Will Slow-Moving Laws Ever Catch Fast-Moving Tech?

A British man convicted of sending a "menacing" Tweet has been exonerated by appealing to a law passed in 1935. How will our legal system ever accommodate the speed of technology? 

What's the Latest Development?

Paul Chambers, a British national convicted for posting a Tweet in which, out of frustration at the closure of an airport due to inclement weather, he threatened to blow the airport "sky high," has been exonerated. "After a long legal battle Mr. Chambers had his May 2010 conviction quashed Friday on the basis that the tweet did not constitute or include a message of a menacing character." At one point during the trail, it was pointed out that the same legal standard could be used to convict Sir John Betjeman, the British poet who wrote, "Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough," a town near London whose drab reputation made it the ideal setting for "The Office", the UK sitcom about the drudgery of office work. 

What's the Big Idea?

The case highlights the difficulty of applying a slow-moving legal framework to fast-moving technology. Though Chambers was prosecuted for violating the Communications Act of 2003, the court's ruling makes reference to the Post Office Act of 1935, which references any "message by telephone, or any telegram." Some say the legal system will always being playing catch up when it comes to prosecuting high-tech crimes. And while a possible solution could be to make laws with broad-based definitions, that risks criminalizing future behavior which, following the dictates of common sense (the legal system's age-old nemesis), should clearly be permitted.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Science confirms: Earth has more than one 'moon'

Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.

J. Sliz-Balogh, A. Barta and G. Horvath
Surprising Science
  • Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
  • These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
  • The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
Keep reading Show less

New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
Keep reading Show less