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36 of the Geekiest Tattoos from Comic-Con 2011

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There are plenty of geeks at Comic-Con, but only a true fan would get a tattoo of his or her favorite comics, movies or other pop culture icons. Even so, with this many fans in one place, you're bound to find ample awesome geek tattoos.

And find them I did. In fact, I found so many that I couldn't even include all of them here. So these are the best of the best—or at least the best of those I saw at the convention. After all, Comic-Con is huge and there are plenty of people with great tattoos that are covered up with equally delightful costumes.

This first piece was a full sleeve of Marvel characters. As you can see, the outside of his arm is all X Men characters, the heroes on the top and a villain on the bottom.

On the inside of his sleeve is another classic Marvel hero, The Hulk.

The next person's entire right arm is covered in a Spider-Man sleeve. As you can see, he's got the spider logo and hobgoblin on the outside.

On the inside of his arm, the editor of the Daily Bugle, John Jonah Jameson Junior, enjoys his cigar as Venom looks on eagerly.

The same gentleman's left arm has an array of other Marvel characters including this pic Iron Man image.

Above that, he has the Phoenix in all of her burning glory.

He also has her alter ego, Jean Grey, prior to her burning up.

At the top of this comic-dedicated masterpiece, he finally has a full-colored Spiderman image and above that is the lovely Black Cat, one of Spiderman's most sexy rivals.

Here's another great superhero sleeve filled with an array of America's favorite heroes, including The Hulk, The Punisher, Wolverine and...

Iron Man, The Fantastic Four, and...

Captain America on the inside. Interestingly, these are all also the stars of some of the most popular comic book movies ever made.

Of course, Comic-Con isn't just about comic books. It's also based around movies and popular culture. This is artist Jon Ascher, a Mental Floss reader who had a booth set up at the convention. His two horror movie sleeves might just be the best I've ever seen.

It contains everything from the Shining, (I'm afraid I don't know what that the one below it is; if you do, please tell me in the comments)...

Nightmare on Elm Street, Night of the Living Dead,...

Ash from Evil Dead, (again, I'm not entirely sure what the one below it is -maybe the monster from Evil Dead?)...

...and then the piece is rounded out with the classic scene from The Exorcist and The Queen of Horror herself, Elvira.

This young man had some of the best geek tattoos of anyone I saw at the convention. My personal favorite was this television brain that has apparently been launched into space.

But this robot with a fish bowl as a head was also delightful.

His only tattoo that had a recognizable source (at least for me—if you know where the others come from, let me know) was this "Ctrl" piece.

This one reminds me of something from an Oingo Boingo album, but I don't think they have any that look exactly like this.

I don't even know how to describe this one, so I guess I'll go with birds shaped like brains with rocket-powered butts.

Tim Burton fans don't need any introduction to the next tattoo. That's right, it's a giant Jack Skellington.

That same Nightmare Before Christmas fan also has an adoration of video games, as evidenced by his Sonic The Hedgehog and Mega Man tattoos.

This next fellow enjoys the Japanese-styled artwork featured in Giant Robot enough to get two of the back covers tattooed on his arms. I really like the giant green swirled background.

But I think the picture on his other arm is even more adorable.

Those weren't his only geeky tattoos, though. He also had this cute and colorful spaceship.

While the colors on this tattoo aren't as vivid as some of the others I've featured, I particularly like this one's extensive linework. It actually looks more like a real comic book page.

The muscle man with this superhero tattoo is a perfect subject for such an underwater icon—after all, he's a professional scuba diving instructor.

I know most of the tattoos here are on men, but you have to remember that females tend to get tattoos in more easily concealed areas. That being said, here's a great tattoo on a woman who obviously has a thing for men with a sense humor.

And he just keeps laughing all day long.

Here's another girl tattoo, again featuring a handsome man.

This Bride of Frankenstein is far more attractive than I remember the traditional monster.

I particularly liked this Creepshow tattoo because it actually looks like a page from the classic horror comic.

Similarly, I love this Judge Dredd tattoo because of the speech bubble with it.

This Alice in Wonderland tattoo is cool in that it isn't limited to the character's traditional appearances. Anyone know who came up with this character design?

Here's another lovely lady's tattoo. This time, a cute little Lenore picture.

Lastly, here's one more great comic tattoo, this time Angela, a sexy valkyrie-styled character from Spawn.

Do any of you have geektastic pop-culture tattoos that would be appropriate for the Comic-Con crowd? If so, be sure to share links to pictures in the comments.

Also, if you happen to know any of the people in the photos, or the artists responsible, then feel free to leave more info in the comments or email me at I'll be happy to add more information on the artists and the people wearing the ink as it comes in!

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Library of Congress
10 Facts About the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
May 29, 2017
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Library of Congress

On Veterans Day, 1921, President Warren G. Harding presided over an interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery for an unknown soldier who died during World War I. Since then, three more soldiers have been added to the Tomb of the Unknowns (also known as the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier) memorial—and one has been disinterred. Below, a few things you might not know about the historic site and the rituals that surround it.


Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

To ensure a truly random selection, four unknown soldiers were exhumed from four different WWI American cemeteries in France. U.S. Army Sgt. Edward F. Younger, who was wounded in combat and received the Distinguished Service Medal, was chosen to select a soldier for burial at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington. After the four identical caskets were lined up for his inspection, Younger chose the third casket from the left by placing a spray of white roses on it. The chosen soldier was transported to the U.S. on the USS Olympia, while the other three were reburied at Meuse Argonne American Cemetery in France.


One had served in the European Theater and the other served in the Pacific Theater. The Navy’s only active-duty Medal of Honor recipient, Hospitalman 1st Class William R. Charette, chose one of the identical caskets to go on to Arlington. The other was given a burial at sea.


WikimediaCommons // Public Domain

The soldiers were disinterred from the National Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. This time, Army Master Sgt. Ned Lyle was the one to choose the casket. Along with the unknown soldier from WWII, the unknown Korean War soldier lay in the Capitol Rotunda from May 28 to May 30, 1958.


Medal of Honor recipient U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Allan Jay Kellogg, Jr., selected the Vietnam War representative during a ceremony at Pearl Harbor.


Wikipedia // Public Domain

Thanks to advances in mitochondrial DNA testing, scientists were eventually able to identify the remains of the Vietnam War soldier. On May 14, 1998, the remains were exhumed and tested, revealing the “unknown” soldier to be Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie (pictured). Blassie was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. After his identification, Blassie’s family had him moved to Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. Instead of adding another unknown soldier to the Vietnam War crypt, the crypt cover has been replaced with one bearing the inscription, “Honoring and Keeping Faith with America’s Missing Servicemen, 1958-1975.”


The Tomb was designed by architect Lorimer Rich and sculptor Thomas Hudson Jones, but the actual carving was done by the Piccirilli Brothers. Even if you don’t know them, you know their work: The brothers carved the 19-foot statue of Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, the lions outside of the New York Public Library, the Maine Monument in Central Park, the DuPont Circle Fountain in D.C., and much more.


Tomb Guards come from the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment "The Old Guard". Serving the U.S. since 1784, the Old Guard is the oldest active infantry unit in the military. They keep watch over the memorial every minute of every day, including when the cemetery is closed and in inclement weather.


Members of the Old Guard must apply for the position. If chosen, the applicant goes through an intense training period, in which they must pass tests on weapons, ceremonial steps, cadence, military bearing, uniform preparation, and orders. Although military members are known for their neat uniforms, it’s said that the Tomb Guards have the highest standards of them all. A knowledge test quizzes applicants on their memorization—including punctuation—of 35 pages on the history of the Tomb. Once they’re selected, Guards “walk the mat” in front of the Tomb for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, depending on the time of year and time of day. They work in 24-hour shifts, however, and when they aren’t walking the mat, they’re in the living quarters beneath it. This gives the sentinels time to complete training and prepare their uniforms, which can take up to eight hours.


The Tomb Guard badge is the least awarded badge in the Army, and the second least awarded badge in the overall military. (The first is the astronaut badge.) Tomb Guards are held to the highest standards of behavior, and can have their badge taken away for any action on or off duty that could bring disrespect to the Tomb. And that’s for the entire lifetime of the Tomb Guard, even well after his or her guarding duty is over. For the record, it seems that Tomb Guards are rarely female—only three women have held the post.


Everything the guards do is a series of 21, which alludes to the 21-gun salute. According to

The Sentinel does not execute an about face, rather they stop on the 21st step, then turn and face the Tomb for 21 seconds. They then turn to face back down the mat, change the weapon to the outside shoulder, mentally count off 21 seconds, then step off for another 21 step walk down the mat. They face the Tomb at each end of the 21 step walk for 21 seconds. The Sentinel then repeats this over and over until the Guard Change ceremony begins.