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Will Hyperloops replace trains?

According to the Navigant Research firm, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has made a deal with central California landowners to build the world's first Hyperloop. The 5-mile test track will be built along California's Interstate 5. The Hyperloop, brought up in 2014 by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, would hypothetically enable passengers to travel in suspended pods through low-pressure tubes at more than 750 miles per hour. Supporters say the Hyperloop has the potential to be a faster, cheaper, and more energy-efficient form of travel than planes, trains, or buses. It is not yet known, however, if the technology is feasible or safe. What do you think? Will Hyperloops replace trains?

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Will iris detection become a mainstream smartphone feature?

This week's Question: The Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G, a new smartphone set for release in Japan, comes with a built-in retinal scanner that can be used for a variety of different functions, including unlocking the device, accessing apps, and making mobile payments. A front-facing infrared camera and an infrared LED light illuminate the user's eyes, verifying his or her unique iris pattern. Although the technology is currently only available in Japan, bigger companies like Samsung are also working on iris-detecting smartphones. What do you think? Will iris detection become a mainstream smartphone feature?

Posted in: Question of the Week, LEDs

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Will robo-pets catch on?

This week's Question: In a study in Frontiers in Veterinary Science, Australian researcher Jean-Loup Raul predicts that robotic and virtual-reality pets will grow in popularity as urban populations expand. “It might sound surreal for us to have robotic or virtual pets, but it could be totally normal for the next generation,” Dr. Jean-Loup Rault said in a written statement. “It’s not a question of centuries from now. If 10 billion human beings live on the planet in 2050 as predicted, it’s likely to occur sooner than we think." What do you think? Will robo-pets catch on?

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Will "smart city" lighting efforts pay off?

This week's Question: At this year's Mobile World Congress in Spain, Sierra Wireless and Philips CityTouch demonstrated "smart city" lighting capabilities. The companies' systems connect a city's individual street lights to the Internet via 2G, 3G, and 4G networks. The "smart" technology allows authorities to create customized lighting patterns and adjust the lamps for specific weather conditions or neighborhood needs. With "smart city" designs, users will potentially gain a clearer picture of a city’s lighting infrastructure, access real-time data on energy consumption, and receive automatic failure notifications, ultimately reducing costs in both energy and maintenance. To achieve this type of connected city, however, a common set of standards must enable interoperability so that every application can communicate and share data. Security levels, too, must be maintained. What do you think? Will "smart city" lighting efforts pay off?

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Will NASA achieve “warp drive?”

This week’s Question: According to a NASASpaceflight.com forum, NASA has successfully tested its electromagnetic (EM) drive in a vacuum. The form of space flight could eventually enable trips at speeds approaching that of light. The drive works by propelling objects through space by using magnets to create microwaves, which are then sent through a device to create thrust. If the mission is successful, it could overcome the need to carry fuel for propulsion. The EM drive, however, is controversial in that it appears to violate conventional physics and the law of conservation of momentum. The technology will still require more verification tests. What do you think? Will NASA achieve “warp drive?”

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Will triple-decker planes take flight by 2030?

This week's Question: Spanish designer Oscar Vinals recently developed a triple-decker aircraft design. The zero-emission AWWA-QG Progress Eagle would be powered by six hydrogen engines, a wind turbine, and solar panels. Vinals envisions that the plane would be able to take to the skies by 2030. Among the challenges would be finding runways long enough to allow such a large plane to land and take off. What do you think? Will triple-decker planes take flight by 2030?

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Will we discover alien life by 2025?

This week's Question: During a panel discussion last week, NASA scientists indicated that we may be a generation away from finding alien life — even if that life is a microorganism and not an alien civilization. "We're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, said chief scientist Ellen Stofan.”I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years." NASA scientists have found evidence of water on a number of celestial bodies, including the dwarf planet Ceres and Jupiter’s moon Europa. What do you think? Will we discover alien life by 2025?

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