3Qs: For Big Dig, light at the end of the tunnel?

Boston’s Big Dig — the most costly highway project in United States his­tory — has been plagued with prob­lems since ground was broken in 1991. Last week, inspec­tors dis­cov­ered a sink­hole beneath the sur­face of the I-​​90 con­nector tunnel, pos­sibly caused by a ground-​​freezing process used during con­struc­tion. We asked Thomas Sheahan, a pro­fessor of civil and envi­ron­mental engi­neering at North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, to explain why the ground-​​freezing process was used and whether it caused the sink­hole to form.

3Qs: From Tinseltown to Public Office

Having expressed an interest in run­ning for elec­tive office—perhaps as a Repub­lican can­di­date in the 2013 New York City mayor’s race—actor Kelsey Grammer may be the latest celebrity hoping to cross over to the world of pol­i­tics. We asked jour­nalism pro­fessor Alan Schroeder to weigh in on the his­tory of celebri­ties who run for office and ana­lyze the advan­tages they have over tra­di­tional candidates.

3Qs: Buying into the knockoff factor?

Retail titans Apple, Nike and Ikea have to com­pete with impostor replicas of their retail stores that have popped up in the southern dis­trict of Kun­ming city in south­west China and other parts of the world. These stores hawk knockoff prod­ucts to some­times unknowing cus­tomers. Tony Gao, an assis­tant pro­fessor of mar­keting in Northeastern’s Col­lege of Busi­ness Admin­is­tra­tion, inter­prets the broader impli­ca­tions to con­sumer wel­fare, intel­lec­tual prop­erty rights pro­tec­tion and how these com­pet­i­tive behav­iors affect inter­na­tional marketing.

3Qs: Keeping ASL at center of deaf culture

Recent budget cuts in parts of the U.S. have threat­ened the future of state schools for the deaf, cre­ating worry that deaf chil­dren chil­dren will be pushed into main­stream schools where Amer­ican Sign Lan­guage (ASL) takes a back seat to new “speaking and lis­tening” tech­nolo­gies. Dis­tin­guished Pro­fessor of Psy­chology Harlan Lane, who founded the ASL pro­gram at North­eastern and recently wrote a book about deaf cul­ture and deaf eth­nicity in the U.S., addresses the debate between spe­cial­ized vs. main­stream schools for the deaf.

3Qs: Tech sector ‘bubble-​​ing’ over?

The leading social-​​media news site, Mash­able, recently released an info­graphic com­paring the suc­cesses and fail­ures of new new-​​venture com­pa­nies today to those in the dot-​​com era of the late 1990s and early– 2000s, beg­ging the ques­tion, “Are we in a tech bubble?” John Friar, an exec­u­tive pro­fessor of entre­pre­neur­ship at North­eastern and an expert in tech­nology strategy for start-​​up com­pa­nies, explains what it means to be in a tech bubble, if the world is in fact in one, and how start-​​ups can avoid the worst fall-​​out from a bursting bubble.

3Qs: Machu Picchu’s anniversary cause for celebration and caution

Sunday marked the 100th Anniver­sary of the dis­covery of Machu Picchu — the ancient Incan city in Peru — by Amer­ican archae­ol­o­gist and his­tory pro­fessor Hiram Bingham. Yanet Monica Canavan, the director of Northeastern’s Dia­logue of Civ­i­liza­tions pro­grams in Peru, and a native of the country, talks about the his­tor­ical sig­nif­i­cance of the dis­covery of Machu Picchu, its impact on the economy in Peru and how mod­ern­iza­tion of the site may be causing irre­versible damage.

3Qs: Campaigning in Twitter’s virtual ‘big tent’

Pres­i­dent Obama, who’s known for his social media savvy, held the first-​​ever Twitter Town Hall meeting last week, where he answered the public’s ques­tions about taxes, jobs and the economy. Dan Kennedy, an asso­ciate pro­fessor of jour­nalism, is an expert in news reporting and social net­works. Here, he dis­cusses Obama’s choice to engage the public through Twitter, and the use of social media by pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates and journalists.

3Qs: Video game ruling may strengthen alignment of two industries

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Cal­i­fornia law ban­ning the sale of vio­lent video games to chil­dren is uncon­sti­tu­tional. Here, Cyn­thia Baron, aca­d­emic director of the dig­ital media pro­gram at Northeastern’s Col­lege of Pro­fes­sional Studies, dis­cusses First Amend­ment cases in the gaming industry, how the newest ruling may affect the video game rating system and whether chil­dren are capable of judging computer-​​generated violence.