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Amazon / It'Sugar

11 Giant Pieces and Boxes of Candy You Can Actually Buy

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Amazon / It'Sugar

Sometimes the standard candy bars you find in your local convenience store just aren't enough. Here are some giant portions of candy for when you want to throw health concerns to the wind and really binge.

1. GUMMY BEAR; $150

Ever wish your gummy bears were big enough to cuddle? You could definitely wrap your arms around this ginormous gelatinous bear, which clocks in at 26 pounds and comes in four flavors: blue raspberry, green apple, orange, and red cherry. The stomach is hollow, so it can double as a bowl for even more candy. If you're looking for ideas on what to do with this mammoth snack (besides eat it), Andy Milonakis can help.

Find it: Vat19

2. GUMMY SNAKE; $150

At 8 feet long and 26 pounds, this gummy is enough to feed an entire party: It's technically over 450 servings!

Find it: Amazon, eBay

3. CHUPA CHUPS LOLLIPOP; $20

Did you know that Salvador Dalí designed the Chupa Chups logo? Like the artist's famous surrealist style, these giant Chupa Chups seem other-worldly. The 2-pound lollipops are 65 times larger than the usual Chupa Chups and come with an extra thick stick that makes you feel like candy royalty wielding a sugary scepter. The sucker has a whopping 2800 calories, so don't eat it all in one sitting (even kings have to worry about cavities).

Find it: Vat19

4. PEANUT BUTTER CUP; $40

There's no wrong way to eat a Reese's, but when it comes to this colossal 2-pound peanut butter cup, slow and steady wins the race. The website implies that you should slice it like a cake and share it with friends, but we won't judge if you decide to eat the whole thing.

Find it: Candy Warehouse

5. NERDS; $39

At first glance, this giant Nerds box seems impractical, but it's actually housing 36 smaller boxes inside. We recommend this strawberry/grape box for parties or psyching out Trick-or-Treaters.

Find it: Staples, It'Sugar

6. TOBLERONE BAR; $51 - $107

We know how painful it can be when someone asks for a piece of your precious Toblerone bar. Now you can finally have a bar big enough for you and maybe one freeloading friend. This enormous bar is 2.6 feet long and weighs almost 10 pounds. Each triangle is about 10-by-10 inches, so that's a full meal right there. Just like the smaller version, each bar has milk chocolate made from Swiss milk from the Alps, along with honey and almond nougat.

Find it: Amazon, eBay

7. HELLO KITTY PEZ; $18

Pez dispensers are cool, but they'd be way cooler if they were bigger than your head. This massive, 15-inch-tall Hello Kitty Pez dispenser is exactly the thing you need for intense sugar cravings. The 1.43 pound plastic structure pops out entire rolls of Pez instead of individual pieces like the pedestrian dispensers you're used to. It comes with six rolls of Pez to start, which you can pop right in.

Find it: Amazon

8. RICE KRISPIES TREATS; $16

Sure, you can make your own Rice Krispies Treats, but why bother when you can just buy an entire 32-ounce sheet for half the effort? Best of all, it comes in the classic blue wrapper like its smaller counterparts. If you decide to share (weird) you can cut it into about 30 to 40 reasonably sized squares.

Find it: Amazon

9. POP ROCKS; $15

This giant Pop Rocks box has a similar deal to the Nerds box. Instead of a container of loose Pop Rocks, you can find eight small bags in assorted flavors. Now you just need a big bottle of soda to wash down the exploding candy.

Find it: It'Sugar

10. SWEET TARTS; $23

This hefty tube of Sweet Tarts is great for more than just satisfying a sugar craving; use it to play a game of Wiffle ball, intimidate potential muggers, knight people in the name of your candy kingdom, and more. The 24-inch tube is filled with 1.5 pounds of individually wrapped Sweet Tarts, so you'll always have access to a snack when you're done with whatever you've decided to use your giant tube for.

Find it: It'Sugar

11. HERSHEY'S CHOCOLATE BAR; $36

Bring this 5-pound bar of chocolate to a campfire and start making some substantial s'mores.

Find it: Amazon

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
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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Health
200 Health Experts Call for Ban on Two Antibacterial Chemicals
June 21, 2017
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iStock

In September 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a ban on antibacterial soap and body wash. But a large collective of scientists and medical professionals says the agency should have done more to stop the spread of harmful chemicals into our bodies and environment, most notably the antimicrobials triclosan and triclocarban. They published their recommendations in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The 2016 report from the FDA concluded that 19 of the most commonly used antimicrobial ingredients are no more effective than ordinary soap and water, and forbade their use in soap and body wash.

"Customers may think added antimicrobials are a way to reduce infections, but in most products there is no evidence that they do," Ted Schettler, science director of the Science and Environmental Health Network, said in a statement.

Studies have shown that these chemicals may actually do more harm than good. They don't keep us from getting sick, but they can contribute to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, also known as superbugs. Triclosan and triclocarban can also damage our hormones and immune systems.

And while they may no longer be appearing on our bathroom sinks or shower shelves, they're still all around us. They've leached into the environment from years of use. They're also still being added to a staggering array of consumer products, as companies create "antibacterial" clothing, toys, yoga mats, paint, food storage containers, electronics, doorknobs, and countertops.

The authors of the new consensus statement say it's time for that to stop.

"We must develop better alternatives and prevent unneeded exposures to antimicrobial chemicals," Rolf Haden of the University of Arizona said in the statement. Haden researches where mass-produced chemicals wind up in the environment.

The statement notes that many manufacturers have simply replaced the banned chemicals with others. "I was happy that the FDA finally acted to remove these chemicals from soaps," said Arlene Blum, executive director of the Green Science Policy Institute. "But I was dismayed to discover at my local drugstore that most products now contain substitutes that may be worse."

Blum, Haden, Schettler, and their colleagues "urge scientists, governments, chemical and product manufacturers, purchasing organizations, retailers, and consumers" to avoid antimicrobial chemicals outside of medical settings. "Where antimicrobials are necessary," they write, we should "use safer alternatives that are not persistent and pose no risk to humans or ecosystems."

They recommend that manufacturers label any products containing antimicrobial chemicals so that consumers can avoid them, and they call for further research into the impacts of these compounds on us and our planet.

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