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Crystal M

10 TARDIS Dresses for Fancy Occasions

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Crystal M

Prom season is here, and wedding season is coming soon. You can put some spice into the occasion and still look drop-dead gorgeous by dressing as a TARDIS. Sure, the Time And Relative Dimension In Space vehicle is boxy, and is often mistaken for a British police call box. But that doesn't stop creative Doctor Who fans from making it into something beautiful and alluring.

1. A Peek Inside

Sasha Trabane, Jax Adele, and Andy Coyle converted Sasha's plain blue prom gown from a few years back into something special by making it a TARDIS. The flap in the front became a door to the TARDIS, which you know is bigger on the inside. Coyle painted the sci-fi interior on canvas, which is revealed when you open the door. The dress is nice without the interior, but with it, it was a sensation at the Arisia convention in Boston. Sasha's dress has its own Facebook page.

2. Marie Antoinette TARDIS

Master cosplayer Kelldar constructed a Marie Antoinette-style TARDIS dress for Dragon*con 2011. She told Geeks of Doom that it was inspired by the color of the fabric, which arrived somewhat wrong for the Marie Antionette costume she had in mind, but just perfect for a TARDIS. So she combined the ideas!

3. Pinafore

Priscilla Dawn makes a lacy pinafore-style TARDIS dress. The poufy skirt gives it an innocent yet fancy look. Another TARDIS dress is available without the lace. Each is custom-made to fit the customer.

4. Minidress

This shorter TARDIS design would fit in seamlessly with other modern prom dresses. Redditor Abcent187 posted it from a friend's Facebook page, but neglected to identify the creator.

Update: The dress was made from upcycled materials by Battlestar Jillactica, who is modeling the dress. Photograph by Rigel Bowen.

5. Gown with Rhinestones

Crystal M made this beautiful TARDIS ball gown out of 10 meters of satin, plus crinoline, netting, and 1500 rhinestones. And then there's the cute little TARDIS hat! She will wear the dress tomorrow to the Vancouver Fan Expo, then she may sell it to another Doctor Who fan. See more pictures here.

6. Hooded Gown

From LoriAnn Costume Designs, this old-fashioned TARDIS costume comes in six pieces, and includes a hood, bustle, lace-up corset, and more, so you can mix and match the components to fit the occasion. It's available at LoriAnn's Etsy shop

7. Velvet

Russian cosplayer and DeviantART member Rimudo-Blanche unveiled this luscious velvet TARDIS gown last month. It is completely handmade with many details, such as a line of TARDIS shapes around the hem, a train made of TARDIS print, and sumptuous lace and beadwork. The matching hat has both feathers and a veil. Rimudo-Blanche models it holding a sonic screwdriver and has a tiny dalek attached to her waist. See more pictures of the dress in her gallery.

8. Cincher

Let's say you've already got a nice dress, but you need to make it special for a sci-fi or costume event -or you just want to dress it up in your favorite TV show theme. Show your loyalty to Doctor Who by adding a made-to-order TARDIS cincher with skirt over your dress, complete with the proper windows and signs. It's at Corsair's Boutique at Etsy.

9. Corset

Nikki Cohen of Mayfaire Moon Costumes & Corsets designed and built the TARDIS Corset that not only puts a little kink in your Doctor Who cosplay, but also lights up! Bonus: the "windows" open up to give you a peek at the inside. Relax, that peek is a painted picture of the TARDIS interior. Pair it with a fancy skirt for a fancy dress occasion. Get a closer look with more pictures. Photograph by Hugh Casey.

10. Edwardian Steampunk

Author JM Frey designed this old-fashioned TARDIS gown and commissioned Kenneth Shelley of Strange Days Costuming to make it. The dress is full of details.

The throat-broach has a standard yale key, like the one that the Doctor gave Martha and Jack Harkness, and the belt is hung with small pieces of electronics. There’s a circuit board, knobs and handles, gears, a clock that I dismantled and aged to make it look as if it was falling apart as it dangled from my chains, and of course, a sonic screwdriver.  The belt is meant to resemble the control console.

Frey wore the dress to FutureCon 2011-2012, and in a charity calendar.

Bonus: Comic-Con Variety

This photograph by Flickr user Ewen Roberts illustrates the variety of designs that Doctor Who fans with a little creativity can come up with. These ladies attended Comic-Con in San Diego in 2011. The only thing their costumes have in common is that they are dresses that remind one of a TARDIS.

See also: 11 Functional Homemade TARDISes.

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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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Animals
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Scientists Think They Know How Whales Got So Big
May 24, 2017
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iStock

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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