CLOSE
Original image

12 Wild and Wondrous Aquariums

Original image

Almost anything can be made into a fish tank IF you've got the room, the money, the time, and the dedication to make it work. If you don't, you can enjoy these projects others have put their hearts into for a beautiful display of fish.

1. Bathtub

You can swim with the fishes anytime, but how about taking a bath with fish? The Moody Acquario bathtub is a freestanding tempered glass tub with one side fashioned as an aquarium. The price? $14,500!

2. Telephone Booth Aquarium

Designers Benoit Deseille and Benedetto Bufalino filled a phone booth with water and fish for the Festival of Lights in Lyon, France in 2009. It was sort of a recycling project, as telephone booths aren't used to make calls anymore. Image by Flickr user Nicolas Nova.

3. R2D2 Aquarium

The R2D2 aquarium is small, only one and 3/4 gallons, but the robot itself is famously small. But hey, not only does he hold fish, but he turns his head and "talks" to you as well! Originally sold by Hammacher-Schlemmer, you can only get them used now -if you're lucky.

4. Shark Dance Floor

Dancing on top of your home aquarium is not recommended. But you can cut a rug atop swimming sharks at the Qua Bottle Lounge in Austin, Texas. The 19,000 gallon tank used as a dance floor contains sharks and sting rays. as well as other marine wildlife.

5. Car

You'll find this car made into an aquarium at Siam Ocean World in the Siam Paragon shopping center in Bangkok. The doors are welded shut for obvious reasons. How would you like the job of cleaning this fish tank?

6. Labyrinth

The Silverfish Aquarium by Octopus Studios has "apartments" that fish can visit, giving it the overall effect of a hamster enclosure. You might call it intellectual enrichment for pet fish.

7. & 8. Birdcage Aquariums

Combining a birdcage and aquarium is a space-saver that's been done more than once. This artwork by Constance Guisset is called Duplex, which balances a fishbowl above a basket containing the birds.

Robert Gligorov designed this combination that sets an enclosed aviary into an aquarium. The top of the bird enclosure is taller than the water level and has a top grill for air.

9. Ecology for the Home

The Local River Aquarium by French designer Mathieu Lehanneur incorporates a vegetables garden atop the fish tank. The plants filter the water and the water provides nutrients for the plants. The refrigerated tank can be used as a fish hatchery for those who want to grow their own freshwater fish for dinner. As a bonus, the plants also freshen the air!

10. Shoe Fish Bowl

An aquarium in a shoe? Yes, it's an art project created for a competition called the Nike78 project. Artists were challenged to illustrate new functions for the shoes. The aquarium was created by Weiden and Kennedy Tokyo Lab.

11. Rimless Aquarium

An aquarium with no visible rim completely full of water doubles as an art piece and the focal point for any room. Zero Edge makes these beautiful aquariums. Shown is the 75ZRCT Classic model, one of many shapes and sizes offered.

12. Bigger is Better

The Kuroshio Sea at the Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium in Okinawa, Japan is a tank that holds almost two million gallons of water. It is big enough to accommodate several whale sharks as well as many of species of marine life. The walls are made from seven layers of clear laminate and are 60 cm thick. To get an idea of its immense size, you have to see it in motion.

You'll see even more awesome aquarium designs in the previous post 9 Really Cool Aquariums.

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
quiz
arrow
Name the Author Based on the Character
May 23, 2017
Original image
SECTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
BIG QUESTIONS
WEATHER WATCH
BE THE CHANGE
JOB SECRETS
QUIZZES
WORLD WAR 1
SMART SHOPPING
STONES, BONES, & WRECKS
#TBT
THE PRESIDENTS
WORDS
RETROBITUARIES