"Suppose just for a single moment that you're a student reading
a Physics book which explains the Theory of Relativity. You are
able to read the book, use the notorious formula E=mc^2 to solve
all of your exercises and, if you're a particularly brilliant
student, perhaps even start from there to come up with a new
formula leading to a new scientific discovery. In other words, the
scientific knowledge is in the public domain, free for everybody to
use, modify and redistribute -- you don't have to pay a royalty to
Einstein's nephew every time you solve a difficult physics exercise
or you daydream about time-space travel.
"The world of technology, on the other hand, is largely
dominated by patents, which makes it a "closed" and competitive
model, in which knowledge is rarely shared without money being
involved. Companies strive to patent their latest technological
innovation and maximize their capitalization, as one might expect.
Sadly this has a number of important consequences: the license with
which a patented item is distributed to the public often prohibits
reverse-engineering and, in general, any attempt at understanding
the mechanism through which that piece of technology works."