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Will there be enough of a market to justify taxpayer investment in new, private space taxis?

This week's Question: Last week, leaders of various commercial space companies argued for the future of their industry in front of a House panel, as lawmakers questioned whether there would be enough of a market in space transportation and tourism to justify taxpayer investment in new, private vehicles. Some argue that if NASA is the only customer buying seats on these new spaceships, the government may someday be put in the position of bailing them out in order to preserve a national space transportation capability. Commercial executives, on the other hand, argued that their businesses would be successful even if NASA were their only customer, and also cited other potential sources of income, such as cargo transportation and satellite servicing, as well as selling rides to private citizens and astronauts from countries without their own space programs. What do you think? Will there be enough of a market to in new, private space taxis?

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Will autonomous vehicles increase efficiency and make us safer?

This week's Question: Google has been testing its autonomous cars on public roads. The search giant's fleet of robotic Toyota Priuses has now logged more than 190,000 miles, driving in city traffic, busy highways, and mountainous roads, with only occasional human intervention. The Google team asserts that the smarter vehicles could help make transportation safer and more efficient. For example, cars could drive closer to each other, making better use of the empty space on roads, and also form speedy convoys on freeways. The vehicles would also react faster than humans to avoid accidents. Do you agree? Will autonomous vehicles increase efficiency and make us safer?

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Are you alarmed by the information collected by Verizon and other wireless carriers?

This week's Question: Verizon, the U.S. largest wireless carrier, recently announced that it will "create business and marketing reports" and "make the mobile ads you see more relevant," based on the information the company collects pertaining to a user's Web surfing destinations, applications, and location information. Verizon stated that none of the information used or shared will be personally identifiable, and those customers who don't want their information shared can choose to opt-out of the feature. Although Verizon is not the only wireless carrier to adopt this type of data-AT&T and Sprint have similar processes, for example-many skeptics cite the privacy implications of mobile advertising. What do you think? Are you alarmed by the information collected by Verizon and other wireless carriers?

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Will Apple continue to innovate and thrive as a market leader?

This week's Question: Steven Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple, died last week at the age of 56. While the company has offered updates to its innovative technologies like the iPhone, iPad, and iPod, some have questioned whether new executive leadership will be able to innovate, execute, and connect as Jobs so famously did. What do you think? With the loss of Steve Jobs, will Apple continue to innovate and thrive as a market leader?

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Will consumers accept the growing mobile payment options?

This week's Question: Google Wallet, an Android mobile app launched earlier this month, is slowly being rolled out to the public. The application allows users to make purchases with their phones. The technology uses near field communication (NFC) chips to store and remit credit card data, discount card information, and coupons. Users must enter a four-digit security PIN on their phones before making a purchase; they then tap their phone on a store's terminal, transferring the payment from shopper to retailer. Supporters appreciate the ease of use, while skeptics still have mobile device security concerns. What do you think? Will consumers accept the growing mobile payment options?

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Do you think light speed can be exceeded?

This week's Question: The European Organization for Nuclear Research, or CERN, reported that a neutrino beam fired from a particle accelerator near Geneva to a lab 454 miles away in Italy traveled 60 nanoseconds faster than the speed of light — a claim that potentially questions Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity. Some physicists say neutrinos theoretically can travel at different speeds depending on how much energy they have, and mysterious particles, whose existence is still only theorized, can move with similar speeds. Other physicists, however, say that the CERN findings are the result of measurement errors since tracking neutrinos is very difficult. What do you think? Do you think light speed can be exceeded?

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Will we set foot on Mars?

  This week's Question: NASA recently unveiled its new "Space Launch System," which will be designed to carry the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, as well as important cargo, equipment, and science experiments to Earth's orbit and destinations beyond. "Tomorrow's explorers will now dream of one day walking on Mars," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. NASA's rovers, too, continue to learn more about the makeup of the planet. What do you think? Will we set foot on Mars?  

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