Three X’s in one day.

I can remember at the beginning of this solar cycle everyone was complaining about the lack of activity.  Well, there is activity in spades right at the moment.

The number of solar flares and sunspots increase and decrease approximately every 11 years (one solar cycle).  The Sun is currently moving towards solar maximum sometime in 2013.

There have been three Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and solar flares in the last 24 hours (as I am writing this, there could be more coming).  Solar flares are giant explosions on the Sun that send energy, light and high speed particles into space.  These flares are often associated with CMEs, but they can occur alone.

The biggest flares are known as “X-class flares” based on a classification system that divides solar flares according to their strength.  The smallest ones are A-class (near background levels), followed by B, C, M and X.   Like the Richter scale for earthquakes, each letter represents an exponential 10-fold increase in energy output (an X is 10 times an M and 100 times a C and 1000 times an A).  There is also a 1-9 scale inside each class, so the latest flare was a X3.2.

But X-class are the last letter, the number for X flares isn’t limited to 9.  The largest X-class flare ever recorded was an X28 in November or 2003 (I don’t think I want to be around for an X99, that would really be the big one).

When solar flares and CMEs head in Earth’s direction, the can ionize the atmosphere and can harm satellites, communications systems and interfere with ground-based technologies and power grids.   As I wrote earlier, even airplanes are redirected or grounded to avoid the radiation associated with flares and CMEs.

The CME from the latest X-flare left the sun at approximately 1,400 miles per second.  NASA predicts that this flare and CME will catch up to the other two CMEs associated with the earlier flares merging into on giant cloud of solar material.  The cloud is headed toward the Spitzer spacecraft and close to the STEREO-B and Epoxi spacecraft.  NASA has already informed mission operators so that they can put spacecraft into safe mode for protection.

Dang it, I was going to try and catch a little solar magic with my solar scope, but I had an event yesterday that prevented me from getting any images.

P.S. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER LOOK AT THE SUN WITHOUT PROPER PROTECTION!

Did I mention that you shouldn’t look at the sun WITHOUT PROPER PROTECTION?

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

I’m a Super Lawyer!

Just in time for this weekends new movie event “Man of Steel,” I have made it to the top.  Well, at least I am a Rising Star on the annual Super Lawyers Magazine list.

 

From their website: “Super Lawyers is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process is multi-phased and includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.”

The nice thing about this list is that other Lawyers are asked to nominate the best attorneys who are 40 or under, or who have been practicing for 10 years or less.  I would like to say that I fall into the former category, but, alas, I am in the later having practiced law for the past 9 1/2 years.

Image courtesy of  Woodly Wonder Works

I would like to thank all the other attorneys that voted and recommended me for inclusion on this prestigious list.

How Can I Help?

If you, or someone you know, need help with any Intellectual Property issue, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just advice regarding how best to protect your ideas and your brand, contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

What can you do with a single pixel?

Those crazy kids at Bell Labs have built a camera that uses no lens and a single-pixel sensor.

https://4.static.img-dpreview.com/files/news/1708147654/lensless1.jpg?v=2229

The idea uses a grid of small apertures that each direct light rays from different parts of the scene to the sensor, and can be opened and closed independently. This is similar to spectroscopy, where a variable slit allows the light from a distant object to be split into its component spectrum that can then be analyzed.

https://3.static.img-dpreview.com/files/news/1708147654/lensless2.jpg?v=2229

Using a technique called ‘compressive sensing’, the sensor makes a series of measurements with different combinations of open apertures, and uses this data to reconstruct the scene in front of the camera. Because there’s no lens to focus the resultant image has infinite depth of field, rather like a pinhole camera.

 

Each aperture in the LCD array is individually addressable and so can be open to allow light to pass through or closed. An important aspect of this kind of imaging is that the array of open and closed apertures must be random.

The process of creating an image is straightforward. It begins with the sensor recording the light from the scene that has passed through a random array of apertures in the LCD panel. It then records the light from a different random array and then another and so on.

Bl

Although seemingly random, each of these snapshots is correlated because they record the same scene in a different way. The more snapshots that are taken, the better the image will be. But it is possible to create a pretty good image using just a tiny fraction of the data that a conventional image would require. The images above were taken only using a quarter of the data normally taken by a camera.

The lensless camera only requires a small amount of data to create an image.  Also, because there isn’t a lens, the image doesn’t have chromatic aberrations, vignetting, shifting, focusing or other mechanical/optical flaws associated with lenses. The image is always in focus and the resolution can be adjusted by the size and number of apertures in front of the sensor, or sensors.  Using two or more sensors behind the same aperture array make it possible to create two different images at the same time.

You can even detect and image other wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum, including infrared and ultraviolet.

So you might be wondering why I am talking about this in an astronomy post.  Well, I take, on average, between 10-20 images for each deepsky object during a session.  Wouldn’t it be great to be take all of them at once?  Not only that, but I could increase the number and all the images could be processed!  Just using a simple 640×480 VGA image sensor you could take 307,200 images at once!  The applications for NASA, the ESA and other science organizations is unlimited.  You could easily use this technology to search for exoplanets, image asteroids, comets, planets…whatever.

But enough about them.  For me, I could finally take a really good image of Jupiter or Saturn!  Oh the possibility.  Hopefully, this tech will actually be developed by someone and made into a camera that I can slap on the end of my telescope.

If you want to read all the gory details, you can download the research paper here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

This is going to be one of those legendary fakes that never die.

If you belong to the Facebook, you likely saw the fake copyright notice that has been circulating on the social media network. The notice purports to restrict the use of user content, including pictures and posts, under U.S. copyright laws. It encourages others to post the notice on their own Facebook pages in order to protect their information.

Below is a brief portion of one the notices:

 In response to the new Facebook guidelines, I hereby declare that my copyright is attached to all of my personal details, illustrations, graphics, comics, paintings, photos, and videos, etc. (as a result of the Berne Convention). For any and all commercial use of the above my written consent is needed at all times!

While the notice is full of legal inaccuracies that a copyright attorney would quickly spot, many Facebook users were duped. Facebook even posted a statement in the “Fact Check” section of its website confirming that the copyright notice is simply a hoax. It explained that Facebook had not changed its policies, stating: “There is a rumor circulating that Facebook is making a change related to ownership of users’ information or the content they post to the site. This is false.”

The bottom-line is that the post has no legal effect. Rather, Facebook and its users are bound by the company’s Terms of Service and Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, which clearly state that users own all of the content and information posted to the social media network.

As detailed in those documents, “For content that is covered by intellectual property rights, like photos and videos (IP content), you specifically give us the following permission, subject to your privacy and application settings: you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License). This IP License ends when you delete your IP content or your account unless your content has been shared with others, and they have not deleted it.”

The Facebook hoax provides further credence to the old adage, “Don’t trust everything you read online.” For accurate and detailed legal advice about protected your copyrighted content online, I encourage you to contact

How Can I Help?

The Facebook hoax provides further credence to the old adage, “Don’t trust everything you read online.” For accurate and detailed legal advice about protected your copyrighted content online, I encourage you to contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Happy Anniversary Mars Express

Named because of the rapid and streamlined development time, the Mars Express Orbiter represents ESA’s first visit to another planet in the Solar System.

On June 2, 2003, the Mars Express orbiter was launched toward the red planet, entering into orbit just six months later. Though the accompanying Beagle 2 did not survive entry, the orbiter is still swinging around Mars ten years later.

Mars Express orbits roughly every 8 hours to collect data on Mars, its moons, and the Sun.

Mankind has been going to the red planet since the 1960s.  As noted above, the missions have been met with varying success.  The Mars Express Orbiter is one of the better examples of success.

Still, being in orbit around a planet about 140 million miles (225 million km) is nothing to sneeze at.  Various problems in both the hardware and software have been overcome by mission specialists to keep the data flowing back to Earth.

Overcoming these technical challenges has resulted in fantastic discoveries in the last ten years.Mars Express has monitored all regions of the Martian environment, from the subsurface to the upper atmosphere to its two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos.

Mars Express has helped find out that water was once present on Mars.  In fact Mars Express helped find out that there is water locked up in the planet’s ice caps by using its ground-penetrating radar system.  It seems that there may be enough water in the form of ice to cover the entire planet with a layer of water some 30 feet deep.

Happy anniversary Mars Express and a job well done to everyone at the ESA that keeps you flying.  May you have many more.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Are Human Genes Patentable?

The U.S. Supreme Court had agreed to consider whether human genes may be patented. The case, Association of Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, involves specific genes linked to an increase risk of ovarian and breast cancer.

The question before the Supreme Court is whether isolated genes are “products of nature” that are ineligible for patent protection or products of human intervention and ingenuity. Not surprisingly, the issue elicits strong opinions on both sides of the argument.

Myriad argues that the isolated genes “were created by humans, do not occur in nature and have new and significant utilities not found in nature.” Meanwhile, the plaintiffs, who are supported by groups like the American Medical Association, the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and the March of Dimes Foundation, argue that the patents will hamper scientific research and restrict access to medical care. “Myriad and other gene patent holders have gained the right to exclude the rest of the scientific community from examining the naturally occurring genes of every person in the United States,” the plaintiffs argued in their petition to the Court.

Another question for the Court is whether the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit’s decision to uphold Myriad’s patent claims conflicts with its ruling in Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc. a decision that arguably raised the bar on the amount of intervention needed to withstand legal scrutiny.

However, even though the case was remanded to consider the impact of Prometheus, the federal appeals court did not alter its decision. “The isolated DNA molecules before us are not found in nature,” Judge Alan D. Lourie wrote. “They are obtained in the laboratory and are man-made, the product of human ingenuity.”

However, James Watson, one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA, argued in a brief submitted to the Court that DNA conveys special genetic information, that human genetic information should not be the private property of anyone, and that developing a patent thicket of gene sequences could prevent easy commercialization of genetic diagnostics.

Now, the Supreme Court will make the final decision in yet another pivotal case in the field of medical genetics. I will be closely monitoring this case and will provide updates as they become available.

How Can I Help?

Only man made thing are eligible for patent protection.  If you have an idea and need help protecting it by preparing and filing a patent, or you know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Make mine extra large please.

NASA’s largest rocket yet is being developed.  The Space Launch System (SLS) should be ready for tests in 2017.

Since NASA has given up ferrying people, goods and materials to Earth orbit to private space companies, the SLS is being designed to carry astronauts farther from the planet than ever before.

The SLS was begun over a decade ago.  “We want to take NASA well beyond the space station. The SLS will be the most powerful rocket ever built, and it will be safe, affordable and sustainable.” Says former astronaut David Leestma and now part of NASA.

The SLS will be able to boost 143 tons (130 metric tons) to orbit using many existing components in its construction.  Like all recent missions, NASA has focused on using “off the shelf” materials for missions to cut costs.

The main liquid-fueled engines and the the solid rocket boosters are leftovers from the shuttle program. Only the central structure is new.

NASA plans on using the new Orion capsule with the SLS, and hopes to have both systems ready for spaceflight by 2021.

The SLS will be able to deliver payloads L2, which is a stable orbit just past  the moon, or farther distances.

The power of the SLS will also let NASA to send probes directly to other planets in the Solar System without using gravity-assist swings that can save up to three years of flight time.

In addition to the new components of the SLS, some reverse engineering of legacy hardware, such as the Saturn V’s F-1 engines (capable of 1.5 million pounds of thrust), are being conducted.

“We are ready to move beyond LEO (low Earth orbit) into more ambitious missions,” said Leestma.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Copyright Infringement Basics and the Internet

Almost 50 percent of Internet users are unsure whether the content they are accessing online is legal, according to a new study from the United Kingdom. Yet, one in six people online believed they have committed copyright infringement by downloading, streaming, or otherwise accessing content illegally over a three-month period this year.

The study was conducted by researchers with Ofcom, an independent regulator and competition authority
for the UK communications industries. The large-scale consumer survey examined the extent of online copyright infringement among Internet users aged 12 and above.

Below are several additional findings from the survey:

  • Reported levels of infringement varied considerably by content type: 8% of Internet users consumed some music illegally in the three months, but just 2% did so for games and software;
  • The most common reasons cited for accessing content illegally were because it is free (54%), convenient (48%) and quick (44%). Around a quarter (26%) of infringers said it allows them to try before they buy;
  • Infringers said they would be encouraged to stop doing so if cheaper legal services were available (39%), everything they wanted was available from a legal source (32%) or it was more clear what content was legal (26%). One in six said they would stop if they received one notifying letter from their internet service provider (ISP); and
  • Those who consumed a mixture of legal and illegal online content in the form of music, films and TV programs reported spending more on legal content in these categories over the three-month period than those who consumed entirely legal or illegal content.

One of the goals of the study was to assess the need for awareness campaigns to help educate consumers about the impact of copyright infringement. Like the U.S. Six Strikes Program I discussed in an earlier post, the U.K. will soon implement requirements mandating that large ISPs inform customers that their Internet connection has been used to commit copyright infringement, and to explain where they can find legal content online.

How Can I Help?

If you need help to protect an original work with a copyright registration, or you have been accused of copyright infringement, or know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Good photo op in tonight’s sky.

If you missed the last conjunction between Jupiter, Mercury and Venus this past month, you’ll get another chance at a good photo tonight.

This time it is the Moon, Venus and Mercury.  If you look to the west-northwest horizon tonight you will see all three.

The show will last for about 45 minutes after sunset (Venus sets right after that).

You should be able to see all three with the naked eye and you might even want to try and take a photograph.  You shouldn’t need anything fancier than your cell phone and a steady hand.  Orion even makes devices for holding your cellphone in place for you.

I am going to try my hand at getting a few images and I will post the results (provided the weather cooperates).  Let me know if you take any images, I would love to see your shots!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Round corners.

In the seemingly never ending litigation between Apple and Samsung, I get a lot of questions about the $1.5B award in the only win Apple has had during all these legal battles.

Apple Inc. was granted a design patent for the rounded corners of its iPad tablet device, Patent D670,286 for “The Ornamental Design For A Portable Display Device.” However, from the drawings submitted in connection with the patent application, it is fairly clear that the patent is intended to cover the rounded rectangular shape of the tablet’s face.

Although it may seem strange to patent the corner shape of an electronic device, U.S. patent law provides for granting design patents to any person who has invented any new, original and ornamental design for an article of manufacture. The subject matter of a design patent application may relate to the configuration or shape of an article, to the surface ornamentation applied to an article, or to the combination of configuration and surface ornamentation.

Unlike traditional patents, design patents only protect the appearance (ornamentality) of the article and not structural or utilitarian features.  In this case, Apple was granted protection for the rounded corners of the iPad which have no effect on how the device functions.

Although the design patent is yet another weapon in Apple’s fight against rival tablets, it is important to highlight that the patent only protects Apple from those who may try to mimic the look of the iPad and not its functionality.

How Can I Help?

As you can see, the way something looks can be as protectable as how it functions.  If you have a design you would like to patent, or you know someone that can use my help, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at nvantreeck@usip.com or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman