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How Did You Know Daniel Wilson?

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I'm happy to announce a winner to our last How Did You Know? 5-day trivia hunt. Please meet Daniel Wilson of Greenville, Michigan, who blew through the final puzzle and got all the answers within 16 minutes of the bell! Considering how much we asked of you all in that final puzzle, 16 minutes is remarkable. Dozens of you got all the answers correct, and I'll be sure to post the top 10 in the order we received them over on our Facebook page soon. One word of caution: many of you forgot to tell us how you came up with an answer. If we're asking you to figure out something like the 523h56-529 code, you need to explain how you got to "22." Understood? Cool! Next time we know you'll get them all correct.

Meantime, our random winners this month are Kate, Caro and Sydney, three sisters who always submit their answers in the form of a poem. Congrats gals! We'll be in touch soon with your spoils.
See everyone back for another HDYK on the 30th of June, when Daniel Wilson will be looking to defend the title. Meantime, let's meet our winner and review his answers:

I live in Greenville, Michigan, though I'm originally from Battle Creek, better known as the home of
Kellogg's. My wife KT and I have been married for four years, and our daughter Emily just turned
three. I pursued a degree in history at Western Michigan University, although right now I work
in a factory that makes reproduction parts for classic automobiles (life is funny like that.)

The picture is indeed me shaking hands with MR. MONOPOLY. In April, I was privileged to compete
in the 2009 MONOPOLY U.S. National Championship. Though I didn't win the $20,580 grand prize,
I did manage to place a rather respectable 12th overall. I'm also now the number one MONOPOLY
player in the state of Michigan, and I will be for four years until the next national tournament.

I've always loved games and puzzles, so I'm happy to win the HYDK? challenge. I plan to buy all
the mental_floss books I don't already own. I'd like to give a shout-out to my Facebook friends
who helped me with the album cover challenge, since the music questions always give me problems,
and also to my wife KT, who knew the first game's final score by heart, since she's been a HUGE
Packer fan all her life.

Oh, and GO BEARS! (Sorry, honey.)

Final Answer

The stadium is Lambeau Field.

First game score: Packers 21, Bears 17

Day 1

Part 1: Emperor Zerg stopped the KJ juggernaut in Game 75; Jennings therefore won 74 games.

Part 2: Coldplay's "We Never Change" and Radiohead's "Backdrifts".

Part 3: 523H56-529 5=t, 2=w, 3=e, H=n, 6=y, 9=o; twenty-two. [ed note: that's one position down and one to the right on a standard QWERTY keyboard]
Image is of a football, laces out.

Day 2

Part 1: "more cowbell": "Don't Fear the Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult.

Album covers:

1: Nirvana, "Nevermind"

2: Bob Dylan, "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan"

3: Michael Jackson, "Thriller"

4: Eminem, "The Marshall Mathers LP"

5: Christina Aguilera, "Christina Aguilera"

6: White Stripes, "Elephant"

7: Amy Winehouse, "Back to Black"

Day 3

Part 1: Bob Moog invented the monophonic Minimoog keyboard.

Part 2: Modern pianos have 52 white keys and 36 black keys.

The missing numbers are 102, 86, and 36. [ed note: this was a 12x12 magic square]
5236+102=5338. The word displayed is BEES.

The image is a cub and mother bear.

Day 4

Part 1: "Lethal Latte There": "The Tell-Tale Heart".

Part 2: Each word's color defines what to do to return it to normal.

Red words: change encrypted Bs to Cs (original Bs stay as is)

Blue words: remove all N's

Green words: move the first letter to the end position

Orange words: read backward

Purple words: move the last letter to the first position

Pink words: replace the vowels with the previous vowel alphabetically

Black words are left as they appear.

The translated message reads:

"Crack the code by (cake) figuring out the rules that govern each set of colored words. Extra words have been (icing) inserted into each sentence (recipe). Note them in order as (cook) they originally appear and circle the first letter of each. These six (lemon) (eggs) letters combine to spell out your final answer to this puzzle."

Cake Icing Recipe Cook Lemon Eggs=circle.

The image is an outline of the state of Wisconsin.

Day 5

Day 1: 22x2 is 44.

Day 2: Thriller was released on 11/30/1982. Ken Jennings' streak ended on 11/30/2004.

44 degrees 30 minutes 11 seconds.

Day 3: Bob Moog was 71 when he died. 71+17=88.

Day 4: A circle of diameter 1 has a circumference of pi. Pi=3.14.

-88 degrees 3 minutes 14 seconds.

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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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Nick Briggs/Comic Relief
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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]

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