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PaleoDan

10 Extreme Easter Eggs

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PaleoDan

Sometime this week, you'll see that grocery stores have tons of eggs at very good prices. You'll think, "Oh, we should dye some Easter eggs!" If you want to go all out, we've got some cool decorating ideas from some talented folks all over the internet. But if you aren't up to such creativity, don't let these extreme eggs discourage you from having some fun decorating eggs any way you like!  

1. Famous Art Eggs

The artist blogger who goes by U. painted eggs for Easter, and reproduced different familiar artworks on each. Some of the painters represented are Andy Warhol, Picasso, Magritte, Mondrian, Van Gogh, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. This project requires a steady and patient hand.

2. Game of Thrones Dragon Eggs

Jacquie LongLegs is a Games of Thrones fan, so she made her Easter eggs to resemble the dragon eggs seen in the HBO series. You can make them, too! She'll show you how it's done in a short video.

3. Star Trek Eggs

These eggs are each emblazoned with a different insignias from the various planets and groups of the Star Trek universe. DeviantART member kryz-flavored used polymer clay and paint to decorate real eggs. He identifies each insignia for you:

Top down, left to right:
tos command, tos engineering, tos science, tos medical
silver/red klingon, klingon, tng combadge, voy combadge
cardassian, obsidian order, tng-era UFP, vulcan IDIC
ferengi, lore's "free" borg, romulan star empire [not quite finished]

4. Easter Egg Jelly Shooters

Pretty! These eggs are made with three colors of gelatin, plain gelatin, coconut milk, and rum. Oh, and you'll need a proper mold to put them in. You'll find the recipe at the Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.

5. LED Easter Eggs

Why just decorate eggs when you can make them glow? Instructables member PaleoDan shows you how to add battery-powered lights to blown-out eggshells.

6. Pop Culture Easter Eggs

Lesley A. Jensen, also known as DeviantART member Red Flare, creates a new set of pop culture Easter eggs every year. You can browse through her gallery of eggs from TV, movies, comic books, and video games. She hasn't yet revealed her eggs for this year, so check back. The eggs shown here are decorated to resemble characters from the video game Mass Effect in the 2012 collection.

7. LEGO My Eggs

Flickr user Rakka made Easter eggs that resembled LEGO bricks! She glued small mints onto hard boiled eggs and then painted them in LEGO colors. Who cares if they don't interlock -they look so cool.  

8. Roy Lichtenstein-style Eggs

Bella Manu at Art Club Blog recreated the look of Roy Lichtenstein's art for her Easter eggs last year. She achieved that by using black acrylic paint for outlines and limiting the colors to red, yellow, and blue to imitate Lichtenstein's comic-book-art style.

9. Beaded Eggs

Svitlana Polishchuk of Ternopil, Ukraine, makes all kinds of crafts covered with tiny beads. These Easter eggs are made of bead-covered wood, made to look like the baby chicks that would hatch from them! See more Ukrainian beaded eggs at Travel West Ukraine.

10. Deviled Easter Eggs

It's a shame that so many eggs go to waste when they are dyed and decorated -and not eaten. But Debra Taylor found that you can dye the inside of an egg just as easily as the shell. She posted instructions for making colored deviled eggs to serve at your Easter dinner. If you use egg dye with vinegar, don't worry about the flavor, as the spices in the deviled part are more pungent than the small amount of vinegar in the dye bath. What's a deviled egg without flavor, anyway?

You'll find more inspiration for your Easter eggs in these previous posts: 13 Exquisite Easter Eggs and 6 Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs

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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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Scientists Think They Know How Whales Got So Big
May 24, 2017
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iStock

It can be difficult to understand how enormous the blue whale—the largest animal to ever exist—really is. The mammal can measure up to 105 feet long, have a tongue that can weigh as much as an elephant, and have a massive, golf cart–sized heart powering a 200-ton frame. But while the blue whale might currently be the Andre the Giant of the sea, it wasn’t always so imposing.

For the majority of the 30 million years that baleen whales (the blue whale is one) have occupied the Earth, the mammals usually topped off at roughly 30 feet in length. It wasn’t until about 3 million years ago that the clade of whales experienced an evolutionary growth spurt, tripling in size. And scientists haven’t had any concrete idea why, Wired reports.

A study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B might help change that. Researchers examined fossil records and studied phylogenetic models (evolutionary relationships) among baleen whales, and found some evidence that climate change may have been the catalyst for turning the large animals into behemoths.

As the ice ages wore on and oceans were receiving nutrient-rich runoff, the whales encountered an increasing number of krill—the small, shrimp-like creatures that provided a food source—resulting from upwelling waters. The more they ate, the more they grew, and their bodies adapted over time. Their mouths grew larger and their fat stores increased, helping them to fuel longer migrations to additional food-enriched areas. Today blue whales eat up to four tons of krill every day.

If climate change set the ancestors of the blue whale on the path to its enormous size today, the study invites the question of what it might do to them in the future. Changes in ocean currents or temperature could alter the amount of available nutrients to whales, cutting off their food supply. With demand for whale oil in the 1900s having already dented their numbers, scientists are hoping that further shifts in their oceanic ecosystem won’t relegate them to history.

[h/t Wired]

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