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Currency Guide

15 Banknotes That Show Queen Elizabeth’s Aging Process

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Currency Guide

Queen Elizabeth II has, of course, been pictured on British currency for much of her reign, but she has also appeared on the money of various British Commonwealth states and Crown dependencies. With such a long reign and so many nations issuing money with her image on it over the years, there are enough banknote portraits to construct a sort of aging timeline for the Queen. The age given below for each portrait is her age when the picture was made, which is not always the same as the year the banknote was issued (more information can be found at this interesting site maintained by international banknote expert Peter Symes). Here is Elizabeth through the years, on money.

1. Canada, 20 dollars, age 8


She was just a princess then. Her picture appeared on Canadian banknotes long before anything issued by the Bank of England.

2. Canada, 1 dollar, age 25


From a portrait taken by a Canadian photographer the year before she ascended the throne.

3.  Jamaica, 1 pound, age 26


Newly queen.

4. Mauritius, 5 rupees, age 29


From a painting commissioned in the 1950s by the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers, for Fishmongers’ Hall in London.

5. Cayman Islands, 100 dollars, age 34


Here she’s wearing the Russian style Kokoshnik tiara.

6. Australia, 1 dollar, age 38

Leftover Currency

Not long after this portrait was taken, she would meet the Beatles.

7. St. Helena, 5 pounds, age 40


Perfecting the art of looking casual while wearing bling.

8. Isle of Man, 50 pounds, age 51

Leftover Currency

More bling for this portrait from her Silver Jubilee.

9. Jersey, 1 pound, age 52

Leftover Currency

Wisdom, experience, soulful eyes.

10. Australia 5 dollars, age 58

Currency Guide

The confidence to go casual.

11. New Zealand, 20 dollars, age 60

Not the most flattering one. The green tint doesn’t help.

12. Gibraltar, 50 pounds, age 66

Leftover Currency

Silver hair and shiny diamonds. From a photograph taken at Buckingham Palace.

13. Fiji, 5 dollars, age 73


More silver hair, more shiny diamonds, and not so much smoothing of the wrinkles.

14. Jersey, 100 pounds, age 78


Face lined, eyes sparkly. She is looking right at you, and she looks good.

15. Canada, 20 dollars, age 85

Back to Canada, where it all began, and where they like their Queen a bit laid back.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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Why Your iPhone Doesn't Always Show You the 'Decline Call' Button
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When you get an incoming call to your iPhone, the options that light up your screen aren't always the same. Sometimes you have the option to decline a call, and sometimes you only see a slider that allows you to answer, without an option to send the caller straight to voicemail. Why the difference?

A while back, Business Insider tracked down the answer to this conundrum of modern communication, and the answer turns out to be fairly simple.

If you get a call while your phone is locked, you’ll see the "slide to answer" button. In order to decline the call, you have to double-tap the power button on the top of the phone.

If your phone is unlocked, however, the screen that appears during an incoming call is different. You’ll see the two buttons, "accept" or "decline."

Either way, you get the options to set a reminder to call that person back or to immediately send them a text message. ("Dad, stop calling me at work, it’s 9 a.m.!")

[h/t Business Insider]