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YouTube / TOJkero
YouTube / TOJkero

20 Seconds of Tetris Madness

YouTube / TOJkero
YouTube / TOJkero

Are you calm? Do you like Tetris? Okay, try to remain calm and watch this 36-second video of a human playing Tetris in realtime. This actually happened. Behold:

A little explanation is in order. This is what's called a Tetris "line race" (also known as a "sprint"), in this case an attempt to clear 40 lines in the minimum possible time. This is the kind of thing top-level Tetris players do when they're bored, and/or want to prove that they are truly the best in the world.

The player here is a Japanese woman player* who goes by "Keroco," and he or she achieved 40 lines in 19.68 seconds. That's the first time that someone has broken the 20-second barrier, and it's astonishing, to say the least. (A few years back, 40 seconds was considered a great time.) Tetris champion Ben Mullen wrote of the feat, "Let me humbly submit that this may be the greatest achievement in the history of gaming. ... This won't make national news. But to be honest, it should."

For more on the achievement, read this Reddit thread and focus on the bit by Kitaru (Alex Kerr), a Tetris Grand Master. If you're into tech, check out this Hard Drop page which includes a link to the replay file. If you'd like to see Keroco's journey to achieve this record, check out Keroco's YouTube page, which shows ten months of progressively faster games.

* = Update, 19 August 2013. Apparently there is some disagreement about whether Keroco is male or female, so I've updated this article slightly.

If this Tetris is a little too fast for you, slow down with Playing to Lose, a feature article I wrote about competitive Tetris earlier this year. It includes no video, and will not make you freak out. I promise.

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UsTwo
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This Augmented-Reality App Makes the Hospital Experience Less Scary for Kids
UsTwo
UsTwo

Staying in a hospital can be a scary experience for kids, but a little distraction can make it less stressful. According to studies conducted by Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, UK, distracted patients have an easier time with their appointments and require less pain medication. Now, Co.Design reports that the hospital is releasing its own app designed to keep children entertained—and calm—from the moment they check in.

The Android and iOS app, called Alder Play, was designed by ustwo, the makers of the wildly popular smartphone game Monument Valley and the stress relief tool Pause. Patients can download the app before they arrive at the hospital, choosing a virtual animal buddy to guide them through their stay. Then, once they check into the hospital, their furry companion shows them around the facility using augmented-reality technology.

The app features plenty of fun scavenger hunts and other games for kids to play during their downtime, but its most important features are designed to coach young patients through treatments. Short videos walk them through procedures like blood tests so that when the time comes, the situation will feel less intimidating. And for each step in the hospitalization process, from body scans to gown changes, doctors can give kids virtual stickers to reward them for following directions or just being brave. There’s also an AI chatbot (powered by IBM’s Watson) available to answer any questions kids or their parents might have about the hospital.

The app is very new, and Alder Hey is still assessing whether or not it's changing their young hospital guests’ experiences for the better. If the game is successful, children's hospitals around the world may consider developing exclusive apps of their own.

[h/t Co.Design]

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Cell Free Technology
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This Pixel Kit Will Let You Play Tetris With Jellyfish DNA
Cell Free Technology
Cell Free Technology

Forget playing Tetris on your phone. Now you can play it with jellyfish DNA. Bixels is a DIY game kit that lets you code your own games using synthetic biology, lighting up a digital display with the help of DNA.

Its 8-by-8 pixel grid is programmed to turn on with the help of the same protein that makes jellyfish glow, called green fluorescent protein (GFP). But you can program it to do more than just passively shine. You can use your phone and the associated app to excite Bixels' fluorescent proteins and make them glow at different frequencies, producing red, blue, and green colors. Essentially, you can program it like you would any computer, but instead of electronics powering the system, it's DNA.

Two blue boxes hold Bixel pixel grids.

Researchers use green fluorescent protein all the time in lab experiments as an imaging agent to illuminate biological processes for study. With Bixels, all you need is a little programming to turn the colorful lights (tubes filled with GFP) into custom images or interactive games like Tetris or Snake. You can also use it to develop your own scientific experiments. (For experiment ideas, Bixels' creator, the Irish company Cell-Free Technology, suggests the curricula from BioBuilder.)

A screenshot shows a user assembling a Bixel kit on video.

A pixel kit is housed in a cardboard box that looks like a Game Boy.

Bixels is designed to be used by people with all levels of scientific knowledge, helping make the world of biotechnology more accessible to the public. Eventually, Cell-Free Technology wants to create a bio-computer even more advanced than Bixels. "Our ultimate goal is to build a personal bio-computer which, unlike current wearable devices, truly interacts with our bodies," co-founder Helene Steiner said in a press release.

Bixels - Play tetris with DNA from Cell-Free Technology on Vimeo.

You can buy your own Bixel kit on Kickstarter for roughly $118. It's expected to ship in May 2018.

All images courtesy Cell-Free Technology

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