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Super Mario Bros. in 5 Minutes

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YouTube

In late 2011, Andrew Gardikis set a record for a "speed run" on Super Mario Bros. -- this means he played through the entire game as quickly as possible (yes, he used the warp tubes). For that 2011 run, Gardikis calculated his time at 4:58.898, or just under five minutes (he's calculating down to the frame level).

Then on January 14, 2013, Gardikis published a new video, in which he broke his old record by 0.1 seconds. In the new video, he put the old run in a little window inside the new run, so you can see how similar his pattern is -- he plays with uncanny timing, jumping at almost exactly the same times (with a few goof-off jumps at nonessential points). Because both audio tracks are included, you can hear how similar the two runs are.

At times one run gets slightly ahead of the other, but they end up syncing up due to the 21 frame rule (oversimplified explanation: when the game goes to a black screen or other such transition, it effectively rounds to the nearest 21-frame boundary, thus effectively re-syncing the clock).

Now, I want you to think back to playing Super Mario Bros., and all the times you died on the dumb water levels. Think about all those times you fell in a pit, and what an achievement it was to finally arrive at the final level after hours of play. Now watch Gardikis demolish the game in five minutes.

Gardikis holds other speed records (many of them tool-assisted). On SMB he can apparently do the whole game without warp tubes in 19:40 (!), and he gets major bonus points for sitting through more than 22 minutes of "Yo! Noid," mentioned in my opus 6 Obscure Facts About the Noid.

See also: Will the Real "Super Mario Bros. 2" Please Stand Up? and These Tetris Videos Will Stress You Out.

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Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?
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GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

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The Google Docs Audio Hack You Might Not Know About
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To the uninitiated, Google Docs may take some warming up to. But although it may seem like any other word processor, Docs offers its fair share of nifty features that can make your life a whole lot easier. The only problem is that few people seem to know about them.

The Voice Typing function is one such example. As Quartz discovered, this tool can be used to drastically cut down on the time it takes to transcribe an interview or audio recording—a feature that professionals from many fields could benefit from. Voice Typing might also be useful to those who prefer to dictate what they want to write, as well as those with impairments that prevent them from typing.

Whatever the case may be, it's extremely easy to use. Just open a blank document, click on "tools" at the top, and then select "voice typing." A microphone icon will pop up, allowing you to choose your language. After you've done that, simply click the icon when you're ready to start speaking!

Unfortunately, it's unable to pick up an audio recording played through speakers, so you'll need to grab a pair of headphones, plug them into your phone or voice recorder, and dictate what's said as you listen along. Still, this eliminates the hassle of having to pause and rewind in order to let your fingers catch up to the audio—unless you're the champion of a speed typing contest, in which case you probably don't need this tutorial.

According to Quartz, the transcription is "shockingly" accurate, even getting the spelling of last names right. For a how-to guide on the Voice Typing tool, check out Quartz's video below.

[h/t Quartz]

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