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September 9, 2020

What goes surround comes around


A couple readers weighed in on last week's post about how hard it is for me to make out dialogue in contemporary movies.

Both have tricked-out (to me, anyway) sound setups like 5.1 or 5.4.4 installed.

Perhaps doing so here at boj HQ©® might alleviate my difficulty but it's not gonna happen.

When I bought my Pioneer Elite Kuro 50" plasma display back in 2007, it came with two formidable speakers (above; the wide horizontal black objects at the base of the TV and to its right), which I thought produced great sound.

Since that time, I've spent way too much money "enhancing" my audio: I hired a consultant to do all sorts of room measurements and analysis; bought the fancy-shmancy things he said I needed for 5.1 and installed them; switched to increasingly more powerful sound bars when the 5.1 system proved twitchy and unreliable; and finally consigned the sound bars to the attic along with all the 5.1 gear and returned to the TV's original speakers, which sound fantastic to me today.

The reason I'm still using a 2007 1080p TV in 2020, when plasmas are extinct and OLED 4K rules, is that the picture quality on my ancient screen is better than anything else I've ever seen.

It's as breathtaking today as it was in 2007, with close-ups that seem to jump out of the screen and many times, especially watching sports, a near 3D effect.

September 9, 2020 at 04:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (4)


You can't judge a book by its cover nor can you judge a movie by its title.

Yes — the harmonium does play a part in this wonderful, subtle, quiet, and repeatedly surprising 2016 film, on Amazon Prime.

Fantastic actors.

September 9, 2020 at 02:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Standard eBooks — "Free and liberated eBooks, carefully produced for the true book lover"


They're playing my song.

Commented reader MacNCheese:

Screen Shot 2020-09-08 at 10.19.22 AM

A limit of five downloads a day strikes me as more of a feature than a bug.

"Ulysses" all by itself will sort you out in a Podunkville minute — take it from me, still engaged in an all-out battle to the finish with this formidable text.

[via MacNCheese]

September 9, 2020 at 12:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Highest Resolution Photos Ever Taken of the Sun


[A sunspot observed in high resolution by the GREGOR telescope at the wavelength 430 nm.]

From the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics:

The Sun is our star and has a profound influence on our planet, life, and civilization.

By studying the magnetism on the Sun, we can understand its influence on Earth and minimize damage of satellites and technological infrastructure.

The GREGOR telescope allows scientists to resolve details as small as 50 km on the Sun, which is a tiny fraction of the solar diameter of 1.4 million km.

This is as if one saw a needle on a soccer field perfectly sharp from a distance of one kilometer.


[Europe's largest solar telescope GREGOR reveals intricate structures of solar magnetic fields in very high resolution. The image was taken at the wavelength of 516 nm.]

"This was a very exciting, but also extremely challenging project. In only one year we completely redesigned the optics, mechanics, and electronics to achieve the best possible image quality," said Dr. Lucia Kleint, who led the project and the German solar telescopes on Tenerife.


[Left: The GREGOR telescope on Tenerife, Spain. Right: The newly redesigned optical laboratory of GREGOR.]

A major technical breakthrough was achieved by the project team in March this year, during the lockdown, when they were stranded at the observatory and set up the optical laboratory from the ground up.

Unfortunately, snow storms prevented solar observations.

When Spain reopened in July, the team immediately flew back and obtained the highest resolution images of the Sun ever taken by a European telescope.

Prof. Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina, professor at the Albert-Ludwig University of Freiburg and Director of the Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS), is very happy about the outstanding results: "The project was rather risky because such telescope upgrades usually take years, but the great team work and meticulous planning have led to this success. Now we have a powerful instrument to solve puzzles on the Sun."

The new optics of the telescope will allow scientists to study magnetic fields, convection, turbulence, solar eruptions, and sunspots in great detail.

First light images obtained in July 2020 reveal astonishing details of sunspot evolution and intricate structures in solar plasma. 

Telescope optics are very complex systems of mirrors, lenses, glass cubes, filters, and further optical elements.

If only one element is not perfect, for example due to fabrication issues, the performance of the whole system suffers.

This is similar to wearing glasses with the wrong prescription, resulting in a blurry vision.

Unlike for glasses, it is however very challenging to detect which elements in a telescope may be causing issues.

The GREGOR team found several of those issues and calculated optics models to solve them.

For example, astigmatism is one of such optical problems, which affects 30-60% people’s vision, but also complex telescopes.

At GREGOR this was corrected by replacing two elements with so-called off-axis parabolic mirrors, which had to be polished to 6 nm precision, about 1/10000 of the diameter of a hair.

Combined with several further enhancements the redesign led to the sharp vision of the telescope.

European researchers have access to observations with the GREGOR telescope through national programs and a program funded by the European commission.

New scientific observations are starting in September 2020.

Albert-Ludwig University Freiburg, founded in 1457, offers undergraduate and graduate studies in all important disciplines today.

The Leibniz Institute for Solar Physics (KIS) located in Freiburg is a public foundation and a member of the Leibniz Association.

It carries out fundamental research on the Sun and other stars.

Original Publication:

GREGOR: Optics redesign and updates from 2018-20

L. Kleint, T. Berkefeld, M. Esteves, T. Sonner, R. Volkmer, K. Gerber, F. Krämer, O. Grassin, and S. Berdyugina, Astronomy & Astrophysics, in press

September 9, 2020 at 10:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

Camera Pencil Sharpener

Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 1.51.57 PM

From the website:

Make your pencil as sharp as your photos with this nifty desktop pencil sharpener in the shape of an antique twin lens reflex camera. 

A solid, smart, and practical tool which features an adjustable sharpener and a removable tray.

Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 1.51.38 PM

Features and Details:

• 4.5" x 3.9" x 2.8"

• Supplied boxed

• Metal, plastic

Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 1.52.05 PM

$21.13 (pencil not included).

September 9, 2020 at 08:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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