News

Does Wave Energy Have Potential?

The first commercially licensed grid-connected wave-energy device in the United States, designed by the New Jersey-based Ocean Power Technologies, is in its final weeks of testing before a planned launch in October. The computer-equipped buoy captures the energy created by a wave, which is fueled by the wind as it travels. Wave energy is expensive, however, and waves themselves are inconsistent. Some fishing industry lobbyists also worry that an increase in wave energy will impact ecology in surrounding areas. Others see potential and think of wave energy as just an accumulation of wind energy.

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Would You Wear a "Smart" Wristwatch?

Smartphone capabilities have extended, even to the wristwatch. Companies like Apple, Nike, Sony, as well as other startups, have created new wrist devices that connect to an individual’s smartphone. Most display the time, but the bands also provide information that keeps users from having to take out their mobile devices. Sony, for example, released its Smartwatch, which includes a 2" screen that displays emails, Twitter posts, and other kinds of texts. Other devices track a user's daily activity.

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Do Personalized Learning Methods Show Promise in Remaking Education?

As the school season arrives, an increasing number of students will be studying through Internet-based systems. An NYC-based company called Knewton, for example, uses an adaptive learning technique that tracks learners' progress and shadows their online activities as they work. The technology personalizes online learning content for individual students. It can determine which topics a student excels at, and can even establish the best time of day for a specific student to study a given subject.

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Will We See a Greater Use of Robots in Homes and Offices?

Robots like the PR2, from the Menlo Park, CA-based Willow Garage, perform a variety of tasks: bringing objects to people, opening doors, and even folding laundry. And while companies including iRobot create technologies to take care of minor jobs such as cleaning floors and pools, others like Boston Dynamics are building robots that will take over for soldiers in battle. Many in the robotics field say that price of these types of technologies will begin to drop sharply, and lead to a greater, widespread use.

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Will We Send Humans to Mars?

On Sunday, NASA's Curiosity rover successfully landed on Mars. The orbiter ushers in a new era of exploration that, some say, could turn up evidence that Mars once had the necessary ingredients for life — or might even still harbor life today. The land rover also creates new possibilities for human exploration of Mars. The Obama administration wants to send humans to orbit Mars and eventually land on it.

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Is Mars exploration a worthy investment?

Humans have launched 40 spacecraft to Mars, and the latest machine to make the effort is NASA's Mars Science Laboratory. If the Mars Science Laboratory lands safely next week, instruments will begin to analyze the soil, air, and rocks for life, past or present. While some say that the costs are not worth the investment, supporters insist that Mars missions could answer questions about Earth's history (and whether we're alone in the universe), reinforce U.S. prestige, and get children more interested in science and space exploration.

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Do you believe that geoengineering efforts, like ocean fertilization processes, are valuable tactics that will reduce global warming?

An international team of scientists has published the results of a 2004 experiment to fertilize oceans with iron. The ocean fertilization was an effort to reduce the carbon at the water’s surface and potentially slow global warming. This type of geoengineering, or large-scale manipulation of the climate, has been controversial, but this is the first experiment to show that the technique works.

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