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Astronomers Discover 33 Pairs of Waltzing Black Holes 101

Astronomers from UC Berkeley have identified 33 pairs of waltzing black holes, closing the gap somewhat between the observed population of super-massive black hole pairs and what had been predicted by theory. "Astronomical observations have shown that 1) nearly every galaxy has a central super-massive black hole (with a mass of a million to a billion times the mass of the Sun), and 2) galaxies commonly collide and merge to form new, more massive galaxies. As a consequence of these two observations, a merger between two galaxies should bring two super-massive black holes to the new, more massive galaxy formed from the merger. The two black holes gradually in-spiral toward the center of this galaxy, engaging in a gravitational tug-of-war with the surrounding stars. The result is a black hole dance, choreographed by Newton himself. Such a dance is expected to occur in our own Milky Way Galaxy in about 3 billion years, when it collides with the Andromeda Galaxy."

Canadian Blood Services Promotes Pseudoscience 219

trianglecat writes "The not-for-profit agency Canadian Blood Services has a section of their website based on the Japanese cultural belief of ketsueki-gata, which claims that a person's blood group determines or predicts their personality type. Disappointing for a self-proclaimed 'science-based' organization. The Ottawa Skeptics, based in the nation's capital, appear to be taking some action."

Comment Pure window dressing. (Score 1) 185

I doubt that more than one in a thousand (or ten thousand) complaints will result in any FCC action unless the FCC is specially funded to support these actions (which in this economic climate is highly unlikely). The telemarketers are just playing the odds.

I had an old FAX machine which used coated paper on fairly small rolls. For a while I regularly submitted complaints about SPAM faxes, probably about 20 in all, supplying all requested information and enclosing a copy of the fax. I heard nothing until 3 or 4 months later when I received an envelope from the FCC with a single sheet titled "How to submit a complaint to the FCC" which had nothing at all to do with SPAM faxes.

The Almighty Buck

Economic Crisis Will Eliminate Open Source 753

An anonymous reader writes "The economic crisis will ultimately eliminate open source projects and the 'Web 2.0 free economy,' says Andrew Keen, author of The Cult of the Amateur. Along with the economic downturn and record job loss, he says, we will see the elimination of projects including Wikipedia, CNN's iReport, and much of the blogosphere. Instead of users offering their services 'for free,' he says, we're about to see a 'sharp cultural shift in our attitude toward the economic value of our labor' and a rise of online media businesses that reward their contributors with cash. Companies that will survive, he says, include Hulu, iTunes, and Mahalo. 'The hungry and cold unemployed masses aren't going to continue giving away their intellectual labor on the Internet in the speculative hope that they might get some "back end" revenue,' says Keen."

SpaceX Flight 4 Launch Postponed 59

Matt_dk noted that yesterday's launch plans for SpaceX have hit some turbulence. He says "SpaceX Flight 4 Launch has been postponed. The static fire took place on Saturday [20 Sep 2008, CA time], as expected, and no major issues came up. However, after a detailed analysis of data, we decided to replace a component in the 2nd stage engine LOX supply line. There is a good chance we would be ok flying as is, but we are being extremely cautious. This adds a few extra days to the schedule, so the updated launch window estimate is now Sept 28th through Oct 1st [CA time]."

Submission New Global Intellectual Property Treaty (ACTA)->

Robin Gross of IP Justice writes: "A new international treaty, the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), will focus on ratcheting up the enforcement of copyrights and trademarks on the Internet and with digital technology. ACTA is being negotiated in secret between insider lobbyists of the IPR industry and trade officials from the US and Europe. ACTA threatens freedom of expression, innovation, privacy rights, legal due process rights, and shifts the cost of protecting Hollywood's private interest onto the public.

IP Justice published a White Paper on ACTA:

and submitted comments to the Office of the US Trade Representative on ACTA's threat to democracy and the public interest:"

Link to Original Source
The Courts

Submission Internet-Records Section of Patriot Act Overturned->

pkcuff writes: ""Judges Overturns Internet-Records Section of Patriot Act",2933,295957,00.html

I can't believe you guys haven't got this one yet. This is a big victory for freedom of speech on the Internet! I would write it up all nice & purty for you, but I never took journalism."

Link to Original Source

Submission Evil Software - Whoa!->

cwsulliv writes: "Can software be evil? Noted author Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game, Speaker For The Dead) apparently thinks so, and has choice words for Microsoft Vista. Here are a couple of quotes from the last few paragraphs of his (long) weekly column at -07-29.shtml
        Vista itself is so evil that I find myself infuriated continuously.
        So I'm fed up. I'm getting Linux. Microsoft's arrogant incompetence has finally brought me to the point of no return. "

Link to Original Source

Submission Microsoft can evade GPL 3 ..

rs232 writes: ""Microsoft should be able to extricate itself from the implications of the new GPL 3, according to a leading Australian intellectual property lawyer"

"Unless there is something more specific in the certificate or the collaboration agreement between Novell and Microsoft, I would be very surprised to see this upheld. It was a nice try on the part of (the FSF), but at this stage, I'd say it's not going to be an effective strategy. It will be tough to hold up in court."

'In this case, she said, Microsoft never acted — never 'entered' into the agreement, and the terms and conditions can only apply to new actions by Microsoft, not older ones. She said: "Their actions so far are not enough to say that they are bound."',39024651,39167957 ,00.htm"
The Courts

Submission Judge Lets RIAA Subpoena Defendant's Employer

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes: "A judge has ruled that the RIAA can subpoena the defendant's employer in a case pending in Manhattan federal court, Atlantic v. Shutovsky. The judge's order (pdf) contained eight (8) separate rulings deciding 19 pages of discovery disputes (pdf), resolving virtually all of them in favor of the RIAA."

Submission California Limits DREs, Adds Security Restrictions->

zestyping writes: "At 11:45 pm last night, Secretary of State Debra Bowen announced her decisions on the use of electronic voting systems in California, following the review that found vulnerabilities in all three systems tested.

For Diebold and Sequoia (but not Hart), only one DRE is allowed per polling place, and there must be a 100% manual count of all votes cast on it. The ES&S InkaVote, which wasn't submitted in time for the review, is decertified.

Several new restrictions apply to both DREs and optical scan systems by Diebold, Sequoia, and Hart. All software and firmware must be reinstalled on all devices prior to the February primary election. Security seals must be serialized. If a machine error requires the machine to be rebooted, it must be removed from service and the vendor must explain the cause of failure. Vote tallies must be posted outside each polling place. There will also be increased post-election manual auditing of the results.

See the official documents for all the details: Diebold, Hart, Sequoia, ES&S."

Link to Original Source

One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an advisor... is to discourage... from expecting too much from mathematics. -- N. Wiener