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Comment 2012, the year the world changes due to SOPA? (Score 1) 204

I'm posting this from the future -- it's already 2012 in this part of the world (woohoo!)

I wrote my first column for 2012 today and in it I speculate that SOPA, if it's passed into law, might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

While governments all over the world seek to control, regulate, restrict and constrain the internet so as to protect their own power to impose ideologies on those who elect them to power, I have a feeling that SOPA could be just one step too far and might act as a catalyst for the kind of uprising they are trying to suppress.

2012 could be a watershed year and the byte may finally become more powerful than the bullet -- or the ballot.

Read it if you're interested. 2012, the year of the cyber-rebel?

Comment Re:I've always wondered about this (Score 1) 273

But I've always wondered how we know that the speed of light is the same regardless

This comes from the electromagnetic nature of light. When considered as a wave, light is composed of an oscillating electric field. As the electric field changes it induces an oscillating magnetic field. As the magentic field changes it induces an electric field again, and so on, such that the electric and magnetic fields regenerate each other. According to Maxwells laws, such a wave can only sustain itself at a specific speed: the speed of light. This speed is determined by the permeability and permitivity of the medium it travels in, hence the speed of light varies in different materials.

(I also am not a physicist, but I remember this from school ;)

Comment Copyright protection needs to be redefined (Score 2) 123

As outlined here, only the completely stupid will be caught by this law.

More important should be a closer look at the raison d'etre for originally creating copyright laws and how that's been corrupted by the movie studios and recording labels with their fat lobbying wallets.

As described in the linked article, it's time copyright protection was scaled back to recognize that if the rights-owner refuses to sell their product to a particular market then there can be no losses associated with its unauthorized distribution. To allow rights-owners to prosecute people for copying that which they would otherwise be happy to pay for but aren't allowed to is a license to extort!


Submission + - UK court rules headlines covered by copryright (

NewtonsLaw writes: A UK appeals court has upheld a previous decision that news headlines are a "literary work" and therefore are protected by copyright — enabling online publishers to demand payment for their use or sue for unlawful use. This particularly affects aggregators but has the potential to affect bloggers as well.

Aardvark Daily asks the question: if a two or three-word headline now carries copyright protection, what's the point in trademarking a catch-phrase or product name?

And what about Fair Use? If a short headline is a complete literary work, will critics, reviewers and comedians be allowed to use it in its entirety for the purposes of plying their trade?

Comment Re:How long does this process take? (Score 1) 169

As I understand it, it would take an eternity from our point of view for the star to fall in the black hole completely due to the time dilation in the vicinity of the black hole. However, I believe what they're seeing is just the start of the event. A star is effectively a huge nuclear explosion kept in equilibrium by a massive gravitational field. As the star approached the black hole, the gravitational field from the black hole would gradually reduce that of the star on the near side until at some point it would no longer be enough to contain the nuclear reaction. At this point the matter in the star would be explode in the direction of the black hole. This would probably accelerate as the star itself lost mass and hence gravitational field strength. It's the rapidity of this reaction which causes the gamma ray burst, not the process of the matter actually falling into the black hole, which would probably look like a regular accretion disc. I'd guess the whole process would be over fairly quickly.

I'm not an astrophysicist, but this is my hand-wavey explanation of what happened. Hopefully someone better qualified will elaborate, or tell me I'm writing bollocks :)

Comment How do the determine the mass? (Score 1) 520

How do they determine the mass of their 1Kg reference?

Is it simply by measuring the force it exerts when influenced by a gravitational force of 1G?

If so, how do they measure to ensure that 1G is still the same acceleration that it was when the standard was introduced?

Do they also allow for the fact that it is displacing a certain amount of air -- and therefore is subject to the forces of buoyancy that will tend to make it lighter, depending on air density, humidity, etc?

While the predominant factor is the mass of the earth, what about other factors such as the gravitational field of the moon (large enough to induce tides of several meters in magnitude) and other celestial bodies?

Trying to measure an absolute through the use of a another absolute is fine -- but how do you factor in the variables that also have an effect?

I'm sure they know what they're doing.

Comment Re:Banned in Australia (Score 1) 546

Wow, Australia must be one of the most (over) regulated nations on the planet these days.

It seems that as soon as *anyone* mis-uses something, they have a kneejerk reaction that results in bans.

Semi-automatic rifles, handguns, laser-pointers, bottled water in universities, plastic bags, etc, etc. The list is already long and looks as if it's going to be endless.

Come on Aussies -- stand up and fight for your rights!

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