We’ve all heard about cosmic rays flipping bits here and there, but by and large, it occurs rarely enough that we don’t worry too much about it on a day-to-day basis. However, it seems just such a ray happened to flip a crucial bit that assisted a speedrunner in the middle of a competition.

The flip happened to [DOTA_Teabag], who suddenly found Mario flying upward to a higher part of a level, completely unexpectedly. Testing by [pannenkoek12] seems to indicate that this may have been due to a single-bit change to Mario’s height value, from C5837800 to C4837800, leading to the plucky Italian plumber warping upwards through the level. The leading theory is that this bit flip was caused by a cosmic ray event, though the likelihood of such an event is exceedingly rare.

It’s possible that there remains another cause for the flip, though after much work from the community replicating the situation in emulation, none has been found. Other suggestions involve electrical noise or other malfunctions causing the flip, though one would rarely expect such an occurrence to change just one bit of RAM. For now, the jury remains out, but who knows – maybe in the future we’ll find out it was a hidden, undiscovered exploit all along. Of course, if Nintendo doesn’t get you going, try speedrunning Windows 95.  Video after the break.

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Author Of this post: Lewin Day

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