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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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Will hydrogen fuel cell vehicles ever achieve widespread use?

This week's Question: Today's INSIDER story highlighted a discovery in alternative energy production that may provide a breakthrough for hydrogen-fueled vehicles. According to researcher Joe Rollin, the technology "has the potential to enable the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles around the world and displace fossil fuels.” What do you think? Will hydrogen fuel cell vehicles ever achieve widespread use?

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Will airships be the future of "green" aviation?

A group of academics from the University of Lincoln, UK, believe airships may be the 'green' answer to the future growth of aviation . The Multibody Advanced Airship for Transport (MAAT) project, made up of eight nations and led by the Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia in Italy, is working to design a cruiser which can travel across the globe on a set route. Smaller feeder ships carrying people and goods would then be able to dock onto the cruiser while it is still moving. To provide sufficient electric power during the day, photovoltaic arrays, mounted on the upper airship surface, harvest sunlight. What do you think? Will airships be the future of "green" aviation?

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