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13 Deliciously Geeky Pies for National Pie Day

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December 1st is one of several Pie Day holidays. You can celebrate by baking and eating pie, or by looking at these. (And you can celebrate again on January 23rd.)

1. Deadpie

If you love Deadpool and pies, then you might want to try your hand at making this masterpiece created by Dixonverse user Lurker’s friend Anna: a key lime pie adorned with the anti-hero’s famous mask made from chocolate sour cream topping, Oreos and strawberries.

2. The Cake is a Pie

Fans of Portal are well aware that the cake is a lie, but have you ever considered that perhaps it is only a lie because the cake is a pie? Admittedly, this pie by Geeky Mormon Woman only looks like the famous nonexistent cake from directly overhead, but that's because it's a pie.

3. Millennium Falcon

The great thing about thin pie pans is the same thing that can make them so annoying when you pull them out of the oven – they bend all too easily. Amy Ratcliffe of Geek With Curves found this to be ideal, though, when she set about making a pie that looks like the Millennium Falcon, which required the pie pans to be bent into the shape of the ship. (She went with an apple filling.)

4. Star Wars

Don’t have quite the crafting skills to make a Millennium Falcon pie crust? Well, you can always follow in the footsteps of Olds Ninety-Eight writer Cathy who turned a regular blueberry pie crust into something a whole lot more awesome and geeky with a few Star Wars cookie cutters and a little extra pie dough.

5. Apple iPie

If you know someone who will only eat apple pies because they want to stay loyal to their favorite brand, then consider blowing their mind by recreating this amazing creation by Evil Mad Scientist Labs.

6. Pie-rate Ship

If you like pirates and puns, then you’ll be happy to know that there are all kinds of great pies combining the two. This structurally-impressive Pie-rate Ship design by Susan S. of Diamonds for Dessert actually looks like a pirate ship. If you’re wondering what kind of a tin she used to get such a great boat shape, a thin bread pan can easily be manipulated into a boat shape.

7. (Pi)rate Flag

Need a good design to put on your Pie-rate Ship sails? How about this great (Pi)rate skull and cross pis logo created by Instructable user emitchell314 as part of his entry into the site’s yearly Pi Day contest.

8. Pi-rat

Of course, if you do make a Pie-rate ship, you’d better watch out for stowaways, particularly those pesky Pi-rats, like this one that hid inside of Instructable user S-creek’s Pi Day contest entry.

9. Pi Shaped

For a more traditional tribute to Pi Day, you can always follow Serious Eats’ guide to making a simple pi pie.

10. All Numbers

If you really want to celebrate the wonder and irrationality of pi though, it’s probably better to follow A Periodic Table Blog writer Shannon’s instructions for making a number-filled pie with a crust that features the first 20 or so digits of pi. Now that’s a thing of mathematical beauty.

11. Venn Pie-agram

Can’t decide between a strawberry or a blueberry pie? Perhaps you should make a chart extolling the virtues of each. Then perhaps you, like Reddit user HungryHungryHippy, might even end up turning that chart into a Venn Pie-agram that allows your guests to come to their own conclusions on the similarities and differences between the berries.

12. Piception

Can’t choose a pie flavor? Perhaps you could go all Inception on your pastry-baking and make a pie within a pie within a pie. Of course, if you have real skills, like Instructables user Beanie10, you’ll also find a way to incorporate an empty limbo space in your pie, the pi symbol inside the filling, the word “Piception” along the side of the pie and a maze on the crust.

13. Pie-cosahedron

If you are able to master the Piception challenge, perhaps you should try your hand at the amazing twenty-sided pie created by Instructables user turkey tek. How do you even begin to create a monstrosity like this? Well, the first secret is a handmade twenty-sided pie pan; the second secret is to disassemble the massive pan into individual sections before baking.

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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
What Happened to Jamie and Aurelia From Love Actually?
May 26, 2017
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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief

Fans of the romantic-comedy Love Actually recently got a bonus reunion in the form of Red Nose Day Actually, a short charity special that gave audiences a peek at where their favorite characters ended up almost 15 years later.

One of the most improbable pairings from the original film was between Jamie (Colin Firth) and Aurelia (Lúcia Moniz), who fell in love despite almost no shared vocabulary. Jamie is English, and Aurelia is Portuguese, and they know just enough of each other’s native tongues for Jamie to propose and Aurelia to accept.

A decade and a half on, they have both improved their knowledge of each other’s languages—if not perfectly, in Jamie’s case. But apparently, their love is much stronger than his grasp on Portuguese grammar, because they’ve got three bilingual kids and another on the way. (And still enjoy having important romantic moments in the car.)

In 2015, Love Actually script editor Emma Freud revealed via Twitter what happened between Karen and Harry (Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman, who passed away last year). Most of the other couples get happy endings in the short—even if Hugh Grant's character hasn't gotten any better at dancing.

[h/t TV Guide]