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15 Dissertation Titles Translated Into Clickbait Headlines

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ThinkStock

We’ve all become savvy to the tropes and tricks of clickbait headlines, but that doesn’t stop us from clicking on them. As it turns out, the conventions of clickbait can be applied to even the most highbrow topics. Over on Tumblr, ClickBaitPHD converts otherwise mundane dissertation topics into eye-catching headlines you can share with your Facebook friends. Here are some examples, with links to the actual dissertations where available.

1. H-Bomb designer told us to look for signals from distant galaxies. Why we can’t see them is out of this world.

Actual title: The population of submillimeter galaxies and its impact on the detection of the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Effect

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2. These squirrels were forced to migrate south because of the Ice Age. What happened next WILL SHOCK YOU.

Actual title: Genetic structure and phylogeography of the fox squirrel, Sciurus niger, as inferred from a mitochondrial gene.

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3. What happens when you put farmers on the internet? Justice.

Actual title: The global justice movement and struggles over knowledge (link)

Book title: Global Justice and the Politics of Information: The struggle over knowledge

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4. "I got aggregate structural sample!" Take this quiz to find out YOUR sample-based hip-hop type!

Actual title: A Typology of Sampling in Hip-Hop (link)

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5. Think college students are spending too much time on facebook? At p. 57 you’ll ‘like’ what’s going on, by p. 128 you’ll LOVE it.

Actual title: First Year Students in a Foreign Fabric:  A Triangulation Study on Facebook as a Method of Coping/Adjustment

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6. Would Your Diet Help Conquer Europe? These 100-year-old secrets to healthy eating will turn your stomach!

Actual title: The Politics of the Table: Nutrition and the Telescopic Body in Saxon Germany, 1890-1935

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7. You won’t believe what is contributing to the spread of HIV! The shocking truth that politicians don’t want YOU to know!

Actual Title: A Political Epidemiology of HIV/AIDS in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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8. Think You Know How Armies Work? Listen to This Guy. At p. 57 He’ll Make You Think. At p. 279 He’ll Blow Your Mind.

Actual title: Desertion, Control and Collective Action in Civil Wars

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9. These women needed to get their message across. How they did amazed me. (Hint: It may have involved quilts).

Actual title: Female Fabrications: An Examination of the Public and Private Aspects of Nüshu

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10. You NEED to See This Hot Model (NSFW) of Ethnic Politics and Foreign Policy.

Actual title: Supporting secession or maintaining boundaries: The international consequences of ethnic politics. (link)

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11. All of your brain cells have the same DNA, right? Here are 10 reasons why you’re so wrong.

Actual title: Chromosomal aneuploidy in the developing mammalian cortex 

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12. Robyn may be dancing on her own, but the rest of Sweden? Think again.

Actual title: The Musical Landscape: Music, Place and the Regionalization of Cultural Policy

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13. Ever wonder when to start burning stuff down to get what you want? These 11 Indonesian farmers’ tactics will totally blow your mind!

Actual title: Did I Say This Land Is Your Land? Patterns of Contention in Indonesian Environmental Disputes

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14. They were just taking a test, but how these students were assessed may have really f*cked them up (p < 0.1)

Actual title: Performance Goal Practices: Characteristics of Teacher Usage and Implications for Social Relationships in Elementary School Classrooms (link)

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15. Meet the Bad-ass Bards who Changed the Way You Experience the Written Word.

Actual title: Anthologizing Modernism: New Verse Anthologies, 1913-53 (link)

See more at ClickBaitPHD.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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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]

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