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19 Super Facts for Your Super Bowl Party

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Getty Images

The Super Bowl is a really long game. If there's a lull in the conversation, you can toss out some facts about the game, the ads, and foods you might be eating.

1. The Broncos once had a fight song called "The Mighty Bronco March."

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2. During Super Bowl I in 1967, NBC was still in commercial when the second half kicked off. Officials asked the Packers to kick off again.

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3. The second half of the 2004 Super Bowl was delayed when a man dressed as a ref ran onto the field, stripped down to a G-string, and started to dance.

Image credit: Ray Stubblebine/Reuters/Landov

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4. In a 1975 name-the-team contest, Seattle chose Seahawks over entries such as Rainbeams, Aqua-Ducks, and Space Needlers.

More amazing entries from Seattle's name-the-team contest.

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5. You can bet on how many times Peyton Manning says "Omaha" during tonight's game (over/under 27.5).

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6. According to a Wall Street Journal study, there are only 11 minutes of actual football action in an average NFL game.

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7. The USDA allows the use of the term 'wyngz' for chicken products that look like wings but contain no wing meat.

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8. In 10 of the last 11 Super Bowls, the AFC QB has been Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or Ben Roethlisberger.

Courtesy of @ESPNStatsInfo.

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9. The NFL used to play a third-place game, which Vince Lombardi called a "losers' bowl for losers."

Read more about the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl. Image courtesy of Neil Leifer/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images (1963).

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10. M&M's stands for "Mars & Murrie's," the last names of the candy's founders.

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11. The first "I'm going to Disney World!" ad came after Super Bowl XXI in 1987 and starred Giants QB Phil Simms.

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12. My daughters reenacted the Richard Sherman/Erin Andrews interview.

This is what we do for fun in the cold.

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13. On the 49ers' Super Bowl XXIII-winning drive, a calm Joe Montana asked teammates in the huddle, "Hey isn't that John Candy over there?"

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14. The 1989 halftime show featured magician Elvis Presto, who performed magic tricks in the style of Elvis Presley.

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15. In 1977, Super Bowl pre-game entertainment featured Ashley Whippet, a Frisbee-catching dog.

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16. When Doritos creator Arch West passed away, his family asked friends to scatter Doritos around his burial box.

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17. In 2011, GoDaddy acquired and shut down NoDaddy, a GoDaddy complaint site.

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18. Seattle coach Pete Carroll has only had one non-football job: after college, he sold wood products for a building materials company.

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19. In 1998 Miss Piggy released her own perfume, "Moi." Kermit had previously debuted a cologne called "Amphibia."

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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:

501069-OpeningCeremony2.jpg

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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