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11 Great Geek Wedding Dresses

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More and more couples are opting for fun-themed weddings to express their common interests. Here are a few great geek dresses that are way more memorable than another white gown.

Rivendell Bridal is a company that bases many of their lovely dress designs on famous female characters from classic stories, such as Titania (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and Guinevere (the King Arthur myths). They used to theme all the dresses and their names after the Lord of the Rings series, but have since stopped this practice (possibly over copyright issues). The dresses can all be customized and many come in a variety of colors. Here is one of their creations, worn by Norwegian bride Elizabeth.

Hello Kitty has actually designed its own line of wedding dresses, but even more impressive is this adorable gown worn by the curator of the Hello Kitty Museum in Germany, complete with a kitty bodice and a skirt adorned with 3D kitties and strawberries. Of course, having Hello Kitty herself at the wedding only makes it that much more geektastic.

Brenda and Rob love sci-fi, which is why they chose to incorporate Firefly, Star Wars and Doctor Who into their wedding. The couple even managed to get one of their invitations signed by the creator of Firefly, Mr. Joss Whedon. While all of that is pretty cool, it’s Brenda’s beautiful dress inspired by Firefly’s Inara that qualifies the couple for this list.

If this dress looks familiar to any of you gamers out there, that’s probably because it’s closely based on the clothing of Rydia from Final Fantasy IV. Bride Kouhotaru got together with cosplay designer Catherine of God Save the Queen Fashions to create this beautiful dress based on Rydia’s distinctive style. The result was a beautiful and fitting tribute that could actually be used as a wedding dress (unlike anything the character herself ever wore).

While plenty of people have Star Wars weddings, Nada’s dress here is unique in that it perfectly captures the fashion style of the movies without actually directly copying any outfits seen in the films. Of course, it was good to have some clothing pulled from the series, including the groom’s Jedi robes and the adorable flower girl’s Princess Leia outfits.

The bride at this Star Wars wedding, photographed by Justin Winokur, made a similar choice, opting to wear a white sci-fi inspired gown while her Mon Calamari groom and Princess Leia priestess helped make sure the theme was totally clear.

No one has actually gotten married in this particular gown, but with over 24,000 colored LED lights embroidered across its silk surface it’s certainly geeky and gorgeous enough to earn its place on this list. The design by futuristic textile company Cute Circuit is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. If any of you brides-to-be have enough money, you could probably convince Cute Circuit to create an LED dress just for you, like they did for Livia and Magnus.

Whatever your feelings about steampunk, there’s no denying that the Jules Verne-inspired, retro-futuristic fashion is definitely geeky. While there are plenty of steampunk wedding photos out there, Adrianna’s is special in that it is far more than just a corset with a nice skirt underneath. The lovely gown and all of her jewelry were created by Nancy Wong of Aerisk Fashion.

Anja and Lutz are both into live action role playing (LARPing) and they wanted their wedding to reflect their interest in history. The couple created every piece of their Tudor-inspired outfits themselves, with the exception of their shoes. As an extra bonus, the couple and all of their friends were able to reuse their outfits in future LARP events.

Speaking of historical gowns, Flickr user MrsCherry and her husband were actually married at a Renaissance Fair, so it was only fitting that the wedding party dressed appropriately. Here is the beautiful bride with her maid of honor, both in perfect period attire.

Floridian couple Scott and Molly had a pirate-themed wedding that was quite elegant. The wedding and reception were held on a pirate ship that sailed through the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and guests could not attend unless they were in costume. As for the bride’s stunning wench dress, it was custom made by her friend Luis Ortiz.

Who's been to a wedding where the bride (or groom!) wore something unexpected? Would any of you wear one of these gowns at your own wedding? Personally, I’ve always wanted a red wedding dress since I saw Beetlejuice when I was six.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Stephen Missal
crime
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New Evidence Emerges in Norway’s Most Famous Unsolved Murder Case
May 22, 2017
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A 2016 sketch by a forensic artist of the Isdal Woman
Stephen Missal

For almost 50 years, Norwegian investigators have been baffled by the case of the “Isdal Woman,” whose burned corpse was found in a valley outside the city of Bergen in 1970. Most of her face and hair had been burned off and the labels in her clothes had been removed. The police investigation eventually led to a pair of suitcases stuffed with wigs and the discovery that the woman had stayed at numerous hotels around Norway under different aliases. Still, the police eventually ruled it a suicide.

Almost five decades later, the Norwegian public broadcaster NRK has launched a new investigation into the case, working with police to help track down her identity. And it is already yielding results. The BBC reports that forensic analysis of the woman’s teeth show that she was from a region along the French-German border.

In 1970, hikers discovered the Isdal Woman’s body, burned and lying on a remote slope surrounded by an umbrella, melted plastic bottles, what may have been a passport cover, and more. Her clothes and possessions were scraped clean of any kind of identifying marks or labels. Later, the police found that she left two suitcases at the Bergen train station, containing sunglasses with her fingerprints on the lenses, a hairbrush, a prescription bottle of eczema cream, several wigs, and glasses with clear lenses. Again, all labels and other identifying marks had been removed, even from the prescription cream. A notepad found inside was filled with handwritten letters that looked like a code. A shopping bag led police to a shoe store, where, finally, an employee remembered selling rubber boots just like the ones found on the woman’s body.

Eventually, the police discovered that she had stayed in different hotels all over the country under different names, which would have required passports under several different aliases. This strongly suggests that she was a spy. Though she was both burned alive and had a stomach full of undigested sleeping pills, the police eventually ruled the death a suicide, unable to track down any evidence that they could tie to her murder.

But some of the forensic data that can help solve her case still exists. The Isdal Woman’s jaw was preserved in a forensic archive, allowing researchers from the University of Canberra in Australia to use isotopic analysis to figure out where she came from, based on the chemical traces left on her teeth while she was growing up. It’s the first time this technique has been used in a Norwegian criminal investigation.

The isotopic analysis was so effective that the researchers can tell that she probably grew up in eastern or central Europe, then moved west toward France during her adolescence, possibly just before or during World War II. Previous studies of her handwriting have indicated that she learned to write in France or in another French-speaking country.

Narrowing down the woman’s origins to such a specific region could help find someone who knew her, or reports of missing women who matched her description. The case is still a long way from solved, but the search is now much narrower than it had been in the mystery's long history.

[h/t BBC]

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