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10 Pies for Pi Day

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March 14th, often written as 3-14, is Pi Day! It's a day set aside to pay homage to the ratio of a circle to its diameter. The traditional way to celebrate is to eat a pie. Or bake one. Here are some wonderful Pi Day pies you might try this year.

1. Amazing One Hundred Digit Pie

ScienceBlogs, together with Serious Eats, held a Pi Day Bake-Off to celebrate Pi Day in 2010. Shown at the top is Claudette's amazing One-Hundred-Digit pie made with cherries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. Sure, it's not round, but remember, pie are square!

2. The Apple Pi


Serious Eats also held a Pi(e) Day Baking Challenge in conjunction with with Instructables in 2012. The winner was the apple Pi by Shannon. She cut the apples into number shapes with cookie cutters, and also cut the pie crust into numbers to decorate the top. And she posted the directions for doing so.  

3. Mini Pi Pies


Instructables user dlgauthier made Mini Pi PIes, so that everyone at her office Pi Day lunch could have a whole pie. The pi symbol provided enough crust on the top of each.

4. Pi-Shaped Pie


Jessie Oleson of Cakespy created a recipe for Pi-Shaped Pie to celebrate Pi Day in 2011. This one is more of a big turnover, filled with chocolate and peanut butter. The instructions are at Serious Eats.

5. To 3.14 or not to pie


Instructables member hertzgamma took the idea of a pi-symbol-shaped pipe to the next level with a pie called "To 3.14 or not to pie." This one has cherry filling, but you can use any fruit filling. The lattice strips on top are engraved with even more numbers. She used a soldering iron for that part. If you feel up to this project, all the steps are laid out at Instructables.

6. Fried Pi Pies


Maybe you prefer your pies fried. If that doesn't sound yummy to you, you probably haven't tried a real Southern homemade fried pie! Instructables member starshipminivan made Fried Pi Pies for Pi Day 2010. This one has a chocolate filling, but you can put your favorite flavor inside.

7. Easy as Apple Pie


This creative pie dates back to 2004, from Flickr user Jhayne, and has become a classic. The crust is shaped like a book (a math text, no doubt), and the first 24 digits of pi are carved out of the cover, letting us peek at the apples inside.

8. Pies Are Round? No, Pi(es) Are Squared!


What you see here are 101 mini pies, adorned with one digit each, arranged in sequence showing pi to 100 decimal points. But look closer: even in that exact arrangement, there is a pi symbol visible among them. Instructables member brooklynbrownie plotted them all out before she began baking. The recipe has directions for three different fillings: caramelized mango, strawberry/raspberry chai, and blueberry.

9. Cookie Pi Crust


A cookie for Pi Day? That seems so wrong, but it's okay, because this cookie is made from pie crust! Instructables member craftknowitall tells how her mother made crisp cookies out of leftover pie crust and adapted the recipe by shaping that crust into a pi symbol. The topping is cinnamon sugar.

10. Pizza Pi


You can make things a whole lot easier on yourself by rearranging the pepperonis on a pizza (before baking) instead of putting a pie together, like this pizza from Flickr user Ludie Cochrane. Or better yet, have the pizza pi for dinner and your pi pie for dessert!

Bonus: Pi Is (still) Wrong

Mathemusician Vi Hart tried to make pi as easy as pie by making a pie. She ended up making two pies, because it's not that simple. Hart prefers tau to pi, which is fine, as I prefer blackberry pie to peach pie.

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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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