Since the Supreme Courts decision in the Bilski case this year, there has been a search for a new test to tell if some method is abstract matter (information, math etc) and not patentable.
Now in the case of RCT vs Microsoft that bar has been raised again to where has been before Bilski since State Street, where abstracts where removed by looking at surrounding effects from abstract methods.
In this case the court states: “the invention presents functional and palpable applications in the field of computer technology” and “Inventions with specific applications or improvements to technologies in the marketplace are not likely to be so abstract that they override the statutory language and framework of the Patent Act.”
Truly "Not likely to be" when you own a golden hammer.
Update: I just found a nice analogy, twitted by @timrue, something like this:
Abstract Physics exist - Google it. As a example, roman numerals might work harder to solve algebraic problems with than the Hinu-Arabic decimal system. Claiming that this is a real world problem and not abstract is what this is all about.