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20th Century Fox

6 Scientific Reasons Mondays Are the Worst

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20th Century Fox

Have a case of the Mondays? Here's why.

1. Sleep Patterns

Our minds are absolute slaves to our body clocks. As we remember every year when the clocks “spring forward,” even an hour’s change can completely mess you up. But in a way, we do this to ourselves every single week. Since most people don’t get enough sleep during the week, they often try to make up for it on weekends. But sleeping in even an hour or two for just two days can confuse your body clock. According to scientists, that extra sleep just makes you more tired at the start of the week, because it can throw your body clock off by up to 45 minutes. This makes it even harder to get up on a Monday morning, even though you would think you would be well rested since you “caught up” on sleep over the weekend.

2. Socializing

One strange reason we might feel down Monday mornings is thanks to something that dates back to our cavemen days. Humans are social animals, and to feel happy we need to feel comfortable of our place in a “tribe,” so to speak. Even after just two days away, according to scientists, we need to make sure our place in our work environment is secure. Gossiping with your co-workers is an important part of gearing up for the work week, and if you don’t do this, you might feel out of sorts.

3. Sudden Change

Scientists have found that when you ask people to record their emotions at regular intervals, it turns out that Mondays are no more stressful or depressing than Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Fridays only come out ahead because people are anticipating the weekend. Other than that, all work days are equally terrible. But if you ask people to remember which day was worst, they will always say Monday. This comes down to the fact that there is a larger emotional shift from Sunday (a happy weekend day) to Monday (a work day) than there is between two work days. So no matter what, Monday will always seem like it was the worst day of your week.

4. You Feel Worse About Yourself

Your average weekend might involve eating, drinking, or smoking more than normal. And all of these things take a toll on you physically, which may be why one study found that American women of all ages and locations feel least attractive on Mondays.

People also see Mondays as the best day to change something about themselves. You are more likely to consider (or actually start) a diet on the first day of the week, as well as quit smoking. While these are positive changes, they aren’t fun to actually do, and they come from a place of feeling bad about yourself and your health, which contributes to that blah Monday feeling.

5. You Are Less Healthy

But you don’t just feel less healthy on a Monday, you actually are less healthy. Scientists have found that even people who generally maintain their weight weigh the most at the beginning of the week. Mondays are also the most common day for people to suffer heart attacks and strokes. Even if you don’t end up in the hospital, your blood pressure is higher on Monday, as is your chance of getting sick in general.

6. You Don’t Like Your Job

According to a massive Gallup poll, 70 percent of people hate or, at best, are “completely disengaged” from their job. This contributes to what psychiatrists and career coaches call the “Monday Blues.” Feelings of depression and anxiety can start on Sunday night, leading to an unproductive Monday. That might be why 37 percent of job applications are submitted on Tuesdays, more than any other day; you have another terrible Monday at a job you hate, and you're ready to get out of there.

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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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iStock
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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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