Helen Lovejoy Moment

Study: Lego faces have been getting ‘angrier’ over last 20 years

Lego minifigures appear to be getting angrier and angrier, according to a new study that examined hundreds of Lego heads manufactured since their first launch in 1975.

The University of Canterbury team, led by Christoph Bartneck of the university’s Human Interface Technology Lab, wanted to explore one way Lego might be influencing children through play. Toys, and play time, are considered vital to the development of emotional understanding in children, and with an average of 75 Lego blocks per human on Earth it makes sense to see what kinds of emotions Lego is presenting to children.

Bartneck looked at 3,655 Lego figures manufactured between 1975 and 2010, finding there were 628 different unique faces that would form the dataset. These faces were categorised according to which of six emotions they seemed to represent — anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness or surprise — and how intense that emotion appeared to be.

The ranking was outsourced to 264 members of Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, who each ranked each of the faces to give emotional averages. The emotions on display weren’t mutually exclusive, too — so, for example, one head might look a five for surprise, with a two for happiness.

On average, heads displayed 3.9 different emotions, which means that for a lot of the faces their emotional state is reasonably complex and ambiguous. 324 heads were judged to be dominantly happy, 192 angry, 49 sad, 28 disgusted, 23 surprised and 11 afraid.

However, when historical trends were taken into account, “the trend is for an increasing proportion of angry faces, with a concomitant reduction in happy faces”, Bartneck writes in the study. While Lego has been introducing a greater number of new faces at a faster rate since the early 90s, the happy/angry balance has slowly been moving away from the former and towards the latter.

This chimes with an increase in tie-in Lego sets that have war or conflict themes, Bartneck argues: “We cannot help but wonder how the move from only positive faces to an increasing number of negative faces impacts how children play. Lego has a considerable array of weapon systems in [its] program, although the weapons mainly appear in the fictional themes. Their presence indicated that also Lego is moving towards a more conflict based play themes.”

It could mean that “the children that grow up with Lego today will remember not only smileys, but also anger and fear in the Minifigures’ faces.”

Source: © Ian Steadman, Wired.co.uk

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Fluffy Jammies

‘Onesies, of course, are all the rage, with everyone from Brad Pitt, Cara Delevingne, and the One Direction boys rockin’ the adult rompers. The Daily Mail goes as far as proclaiming it’s “one of the biggest fashion phenomenons of the decade.” Says the paper: “While many believe that contemporary Norwegian designers Henrik Norstrud and Knut Gresvig put onesies on the map with their OnePiece brand, these images prove that versions of the item of clothing have been on the minds of designers for decades. Labelled ‘bodysuits’, they combine a range of rather snazzy shirts with a pair of underwear to create a bizarre garment, showcased by models posing in some questionable stances.”’

Questionable is the word!

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Sir, please! My question is: why?! Ditto the craze for wearing pyjamas to the store. If you wear a nightdress people call you crazy, but PJs and onesies are cool?!

The world’s going cuckoo.

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You Can’t Hide!

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You know how the CIA’s surveillance system is second to none according to what Hollywood had served up all this while? I really wonder whether modern day technology used in intelligence agencies are up to par, and can even enhance blurry images to high resolution photos in an instant.

Well, one thing is for sure – Hitachi Kokusai Electric has developed a surveillance camera system par excellence, where it is able to go through data on 36 million faces in just a single second. This would mean it can detect a face from surveillance footage or a regular photo in a search, where results will be displayed nearly instantaneously, serving up thumbnail images of potential candidates. Should you pick on a thumbnail, then the associated recorded surveillance footage can be viewed thereafter, allowing you to know what said person was doing beforehand.

This system runs on assumptions to make it as efficient as possible, where it will assume that faces are turning within around 30 degrees in the horizontal and vertical directions from the camera, and they need to be at least 40 x 40 pixels in size. It would be interesting to see just how this system’s performance will be like when it comes to combating crime in crowded areas.

Source: Ubergizmo

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Turning’s Sunflowers

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Celebrate Alan Turing’s centenary year with an experiment!

This spring, we need your green fingers! Join Manchester Science Festival and MOSI (Museum of Science & Industry) for a mass planting of sunflowers as part of an experiment to solve the mathematical riddle that Turing worked on before his death in 1954.

Brighten up Manchester and the Nation, whilst helping mathematicians to explore Turing’s theories about plant growth. We need you to sow sunflower seeds in April and May, nurture the plants throughout the summer and when the sunflowers are fully grown we’ll be counting the number of spirals in the seed patterns in the sunflower heads. Don’t worry – expertise will be on hand to help count the seeds and you’ll be able to post your ‘spiral counts’ online.

The results will be announced during the Manchester Science Festival 2012 (27 Oct – 4 Nov), alongside a host of cultural events connected to Turing’s life and legacy, at MOSI, Manchester Museum and other cultural spaces.

Sign up to the Experiment of the year!
Register on our mailing list to get the latest updates including where to get your seeds, planting times, planting sites and events in your area, record breaking sunflower competitions and much more.

Turing’s Sunflowers

You can never have enough sunflowers and a celebrate of this man is long overdue. Somehow it all just seems like it should be done.