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31 Bizarre Medical Conditions That Sound Made Up

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Here's one for the hypochondriacs! This week John Green discusses 31 strange medical conditions. 

(You can ubscribe to our YouTube Channel here. All images courtesy of Shutterstock; this transcript is provided by Nerdfighteria Wiki.)

Hi, i'm John Green. Welcome to my salon. This is mental_floss

1. I'm so glad I don't have intermittent explosive disorder, a condition marked by random fits of disproportionate rage. I'M SO ANGRY! DAAAAAAAH! 

Anyway, that's just one of thirty-one fascinating disorders we're going to learn about today here on mental_floss

2. To people who suffer from Alice in Wonderland syndrome, other people can look like they've consumed "Eat Me" cakes or "Drink Me" potions. This distortion, caused by a rare kind of migraine, can last for weeks or merely seconds. Mark, is Donald Duck syndrome that disease where your have the dreams about going to school with no pants on? Because if not, they are really missing a naming opportunity there. 

3. Are you an elderly woman who's sick of having a recently-retired husband underfoot? Probably not, judging by our demographics. But if you are, you might have the aptly named retired husband syndrome, which can actually cause physical ailments, like stomach ulcers and rashes. 

4. Studies show that Japanese people are most susceptible to Paris syndrome, the psychiatric breakdown that occurs when the city of Paris, France doesn't live up to the romantic ideal you've envisioned. Thankfully, the Japanese embassy has a 24-hour hot line for citizens suffering from culture shock. Really. 

5. Truman Show delusion is marked by a patient's belief that he or she is the star of an imaginary reality show. The camera's real, right?

6. It's possible that George Costanza was a victim of Genital Retraction Syndrome or "Koro," a condition that causes people to believe their genitals are shrinking, disappearing, or have been stolen entirely. Strangely, Koro is occasionally an epidemic. 

7. And while we're talking about Seinfeld, let us not overlook the time Kramer had seizures upon hearing the voice of entertainment reporter Mary Hart. This was based on an actual incident in which a woman had epileptic seizures due to the specific pitch and quality of the tone of Mary Hart's voice. 

8. Last Seinfeld reference, I swear. On the rare occasion that people laugh so hard they faint, they're said to have something called laugh syncope. So when a 62 year-old man passed out into his mashed potatoes because he was laughing so hard at a certain show about nothing, doctors dubbed it "Seinfeld syncope." 

9. Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair—don't eat it! You've probably heard of something called trichophagia where people are compelled to eat their hair. The thing is, hair isn't digestible, so over time it accumulates into a giant mass that can wrap around and perforate the internal organs, which is called Rapunzel syndrome. 

10. Ever walk into a room and immediately forget why you're there? It could be busy life syndrome, which is essentially just information overload. Researchers blame constant stimulation from cell phones, the internet, social media—I'm sorry. That's my fault. 

11., 12., and 13. Now onto coprographia, coprolalia, and copropraxia. Respectively, those mean making rude drawings or writings, using profane words, and making obscene gestures, all involuntarily. You know, like Jonah Hill in that Super Bad flashback. 

14. Does your strawberry ice cream taste like vanilla? You might have dysgeusia, a disorder that distorts the sense of taste. Or they might have put the red food coloring in the wrong ice cream. 

15. Often associated with dysgeusia is burning mouth syndrome. Nearly 1.3 million Americans suffer from it, so right now one of you is probably feeling like you just got hot pizza cheese plastered to the roof of your mouth, even if you haven't eaten recently. 

16. Pizza probably wouldn't be at the top of the list for someone with gourmand syndrome. Thought to be caused by an injury to the right frontal lobe of the brain, G.S. results in a preoccupation with food and a preference for fine eating. My syndrome does involve preoccupation with food, but it's the opposite, it's really low-quality food. I don't know what that's called, it's probably America syndrome. 

17. People suffering from Dr. Strangelove Syndrome often think that they're Peter Sellers. No, Dr. Strangelove syndrome is actually known as alien hand syndrome, where one hand appears to be controlled by someone other than the person it's attached to, even going so far as to injure the person. Alien hand syndrome is also the subject of a terrible 1999 Devon Sawa/Seth Green movie, who, by the way, is not related to me. 

18. Inserting nonsense words for real words without even realizing it is the result of jargon aphasia. It can actually progress to the point where someone suffering from the condition is talking in an entirely made-up language. 

19. In other news of diseases that would be injurious to my career, walking corpse syndrome. Those with walking corpse syndrome, or Cotard's delusion, think that they are dead or rotting, have possibly lost all of their blood or internal organs, or believe that they never actually existed in the first place. 

20. Capgras delusion is when you believe that a loved one has been replace by an identical imposter. Mmm good try, Mark, but I-I don't love him. I'm just kidding, Hank. If you're Hank. 

21. The flip side of Capgras Delusion is Fregoli delusion, which causes people to believe that many different people are actually just a single person who is skilled in the art of disguise. The first case was reported in 1927 when a woman believe that two local stage actors were constantly following her pretending to be people she knew. 

22. Okay, so here's a thing that exists: purple urine bag syndrome, a.k.a. P.U.B.S. Occasionally, nursing homes report that elderly patients who have been catheterized are producing bags filled with purple pee. It appears to be a harmless condition that is likely caused by certain enzymes mixing with tryptophan, the same stuff in turkey that's supposed to make you sleepy. Slightly off topic, but do you think California raisins pee purple? 

23. If you wake up one morning with an accent you have no right to have (Madonna), it's possible that you're the victim of foreign accent syndrome. Doctors believe it happens when a tiny area of the brain that controls language gets damaged by a stroke or other brain injury. 

24. And now on to exploding head syndrome. Mark, come on. Alright, that's better. People with exploding head syndrome hear loud noises that don't exist, most often waking them up in the middle of the night. The noises have been described as everything from a bomb exploding to cymbals crashing. 

25. People who have little to no awareness of time have dyschronometria. This applies to people who can't even approximate when 30 seconds have gone by, not your brother who is constantly late to everything. 

26. Just like The Beatles and Justin Bieber, pianist Franz Liszt had crazed fans, but back in the 1800s the word "mania" had real, medical connotations, so the fact that doctors named the phenomenon "Lisztomania" indicates that it had physical symptoms including fainting and hysteria. Although to be fair, I would likely faint in the presence of the Biebs. 

27. Now onto trimethylaminuria. We're just going to call it fish odor syndrome. It's a metabolic disorder that makes you smell like day-old fish, and there is no known cure or treatment, so that sucks. 

28. Smelling odors that aren't really there, that's phantosmia. 

29. Smelling something rotten when something should smell pleasant, that's parosmia. 

30. And not smelling anything at all, that's anosmia. 

31. And lastly we return to the portrait gallery to discuss Stendhal syndrome. Does seeing that baby octopus thing make your heart race? Does it make you feel faint? Then you might have Stendhal syndrome. Such people might feel dizzy or faint when in the presence of art they find particularly beautiful or a lot of art. 

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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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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

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Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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