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Pope Francis To Issue Encyclical On Global Warming

orzetto Re:Extreme climate event: Hell freezes over (341 comments)

Never thought I would see the day when the head of the the Catholic church represents a beacon of scientific rationalism dragging the USA into the modern era.

Corrected that for you. Except for a few lunatics, no one seriously disputes AGW outside the US.

about three weeks ago

Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

orzetto Mods on crack? (880 comments)

Crusades are easy, that would be a response to 100 years of Muslim rape, slaughter, and forced conversion in Spain.

Aside from the fact that Christians did exactly the same when they reconquered the Iberian peninsula, and aside from the fact that in that time Muslim societies were far more liberal than any Christian society (Jews usually fled to Muslim countries from Christian countries), would you mind explaining why no bloody crusade ever went west to Spain, but all East to Jerusalem?

The crusades were the product of a fanatical Christian society, with the motivation of paradise for the soldiers and spoils of war for the commanders. They sacked, plundered, raped anything between Europe and Jerusalem, and that includes Costantinople that at the time was Christian. Which was expected of any serious army at that time. The pretext for war was the "liberation" of Jerusalem, and the real drive was a combination of poverty, ignorance, greed and religion. So the crusades were pretty much the ISIS of the second millenium.

Do read up some history lest you spout more of such nonsense.

about a month and a half ago

Jackie Chan Discs Help Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

orzetto Re:Electricity vs. oil (194 comments)

It would take a lot of progress to get electricity to be the most economic solution for heating.

This depends a lot on where you live, especially for gas. For house heating, a heat pump is quite efficient, especially if you have a water reservoir available. For cooking, gas looks very cost-efficient since you simply have to burn it under a pot to extract all its heat, but a lot of the heat gets lost as hot air that bypasses the pot. Induction heating uses electromagnetism to generate heat inside the pot's metal, so even though the cost per kWh is higher, you end up using less energy, so it may very well be competitive.

However, you are forgetting the one source I have in my house, district heating. Industries generate enormous amounts of waste heat that could be used for district heating, I remember one air cooler in a refinery that dissipated over 16 megawatts of heat. If you hook up factories, offices and homes with district heating, you can provide heat without any other external source.

about a month ago

Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

orzetto Re:I don't think hydrogen makes sense (293 comments)

(My own disclaimer: I am researcher in hydrogen & fuel cells)

Containing hydrogen is no longer much of a problem, though compressing it in the first place is still expensive. Still, you don't really need a distribution network: the trend is to use electrolysers and produce the hydrogen locally. With the increased share of non-programmable renewables like wind and solar, hydrogen stations can produce their hydrogen when there is an excess of available power.

It's not just the price of batteries, which may very well come down: it's their weight. There is only so much that can be done now to increase Li-ion energy density; Elon Musk was dreaming of using graphene for superbatteries, but that's a very long shot. Sure, hydrogen cannot compete in the short range with batteries, but it is much better in the long range. And yes, batteries are much heavier than the tanks containing hydrogen.

The energy density of Li-ion batteries is about 100 Wh/kg, hydrogen is 32500 Wh/kg. Even accounting for 50% conversion efficiency and a hydrogen tank 10 times as heavy as the hydrogen, you still get over 1600 Wh/kg, well over 15 times Li-ion! Then of course you need to add the fuel cell system, which is dimensioned by power (not by energy as the tank is), and its weight is why FC cars are better in the long range, where this weight is a smaller fraction of the total FC system weight.

Running fuel cells on hydrocarbons directly is not an option (slow chemistry), but they can be reformed on-the-fly to hydrogen; in fact you can do that with diesel. The only problem is, the system gets so much complicated it is soon not worth the bother when you have a highly dynamic load as is the case for a car.

about 2 months ago

Multiple Manufacturers Push Hydrogen Fuel Cell Cars, But Can They Catch Tesla?

orzetto Re:I don't think hydrogen makes sense (293 comments)

Holy bad data, batman! You have so many numbers wrong my head is spinning. Try this:

  • needs to be compressed to 1000+ atmospheres Standard H2 pressure in most modern tanks is 700 bars, not 1000. 350 bar is also quite ok since it contains 2/3 of the hydrogen you get at 700 (hint: no ideal gas at those pressures). Very little to be gained by going to 1000 bars.
  • [to generate H2] first you need to generate the electricity. That's usually from a coal plant operating at 45% efficiency at best Or it could be wind farm, or a solar plant, or any of those pesky renewables that do not want to produce power exactly when we need it. So instead of dumping it, you make hydrogen with that extra zero-emission power. That, and combined-cycle gas plants can be 60% efficient.
  • the electrolysis is about 65% efficient at best That's a number for alkaline electrolysis, PEM electrolysis can go much higher. Some cheat and define efficiency with enthalpy instead of Gibbs free energy, which gives them efficiencies close to 100%, but somewhere between 80-90% is realistic.
  • put the hydrogen through a fuel cell which can be 90% efficient in the lab, but peaks at about 70% efficient in commercial applications Actually no, no one has ever seen 90%, not even in the lab, but a common efficiency in usage is about 60%.
  • And by the way you did not mention the significant losses for hydrogen compression, which are not a showstopper but do motivate research in e.g. hydride compressors for hydrogens running on waste heat instead of mechanical power.
  • gasoline ICEs, which are currently about 25%-30% efficient That's your main mistake. This value holds only at their maximum efficiency, which is almost never where they operate. You also fail to account that gasoline does not grow on trees, it needs to be extracted as oil, refined and distributed. The whole Well-to-Wheel efficiency of gasoline is about 10% on a good day.

about 2 months ago

The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

orzetto Re:MatLab is not really a good programming languag (205 comments)

You might have noted I wrote, "OO support as C++", where I meant "well thought-out OO support". There is OO in Matlab, but it's just like claiming Fortran has OO support. Technically true, but added as an afterthought, and most code out there does not use it.

you somehow missed that semi-colons are not statement terminators

Why yes you could write without them, but then you would get an echo on every assignment on the prompt. No sane person would do that in production code. In practice, all statements in M-files need to be semicolon-terminated.

You should have known this if you had actually worked with even a modicum of MatLab script.

FYI I was on Matlab/Simulink several years (before moving to Scilab, Octave and C++), and I actually held a course in Matlab for undergrads at a Max Planck Institute when I worked in Germany.

about 3 months ago

Help ESR Stamp Out CVS and SVN In Our Lifetime

orzetto Re:About CVS Only! Not SVN! (245 comments)

[...] because those files are binary and very large

No VCS is meant to do this, neither Git, SVN and certainly not CVS. Those files don't belong in a VCS because you cannot make a diff between them. Small binary files (e.g. icons in a website) are a small nuisance, but there is no point in storing large binary blobs in a VCS regularly. What you need is a backup system, not a version-control system.

(2) permanently delete those files that I know I will no longer need

SVN allows to do this with svndumpfilter (and I was unaware CVS had any way to do this). And no it should not be made any easier, no one should be allowed to monkey around with the repository history with any less than admin rights. If you find yourself regularly removing files from a VCS, it means you have been adding too many useless files. Again, you want backup for this, not VCS.

about 3 months ago

The One App You Need On Your Resume If You Want a Job At Google

orzetto MatLab is not really a good programming language (205 comments)

MatLab is an old, crufty, feature-creeped script engine that I try to hold myself away from as much as I can. As a researcher and academic (got up to post-doc), Matlab is indeed ubiquitous in academia, but it's mostly due to entrenched positions. I see fewer and fewer people using Matlab these days, and that's a good thing.

Matlab is by all means not a fourth-generation programming language: it is procedural just like Fortran, which it supplanted in academia, but it does not have type-checking as C, it does not have OO support as C++, it does not do away with semicolons as end-of-line markers like Python; true, it has some advance features like OO and some functional programming, but (almost) nobody uses them, and most Matlab code is a horrible cruft made by self-not-so-well-taught academics. There is nothing in Matlab you cannot do better in Python with scipy, numpy, matplotlib and pandas. Or with declarative PLs like Modelica.

Matlab is also known for outrageous prices, leveraging on the fact their customer base are universities with big pockets and small administrative brains, and large corporations: they split their code base in many small chunks, and for each you need to pay more and more: as the saying goes, In Matlab you cannot do shit unless you buy a licence for the Toilet Paper toolbox.

Long story short: Matlab is the Perl of academia.

about 3 months ago

Fuel Efficiency Numbers Overstate MPG More For Cars With Small Engines

orzetto Original link has more data (403 comments)

The study is by Emission Analytics, and here is the original link (as opposed to TFA from The Telegraph).

Note some misleading elements from TFA: they show only the three smaller classes for UK cars, seemingly indicating that small cars are the worst gas guzzlers, whereas cars with higher engine sizes are actually much worse according to the original study (see the graph). So the lesson is: still buy a small car, just not a very small one for best fuel efficiency.

Another interesting bit that is not in TFA is that the data for US cars is different: there, cars between 1 and 3 liters in volume (I assume this is the large majority of the car pool) have less than half the mileage. Also, the smallest US cars are actually the most efficient of any class, even though their efficiency is below UK average.

about 4 months ago

David Cameron Says Brits Should Be Taught Imperial Measures

orzetto Re:Simple answer (942 comments)

Water freezes at zero and boils at one hundred. What could be simpler?

0 is a cold winter day, and 100 is a hot summer day.

Yeah right, with your system you need to wait at least six months to calibrate a thermometer.

Besides, different places on Earth have different extreme temperatures. The same place on Earth has different extreme temperatures from year to year.

Water is a good reference because it freezes and boils at the same temperature everywhere, with minimal deviation for atmospheric pressure (that can in any case be easily compensated for), and the test can be arranged with the simplest tools; any kitchen can marshal ice and boiling water within minutes.

And in any case, the right temperature unit is the kelvin. Why is anyone even considering negative temperatures? Molecules cannot move with negative velocity!

about 4 months ago

At CIA Starbucks, Even the Baristas Are Covert

orzetto What undercover agents are these? (242 comments)

I thought undercover agents would be trained to conjure up a fake identity on the spot, even under duress, and keep it consistent with any information the interrogating party may have.

about 4 months ago

Digia Spins Off Qt As Subsidiary

orzetto Finland is not Scandinavia (33 comments)

[...] having been passed around Scandinavia [...]

For the record, Finland is not part of Scandinavia, since they speak a completely unrelated language. Scandinavia plus Finland and others are correctly referred to as The Nordic Countries".

about 4 months ago

NRC Analyst Calls To Close Diablo Canyon, CA's Last Remaining Nuclear Plant

orzetto Re:In other news... (216 comments)

Think of [Hambach Tagebau] as an anti-nuclear exclusion zone, like Fukushima but getting bigger instead of being cleaned up..

Quite ridiculous proposition: you cannot get cancer by entering the mine, nor is it incompatible with human life, and once depleted the mine reverts to normal soil on which you can grow crops. See the map of open-pit mines near Cologne that you mentioned, and compare the satellite images of the same area. Notice how the areas of previous development (Frechen, Zukunft-West, Bergheim) have been re-converted to agriculture.

Try doing that in Chernobyl, smartass.

Also: I know Muricans have issues with proper units of measure, but the size of the Fukushima exclusion zone is a semi-circle with a 20 km radius. That gives 3.14*20*20/2 or 625 square kilometres, 13 times the size of Garzweiler.

about 5 months ago

Aussie Airlines To Allow Uninterrupted Mobile Use During Flights

orzetto Re:article summary is wrong (51 comments)

That is correct, but other companies do offer mobile coverage on board: I have flown with SAS planes with on-board GSM, and whereas I did not try it (waaay too expensive rates, it's the new iteration of the airplane phone) I got signal on my device.

You still have to put the device in flight mode for take-off and landing, I assume because a few hundred mobile phones moving at several hundred km/h can overload or confuse ground stations.

WiFi is also made available only when cruising over 3000 metres, I assume because the Internet connection travels over the same data channel the GSM. You can't really play Youtube over the slow connection, but checking mail and reading newspaper is OK.

about 5 months ago

Site of 1976 "Atomic Man" Accident To Be Cleaned

orzetto Re:Safety margins (299 comments)

Of course you can be exposed for a short period of time to 500 times the legal concentration of most chemicals. The "legal limit" is usually designed so that regular, 8-hour daily exposure has no long-term health effects, just like the legal radiation limits. Granted, legal limits back then were less conservative.

Then of course it depends how you are exposed. ingestion is not the same as having skin contact. Methanol has a legal limit of 200 ppm, but I can put my hand in liquid methanol (by definition 1 million ppm, 5000 times the legal limit) for a short time and suffer no consequences.

about 7 months ago

Oxford Internet Institute Creates Internet "Tube" Map

orzetto Re:US has imprisonment badge - BS (56 comments)

You can't go to jail in the US just for illegal use of the internet.

Yes you can, google up Justin River Carter. He made a hyperbolic, sarcastic comment on Facebook, and he's looking at up to 10 years in jail. Another case is Cameron D'Ambrosio's. The magic word is terrorism: if anyone is scared by what you say or says they are, you are fornicated.

You can for looking at kiddie porn, or threatening somebody, but those things were illegal before we had an internet.

Same you can say about any country with the imprisonment mark. It was illegal to mock Mohammed in Pakistan before the Internet, and now too. The imprisonment icon means, "you can go to jail after unwarranted, sweeping wiretapping of your Internet connection".

about 10 months ago

Russians Take Ukraine's Last Land Base In Crimea

orzetto Re:I dont get it (551 comments)

[...]made open threats against the west, repeatedly defied the United Nations, refused nuclear weapon inspections, and ultimately defied UN resolution 1441.

You realise that if you change "West" with "Iran" and make "resolution 1441" into "a bunch of UN resolutions" you get a description fitting Israel, right? And if you change "West" with "India" it becomes Pakistan? With "South Korea" it becomes North Korea? With "Taiwan" the PRC (well not the UN part since they have veto right)? The world is full of militaristic nations threatening neighbours and defying UN resolutions. Cannot see any invasions there, possibly because these countries are either allies, or pose a credible military challenge, or are not sitting on a bunch of oil.

This is why Iraq was invaded by a coalition made of mostly the United States, United Kingdom, Spain, Australia, Poland, Portugal, and Denmark with 33 other countries providing some form of troop support.

You are either disingenuous or a complete fool. Iraq was invaded because it was an easy prey, rich in oil resources and with a nonexistent defense capacity. Generals could be bribed off the field. It was an overwhelmingly US operation, with some support from a subservient UK, and only nominal support from a bunch of countries thrown in only for the effect of inflating the number you quoted. Some of these countries did not even have an army (Iceland, Palau, Micronesia, Solomon Islands), others were countries looking to appease the US (most Eastern European countries) or failed states whose leaders could be bought (Ethiopia, Eritrea, Uganda, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan).

The casus belli was that Saddam Hussein was manufacturing WMDs for Al-Quaeda; at least according to Colin Powell. That was a big, fat lie by the US. It was even less credible of a Polish invasion of Germany in 1939 (at least Poland had an army: Saddam Hussein had neither WMDs nor Al-Qaeda), and the execution of the invasion was a textbook war of aggression, the punishment for which in Nuremberg was death by hanging.

about 10 months ago

Daylight Saving Time ...

orzetto Re:Are we not advanced enough to use UTC Time? (310 comments)

If employers|government really cared why don't they just say 'our office hours are 8am-4pm from October to March and 9-5 the rest of the year' or whatever?

Because the government or companies cannot simply dictate when people or companies should work, that is usually written down in employment contracts. It is much more convenient to centrally move one reference clock one hour ahead or back than renegotiating millions of contracts every six months.

Are people such sheep that as long as the number on the clock is the same as yesterday they'll blindly get up whenever you want but if you ask them to get up at a different time they'll revolt?

Most certainly yes. Changing the common time guarantees that we can go on living our lives as normal, and follow the same schedule. There are no synchronisation issues since everybody switches at the same time.

More than sheep, we people are sloths, we don't like doing useless stuff. If the office hours change, we will keep our private schedule identical and still meet with friends at 20. The point of DST is to make sure people use more daylight and save power, so it needs to influence the habits of people in their leisure time as well.

about 10 months ago

Ancient Chinese Mummies Discovered In Cheesy Afterlife

orzetto Re:And Modern Chinese have no Native Cheese (64 comments)

Indeed that is correct, Chinese do not like cheese. However the mummies are from the Xiahoe tomb complex in the Xinjiang, whose name in Chinese means "New Frontier". People there are more central Asian than Han Chinese, and China gained control of the area only in the 17th century. Still today, Chinese characters are used side-by-side with Arabic in street signs and such (see Urumqi train station for example).

Point being, culture there is different, and was not even in contact with Han Chinese at the time of the mummies.

about a year ago

Rolls Royce Developing Drone Cargo Ships

orzetto Re:Laws would have to be changed (216 comments)

Considering the price tag of a ship, a few cameras pointing at the sea in every direction is pretty simple and cheap; that's a proper watch. Also, for the requirement of rendering assistance, you can have a remotely controlled hatch and an emergency stock of fresh water and canned food.

about 10 months ago



Italy studies one-strike, no-appeal censorship law

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 3 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "After months of plummeting polls due to the legal problems and private conduct of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, who controls in one way or another Italian TV, the Italian government is now considering a draconian censorship law to prohibit publication in newspapers and blogs of wiretap transcripts, in which Berlusconi has been caught talking to criminals and bragging about his sexual feats with prostitutes.

Included in the package, a norm that could be devastating to blogs and independent news sources (Italian original): it includes the obligation for any Web site operator to "correct" any offending content within 48 hours after a complaint has been filed, with a fine of 12,000 euros in case of disobedience. Quite interestingly, there is no requirement on the complaint to be well founded or even truthful, and there is neither any possibility to appeal the complaint.

The law is still being drafted, and has already attracted criticism from the opposition."

Link to Original Source

Italian prosecutors phish corruption ringleader

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 3 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports (English translation) that Italian Prosecutor Henry J Woodcock's team managed to bust a far-reaching corruption ring led by manager Luigi Bisignani.

Bisignani, knowing his phone was wiretapped, changed his cellphone's SIM often and used Skype to avoid being caught. However, Woodcock's team managed to phish him with a fake Facebook notification and installed a trojan developed by the Italian police, named "Querela". Querela took control of the microphone of Bisignani's PC and allowed wiretapping Skype calls and using the computer itself as a bug.

Bisignani's activities included trying to remove a journalist disliked by the government from his post in public broadcaster RAI by manipulating its top management, and maintaining a power structure with links to several government members, including a minister and Silvio Berlusconi's powerful and media-shy secretary Gianni Letta. Bisignani is now held in custody in Naples."

95% of Italians Reject Nuclear in Referendum

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 3 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Four countrywide referenda were held in Italy last weekend, one of which on the Italian government's plan to reintroduce nuclear power. Voters rejected the idea with a percentage of 95%. Due to intricacies of the Italian referendum law, the referendum would have been invalid (and equalling a victory for the nay side) if less than 50% of voters showed up, so most Nay supporters simply did not vote.

As the turnout was 54%, Italy will stay clear of nuclear power at least for the next five years. Among the supportes of the rejection, Carlo Rubbia, Nobel prize for Physics 1984.

The Italian government had tried to invalidate this referendum by repealing its own nuclear plan, stating it would be reintroduced after the referenda, but the strategy was invalidated by the courts.

The other referenda stroke down privatisation of water resources and a law that gave prime minister Berlusconi the right not to be put on trial (currently, for various corruption charges and statutory rape)."

Link to Original Source

YouTube considered a TV station in Italy

orzetto orzetto writes  |  about 4 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that YouTube and similar websites based on user-generated content will be considered TV stations (Google translation) in Italian law, and will be subject to the same obligations. Among these, a small tax (500 €), the obligation to publish corrections within 48 hours upon request of people who consider themselves slandered by published content, and the obligation not to broadcast content inappropriate for children in certain time slots. The main change, though, is that YouTube and similar sites will be legally responsible of all published content as long as they have any form (even if automated) of editorial control.

The main reason is likely that, being a TV, YouTube has now to assume editorial responsibility for all published content, which facilitates the ongoing € 500M lawsuit of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi against YouTube because of content copyrighted by Berlusconi's TV networks that some users uploaded on YouTube. Berlusconi's Spanish TV, TeleCinco, was previously defeated in court exactly on the grounds that YouTube is not a content provider."

Google-Italy Execs Sentenced for Published Video

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 4 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper La Repubblica reports that the trial against four Google officials concluded with the sentencing of three of them for "violation of privacy" (original article in Italian) to six months of jail, following the publication on Google Video of a clip in which a boy affected by Down syndrome was assaulted in a school by several classmates, in 2006. The clip was recorded by the assailants themselves in a school in Turin; they were suspended from school for the rest of the year in 2006.

The four Google execs were also accused of defamation, but acquitted. Their lawyers announced they will go to an appeal. Note that Italy has 3 degrees of trial, appeals are always granted, and this is only a 1st-degree trial; all sentences below 2 years are not enforced unless there is also another, unrelated sentence in which the defendant was found guilty."

350,000-People Facebook Group Rallies in Rome

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Tomorrow, December 5, the largest flashmob ever is going to gather in Rome. Over 350,000 people have subscribed to the No Berlusconi day Facebook group, and about as many are expected to come to Rome to request prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's resignation and trial over a witness corruption scandal. Further protests are planned by expatriate Italians in other 45 cities worldwide.

Berlusconi, whose company recently lost a $1.1-billion lawsuit to a competitor for bribing a judge in its favour, and who has this week been accused to be the Mafia's front man in politics by a key Mafia turncoat, had managed to steer clear of the witness-corruption issue by issuing a law making him immune from criminal prosecution—that is, until Italy's Constitutional Court stroke it down as unconstitutional in early October; meanwhile, the corrupted party, English lawyer David Mills, has already been found guilty and lost his first appeal (of two). Berlusconi has been scheduling international meetings with any foreign leader willing to meet him (most recently with Belarusian dictator Lukashenko) in order to provide "legitimate reasons" not to appear in court.

The protest has been organised from below, on the Internet, with minor opposition political parties providing only logistical support. The main opposition party, the Democratic party, has in fact not supported the protest and plans its own toned-down event next week, after having, last week, hinted it would accept Berlusconi's strategy of avoiding judgement. Among the supporters of the protest known to the Slashdot crowd, is none less than Richard Stallman."

Link to Original Source

Copyright status of thermodynamic properties

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "I work at a research institute, and programming models of physical models is what I do most of the time. One significant problem when modelling physical processes is finding thermodynamic data. There are some commercial solutions, but can be quite expensive, and to the best of my knowledge there are no open-source efforts in that direction. In my previous job, my company used NIST's Supertrapp, which is not really that expensive, but is written in Fortran (and an old-fashioned dialect at that). As a result, it is a bit difficult to integrate in other projects (praised be f2c), and the programming interface is simply horrible; worse, there are some Fortran-induced limitations (maximum 20 species in a mixture, for instance).

I was wondering whether it would be legal to buy a copy of such a database (they usually sell with source code, no one can read Fortran anyway), take the data (possibly reformatting it as XML), implement a new programming interface from scratch and publish the package as free software. Thermodynamic data, assuming it is correct, is not an intellectual creation but a mere measurement, which was most likely not done by the programmers but taken from the open literature, published by scientists funded by our tax money.

What are your experiences and opinions on the matter? For the record, I am based in Germany, so the EU database directive applies (German implementation)."

Galilei was to be burned at the stake

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 5 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italy's leading newspaper La Repubblica published today (Google translation) the original documents of the prosecution against Galileo Galilei, which are part of a large collection of documents related to Galilei's trial due to be released next month by the Vatican's Secret Archive.
According to these, it was Galilei's prosecutor himself, Cardinal Robert Bellarmine, who stated that Galilei was no heretic, even though his theories were. Galilei subsequently escaped the burning at the stake, and got away with a relatively mild sentence. Giordano Bruno, for similarly revolutionary astronomical theories—in his case, the existence of multiple planets—was sent to be burned at the stake by the same Cardinal Bellarmine: Bruno, however, did not recant."

Effect of Cosmic Rays on Global Warming

orzetto orzetto writes  |  about 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "As reported by agencies, Danish geophysicists Mads Faurschou Knudsen and Peter Riisager have published a study in which they claim that variations in the Earth's magnetic field are responsible for (a part of) climate change. Most sources in English repeat the same announcement, but the longer original Danish article (Google translation) reports some additional details. According to the (still controversial) theory, originally formulated by Svensmark in 1997, cosmic rays have a significant impact on climate. A weaker magnetic field would lead to more cosmic rays, leading to more clouds and thereby both more rain and, in parallel, more albedo, reducing global temperature.
Knudsen and Riisager recorded climatic data for the last 5000 years by studying two stalagmites, one in a cave in China and one in Oman, and claimed a correlation between rain and magnetic-field intensity.
Meteorology professor Egil Kaas, a known opponent of Svensmark, told videnskab.dk that the data correlates only for the Chinese cave, not for the Omani. Also, he claims that more clouds and more albedo actually lead to less rain (it has to do with particular monsoon dynamics), since evaporation from the oceans is reduced."

Google Suggest censors a world-top-10 blog

orzetto orzetto writes  |  about 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Beppe Grillo, operator of one of the top 10 blogs worldwide, reports that the Italian version of Google is hiding his name from the tooltips that appear automatically as one is writing a search term ("Google Suggest"). Much less known Beppes appear in the list (such as TV host Bigazzi, journalist Severgnini and a dozen of others), but Grillo's tooltip is absent even when writing his name in full.

Whereas the article claims that also others, such as Sabina Guzzanti and Marco Travaglio, were hidden in the same way, this does not seem to be the case to me (I am browsing from Italy right now). Grillo's name has been censored only from the Italian version of Google, google.it, not google.com where he is present and is actually ranking close to the top. This leads to some oddities: despite the fact that "Grillo" (which is a common Genoese surname) means "cricket", there is no Google-Suggest hit for it, whereas e.g. "formica" (ant) and other insects have plenty. Even Pinocchio's talking cricket ("grillo parlante") seems to have been censored as collateral damage. Note, however, that entering "Beppe Grillo" by yourself will report his blog among the search results.

Beppe Grillo, who is politically very active, has been at odds with the Italian political establishment for years now, and his blog was likely the main target of a draconian law proposal previously discussed here; the proposal was later retracted."

Italian Premier Wants to "Regulate the Interne

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, host-to-be of the next G8 summit, has announced he will use his presidency of the G8 (starting January) to "regulate the Internet", without specifying further what he meant by that, report The Register and Italy's main newspaper la Repubblica (in Italian).

Berlusconi, who previously stated that he does not understand much of teh Intertubes (only in Italian; sorry, his English is like this), is a media tycoon who was not particularly successful at business until he entered politics, at which point he swiftly became Italy's wealthiest man (though he later dropped a few places); he has namely a long history of favouring his own business (sorry, antispam filter blocks Google translation) when passing laws: last week, he doubled the VAT (from 10% to 20%) on Sky TV, the only national channel he does not control (either through ownership, or appointment of directors as for the public TV channels, which makes Sky "left-leaning" in Italy).

Possibly because of this tendency, blogger and journalist Vittorio Zambardino suggested (Google translation) that what Berlusconi is aiming at is not a Great Firewall against terrorism or paedophiles, but rather a IP crackdown on Web 2.0; his own company, Mediaset, has already sued Youtube for half a billion euros.

It will be interesting to see what Obama will have to say about that (he will be inaugurated about the same time Berlusconi will get the G8 presidency), since he seems to be much more tech-savvy, and since last time he saw Berlusconi he did not seem to be very enthusiastic."

Italian traffic to TPB goes to anti-piracy group

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Slashdot has already covered the DNS blocking of the Pirate Bay in Italy, and the creation of the alternative domain labaia.org. After a traffic spike from Italy to the Pirate Bay reported by TorrentFreak, an update (Google translation) comes from La Repubblica, Italy's main newspaper: the page to which Italians are redirected (read on before clicking) when trying to access piratebay.org, which is supposed to be an information page by the Guardia di Finanza (the Italian IRS), not only is not hosted on Italian soil, it is on an IP owned by the Pro-Music group, which can then log the IPs trying to contact the Pirate Bay.
This has prompted an appeal (again Google translation) by the ALCEI association to Italy's privacy authority, which had stated in previous incidents that such data-gathering activities by IP vigilantes are illegal (note that the Guardia di Finanza itself, a law enforcer, is supporting a practice already deemed illegal). Enzo Mazza, president of FIMI (the Italian RIAA), replied that "this defence of thieves seems to us out of this world" and that "shutting down sites is normal all over the world. Just a few days ago an identical decision was made in France, by a judge, against a racist site"."

Bavarian Cops to Break into Homes, Install Trojans

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "The Tageszeitung reports (and Google translates) that the German state of Bavaria has introduced a bill for online search and seizure, according to which the police can not only wiretap your connection, but can also secretly enter your house to install trojans on your computer. According to the red-green (tip to Americans: "red" is left-wing in Europe) opposition, the law is unconstitutional, specifically against article 13 of the Constitution of Germany, which states pretty clearly that the domicile is inviolable.

The Bavarian Justice minister, Joachim Herrmann, stated that this way "we show again who is the market leader in the field of homeland security in Germany", and he stated that the possibility of any honest citizen being subject to searches is absurd; instead, he continued, the state is serving its "constitutional duty of protection of its citizens"."

The Real Max Planck

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Spiegel Online reports that a final proof has been obtained about the fact that the physicist we know as Max Planck was actually named Marx (Google translation), which was meant as a short form for the original Latin Marcus (there is in fact a neighbourhood in Vienna called Sankt Marx). The proof came from multiple entries in a church record in Kiel, where he was baptised: the document is signed by the local pastor and is therefore still fully legally valid. And yes, his second name was Karl."

Nokia to acquire Trolltech

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 6 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Trolltech, the Norwegian company, makers of the Qt libraries upon which KDE is based, report on their Website that Finnish mobile-phone giant Nokia is going to acquire them. Today, at 13:00 CET (4:00am for you guys on the Pacific coast time zone), Trolltech will hold a press conference in Oslo. Trolltech have already published an open letter (pdf) to the open-source community, pledging they will continue to release Qt as GPL software; Nokia, furthermore, is going to become the sixth patron of KDE."

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 7 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "Italian newspaper l'Unità reports that the European parliament's Commitee for Legal Affairs approved an amendment presented by EMP Nicola Zingaretti (PSE, IT), that makes piracy a felony—but only if a monetary profit is made (for the foreign-language impaired, see this article on Hollywood Reporter, which however does not mention that non-profit p2p will not be criminalised). As in the EU parliament's press release:

Members of the Legal Affairs' committee [...] decided that criminal sanctions should only apply to those infringements deliberately carried out to obtain a commercial advantage. Piracy committed by private users for personal, non-profit purposes are therefore also excluded.
Italian consumers' association Altroconsumo was involved in drafting the text. The complete proposal was passed with 23 votes in favour, 3 against and 3 abstained, and is intended to be applied to copyright, trademark, design and other IP fields, but not patent right which is explicitly excluded. The proposal has still to pass the vote of the parliament before becoming law in all EU countries, some of which (like Italy) do have criminal laws in place for non-profit file sharing.

Caution: Most EU countries use civil law, not common law. Translation of legal terms may be misleading."

orzetto orzetto writes  |  more than 8 years ago

orzetto (545509) writes "A documentary by Italian journalist Enrico Deaglio, "Kill Democracy!" (Google translation), will be published tomorrow, reports Italian newspaper La Repubblica (Google translation). The last Italian elections were won by the opposition by a narrow 25,000-vote margin, much narrower than the broad victory predicted by gallups and exit polls. Deaglio's theory rests on the sudden reduction by over two-thirds in blank votes (from 1,5 millions to less than half), a corresponding increase in votes for then-PM Silvio Berlusconi's own party, Forza Italia , various ballot count discrepancies and anomalies, and a "Deep Throat", arguably from the ministry. According to Deaglio, the vote counts were changed electronically when being transferred from Prefectures to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (ballots themselves are still of paper all over Italy). The election was however lost by the government because, according to Deaglio and his crew, minister of Internal Affairs Beppe Pisanu called the operation off at the last moment, either to defend democracy (the operation would not have involved him directly), or because the opposition parties caught wind of the story, and Pisanu got cold feet (Pisanu is considered a moderate in Berlusconi's coalition). Since the election, ex-PM Berlusconi has never conceded defeat and complained of irregularities (even if then-minister Pisanu belongs to his own party and is one of his closest associates), while also calling for an Italian Große Koalition on the German model."


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