The Late Movies: These Tetris Videos Will Stress You Out

In recent years I've become interested in a niche hobby -- competitive NES Tetris. Yes, it's a video game that came out more than twenty years ago and I still find it fascinating. I don't play competitively, but I know a bunch of people who do (and I recently refereed at the 2012 Classic Tetris World Championship). Tonight, I bring you a collection of max-out videos -- these are feats of unbelievable coordination and concentration, in which Tetris masters manage to break the 999,999 point score limit ("max-out") on the Nintendo game. These people have been playing for decades, and it shows. Warning: these Tetris videos will stress you out.

Matt Buco

Buco's max-out is most notable because it's so fast -- he starts on Level 18, then maxes out on Level 26 (!). Most players hit the score on 28 or 29 (the latter being so fast that it's basically unplayable). Buco was fourth in the world to document his max-out, and it happened on January 2, 2012 (1/2/12).

Ben Mullen

Ben Mullen (like most of these guys) is featured in the movie Ecstasy Of Order: The Tetris Masters -- if you've seen the film, he's the guy who taught his wife to solve a Rubik's Cube (and there's a DVD extra in which they have a cube-solving's totally sweet). I refereed the match in this year's championship in which Mullen was eliminated, and it was a huge bummer to see him go. But he packed up, went home, and one week later he maxed out the game. Now that's a winner!

Harry Hong

The first documented max-out, from April 19, 2009. Hong starts here on Level 18.

And then in 2011, Hong returned to do it starting from Level 19.

Eli Markstrom

This happened in late September, just before the championship. Eli maxes out just before the Level 29 "kill screen" (where the pieces move so fast it's nearly impossible to move them to the sides of the screen).

Alex Kerr

Kerr maxed out in May, starting on Level 18. His play in the finals of the championship this year struck me as extremely efficient -- he favors a right-well (as do most players) but is a master of building a gapless left stack, then crushing it with Tetrises. Note that at the very end he clears two lines on Level 29, despite already maxing out on 28.

Jonas Neubauer

Neubauer has taken top honors at all three world championships. He's a machine. Here's his first documented max-out, starting at Level 18:

And, like Hong, Neubauer proceeded to repeat the feat starting at Level 19:

Full disclosure: I did some writing work on Ecstasy of Order, but I have no financial stake in the film. It's out on DVD and VOD now -- and it will only stress you out in a good way. (If you get the DVD, that's the only place to see Thor Aackerlund's max-out -- it's a bonus feature.) It has been a kick getting involved in this community, partly because there are so many winners.

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Fisherman Catches Rare Blue Lobster, Donates It to Science
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Live lobsters caught off the New England coast are typically brown, olive-green, or gray—which is why one New Hampshire fisherman was stunned when he snagged a blue one in mid-July.

As The Independent reports, Greg Ward, from Rye, New Hampshire, discovered the unusual lobster while examining his catch near the New Hampshire-Maine border. Ward initially thought the pale crustacean was an albino lobster, which some experts estimate to be a one-in-100-million discovery. However, a closer inspection revealed that the lobster's hard shell was blue and cream.

"This one was not all the way white and not all the way blue," Ward told The Portsmouth Herald. "I've never seen anything like it."

While not as rare as an albino lobster, blue lobsters are still a famously elusive catch: It's said that the odds of their occurrence are an estimated one in two million, although nobody knows the exact numbers.

Instead of eating the blue lobster, Ward decided to donate it to the Seacoast Science Center in Rye. There, it will be studied and displayed in a lobster tank with other unusually colored critters, including a second blue lobster, a bright orange lobster, and a calico-spotted lobster.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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Courtesy Murdoch University
Australian Scientists Discover First New Species of Sunfish in 125 Years
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Courtesy Murdoch University

Scientists have pinpointed a whole new species of the largest bony fish in the world, the massive sunfish, as we learned from Smithsonian magazine. It's the first new species of sunfish proposed in more than 125 years.

As the researchers report in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, the genetic differences between the newly named hoodwinker sunfish (Mola tecta) and its other sunfish brethren was confirmed by data on 27 different samples of the species collected over the course of three years. Since sunfish are so massive—the biggest can weigh as much as 5000 pounds—they pose a challenge to preserve and store, even for museums with large research collections. Lead author Marianne Nyegaard of Murdoch University in Australia traveled thousands of miles to find and collected genetic data on sunfish stranded on beaches. At one point, she was asked if she would be bringing her own crane to collect one.

Nyegaard also went back through scientific literature dating back to the 1500s, sorting through descriptions of sea monsters and mermen to see if any of the documentation sounded like observations of the hoodwinker. "We retraced the steps of early naturalists and taxonomists to understand how such a large fish could have evaded discovery all this time," she said in a press statement. "Overall, we felt science had been repeatedly tricked by this cheeky species, which is why we named it the 'hoodwinker.'"

Japanese researchers first detected genetic differences between previously known sunfish and a new, unknown species 10 years ago, and this confirms the existence of a whole different type from species like the Mola mola or Mola ramsayi.

Mola tecta looks a little different from other sunfish, with a more slender body. As it grows, it doesn't develop the protruding snout or bumps that other sunfish exhibit. Similarly to the others, though, it can reach a length of 8 feet or more. 

Based on the stomach contents of some of the specimens studied, the hoodwinker likely feeds on salps, a jellyfish-like creature that it probably chomps on (yes, sunfish have teeth) during deep dives. The species has been found near New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and southern Chile.

[h/t Smithsonian]


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