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Does synthetic biology cross an ethical line?

This week's question concerns synthetic biology research. A study published online by the journal "Science" details how scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute recently developed the first viable cell controlled by a synthetic genome. According to the researchers, the cell is called synthetic because it is totally derived from a synthetic chromosome, made with chemicals, a chemical synthesizer, and information in a computer. They hope to use this method to probe the basic machinery of life and to engineer bacteria specially designed to solve environmental or energy problems. What do you think? Does synthetic biology cross an ethical line?

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Is time travel possible?

This week's question concerns the concept of time travel. Usually the topic of science fiction books and movies, two of the world's most respected physicists, Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku, assert that time travel could become a scientific reality. In a recent AOL Science article, both scientists cited Einstein's belief of a fourth dimension -- known as time -- as grounds for the possibility of time travel. They also suggest wormholes and black holes could be useful in achieving time travel. What do you think? Is time travel possible?

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Should the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affect the President’s energy plan?

This week’s question concerns the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. After a rig leased by BP Plc exploded and sank last week in the Gulf, many have indicated that the President may experience a setback in his plan to expand offshore drilling. The plan is supposed to be part of a transition to a new energy economy that relies less on imported fossil fuel and more on domestic power from the sun and wind. What do you think? Should the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico affect the President’s energy plan?

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Will digital actors ever replace humans in Hollywood?

This week's question concerns the concept of "digital actors." They've appeared in "Avatar," "The Matrix," and "The Lord of the Rings," to name a few. And with the recent surge of 3D technology in filmmaking, it appears that digital actors will be working a lot more in Hollywood. What do you think? Will digital actors ever replace humans in Hollywood?

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Should broadband providers be required to provide network neutrality?

This week's question concerns "net neutrality" -- providing equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over networks. Supporters of net neutrality argue that a policy is necessary to prevent providers from favoring or discriminating against certain Web sites and online services; however, broadband providers contend that they should be able to sell premium services and manage their systems to prevent certain applications from sucking up capacity. What do you think? Should broadband providers be required to provide network neutrality?

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Should human genes be patentable?

This week's question concerns the issue of gene patents. While some in the scientific community believe that human genes should not be exploited for commercial gain, others argue that a patent is a reward for years of expensive research that moves science forward. What do you think? Should human genes be patentable?

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Is cold fusion possible?

This week's question concerns the concept of cold fusion. Cold fusion refers to the nuclear fusion of atoms at conditions close to room temperature, which (theoretically) has the potential to produce an abundant source of energy at low cost. Once thought of as "junk science," cold fusion is slowly gaining acceptance in the mainstream scientific community. What do you think? Is cold fusion possible?

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