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DeviantArt user Sn00glez

11 Fan Art Tributes to Teddy Roosevelt

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DeviantArt user Sn00glez

If you couldn’t tell from our numerous articles about him and our adorable “I love my Teddy” baby jumper, we're big fans of America’s 26th president. And we aren’t alone. In fact, there are hundreds of artists out there with their own tributes to Mr. Roosevelt. Here are a few of our favorites.

1. The Battle of the Century

Easily the most famous of all Theodore Roosevelt fan art, Jason ODIN Heuser’s take on the Rough Rider shows him taking on Bigfoot with a machine gun as he holds the American flag. You’ve never actually seen Bigfoot, have you? Well then, this might just be why.

If you enjoy seeing American historical figures taking on absurd villains, you ought to check out more of Heuser’s work, which includes Nixon fighting a saber tooth, Jackson vs. aliens, and Jefferson fighting a gorilla.

2. A Real Rough Rider

You hardly have to worry about carrying a big stick when you’re already riding a raptor. DeviantArt user cat-gray-and-me78 is probably right in his belief that if raptors were around while Theodore was alive, he would have found a way to domesticate them.

3. Master of the Teddy Bears

You already knew that the teddy bear was named after Roosevelt, who once refused to shoot a bear that was cornered and tied to a tree because it was unsportsmanlike, but you might not know that he had no such qualms about wrestling a whole gang of toy bears. OK, maybe I just made that story up after seeing this artwork by Andres Felipe Jaramillo, but it could happen.

4. Unbearably Manly

While it’s true that Roosevelt thought it unsportsmanlike to shoot a bear that was already tied up, he was certainly big on hunting, and was happy to go up against bears that hadn’t been worn down yet. Even so, I think DeviantArt user Asahi-Kami’s depiction of him fighting a live bear beside a campfire might be a little exaggerated –Theodore would at least arm himself with a big stick.

5. The Bear Necessities

There are quite a few cute fan art designs imagining Roosevelt as an adorable teddy bear, but this clay figurine by DeviantArt user The Muzick Girl really captures his fabulous mustache, lovable facial expression, and fantastic sense of style.

6. Animated and Adorable

For those who prefer to see the 26th president in his human form while modeled in clay, DeviantArt user beeliu’s is an adorably cartoonish take on the Rough Rider. Her creation was sculpted as a reference model for a school project that involved creating a PSA for the National Wildlife Refuge. With a model as great as this one, I’m willing to bet the animation was great.

7. Radical Roosevelt

The idea of Theodore Roosevelt riding a skateboard might seem silly to many of us, but when you consider that he was a huge fan of early American football (at a time when 18 people died playing the sport in just one season), it’s obvious that he supported extreme sports. So maybe, just maybe, he would be a supporter of skateboarding as well, and thanks to Isaiah Bela, we now know he would look pretty cool doing it too.

8. It’s Good to Be the King

Overall, Americans would have a hard time accepting a monarchy, but given how beloved Theodore was during his time in office, it’s possible they might have supported King Roosevelt—especially if he carried around a teddy bear with him to remind people of his sensitive side like he is doing in this portrait by Jaimie Choi.

9. Teddy Night

There is a Doctor Who episode where TARDIS was painted into Van Gogh’s Starry Night, but we all know The Doctor is an imaginary character. Roosevelt, on the other hand, is very real. And if someone builds a time machine and takes Roosevelt to meet Van Gogh, this revised version of Starry Night could one day hang in the most prestigious museums in the world. In the meantime, we’ll just have to admire DeviantArt user Sn00glez’s take on the concept.

10. Spuddy Roosevelt

Some people will pay thousands of dollars for a grilled cheese that has a blurred image of the Virgin Mary, but to me, this Teddy Roosevelt potato by Phillip Obermarck is far more valuable—if only for those stylish rimmed glasses.

11. Can’t Smash This

It’s hard to think of a more all-American jack-o-lantern than this one, carved by pumpkin artist Alex Kish. And while it might be a little hard to recognize with the lights on, the glowing face of Roosevelt is sure to ward off any potential pumpkin smashers on Halloween.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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]