons into lemonade: "I'm going through chemo right now which means I don't have any hair, so I figured what better time to rock a Borg costume?" We couldn't agree more, Jessica. At right is reader Jen B., who made her great Stargate Jaffa Serpent Guard costume from cardboard.



At left, reader Meg B. as Edward Scissorhands. At right, reader Jason B. as his interpretation of Lady GaGa based on her song "Poker Face."



Two instantly recognizable TV characters: reader Anneke M. as Carmen Sandiego and reader Robert H. as Mr. Rogers. Anneke discovered that her classmates at BYU are quite the geography fans: "I had people screaming they'd "found" me everywhere I went."

Both Kerri (left) and Molly U. (right) invested some serious time into their home-made costumes.


For her Luna Lovegood costume, Kerri made the necklace, earrings, scarf, wand, glasses, and robe.


Molly made her entire Zelda costume from scratch, including the hand-painted tapestry hanging on the front.


Stephanie S. has dressed up as Agent Scully, E.T. (complete with bag of Reese's Pieces), and, breaking away from the alien-theme, Marge Simpson, although she says many people mistook her for Thing 1: "I think the hair is too bright of a blue."



The Rodgers family got creative with cardboard boxes: mom Sara dressed up as the TARDIS, kids Oliver and Landon were the Transformers Starscream and Megatron (that transformed "weakly, but still awesome when they used the right noises!"), and dad Mike was a red LEGO brick.

Landon has also dressed up as Dr. Horrible, "with FREEZE RAY!", as seen below left.

Reader Chris S. and family, above right, dressed as The Riddler, Poison Ivy, and Batgirl this year. All 3 costumes were home made.


Reader Betsy's 12-year-old daughter won't have any trouble trick-or-treating in the dark!



In 1988, "totally nerdy" reader Brian M. went trick-or-treating as Michael Dukakis, accompanied by a blow-up Ronald Reagan.



Shana C. as (a female) Alex from A Clockwork Orange.


Reader Jennifer W. dressed her 2-year-old twin boys in homemade Mario and Luigi costumes, because "Good Nerd Parents Raise Good Nerd Babies."


Robyn's stepson and his father have matching homemade Mario costumes for this year, accompanied by an 8-months-pregnant Robyn as Boo.




Our last Mario-inspired costume: Reader Augustus F. and his grandson teamed up as (big) Mario and (little) Luigi for Halloween this year.


Reader Lilly, at left, spent last Halloween as Firefox; she's repeating the costume this year but "expanding her search engine entourage." Reader Miranda O., at right, dressed as the Prince(ss) from Katamari; she brought along the booklet to explain her costume.



At left: Reader and law student Annie G. dressed as a LOLcat. At right: Reader Venus M. as an awkward turtle.



Tracie S. submitted this photo taken at the Halloween party held at her husband's independent game store; this guest was dressed as the "Nyan Cat."


Kimberly W. is going as SNL's Land Shark skit this year: "I'm the door. And when someone comes near my door I knock on it. They say "Who's there?" If I say "Landshark", I turn around and there's a picture of a landshark on one side, with "Trick or Treat?!" on the sides. If I say "CandyGram", I give them a piece of candy through the mail slot."



The daughters of reader Kathie R., Anna (5) and Liz (9), are trick-or-treating as Darth Vader and Princess Leia tonight, making Kathie one "proud mama right now!"



Continuing the Star Wars theme is Rohr Chamberlain in costumes made by his dad, Alex. This year they're doing Halo armor.



At left is reader Lisa K. as Beaker, holding the "severed head of Bunsen." At right, Lisa is dressed as Bender, accompanied by her boyfriend dressed as Dr. Zoidberg.



On the left: Kyla S., who won her work costume contest with her wedding cake costume. On the right: Jennifer W. (a different reader than the previously mentioned Jennifer W.), who used an Athena costume and a hand-drawn scale to dress as Lady Justice.




The very first photo we received was from Cassidy N., who built a mock-up of the Iron Man arc reactor and then "gave [him]self the hostage treatment from the beginning of the first Iron Man movie."

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technology
AI Algorithm Tells You the Ingredients in Your Meal Based on a Picture
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Your food photography habit could soon be good for more than just updating your Instagram. As Gizmodo reports, a new AI algorithm is trained to analyze food photos and match them with a list of ingredients and recipes.

The tool was developed by researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). To build it, they compiled information from sites like All Recipes and Food.com into a database dubbed Recipe1M, according to their paper. With more than a million annotated recipes at its disposal, a neural network then sifted through each one, learning about which ingredients are associated with which types of images along the way.

The result is Pic2Recipe, an algorithm that can deduce key details about a food item just by looking at its picture. Show it a picture of a cookie, for example, and it will tell you it likely contains sugar, butter, eggs, and flour. It will also recommend recipes for something similar pulled from the Recipe1M database.

Pic2Recipe is still a work in progress. While it has had success with simple recipes, more complicated items—like smoothies or sushi rolls, for example—seem to confuse the system. Overall, it suggests recipes with an accuracy rate of about 65 percent.

Researchers see their creation being used as a recipe search engine or as a tool for situations where nutritional information is lacking. “If you know what ingredients went into a dish but not the amount, you can take a photo, enter the ingredients, and run the model to find a similar recipe with known quantities, and then use that information to approximate your own meal,” lead author Nick Hynes told MIT News.

Before taking the project any further, the team plans to present its work at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition Conference in Honolulu later this month.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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Health
UV Photos Show the Areas We Miss When Applying Sunscreen
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Sunscreen only works if you're actually wearing it. And it's too easy to go through the motions of putting on sunscreen while still leaving large amounts of skin unprotected. Even if you're applying the recommended shot glass of sunscreen before you head out into the world, parts of your skin may still be exposed to harmful rays. Just check out these UV images taken by researchers at the University of Liverpool, spotted by the UK's Metro.

The black-and-white images were taken with a UV camera so that any part of the skin covered by UV-blocking sunscreen would appear dark. Skin without sunscreen on it, by contrast, remains visible. The 57 volunteers in the study—which was recently presented at the British Association of Dermatologists' Annual Conference—were instructed to apply sunscreen to their face as usual.

A black-and-white UV photo of a woman’s blotchy sunscreen application

Some volunteers were more thorough than others, but as a whole, the group ended up missing a median of 9.5 percent of their faces. Men with beards tended to miss a lot of their faces, you might notice in the photos, and people seemed to have trouble with covering the full area around their mouth. However, the main problems occurred around the eyes. Many people missed their eyelids, and more than three-quarters of the group missed the medial canthal region, or the area between the bridge of the nose and the inner corner of the eye.

A UV photo of a man shows white patches of bare skin underneath dark-looking sunscreen.

The finding is significant because the area around the eyes are particularly susceptible to skin cancer. According to the abstract presented at the conference, 5 to 10 percent of skin cancers occur on the eyelids.

Knowing this doesn't necessarily help, though. When the participants were brought back for a second visit, the researchers gave them new instructions that included data on cancer risks for eyelids, the results barely changed. People put slightly more sunscreen on around their eyelids (they missed a median 7.7 percent instead of 13.5 percent of the area) but almost everyone still missed their medial canthal area.

A woman turns her face to show sunscreen coverage in a UV image.

It's not a surprising finding, considering the fact that no one wants to get sunscreen in their eyes. Sunscreen manufacturers recommend that you keep it out of your eyes, and if it does run, you'll end up in tears. So it's not particularly useful to tell people they should be coating their eyelids in Coppertone.

To keep your face super smooth and reduce your likelihood of sun damage, then, the message is clear. Better get some shades, unless you've got a UV-blocking eyeshadow on hand. Better yet, get yourself a hat, too.

[h/t Metro]

All images by Kareem Hassanin, courtesy Kevin Hamill

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