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25 Things You Might Not Know About Atlanta

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Think you know everything about the City in a Forest?

1. Atlanta was originally named Terminus and Marthasville (the latter for Governor Wilson Lumpkin’s daughter.)

2. The city got its current name from railroad engineer J. Edgar Thompson. It’s thought to be a shortened version of “Atlantica-Pacifica.”

3. Your GPS might be confused if you punch in “Peachtree” as your destination. There are over 55 streets with the name.

4. And it's possible none of them are named for an actual peach tree. Historians suggest they're named after the Native American village of “Standing Pitch Tree.” The pronunciation corrupted over the years.

5. Atlanta was the only city in North American destroyed as an act of war. (General Sherman burnt it to the ground.)

6. Only 400 buildings survived.

7. That’s why the city’s symbol is a phoenix.

8. Lots of airports claim to be the world’s busiest. But Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport truly is the world’s busiest airport.

9. Why? Because Atlanta is a perfect location. It’s just a three hour flight from many major American cities.

10. The terminal is as big as 45 football fields!

11. Atlanta is Georgia’s fifth capital. Savannah, Augusta, Louisville, and Milledgeville boasted the title earlier.

12. The Georgia State Capitol building is gilded with 43 ounces of locally-mined gold.

13. The Continental Divide out west gets all the love, but Atlanta is home to the Eastern Continental Divide, which separates water draining into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic.

14. One of the largest Hindu temples outside of India is located in the Atlanta metro area.

15. It was once illegal to put an ice cream cone in your back pocket in Atlanta.

16. Atlanta also outlawed tying a giraffe to a telephone pole.

17. Want to ride your bike to Alabama? The Silver Comet Trail starting in Smyrna will get you there.

18. In 1996, Terry Hitchcock ran from Minneapolis to Atlanta in just 75 days. He covered over 2100 miles!

19. Stone Mountain outside Atlanta is one of the largest blocks of exposed granite in the world.

20. Stone Mountain’s etching of Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Jefferson Davis is the largest bas relief in the world, too!

21. Atlanta had some tough competition when it nabbed the 1996 Olympics hosting duty. The city beat out Athens, Toronto, Melbourne, Manchester, and Belgrade for the spot.

22. The fastest baseball game in history happened in Atlanta, when the Mobile Sea Gulls beat the Atlanta Crackers 2-1 in just 32 minutes.

23. Atlanta also played host to the greatest rout in football history—a 1916 contest in which Georgia Tech blew out tiny Cumberland College 222-0.

24. When pro football moved to Atlanta, the owners considered over 500 names. A schoolteacher came up with the Falcons nickname, a bird she endorsed because it was “proud and dignified, with great courage and fight.”

25. Why did Atlanta resident Margaret Mitchell write Gone with the Wind? Because an ankle injury kept her from walking and she was really, really bored.

All images courtesy of Getty Images 

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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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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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