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Flickr: Courtarro

26 Fantastic Examples of Star Wars Cosplay

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Flickr: Courtarro

When it comes to cosplay, one of the most common inspirations is Star Wars. And with good reason—it's one of the most iconic, best loved, and immediately recognizable franchises in the world. In preparation for Star Wars Day (May 4th, as in "May the Fourth be with you"), here are some of the greatest, and weirdest, Star Wars costumes ever created.

Unless otherwise stated, all images were taken by me at the San Diego Comic Con or the Wonder Con. You can find more of my convention images at my blog, Rue the Day.

Traditional Costumes

These days, Star Wars costumes are so common at conventions that more and more fans have taken to modifying their cosplay into new and interesting creations. That being said, there’s nothing wrong with a clean, classic Star Wars costume, and here are a few particularly great ones.

1. Leia and Han

You get a lot of Han and Leia couple’s costumes, but these two were really able to sell the passion between the pair. If you want to cosplay as Han, make sure you have his sidekick Wookiee in tow by picking up this talking Chewbacca plush toy from the mental_floss store.

2. Slave Leia

Any convention is bound to have a few Slave Leias. In fact, you’ll sometimes see a large group in one place, like in this delightful picture by Flickr user Courtarro; there's even a PSA about the dangers of Slave Leia fatigue.

3. Classic Leia

There are so many Slave Leias around, that it’s sometimes just refreshing to see a lovely Princess Leia in all of her clothes, like DeviantArt user Ivy95 here.

4. The Early Episodes

While the new Star Wars movies aren’t as popular as the three classics, there are still occasionally cosplayers who find inspiration from episodes one through three. Queen Amidala is a popular choice with the hardcore costume makers because her beautiful dresses are so elaborate.

5. From the TV Show

The Clone Wars have also been building a bit of a following and it’s becoming increasingly common to see characters from the animated show like this Ahsoka Tano.

Kid Costumes

While they tend to not be as accurate as the adult costumes, it’s hard to beat children’s cosplay when it comes to cuteness, and these Padawans are simply precious. (Here's hoping these kids have fun Star Wars-related books like Darth Vader and Son and Darth Vader's Little Princess on their bookshelves at home!)

6. Inside R2

It’s debatable if putting a baby into what is essentially a fashionable stroller really counts as cosplay, but there’s no way I could leave this precious little bundle out of this article.

7. Straight from Hoth

While this AT-ST looks great, the best part of this costume couldn’t actually be captured on film. That’s because his suit actually played the noise the walkers made in the films as this little guy walked the convention floor.

8. Little Leia

As if this dedicated little Leia’s yarn braids and collapsible light saber weren’t cute enough, she even had a plush R2D2 backpack with her.

9. Pet R2-D2

What happens when you make Princess Leia look particularly princess-y and give her an inflatable R2D2 friend? You end up with this adorable angel spotted by Jen at Epbot at Star Wars Celebration VI.

10. Twice as Nice

If you want your prodigies to be as intelligent and fun as C-3PO and R2D2 are, respectively, then it’s never too early to start encouraging such behavior. Makezine’s tutorial on how to make toddler droid dresses can get you started on the path of great parenting.

11. Sand Kid

While most children’s cosplay tends to be pretty adorably inaccurate, Flickr user wardomatic’s son Erza looks pretty darn authentic in this amazing Tusken Raider costume.

Mashups

Because Star Wars costumes are so common and so easily identifiable, mashups have become increasingly common amongst cosplayers. Here are some particularly great examples.

12. Pimp my costume

This Pimp Vader and Fett are an annual fixture at the San Diego Comic Con as well as a few other conventions. And why not? When you make costumes this fun, you might as well get some use out of them.

13. Hunka Burning Trooper

Similarly, the Elvis Trooper on the left here has been attending plenty of conventions in his outfit for years now. In fact, he even has his own website. Like the real King though, Elvis Trooper doesn’t mind impersonators. In fact, when I caught him with a copycat at the SDCC, the two even sang a duet together.

14. Sun Trooper

With its wonderful weather and plenty of tourist-friendly activities, San Diego is a great vacation destination…and even Stormtroopers know it.

15. Hello Leia

Think Slave Leia is sexy? What about Hello Kitty? What if the two were combined, like they were in this costume spotted at Star Wars Celebration VI by Jen of Epbot?

16. Lego Leia

Speaking of unsexy versions of Slave Leia, this Minifig version, photographed by Flickr user insidethemagic, is a bit creepy to all but the most dedicated LEGO fans. Of course, it’s still an amazing and fun costume.

17. Pulp Wars

When I see this Pulp Fiction/Star Wars mashup picture by Tom Pigott, I can’t help but think, “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my Emperor. And you will know my name is Darth when I lay the Darkside upon thee.”

18. Zombie Stormtrooper

These days, there are zombie versions of every costume imaginable, so it was inevitable that there would be zombie Star Wars characters as well. Then again, given how many Stormtroopers die during the franchise, The Empire would be ripe for a zombie apocalypse.

19. Kiss the Cook

Even the people who still enjoy episodes one through three still hate Jar Jar, so when Chef Darth serves up his head on a platter, everyone around seems thrilled with his cooking skills. You can try your own hand at making Star Wars treats with this cookbook, available in the mental_floss store.

20. Minnie-R2

While Minnie Mouse mixed with Star Wars characters seems odd, it starts to make sense when you remember that the company bought LucasArts—not only that, but this year’s Wonder Con was at the Anaheim convention center—right across the street from Disneyland. And so we have adorable R2-Minnie.

21. Minnie-Trooper

Even before the buyout was announced, the proximity of Star Wars Celebration VI to Epcot still gave this fan an excuse to be a Minnie Trooper, as photographed by Jen of Epbot.

22. At the Ballet

Similarly, ballet doesn’t really seem to fit in perfectly with the Star Wars universe, but it still makes for a fun cosplay opportunity. Here are C-3PO, Han and R2-D2 all ready to pirouette away at Wonder Con.

23. Tutus, Part Two

And Slave Leia and Darth Vader could make up Act II of this bizarre and fantastic ballet, even if they were at a totally different convention—Star Wars Celebration VI, as captured by Jen of Epbot.

24. Playing for the Dark Side

Are you ready for some football? These Miami Dolphins Dark Siders sure were, and I pity the one who tries to tackle Darth.

25. Family Wars

Family Guy created one of the most famous parodies of the franchise, so it’s not too surprising to that characters from the show popped up at Star Wars Celebration VI, and Jen of Epbot photographed the characters right in the perfect pose.

26. This is not a Joke

Because Harley and The Joker are just so crazy and silly, this seemingly odd costume mashup somehow seems right—if the characters were real, they would gladly cosplay as Jedis while trying to take over Gotham, just for fun. This particular image is my favorite of all the photos Jen from Epbot captured during the Star Wars Celebration.

As you may have guessed, this is by no means a full run-down of all the great Star Wars cosplay out there. Even a full website dedicated to the subject would have a hard time capturing all of the costumes from the franchise. Of course, if you know of any other Star Wars cosplay pictures that just can’t be missed, feel free to leave links or pictures in the comments.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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iStock
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Health
One Bite From This Tick Can Make You Allergic to Meat
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iStock

We like to believe that there’s no such thing as a bad organism, that every creature must have its place in the world. But ticks are really making that difficult. As if Lyme disease wasn't bad enough, scientists say some ticks carry a pathogen that causes a sudden and dangerous allergy to meat. Yes, meat.

The Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum) mostly looks like your average tick, with a tiny head and a big fat behind, except the adult female has a Texas-shaped spot on its back—thus the name.

Unlike other American ticks, the Lone Star feeds on humans at every stage of its life cycle. Even the larvae want our blood. You can’t get Lyme disease from the Lone Star tick, but you can get something even more mysterious: the inability to safely consume a bacon cheeseburger.

"The weird thing about [this reaction] is it can occur within three to 10 or 12 hours, so patients have no idea what prompted their allergic reactions," allergist Ronald Saff, of the Florida State University College of Medicine, told Business Insider.

What prompted them was STARI, or southern tick-associated rash illness. People with STARI may develop a circular rash like the one commonly seen in Lyme disease. They may feel achy, fatigued, and fevered. And their next meal could make them very, very sick.

Saff now sees at least one patient per week with STARI and a sensitivity to galactose-alpha-1, 3-galactose—more commonly known as alpha-gal—a sugar molecule found in mammal tissue like pork, beef, and lamb. Several hours after eating, patients’ immune systems overreact to alpha-gal, with symptoms ranging from an itchy rash to throat swelling.

Even worse, the more times a person is bitten, the more likely it becomes that they will develop this dangerous allergy.

The tick’s range currently covers the southern, eastern, and south-central U.S., but even that is changing. "We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northward and westward and cause more problems than they're already causing," Saff said. We've already seen that occur with the deer ticks that cause Lyme disease, and 2017 is projected to be an especially bad year.

There’s so much we don’t understand about alpha-gal sensitivity. Scientists don’t know why it happens, how to treat it, or if it's permanent. All they can do is advise us to be vigilant and follow basic tick-avoidance practices.

[h/t Business Insider]

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