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10 Amazing Art-Inspired Cakes

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It’s pretty hard to argue that modern cake decorators aren’t artists, especially when you look at some of their takes on games, horror movies and children’s stories. Today's featured cake decorators have taken on the art of some of the world’s greatest painters.

1. Dali

This lovely tribute to the famous surrealist not only incorporates his melting clocks, spindle-legged creatures and a few miniature versions of his actual artworks, but even includes a picture of the artist himself. Even the selection and position of the candles are perfectly suiting in this wonderful cake by Flickr user yadi.

2. Grant Wood

The great thing about this American Gothic cake by H Cakes & Sweets is that it’s not just a direct copy of the painting, but instead a suiting tribute to the artwork. Different tiers represent different aspects of the piece, from the people in it to the house to the famous pitchfork. Of course, the attention to details that make the tiers look so similar to the painting is what really sets this one apart.

3. Lichtenstein

Like the American Gothic cake, this design is wonderful in that it isn’t an exact copy of a Lichtenstein painting, but instead an inspired tribute to the artist. This wonderful creation, by Flickr user chikadoodle2000, has all the explosions, printing dots and the famous characters of the renowned pop artist.

4. Monet

Granted, Monet’s paintings of tulip fields are nowhere near as well known as his water lilies series, but when it comes to a cake this stunning, is there really any need to quibble over which paintings the baker, Flickr user megpi, chose to recreate?

5. Rachel Ruysch

Rachel Ruysch may not have one of the most famous names on this list, but you’ve almost certainly seen some of the Dutch artist’s hyper-realistic still-life paintings at some point or another. What’s truly amazing about this cake though is that it’s practically indistinguishable from her paintings –especially when photographed with just the right lighting. If you want a cake that literally looks like a work of art, then be sure to get in touch with Amy DeGiulio of Sugar Flower Cake Shop in New York.

6. Warhol

There are plenty of Warhol-inspired cakes that feature bananas or soup cans laying flat on sheet cake, but what makes this piece, by the always fantastic Debbie Does Cakes, is that the banana is the cake and that the colors used on the fruit look just like the ones used in the famous Velvet Underground album cover. The whole thing would be really surreal if the cake was banana flavored.

7. Mondrian

Love modern art to the point where you want it to become a part of you? Well then, you’d better head to San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) and take a seat at the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar where the drinks and snacks are based on some of the museum’s most famous exhibits. While the menu changes daily, one of the café’s best known treats is their Mondrian cake, which features colored cake blocks that look just like the modern artist’s famous compositions.

Can’t make it out to San Francisco for a slice? Well, here’s a step-by-step guide to make your own…which is nice because it’s probably the only cake on this list that an average person would have any chance of recreating.

8. Ray Caesar

As a contemporary artist, Ray Caesar may not be as famous as many of the rest on this list, but he deserves to be listed here not only because he is extremely talented, but also because this cake, based on his painting, Descent, is simply incredible both visually and structurally. Dante Nuno of Fire and Icing really outdid himself for this creation.

9. Artsy Fartsy

Having a hard time choosing between so many great artists? Well then grab a piece of this “Artsy Fartsy Cake” by Mainmade Cakes and enjoy a little slice of Pollock, Picasso, Mondrian, Matisse and Warhol all at once. Would you believe this great design only took second place at the That Takes the Cake Sugar Art Show & Cake Competition? I call shenanigans.

10. For the Love of Cake

The great thing about this multi-artist cake by Blue Moon Bakery is that while it may not have as many great artists as the one by Mainmade Cakes, it actually has miniature versions of each of the artists working on their paintings. Granted, Pollock couldn’t actually work on his splatters from that angle, but still, the idea and execution are pretty darn great.
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Did I miss any amazing art cakes? Feel free to tell the world about them.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]