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The Quick 10: Itsy-Bitsy, Teeny-Weeny Trivia About Bikinis

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1. The oldest documented bikinis—haute, bandeau-style little numbers—show up in a 1,700 year old Roman mosaic entitled Chamber of the Ten Maidens. A bevy of ancient, bikini-clad babes are depicted playing sports.

2. Earlier this year, Brooklyn-based designer Andrew Schneider invented the first solar powered bikini—the “iKini”—which produces enough electricity to power an iPod during a sunny day at the beach. Just remember to unplug it, the inventor says, before taking a dip.

3. The famous white belted bikini worn by Ursula Andress in the 1962 James Bond hit Dr. No sold for $61,500 at Christie's in London in 2001. Halle Barry modeled a redux of a similar suit in the 2002 Bond flick, Die Another Day.

4. French designer Jacques Heim’s first itsy-bitsy bathing suit hit the fashion scene in 1946. Tapping into the worldwide obsession with nuclear physics, he named his tiny invention the “atom.” A few months later, another French designer, Louis Reard, one-upped Heim, revealing an even tinier suit, which he dubbed the “bikini” after Bikini Atoll, the island in the Pacific where the U.S. had tested the atom bomb. The new swimsuit, it was said, was as small as an atom and just as powerful.

5. In 2009, Americans spent $4.3 billion—roughly 400 million more than the GDP of Barbados—on swimwear alone.

6. The 19th-century version of a bikini was made out of either heavy flannel or wool—fabrics that would not be transparent when wet—and covered the entire body from neck to toe. The suits were so heavy that women had to hold onto ropes strung from the beach to offshore buoys to keep from sinking.

7. The bikini rocketed to fame in 1960 with Brian Hyland’s hit single, “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.” The famous 30 inches of fabric didn’t debut on the cover of Sports Illustrated until 1964.

8. At the 1964 International Beauty Pageant in Long Beach, California, Miss Austria stormed out of a photoshoot after being told she could not wear her homemade bikini. "Americans are rude," she said. "I'm tanned all over, so I wanted the suntan to show."

9. In 2009, a group of vegetarian ladies campaigned in international cities wearing bikinis made only of lettuce leaves. The “Lettuce Ladies” as they were called were sponsored by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and hoped to convince people to adopt a meatless diet.

© Sadat/Xinhua Press/Corbis

10. In 1993, the Olympic Committee decreed the bikini the official uniform for women’s beach volleyball, partly because of the functionality of the suit. Athletes complain that when wearing more conventional uniform—the one-piece, for instance—“sand goes down the top and collects in the bottom," Holly McPeak, a three-time Olympic vollyballer told ABC News. With the bikini’s built-in sand-release system, Reard, it seems, was ahead of his time.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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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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Here's How to Change Your Name on Facebook
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Whether you want to change your legal name, adopt a new nickname, or simply reinvent your online persona, it's helpful to know the process of resetting your name on Facebook. The social media site isn't a fan of fake accounts, and as a result changing your name is a little more complicated than updating your profile picture or relationship status. Luckily, Daily Dot laid out the steps.

Start by going to the blue bar at the top of the page in desktop view and clicking the down arrow to the far right. From here, go to Settings. This should take you to the General Account Settings page. Find your name as it appears on your profile and click the Edit link to the right of it. Now, you can input your preferred first and last name, and if you’d like, your middle name.

The steps are similar in Facebook mobile. To find Settings, tap the More option in the bottom right corner. Go to Account Settings, then General, then hit your name to change it.

Whatever you type should adhere to Facebook's guidelines, which prohibit symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, and honorifics like Mr., Ms., and Dr. Before landing on a name, make sure you’re ready to commit to it: Facebook won’t let you update it again for 60 days. If you aren’t happy with these restrictions, adding a secondary name or a name pronunciation might better suit your needs. You can do this by going to the Details About You heading under the About page of your profile.

[h/t Daily Dot]