News

Is there money in the moon?

This week's Question: Driven by a $30 million prize put up by Google, more  than two dozen teams have signed up for a competition to become the first  private venture to land on the Moon. That means spacecrafts could be heading out within a few years, and many entrepreneurs are developing possible ideas that could take commercial advantage of Earth's neighbor. Some say that the  endeavors are too expensive and the market is uncertain at this point, while others, including a former NASA computer scientist turned entrepreneur, say  that the numerous potential Moon business, from exclusive video feeds to  lunar lander trips, present "probably the biggest wealth creation opportunity in modern history."   Do you agree? Is there money in the moon?  

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Should we say good-bye to the incandescent light bulb?

While Congress failed to repeal light bulb efficiency standards last week, many had been debating the importance of LED bulbs and compact fluorescents. Supporters of incandescents say that the light source is cheap compared to alternatives, and its quality is fairly good. Others argue that the bulbs are inefficient, and that a move towards LEDs and flourescents will save energy in the long term and help the environment. What do you think? Should we say good-bye to the incandescent light bulb? Yes or no?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will 3D laptops catch on?

Last week, Toshiba unveiled a glasses-free 3D laptop, the Qosmio F750. The screen displays 2D and 3D simultaneously in separate windows. The display uses a lenticular lens sheet, capable of sending slightly different images to the left and right eye separately, thus giving the user a sense of image depth. The computer has a high-definition webcam that tracks a user's eyes and consequently shifts the image that is displayed. Some customers are excited for the expanded 3D capabilities, while others say that the technology is buggy and a three-dimensional feature is unnecessary. What do you think? Will 3D laptops catch on?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will we avoid a mass marine extinction?

This week's Question: In a preliminary report from the International Programme on the State of the Ocean, a scientific panel concluded that ocean degeneration is happening much faster than previously predicted, and that the combination of factors currently distressing the marine environment is contributing to the exact conditions that have been associated with all major extinctions in the Earth's history: an increase of both hypoxia (low oxygen) and anoxia (lack of oxygen that creates "dead zones") in the oceans, warming, and acidification. The researchers warn that the combination of these factors will inevitably cause a mass marine extinction if swift action isn't taken to improve conditions. What do you think? Will we avoid a mass marine extinction?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Will “smart grid” efforts succeed?

The White House announced last week that is was planning to forge ahead with "smart grid" plans for the United States. By increasing controls technology and digital information, the effort would potentially update the American electrical transmission system to provide real-time information about the state of the grid. Supporters of the move say that by monitoring power - where, when and how it's used - consumers and power companies could store power overnight, incorporate intermittent generators like wind and solar, and generally get more bang for their buck. Skeptics, however, mention possible drawbacks in bringing IT to energy, including the security and privacy concerns of consumers whose movements on the grid could be traced and tracked by multiple parties. What do you think? Will "smart grid" efforts succeed? Yes or no?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

If artificial intelligence outsmarts two live contestants, is that a bad sign for the humans?

This week's question addresses a robot and one of America's most well-known game shows. A supercomputer named Watson, designed by IBM and consisting of 90 IBM Power 750 Express servers, is set to face two human contestants on the US quiz show Jeopardy this week. IBM says Watson signals a new era in computing where machines will increasingly be able to learn and understand humans' more subtle requests. Jeopardy is seen as the greatest challenge for Watson because of the show's fast format and the clues' frequent emphasis on puns, riddles, and creativity in the language: something humans have traditionally excelled at understanding and computers have not. What do you think? If artificial intelligence outsmarts two live contestants, is that a bad sign for the humans?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>

Is there another "Earth" out there, fit for life as we know it?

This week's question looks at an announcement from scientists operating NASA's Kepler satellite, who reported this week that they had identified 1,235 possible planets orbiting other stars, potentially three times the previously recorded number. Although no Earth-like planet has been determined yet, fifty-four of the possible exoplanets are in habitable zones of stars where temperatures should be moderate enough for liquid water. What do you think? Is there another "Earth" out there, fit for life as we know it? Yes or no?

Posted in: Question of the Week

Read More >>