Question of the Week

Question of the Week
Will robots hurt the job market?

This week's Question: In a cover article in this month's issue of The Harvard Business Review, two researchers suggest strategies for remaining gainfully employed in an age of robotics and smarter machines. Although the authors concede the advance of automation, editor at large Julia Kirby and Babson College...

Question of the Week
Will Hyperloops replace trains?

According to the Navigant Research firm, Hyperloop Transportation Technologies has made a deal with central California landowners to build the world's first Hyperloop. The 5-mile test track will be built along California's Interstate 5. The Hyperloop, brought up in 2014 by Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk, would...

Question of the Week : Lighting
Will iris detection become a mainstream smartphone feature?

This week's Question: The Fujitsu Arrows NX F-04G, a new smartphone set for release in Japan, comes with a built-in retinal scanner that can be used for a variety of different functions, including unlocking the device, accessing apps, and making mobile payments. A front-facing infrared...

Question of the Week
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...

Question of the Week : Lighting
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...

Question of the Week
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...

Question of the Week
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....

Question of the Week
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...

Question of the Week
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...

Question of the Week
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...

Question of the Week
Will self-driving cars be ready for the road this summer?

This week's Question: Last week, Elon Musk, chief executive of Tesla, said that the electric car maker would introduce autonomous technology, an autopilot mode, by this summer; the technology will allow drivers to have their vehicles take control on major roads and highways. The CEO also...

Question of the Week
Will 2015 be the year that virtual reality goes mainstream?

This week's Question: New virtual reality technologies were revealed at this month's Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, including the HTC Vive from game developer Valve Corporation and smartphone maker HTC. Vive uses lasers, sensors, and controllers to track motion in 3D...

Question of the Week
Will 'Bloon' rides catch on?

This week's Question: Zero2infinity, a Spanish company, plans to launch passengers to near space using technologies called "Bloons." A maximum of four passengers will join two pilots in the Bloon cabin, which will be chained to a balloon filled with inert helium. Once fully inflated, the balloon will pull the cabin...

Question of the Week
Are FAA drone rules too restrictive?

This week's Question: This month, the Federal Aviation Administration proposed long-awaited rules on the commercial use of small drones, requiring operators to be certified, fly only during daylight, and keep their aircraft in sight. The ruling, for now, prevents drones from being used for a range of possible...

Question of the Week
Would you take a one-way trip to Mars?

This week's Question: Mars One, a group that plans to send humans on a one-way trip to Mars, has narrowed its application pool from 200,000 to 100. The finalists will spend the next decade in training, including team-building exercises and isolation. The goal of the Netherlands-based non-profit is to start...

Question of the Week
Will selfies replace the password?

This week's Question: New apps, including one created by West Virginia University students in 2014, uses advanced facial recognition and liveness detection capabilities to authenticate smartphone users. A free technology from Hoyos Labs, showcased at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas,...

Question of the Week
Will autonomous car trends lead to lost jobs?

This week’s Question: As an increasing number of automakers develop autonomous or semi-autonomous cars, some critics are concerned that the number of vehicles on the road will be reduced and jobs will be lost, especially those in motor vehicle parts manufacturing and professional driving sectors....

Question of the Week
Will virtual traffic lights improve traffic?

This week's Question: Carnegie Mellon University researchers have claimed that they can reduce commute times by placing virtual traffic lights on drivers' windshield. Through connected vehicle technology, the Carnegie Mellon system replaces conventional traffic lights with stop and go signals...

Question of the Week
The Human Eye Can See ‘Invisible’ Infrared Light

Any science textbook will tell you that human beings can’t see infrared light. Like X-rays and radio waves, infrared light waves are outside the visual spectrum. But an international team of researchers co-led by scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has found...

Question of the Week
Will we really wear wearables?

This week's Question: New smartwatches were showcased at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, including devices that run on operating systems and feature pedometers, sleep trackers, and audio players. Research firm Canalys forecasts that worldwide annual smartwatch shipments will grow from 8...

Question of the Week
Will we deliver electricity from space?

This Week's Question: Scientists are exploring the possibility of utilizing space solar power for Earth-bound purposes. The United States, China, India and Japan all have projects at various stages of development that would see robots assemble solar arrays that could provide the Earth with clean, renewable...

Question of the Week
Are you optimistic about artificial intelligence?

This week's Question: In a BBC interview last year, renowned physicist, cosmologist, and author Stephen Hawking warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence. Hawking said AI "would take off on its own and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate," passing the limited abilities of humans. A...

Question of the Week
Will we build a floating city above Venus?

This week's Question: NASA recently proposed a mission that one day may send astronauts, via a balloon, toward Venus' upper-atmosphere to research the possibility of a "cloud city community." Although the waterless planet has an unforgiving temperature of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, the clouds of Venus...

Question of the Week
Will astronauts reach Mars by 2030?

This week's Question: Last week, NASA's 30,000-pound Orion capsule landed in the Pacific Ocean after going further than any spacecraft built for humans had reached in more than 40 years. Without astronauts aboard, Orion circled Earth for two orbits, eventually reaching an altitude of 3,600 miles so it could...

Question of the Week
Are we moving toward pilotless airliners?

This week's Question: NASA has worked with industry to help create the Synthetic Vision System (SVS), a virtual reality display system for cockpits. The SVS uses 3D to provide pilots with intuitive means of understanding their flying environment, including graphical displays of terrain and hazards. In...

Question of the Week
Will comet missions yield valuable information about the origin of the solar system?

This week's Question: The Philae spacecraft successfully landed on a moving comet last week. Scientists hope to be able to study the material beneath the surface of the solar body, which is traveling through space at 41,000 mph, hundreds of millions of miles...

Question of the Week
Would you eat 3D-printed food?

This week's Question: A startup company, Natural Machines, has introduced a 3D printer called Foodini. The technology creates food with stainless steel capsules and edible, fresh ingredients. The microwave‑oven‑sized Foodini, displayed during Dublin's Web Summit technology conference last week, serves as a...

Question of the Week
Will "4D" materials catch on?

This week's Question: While 3D printing has still not yet reached the mainstream, MIT and other researchers are performing primary tests on the next design dimension. 4D printing, a self-assembly design process, enables the production of composite materials that react and change shape in predictable ways when...

Question of the Week
Are robots an effective way of combating outbreaks like Ebola?

This week's Question: Next month, scientists will convene at universities across the country to consider the role that autonomous machines might play in combating the Ebola crisis. Telepresence robots, according to some researchers, could theoretically perform healthcare tasks like...

Question of the Week
Will cosmic elevators take us to space?

This week's Question: Penn State researchers recently developed ultra-thin, super-strong nanothreads made from diamonds. The nanothreads could ultimately be used to construct a "space elevator" to take people to orbit. A Japanese company, Obayashi, similarly sees the feasibility of such an elevator and...

Question of the Week
Would You Ride in a Flying Car?