EPSON XP-820 Sheet Feed is AWESOME

I am finishing up the last few sheets of paper that I am scanning.   I decided to digitize the approximately 1 foot tall stack of notes and printouts with notes I have accumulated over the years.  I do not actively work with them anymore.

These documents were anything but pristine paper.  They had been stapled, unstapled, re-stapled.  They had dog ears.  They had creases that had started to separate.   They had torn leading edges.

The EPSON XP-820 just processed them flawlessly.  In one case I did have a single sheet jam and I butchered it extracting it.  So I just photocopied it on the printer and scanned the copy.  In all other cases it behaved beyond belief.  I fully expected nothing but problems scanning this stuff.  I am simply amazed at how good a job the engineers did with the paper handling system on this scanner/printer.

Surprisingly The Best Android Tablet Stand

I have discovered, quite by accident, that the best stand for a 10″ Samsung tablet is a cheap folding picture stand like the one pictured above.   It holds the tablet far enough above the surface of the desk so that you have enough clearance to attach a USB charging cable.   It holds the tablet at an angle suitable for viewing.  It can accommodate landscape and portrait.  Most importantly I can leave the tablet in my usb keyboard case, simply folding that out of the way.

I’ve never seen this marketed for a tablet stand, but I can say it works remarkably well.  Better than any other solution, and I’ve tried several.

Why Planets Have Which Atmospheric Gases

The image associated with this post is a slide taken from a MOOC called BUx: ASTR105x Alien Worlds: The Science of Exoplanet Discovery and Characterization offered at EdX. What it shows is the speed of various gas molecules at various temperatures. These are shown at lines showing the speed the molecules move at those temperatures. Notice that heavier gases move slower at a given temperature but all increase at a similar rate as temperature increases. Also plotted on the chart are various solar system objects at their temperature and on their escape velocity. A planet will hold all the molecules which are moving slower than the escape velocity of the planet at the planets temperature for as long as the solar system exists. Gasses above that will eventually drift away.

I just found this graph to interesting to pass up.

Cosmic Coathanger

The asterism called “The Coathanger” is a fun thing to find with binoculars at night.   I’ve looked at it more than once.   I’ve never seen it so beautiful though as here.  The colors are stunning.  This was displayed over at APOD on August 26th.

China Expectations Versus Reality

The recent, as in last 5 days of market losses around the globe ended with a strong rally today.   The losses yesterday were slight indicating a bottom, even if only temporary, was nearing.  The panic selling was over.

From the news I have digested over the last several months what is happening is projections are being revised to meet reality and this has popped the bubble.   The claims by China that its growth had slowed to a mere 7% didn’t ring true.   The claim that the party could manage its way to eternal growth is being refuted.

Is China really in an economic meltdown ?   I don’t think so yet.   There is a potential for that.  But most of the collapse in market pricing is all built on a deepening acceptance that the growth projections are not sound.   China growth may very well be flat, it may even be in a recession who can say.   But the drop of several percentage points of expected growth will definitely ignite panic selling.  Worse if people have serious doubts about the validity of the data they are getting.   This is reminiscent of the problems we faced in the US when we found some rather large companies, auditors and others were in collusion to produce false data on a large scale.

For now I don’t think China is a “giant sucking sound” to use the cliche coined by Ross Perot.  I think rather we are just adjusting our expectations to the new reality.

…I know I’m one…

There really are cellular level fossils… cool !

Rhynia gwynnevaughanii, transverse section of a stem with diameter 1.3 mm. Rhynie (Scotland). Lower Devonian (408 million year).
Rhynia gwynnevaughanii, transverse section of a stem with diameter 1.3 mm.  Rhynie (Scotland).
Lower Devonian (408 million year).

I recently read an article in National Geographic about the discovery of 50 Million Year Old fossilized worm sperm.   I’ve seen other items about cells that have been individually fossilized.   I simply found the idea incredulous.  I questioned if minerals and rocks really could preserve that level of detail.   Today I decided to google a bit and see what kind of stuff was being claimed as found.

There are a number of fossilized plant stems which have been cross sectioned.   The one here in this is just one example.   Rhynia gwynnevaughanii and it pretty well lays to rest any questions one might have.   The cellular structure is so clearly visible it is amazing.  It looks like those initial slides you look at when you get your first microscope

Whats Up In Chinese Stock Markets ?

If you watch the global stock markets you know that China lately moves on its own a lot.   The press has stories about the falling markets in China.   In a nutshell the problem in China is the stock market became completely unhinged from fundamentals.   Despite falling almost 25% in the last month the Shangai SE Composite is still up 77% over the last 12 months.

If you step back you will see the obvious fallacy that anything in the Chinese economy warranted a near doubling of the market cap over a 12 month period.   The crash now is simply the beginning of a return to mean or a return to reality.  An investor dollar cost averaging through this will be fine.  Its not the end of the world.  The reason for a stock price rise on the order we see over the last year in China is typically due to leveraged speculation and lots of money to borrow to buy stocks with.

What is unprecedented is that government banks in China are pouring money into certain “blue chip” companies stocks, buying them with abandon.  The theory being offered is this will instill confidence in the market again.  It won’t.  Reality and current stock prices are still to far apart.  What it will do however is allow some people, in favored companies, to unload billions of dollars of stocks now before they fall any further.  The Chinese banks will wind up holding the losses instead of whoever currently owns those stocks.  Non favored stock owners are still in for a bath.

4.4 Billion Year Old Oceans ?!?!?!

Reading about meteorites I began to look into the high water content of carbonaceous chondrites.   It is alleged these can reach 22% water.   This eventually led me to discover the Jack Hill Zircon.   These little rocks have apparently been causing a ruckus for a while now.   It caused NASA to allow the following words to be uttered ….

Since then, however, scientists have found zircons that date to almost 4.4 billion years ago.

Among the first important discoveries, says Watson, came out in 2001. Analysis of the relative amounts of different isotopes of oxygen indicated that the ratio was skewed toward “heavy” oxygen-18, as opposed to the more common “light” oxygen-16. “When a geologist sees a heavy oxygen signature in rocks,” said Watson, “it’s commonly understood to be a sign that the rocks formed in cool, wet, sedimentary processes at the Earth’s surface.” Thus, the magma that eventually gave rise to the zircons might have been formed from what had once been sediments deposited on the floor of an ancient ocean.2006 NASA Earth Observatory

Now I am still trying to get my head around that last sentence given everything I’ve been taught about the formation of the earth from a scientific view.   Really the number of ways that causes mischief are hard to fully discern initially.

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