Ars Technica brings us news that computer scientist Tom Murphy has written a program that "solves" how to play Super Mario Bros. as if it is just another kind of mathematical problem.
Lexicographic ordering is a pretty simple mathematical technique used to determine the best order a set of values should come in. It's most commonly used in libraries or dictionaries for arranging books and words, for instance, with the alphabet determining the order of the letters.
New Scientist reports that labs have successfully grown kidneys that work in rats.
Similar techniques have already been applied successfully in people with simpler tissue, such as windpipes. But the kidney is by far the most complex organ successfully recreated.
And let's not count out NASA, which has plans to use solar electricity to get robotic spacecraft to an asteroid, and perhaps even farther.
The idea would be that traditional chemical rockets could deliver payloads to low Earth orbit and solar electric propulsion could then power a spacecraft to higher energy orbits, including Lagrange points or a potential assembly point in space between Earth and the moon. This approach could facilitate missions to near Earth asteroids and other destinations in deep space, NASA said.
Derek Austin Johnson has lived most of his life in the Lone Star State. A member of the Turkey City Writer's Workshop, his work has appeared in The Horror Zine, Tell-Tale Press, Skull Fragments: A Skelos Sampler, Rick Klaw's Rayguns Over Texas!, Nova Express, Moving Pictures, Her Majesty's Secret Servant, and Revolution SF. His film column "Watching the Future" appeared each month at Hugo Award-winning SF Signal.
He lives in Central Texas.