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Signs your HGH injections might be fake

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From Paul Byrd and Rick Ankiel to the upcoming Mitchell Report, accusations of HGH are flying around baseball. But Human Growth Hormone use is also on the rise outside of sports; plenty of people looking to get bigger are injecting themselves. So, let's say you want to bulk up, get taller, increase your focus or just feel younger. You've bought some HGH on the Internet or from a pharmacy (hint: stay away from BALCO). But, could it be fake? Here are some signs your HGH might be phony.

Your joints don't hurt

With all those new hormones being injected, you can't expect your body to just sit idly by. Among the side effects of HGH are joint pain, fluid retention and nerve pinching. There can also be unusual bone growth, potentially in the face. It's been linked to cancer, both in mice and humans, but a definitive tie hasn't been established.

You're not using a needle

Lots of sites, like this one, say they have HGH in oral or nasal form, either through a spray, tongue drop or pill. Trouble is, they're all bogus. There's no evidence that HGH can be received through any receptor not in the bloodstream. Not only that, the fragile molecules will break apart if diluted in a spray or pill. Some testify that using the spray makes them elated and more energetic, but that's something else talking, not the HGH.

It was approved by the FDA and you don't have Turner syndrome

byrd.jpgAny distributor can just say they've got FDA-approved HGH. But it's only true under a few conditions: you're a child with a growth defect, you have Turner syndrome, you have adult short bowel syndrome, you have a pituitary tumor or your muscles are deteriorating from AIDS. For a while, the FDA had only authorized HGH use for children, but in recent years they've expanded the allowances for adults with other conditions. Any other use of HGH is illegal, which is why all those sports stars are acting like kids trying to get out of high school gym and scrambling for a doctor's note (Paul Byrd, for example, is using a pituitary tumor as his excuse).

It's not putting you in debt

For HGH injections to work, you need to inject two or three times a day. Individual injections can cost as high as $25 each, which means just a week of injections can cost an arm and a leg (but don't worry, the rest of you will grow strong enough to make up for the missing limbs). The full bill can run around $2,000 a month. HGH scams will promise the same results for a much lower cost "“ some advertise as low as $35 a month.

You didn't get it out of Sylvester Stallone's suitcase

stallone.jpgOkay, this one isn't all that helpful. Odds are you didn't go rummaging through Sly's bag for your growth hormone. But if you had, you wouldn't have been disappointed, at least earlier this year. The "Rocky" star was caught importing 48 vials of HGH into Australia that month and pleaded guilty to the charges in May. He was first caught with the hormone during a routine airport check. Then three days later, customs officials caught him throwing four vials of growth testosterone from his hotel room when they came for a search. He apologized for being "ignorant to [the] official rules" and setting a bad example for the public, a fear ABC News was more than happy to explore. Sly's not the only celebrity who's been caught with HGH; there were traces of the hormone detected in Anna Nicole Smith's body during her autopsy.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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