Plagiarism? You be the judge

Stuff is carrying a story on its frontpage by Harry Pearl and Nicola Brennan-Tupara about two guys hit by lightning.

Near the bottom of the article is this sentence:

The charge of a lightning bolt – a tube of ionised air as thick as a thumb – is about 300,000 degrees Celsius. That’s the same temperature as the surface of the Sun.

An astute reader thought something was amiss…especially about the temperature claim. He thought they should be talking about the unit of electrical charge which is the coulomb. He found that a google search on the exact phrase “a tube of ionised air as thick as a thumb” showed a 2008 article by Carolyne Meng-Yee on the NZ Herald website.

A lightning bolt is a tube of ionised air as thick as a thumb. The charge is about 300,000C – the same temperature as the surface of the sun.

An interesting coincidence of words?

As there is no independent source that Google can find for this or related text, we must then assume that Stuff have clearly plagiarised the NZ Herald content, which in itself is erroneous. Note the order of words is altered, indicating they knew what they were doing. Google is smart enough to show results for “iononized”, but there are no other results other than these two articles.



It is small beer, but one easily found. What do you think?



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  • Dr Wang

    I think we should leave this one to a neutral party, say Noelle McCarthy – let her be the judge if this is plagiarism.

    • AnonWgtn

      I see that the Irish plagiarist is back after forsaking New Zealand for the greater grasses at home in Ireland – couldn’t get a job there so came back to plague us – must be somebody’s friend, as I cringe every time I hear her voice and turn over from her pontificating.

      • Mediaan

        One of her much older relatives acted as something’s friend. They are still paying him back.

  • XM16E1


  • Jimmie

    It didn’t make sense to me as I would have thought that the charge related to voltage and that Celsius relates more to temperature or am I dumb?

  • Mr_Blobby

    Sorry stuff, herald. Does somebody actually read them, interesting.

  • Jman

    The stuff article has now been updated. Now it says at the bottom:

    The story has been updated. An earlier version failed to properly credit the source of some information.

  • PlanetOrphan

    It’s also wrong, should be 30,000 kelvins (53,540 degrees Fahrenheit)

  • Mediaan

    Checked on plagiarisma site. There are better plagiarism checkers, but you have to subscribe. Took a lesser free one.

    Result, for the tube of ionised air as thick as a thumb, was:

  • Typical Fairfax! The other day a bus crashed on the Kaimai Road. First they claimed it was at Tirau (too far south) then they claimed it was west of Cambridge. Apple Maps must be happy with the sale of their app!!!!