Thursday, January 31, 2008

Verification of DVD Observation

I read an interesting bit of information in today's Wall Street Journal on page B5. Walter Mossberg, the technical reviewer for the newspaper got a question in his Mossberg's Mailbox. A reader asked about what type of new high definition DVD player they should get.

He reported that Blu-Ray has appeared to won over the studios but that they should consider a upverting DVD player. A quote from the column, "I have found that... "upscaling" DVD players are effective at making most regular DVDs look better on high-definition TV sets. " He goes on to say that brand name players can be found for as low as $45.

So he does not exactly say that the picture produced is just about the same but the test I did they looked very close in quality to each other.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Dorms are being built on the Indiana University Southeast (IUS) toward the back of campus. Behind one of the administration buildings there are some large boulders they have piled up. They might be limestone but they contain different fossils. Here is the close up of one of the surfaces that contain a snail (right side of picture) and coral branch (left side of picture).

Here is a trilobite tail I found in a quarry in Jeffersonville while in geology class. It broke apart when I was cleaning it so I glued it back together. This must have been a large trilobite if this is just the tip of its tail.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Peaches in January?

Yikes! I messed up by leaving the peach tree in the sun room too long. I did not want it to freeze outside since it is still in a container but I left the temperature to warm in the room and now it thinks its spring. Here is a picture of its only blossom and the next picture shows some leaves coming out.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Rocks and Fossils

Here is piece of petrified wood my aunt and uncle have had for decades. I was fixing their computer last week and decided to take some pictures.

Here is some quartz from a large geode they have. It must have been around 7 inches (18 centimeters) in diameter.

Here is a picture of some crinoid heads in a display case at the Louisville Science Center. They are on the 2nd floor in the Discovery room.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Volunteering at the Louisville Science Center

Well, I have been volunteering at the Louisville Science Center for months now and last Friday was my first special events volunteer session. The special event was teacher's night and a lot of teachers seemed to show up. I only gave presentations to about 20 people which was sort of disappointing since I had different ways to show science and mathematics with the Roger's Connection product.

The later session only had 5 people show up so I built a this pyramid structure with every segment we had in the kit. It is a large pyramid made up of 14 five sided pyramids (pentahedrons) sitting on top of 4 four sided pyramids (tetrahedrons) and the top is a di-pyramid (hexahedron or bi-pyramid) balanced on the top. It was neat structure which I was trying to use to entice someone over to the table for me to explain some principles or get them to try and build something.

A teacher finally came over with her husband and two children. The kids did not want to try and build anything but the teacher put her hand on the structure and pressed down and about half of it collapsed. I had to take it apart anyway so that was fine and I had already taken this picture. Her kids started building stuff with the pieces afterwards so it all worked out.

Here is a icosahedron (20 sides) that I was rotating to take a picture of.

The camera is a little too close for a clear shot of this octahedron (8 sides).

Friday, January 25, 2008

More Telescope Images

More images from the telescope. The first is an open sky shot where there are no stars and lots of noise. The moon shots are nice with craters showing up in these images. It was too cold last night or this morning for me to go out and take pictures. The thermometer is showing 6.8 F or -14 C.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

BluRay vs Upvert DVD

Recently, I visited one of my friends who has a Playstation 3 that contains a Bluray player. We compared Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl normal DVD with the Bluray version. He has a 65" DLP Toshiba HDTV and the picture looked nice.

After comparing the same scenes for several minutes, I found it hard to tell the difference between the two movies. Maybe it was the DVD player since the PS3 costs $300+. I need to compare our $40 upvert DVD player with a PS3 and see if the upverting is different.

I did not measure the picture size of each so it is possible one is larger than the other. They seemed the same size but should have measured just to make sure.

So we decided to hold off on getting a HD DVD player until the price comes down on the players and movies.

After playing some more movies on our upvert DVD player, we found some that will pause briefly while showing the movie. It is like it is having a decoding issue or something. So I put the old DVD player back in place so we have a choice of playing the movie on either player.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Another Clear Night Thus More Pictures

It definitely helps to get the telescope, lens, filters, and camera at outside temperature. I let everything cool down for more than hour before taking any pictures and the images seem to look much better. I want to try using the blue and green filters next to see if the image changes.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

More Images From the Telescope

The telescope was not cold when the pictures were taken so I think the images shimmered.

Monday, January 21, 2008

More Moon Pictures From a Cold Winter Night

Very bright moon with the temperature at 12 degrees Fahrenheit. No wind this time so that was a plus. Tried to get the pictures as fast as possible so I did not try to get the images lighter like the moon.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Moon Pictures

The nice thing about winter is really clear skies appear and the moon, planet, and stars seem exceptionally clear. The BAD thing about winter is it is REALLY COLD OUTSIDE!!! So I go out about 6-7 PM and see the moon with the planet Mars practically right next to it in the sky. Wow, this is a great opportunity to move the telescope out to look at it. So I do and it looks great except the telescope is about 40 degrees warmer than outside air so the images seem to shimmer. I decide well I will go run some errands and leave the telescope in the garage to cool off. Before I do that I set up the tripod with a Kodak digital camera with 3x zoom and 4 mega pixels and take a the picture with the moon and planet Mars labeled below. The moon seems to have saturated the image. Next time I will try the auto setting with a timer to take the shot.

Early morning I take the telescope outside and it is 12 degrees Fahrenheit with some wind at times. I get had to get the image capture software installed earlier and that took a while. After getting outside the CCD camera shows a big white blurry image so it is getting saturated. It takes some time but I finally get the image below which almost looks like a negative of what I was looking at. If you look on this blog, I posted some pictures I took at one time and that was about the last time I used the camera and telescope together successfully. I tried a number of times after that to image planets but the moon is about all I seem to get an image of.
Tonight I tried to capture Mars since it was so close to the moon but no luck.
The cold finally drove me indoors and my feet are in front of the heater now trying to get warmed up.

The two large moon pictures have been processed out of about 10 to 50 images I captured. The camera captured two sets of moon images. One for about 15 seconds and the other for about 50 seconds. The first was too dark or out of focus to get any good pictures.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Snow Person

Here is a drawing I just did that I hope to incorporate into a birthday card.
Need figure out the lettering and I might do it color pencils.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

More Crinoids

Here is another crinoid (sea lily) that is narrower than the last one. I darkened yesterday's crinoid so the other arms would show up better.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sketch of some fossil creatures

I need to sketch every day to improve my skill in this department. One thing I decided to try to sketch are the creatures I find fossils of. The first image is my attempt at a sea lily. The scanner took some of the drawing away but it also showed that I need to darken parts of the stem to make them stand out more.
This second image is of a trilobite that was drawn on newsprint. This paper type explains the background color around the drawing. I was drawing as I envisioned after looking at part of a fossil I have in a rock. So the creature is far from being correct but I think it looks neat.