CLOSE
Original image

How Did You Know? - {Day 2}

Original image

We're back with another 5-day trivia hunt!

Again, the rules: Every remaining day this week, I'll be presenting a specific challenge. Your job: come up with the answers and hold onto them! Why? Because on Monday, next week, you'll need them to solve a short puzzle. The first person to email in the correct answers and successfully show how you arrived at them (thus the title: How Did You Know?) wins a choice of any TWO t-shirts and book from our store. In addition to the above, we'll be awarding a t-shirt to one random winner who has all the correct answers. So even if you're not the first one with the right answers, there's still a chance to wind up a winner on HDYK?

And remember, we're also giving away a really big, sa-weeet prize to any winning contestant who can defend the title three months in a row. Peter Dapier and Patrick Corrado are our current champions. You can read about them here.

As with previous How Did You Know? posts, comments have been turned off, but I definitely encourage you to work in teams like our present champions did. Write your friends, send around each daily challenge, conspire, work together, whatever it takes to make sure you're armed with the right answers going into next Monday's puzzle. (Questions? drop us an e-mail at: TriviaHunt@Gmail.com)

If you missed Day 1, be sure to check it out here.

Today we're playing Name That Animal. Each clue word on the following pages has at least one animal (or species of animal) hiding in it. (I'm only looking for simple, common words here, no fancy Latin names. e.g. Elephant, not Proboscidea) On the last page you'll find a crossword puzzle. Based on the clue words provided, there are at least two correct solutions to the crossword puzzle. Your job: discover at least one solution by unearthing 10 correct words that fit the puzzle.

Instead of traditional down and across clues, you have to use the four clue words provided to figure out your answers. All the answers found in the puzzle can be pulled out of the four clue words. You may NOT use combinations of words (e.g. MOUSE, using the M-O-U-E from Volume and the S from Salutation). The letters must come from within each individual clue word. There seems to be some confusion here, so I'm adding this note: If the clue word were GODLESS, you could extract DOG. Also, you cannot use two Gs or two Ls in your answer word because there aren't two in the clue word. You could, however, use two Ss, because there are two Ss in the clue word. Hope that clarifies some of the confusion!

I recommend printing the crossword and using a pencil until you figure out how the 10 words go together. When you send in your answers next week, just provide the answer number (1, 2, 3 etc.) from the puzzle, along with your word.

See you back for your third challenge tomorrow...

Prorate

Volume

Torte

Salutation

Original image
iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
technology
arrow
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
Original image
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!

Original image
Opening Ceremony
fun
arrow
These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
Original image
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:

501069-OpeningCeremony2.jpg

Opening Ceremony

To this:

501069-OpeningCeremony3.jpg

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]

SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES