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11 Geeky Wedding & Engagement Rings

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We’ve featured geeky wedding invitations, nerdy wedding dresses, funny wedding photos and more, but now it’s time to enjoy delightfully dorky wedding rings – and a few nerdy engagement rings as well.

1. Made From A Meteorite

Redditor Laporkenstein custom-made his wedding band from a meteorite and nickel tooling steel. While the end result is absolutely gorgeous, the fact that he actually made it himself and posted a gallery of the steps speaks volumes about his dedication.

2. Totally Sci-Fi

Speaking of rings that are “out of this world,” this great sci-fi ring by Engraver’s Café user Harpuahound features three different means to traverse the stars – be it through time and space with the TARDIS, where no man has gone before in the Enterprise, or in real life with the space shuttle.

3. Star Wars

If you think this ring looks like it belongs at the base of a light saber – you’re right. The concept art for the Star Wars films by Joe Johnston, Ralph McQuarrie and Ryan Church was precisely what inspired Redditor Homerliwag in his quest for a great Star Wars ring. He really captured the style perfectly.

4. TARDIS

Wedding rings are supposed to represent the love shared by a couple, but really, that love should be much bigger than a mere ring. That’s why this TARDIS wedding ring, created by Tumblr user Pathetic Peripatetic, works so well - because everyone know it’s far bigger on the inside.

5. Zelda Triforce

Jennifer, aka DeviantArt user ushiyasha, designed this Zelda-themed ring in Photoshop and then had it custom-made by the good folks over at Roger & Hollands. While she had a few criticisms about some of the slight changes the jewelers made, I think it turned out pretty great. Here's the original design, for comparison:

6. A LEGO Brick

While you might be a little disappointed that the bride doesn’t have a matching LEGO ring that clicks into the groom’s, the fact that the ring has working pegs and that the groom, musician Tyler Walker, attached a Minifig couple to the ring during the reception certainly makes up for that. I can’t wait until the couple has kids and he’ll undoubtedly have all kinds of fun things built right on his hand.

7. Soundwaves

Ever wish your wedding band could incorporate loving whispers to your partner? These soundwave wedding rings by Japanese designer Sakura Koshimizu can. The great thing is that, while anyone can engrave words into a wedding ring, these etchings actually represent the unique inflections found in your spouse’s voice when he or she whispers those special words.

8. A Phonograph Recording

Of course, if you really want to capture your love’s voice, you’ll probably want to be able to play the phrase back somehow. With that in mind, this phonograph ring by artist Luke Jerram is the ultimate in voice-recording wedding ring technology. In case you’re wondering what the particular message recorded on Jerram’s wife’s ring happens to be, it is Luke’s proposal: “Shelina, I'll love you forever. Marry Me!” Edison would be proud.

9. Star Trek Engage

Okay, this one may be an engagement ring rather than an actual wedding band (although you could really use it as either), but if you love puns, then that’s even better since you can use so many great “engage” puns with this lovely Trekie ring created by Etsy seller VaLaJewellery.

10. A Decepticon

While all engagement rings are so much more than a mere piece of jewelry given everything they symbolize, this Transformers ring, custom designed by DeviantArt user Fire-Readhead‘s fiancé and crafted by DeviantArt user TheBoog17, is more than meets the eye by every definition of the phrase.

11. Indiana Jones’ Whip

Redditor Homerliwag (the same gent who created the Star Wars ring above) wanted to get his gal the perfect engagement ring to suit her interests. Unfortunately, he also wanted to propose on 11/11/11 and he just wasn’t able to find a suitable ring on time, so instead he proposed that day and filled the ring box with a small bag of sand and told her that Indiana Jones must have stolen her treasure.

Since his girlfriend was a huge Indiana Jones fan, the excuse not only worked like a charm, but it also inspired him to design the perfect ring for her –a coiled Indiana Jones whip topped with a yellow stone to represent “The idol.”
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Can’t get enough geeky wedding rings? Then don’t miss Miss C’s post featuring 11 weird and wonderful wedding rings. And, as always, if you happen to have a geeky wedding or engagement ring, feel free to tell us about it in the comments.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
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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iStock
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Health
200 Health Experts Call for Ban on Two Antibacterial Chemicals
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iStock

In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on antibacterial soap and body wash. But a large collective of scientists and medical professionals says the agency should have done more to stop the spread of harmful chemicals into our bodies and environment, most notably the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban. They published their recommendations in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The 2016 report from the FDA concluded that 19 of the most commonly used antimicrobial ingredients are no more effective than ordinary soap and water, and forbade their use in soap and body wash.

"Customers may think added antimicrobials are a way to reduce infections, but in most products there is no evidence that they do," Ted Schettler, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, said in a statement.

Studies have shown that these chemicals may actually do more harm than good. They don't keep us from getting sick, but they can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs. Triclosan and triclocarban can also damage our hormones and immune systems.

And while they may no longer be appearing on our bathroom sinks or shower shelves, they're still all around us. They've leached into the environment from years of use. They're also still being added to a staggering array of consumer products, as companies create "antibacterial" clothing, toys, yoga mats, paint, food storage containers, electronics, doorknobs, and countertops.

The authors of the new consensus statement say it's time for that to stop.

"We must develop better alternatives and prevent unneeded exposures to antimicrobial chemicals," Rolf Haden of the University of Arizona said in the statement. Haden researches where mass-produced chemicals wind up in the environment.

The statement notes that many manufacturers have simply replaced the banned chemicals with others. "I was happy that the FDA finally acted to remove these chemicals from soaps," said Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. "But I was dismayed to discover at my local drugstore that most products now contain substitutes that may be worse."

Blum, Haden, Schettler, and their colleagues "urge scientists, governments, chemical and product manufacturers, purchasing organizations, retailers, and consumers" to avoid antimicrobial chemicals outside of medical settings. "Where antimicrobials are necessary," they write, we should "use safer alternatives that are not persistent and pose no risk to humans or ecosystems."

They recommend that manufacturers label any products containing antimicrobial chemicals so that consumers can avoid them, and they call for further research into the impacts of these compounds on us and our planet.

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