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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

New Zealand to launch first private rocket into space

Privately owned New Zealand aerospace company Rocket Lab has just completed the first phase of testing of its Ātea-1 launch vehicle, with its first high altitude launch scheduled for the end of this month.

The team has spent the past four months carrying out tests of their innovative rocket motor in the jet engine test cell of the nation's national air carrier, Air New Zealand. “It’s an ideal facility, which has allowed us to control a lot of the variables and push ahead fast,” says Peter Beck, Rocket Lab technical director.

Air New Zealand Gas Turbines manager Richard Ison says Air New Zealand is happy to help the Rocket Lab pioneers. “We can obviously identify with what they are doing – a small Kiwi company taking on the big established players, and having a fresh approach that simply blows right through the barriers of conventional thinking. And we’re very happy to support a genuine environmental breakthrough. The emissions from this engine are non-toxic as opposed to the traditional launch platforms, so it would be great to see Rocket Lab winning a big share of this market.”


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Google adds legal precedents search to Google Scholar.

Google now offers searchers a way to locate legal opinions and precedents using the Google Scholar search. It has struck me in the past just how non-legalese crucial legal opinions can be; and this provides an opportunity for not just researchers and students, but for the everyday public to gain insights on issues that have been pivotal in the shaping of common laws. in the United States, for now. Google makes no mention of if or when this facility will be expanded to cover common law jurisdictions in other countries.
Starting today, we're enabling people everywhere to find and read full text legal opinions from U.S. federal and state district, appellate and supreme courts using Google Scholar. You can find these opinions by searching for cases (like Planned Parenthood v. Casey), or by topics (like desegregation) or other queries that you are interested in. For example, go to Google Scholar, click on the 'Legal opinions and journals' radio button, and try the query separate but equal. Your search results will include links to cases familiar to many of us in the U.S. such as Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education, which explore the acceptablity of 'separate but equal' facilities for citizens at two different points in the history of the U.S. But your results will also include opinions from cases that you might be less familiar with, but which have played an important role.
We think this addition to Google Scholar will empower the average citizen by helping everyone learn more about the laws that govern us all. 

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Researchers find potential treatment for Huntington's disease


Investigators at Burnham Institute for Medical Research, the University of British Columbia's Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics and the University of California, San Diego have found that normal synaptic activity in nerve cells (the electrical activity in the brain that allows nerve cells to communicate with one another) protects the brain from the misfolded proteins associated with Huntington's disease.

Murdoch ponders Google block

News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch intends to block Google from indexing his newspaper content, accusing the search engine giant of "stealing"

The 78-year-old Murdoch has already announced plans to make readers pay to read his newspapers online but his warning that he may also make them invisible to Google has given rise to much speculation about the wisdom of the move.
"I think that when you're talking about Rupert Murdoch there's one of two things going on," said Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University.
"One possibility -- and I certainly wouldn't rule it out given his track record -- is that he's two or three steps ahead with something that none of the rest of us have figured out yet," Kennedy told AFP.
"But I think the other possibility is he really doesn't understand this medium and he's making a disastrous mistake and doesn't realize it yet."

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Drink California Milk" ads to be filmed in New Zealand... again

The California Milk Advisory Board may have shot itself in the hoof. The board, which promotes the state's dairy farmers and is overseen by the California Department of Food and Agriculture, is again preparing to film commercials touting California milk from California cows -- in New Zealand.

Read moo...

Friday, November 13, 2009

Convicted Murderer Sues Wikipedia, Demands Removal Of Name

A man who served 15 years for the gruesome murder of a famous German actor is taking legal action against Wikipedia for reporting the conviction.
Attorneys took the action on behalf of Wolfgang Werlé, one of two men to receive a life sentence for the 1990 murder of Walter Sedlmayr. In a letter sent late last month to Wikipedia officials, they didn't dispute their client was found guilty, but they nonetheless demanded Wikipedia's English language biography of the Bavarian star suppress the convicted murder's name because he is considered a private individual under German law.

The dispute is the latest example of a party reaching halfway across the globe in an attempt to deprive the world of content that may or may not violate the laws of a single jurisdiction. If such actions succeed, they will largely gut free speech rights such as those guaranteed by the First Amendment, which mostly immunizes people who speak the truth, particularly in matters that involve court cases and other government proceedings. In its place would be the precedent that websites anywhere in the world are subject to the most restrictive territory's rules and mores.

As EFF Senior Staff Attorney Jennifer Granick said: "At stake is the integrity of history itself. If all publications have to abide by the censorship laws of any and every jurisdiction just because they are accessible over the global internet, then we will not be able to believe what we read, whether about Falun Gong (censored by China), the Thai king (censored under lèse majesté) or German murders."


It's official: There is water on the moon!

Water Discovery Fuels Hope to Colonize the Moon

It's official: There's water ice on the moon, and lots of it. When melted, the water could potentially be used to drink or to extract hydrogen for rocket fuel.

NASA's LCROSS probe discovered beds of water ice at the lunar south pole when it impacted the moon last month, mission scientists announced today. The findings confirm suspicions announced previously, and in a big way.

"Indeed, yes, we found water. And we didn't find just a little bit, we found a significant amount," Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator from NASA's Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Controversial New Climate Change Data: Is Earth's Capacity To Absorb CO2 Much Greater Than Expected?

Controversial New Climate Change Data: Is Earth's Capacity To Absorb CO2 Much Greater Than Expected?: "New data show that the balance between the airborne and the absorbed fraction of CO2 has stayed approximately constant since 1850, despite emissions of CO2 having risen from about 2 billion tons a year in 1850 to 35 billion tons a year now. This suggests that terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans have a much greater capacity to absorb CO2 than had been previously expected."