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Star Trek Fan Builds Klingon Warship Entirely From LEGO Bricks

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Proving that nerdy interests don’t need to be mutually exclusive, io9 reports that a German man named Kevin J. Walter has built a miniature version of the Klingon Bird-of-Prey ship from the Star Trek saga, entirely from LEGO bricks.

Walter told io9 that the project is his way of paying tribute to the TV show’s recent 50th anniversary. From conception to finished product, the model took him around eight years to complete, including a year and a half or so to construct the final version.

The space ship's model is based on a virtual design, which the LEGO hobbyist tweaked from 2008 and 2010. As for its individual sections, the ship is built from a variety of LEGO parts that Walter ordered from BrickLink—some of which he repurposed in creative ways. (Example: Walter used Bilbo Baggins’s front door to make the ship’s guns.)

Initially, Walter wanted to make the wings moveable, but they proved to be too heavy and frail during the later stages of construction, CBR.com reports. Walter’s mock-up also called for more than 250,000 plastic bricks, but he ended up only using around 25,000. In its final state (including the stand), the ship is a little over two feet long, and ranges in width from 16 inches to nearly three feet.

Check out a photo below, or visit Walter’s Flickr page to view more images. And keep your eyes peeled for yet another LEGO project, courtesy of Walter: a 150,000-piece LEGO model of Barad-dûr, or “The Dark Tower,” from The Lord of the Rings franchise. It’s been in the works for more than six years, and Walter hopes to complete it by the end of the year, just in time for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers's 15th anniversary in December.

[h/t io9]

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Forget Horns: Some Trains in Japan Bark Like Dogs to Scare Away Deer
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In Japan, growing deer populations are causing friction on the railways. The number of deer hit by trains each year is increasing, so the Railway Technical Research Institute has come up with a novel idea for curbing the problem, according to the BBC. Researchers there are using the sound of barking dogs to scare deer away from danger zones when trains are approaching, preventing train damage, delays, and of course, deer carnage.

It’s not your standard horn. In pilot tests, Japanese researchers have attached speakers that blare out a combination of sounds designed specifically to ward off deer. First, the recording captures the animals’ attention by playing a snorting sound that deer use as an “alarm call” to warn others of danger. Then, the sound of howling dogs drives the deer away from the tracks so the train can pass.

Before this initiative, the problem of deer congregating on train tracks seemed intractable. Despite the best efforts of railways, the animals aren’t deterred by ropes, barriers, flashing lights, or even lion feces meant to repel them. Kintetsu Railway has had some success with ultrasonic waves along its Osaka line, but many rail companies are still struggling to deal with the issue. Deer flock to railroad tracks for the iron filings that pile up on the rails, using the iron as a dietary supplement. (They have also been known to lick chain link fences.)

The new deer-deterring soundtrack is particularly useful because it's relatively low-tech and would be cheap to implement. Unlike the ultrasonic plan, it doesn’t have to be set up in a particular place or require a lot of new equipment. Played through a speaker on the train, it goes wherever the train goes, and can be deployed whenever necessary. One speaker on each train could do the job for a whole railway line.

The researchers found that the recordings they designed could reduce the number of deer sightings near the train tracks by as much as 45 percent during winter nights, which typically see the highest collision rates. According to the BBC, the noises will only be used in unpopulated areas, reducing the possibility that people living near the train tracks will have to endure the sounds of dogs howling every night for the rest of their lives.

Deer aren't the only animal that Japanese railways have sought to protect against the dangers of railroad tracks. In 2015, the Suma Aqualife Park and the West Japan Railway Company teamed up to create tunnels that could serve as safer rail crossings for the turtles that kept getting hit by trains.

[h/t BBC]

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5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
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Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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