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Fine-Structure Constant Maybe Not So Constant 105

Kilrah_il writes "The fine-structure constant, a coupling constant characterizing the strength of the electromagnetic interaction, has been measured lately by scientists from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia and has been found to change slightly in light sent from quasars in galaxies as far back as 12 billion years ago. Although the results look promising, caution is advised: 'This would be sensational if it were real, but I'm still not completely convinced that it's not simply systematic errors' in the data, comments cosmologist Max Tegmark of MIT. Craig Hogan of the University of Chicago and the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., acknowledges that 'it's a competent team and a thorough analysis.' But because the work has such profound implications for physics and requires such a high level of precision measurements, 'it needs more proof before we'll believe it.'"

Submission + - Fundamental constant not so constant in space (

Danny Rathjens writes: "The Economist cutely writes, "Ye cannae change the laws of physics
Or can you?" There was already evidence that the fine structure constant — a measure of the strength of electromagnetic interaction — became slightly smaller going back billions of years based on observations of light from quasars. Staggering newer observations provided evidence that the value going back in time actually became larger! The crucial difference being that the new observations were take from a telescope in the other hemisphere and so pointing to a different part of the universe. That indicates that the fine structure constant not only
changed over time but it also varies based on position in space! points out some fascinating implications of this observation. The pre-print of the article submitted to PRL is available at"


FreeType Project Cheers TrueType Patent Expiration 203

FlorianMueller writes "The FreeType project celebrates the expiration of Apple's TrueType bytecode patents. The open source font rendering engine now has the bytecode technology enabled by default. The relevant code existed for some time, but the project felt forced to disable it and advise everyone not to use it due to patent encumbrance. The 20-year maximum of validity of software patents is long, but sometimes the stuff that becomes available is still useful. The Unisys GIF patent was an example. And anything open-sourced 20 years ago would also be patent-free by now (except for the code that has since been added)."

Star Wars: The Old Republic Sarlacc Enforcer Class Unveiled 27

Today BioWare unveiled the most impressive new class yet seen for their upcoming MMO, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Sarlacc Enforcers are "paragons of patience and planning, always waiting for the right moment to pounce on their quarry – even if it takes one thousand years." Gamespot had an interview with the game's developers to get a clear picture on how such a unique and innovative class was designed. Quoting: "Well, this is a stealth class, so the soloing experience of the Sarlacc enforcer is going to be a little slow. [This character] spends a lot of time slowly sneaking into position before unleashing potent close-ranged attacks, such as 'devour.' But once exposed, the enforcer heavily relies on companion characters to lure enemies close, so he/it can unleash his/its close-ranged attacks. However, the enforcer shines in a group, especially when paired with a Jedi consular that can knock enemies toward him. At this point, the Sarlacc enforcer can use his/its powerful suite of damage-over-time abilities, like 'digest' and 'regurgitate.'"

Submission + - Sothink Violated the FlashGot GPL and Stole Code

ShineTheLight writes: People at Sothink decided to violate the GPL ( by stealing a piece of core code from FlashGot and use it without even the decency of covering their tracks. It is an exact copy of a previous version. This deception came to light when users reported to the FlashGot support forum that their software was not working right. Some digging led to the discovery that the older module that Sothink stole and used verbatim was overriding the more recent engine on the machines of those who had both installed and it was causing the issue. It has been reported to AMO at and the developer is aware of it at and the Sothink people have completed ignored and been silent on the subject. This is why most good programmers will stop contributing to the global community because there are those who will steal their work, pass it off as their own, never acknowledge or give credit and then shamefully stick their head in the sand and ignore the consequence.

Comment Kinda Pointless (Score 1) 8

Isn't this kind of pointless? I mean, the guy is dead for fuck's sake. The only ones potentially hurt by selling this guy's ashes is his newer family. As for the deceased, it won't hurt him at all, it's like burning someone's trash and saying, "Take that, I burned something for wich you have no use, that'll show you!"

Ah well, I still can't decide wether it's pettiness, or mere stupidity that is more prevalent in the general poulation.

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