Our Questions (and One Answer)

Unfortunately, we have thus far received an answer to only one of the questions we posed to try out these sites. Some, such as Go Ask Alice, answer just two or three a week, so it can take a while to get around to your question, while Ask a Chef has a limited team of experts who are also working professionals. More-general sites such as Google Answers can present a different challenge: Your question may simply get lost among all the others. Don't be afraid to re-post it or, better yet, raise the dollar amount you're willing to pay.

Ask an Astrophysicist

I'm just wondering if it's possible for the U.S. or another country to use satellites or other space-based technologies as weapons in future wars? And even if it's technically possible, is it legal?
Asked: 9/30/05, 7:27 p.m.

Answered: 10/17/05, 1:27 p.m.

Hello-

Thank you for writing to "Ask an Astrophysicist."

In principle, it is possible to use satellites or other space-based technologies maliciously. However, none of this is being pursued here at NASA because NASA is only interested in a peaceful exploration of space.

Since space itself is not owned by any country, it wouldn't be illegal but it could be in violation of many bilateral and multilateral weapons treaties (depending on the country's nature of treaties).

In May 2005 a bill was proposed that calls for a ban on basing weapons in space and the use of weapons to destroy or damage objects in space that are in orbit. The bill-called the Space Preservation Act-also calls for termination of all research, development, testing, and deployment of such weapons. If passed it would require the President to begin negotiations on a World Treaty to Ban Weapons in Space. While chances are slim that this bill will pass the House, we applaud such an effort.

We hope this helps,

Stefan and Ilana for the "Ask an Astrophysicist" team

Go Ask Alice

I occasionally get a bunch of what look like tiny dents in the top of one of my fingernails, but they usually disappear as the nail grows out, only to later come back. I'm a healthy 29-year-old marathon runner and not terribly stressed. What could be causing this?

Asked: 9/30/05, 7:20 p.m.

Ask a Chef

I often make a simple vinaigrette for my spinach salads using lemon and lime juice, sugar, Dijon mustard, ample garlic and olive oil. I love it, but what other flavors can I add to this or replace to change it up?

Asked: 9/30/05, 6:49 p.m.

Google Answers

Is there anywhere in NYC-preferably Manhattan, but even an outer borough-to play racquetball without a gym membership? Just paying on a per-session basis?

Asked: 10/4/05, 11 a.m.

More answer sites:

Just Answer (justanswer.com): Like Google Answers, this site covers just about any topic and you set the fee you're willing to pay for an answer.

Wondir (wondir.com): Another general help site, Wondir doesn't cost anything. Answerers are ranked based on the helpfulness of their replies, and they compete for monthly prizes.

AllExperts (allexperts.com): One of the oldest Q&A sites, AllExperts offers hundreds of specialized categories in which to ask your question.

Directories to even more sites:

Virtual Reference Desk: vrd.org/locator/subject.shtml

Community Learning Network: cln.org/int_expert.html