Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, September 4, 2010



 MountainViews-Observer Saturday, September 4, 2010 


“Essentially, the star is ringing like a bell…”

In a bid to unlock longstanding mysteries of the Sun, including 
the impacts on Earth of its 11-year cycle, an international team 
of scientists has successfully probed a distant star. By monitoring 
the star’s sound waves, the team has observed a magnetic cycle 

to the Sun’s sunspot cycle.

The study, conducted by scientists at the National Center for 
Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, and 
colleagues in France and Spain, was published last week as a 
“Brevia” in Science magazine.

The scientists studied a star known as HD 49933, which is located 
100 light-years from Earth in the constellation Monoceros, the 
Unicorn, just east of Orion. The team examined the star’s acoustic 
fluctuations, using a technique called “stellar seismology.” They 
detected the signature of “starspots,” areas of intense magnetic 
activity on the surface that are similar to sunspots. While scientists 
have previously observed these starspot cycles in other stars 
(in work pioneered at Mount Wilson’s 60-inch telescope), this 
was the first time they have discovered such a cycle using stellar 
seismology—a technique also pioneered at Mount Wilson, with the 
60-foot solar tower telescope.

“Essentially, the star is ringing like a bell,” says NCAR scientist 
Travis Metcalfe, a co-author of the new study. “As it moves through 
its starspot cycle, the tone and volume of the ringing changes in a 
very specific pattern, moving to higher tones with lower volume at 
the peak of its magnetic cycle.”

“We’ve discovered a magnetic activity cycle in this star, similar 
to what we see with the Sun,” says co-author and NCAR scientist 
Savita Mathur. “This technique of listening to the stars will allow us 
to examine potentially hundreds of stars.”

The team hopes to assess the potential for other stars in our galaxy 
to host planets, including some perhaps capable of sustaining life.

“Understanding the activity of stars harboring planets is necessary 
because magnetic conditions on the star’s surface could influence 
the habitable zone, where life could develop,” says CEA-Saclay 
scientist Rafael Garcia, the study’s lead author.

Studying many stars using stellar seismology could help scientists 
better understand how magnetic activity 
cycles can differ from star to star, as well as 
the processes behind such cycles. The work 
could especially shed light on the magnetic 
processes that go on within the Sun, furthering 
our understanding of its influence on Earth’s 
climate. It may also lead to better predictions 
of the solar cycle and resulting geomagnetic 
storms that can cause major disruption to 
power grids and communication networks.

The scientists examined 187 days of data 
captured by the international Convection 
Rotation and Planetary Transits (CoRoT) 
space mission. Launched on December 27, 
2006, CoRoT was developed and is operated 
by the French National Center for Space 
Studies (CNES) with contributions from 
Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and 
the European Space Agency. 

The study found that HD 49933 is much bigger 
and hotter than the Sun, and its magnetic cycle 
is much shorter. Whereas past surveys of stars 
have found cycles similar to the 11-year cycle 
of the Sun, this star has a cycle of less than a 
year. This short cycle is important to scientists 
because it may enable them to observe an 
entire cycle more quickly, thereby gleaning 
more information about magnetic patterns than if they could only 
observe part of a longer cycle.

For more information and visuals, see:

You can contact Bob Eklund at:

KATIE Tse ..........This and That


 Our daylight savings are almost spent and Labor Day is upon us. 
An aptly named holiday, it marks the end of the summer and the 
return to our labors. And for most people, it’s the last chance to 
throw a BBQ. 

 We’ve all heard that, following the 
discovery of fire, man’s next great 
innovation was to cook meat over 
an open flame. Animal protein is 
easier digested when it’s cooked 
versus raw, and somehow this 
nutritional boost helped further the 
development of our larger brains. BBQ is rooted deep within 
the human psyche. BBQ is primitive, instinctual, and tastes 
good. Now, of course, we know the inconvenient truth that 
charring food produces carcinogens, but that hasn’t put Burger 
King out of business. 

 There are basically two kinds of people –those who BBQ 
and those who merely eat BBQ. (Even my vegan mom eats 
barbequed portabellas, corn, peppers, etc. I think she’d throw 
lentils on the grill except they’d fall through). My dad is of the former category, so much 
so that he doesn’t let a little thing like the passing of Labor Day keep him from firing up the 
barbie. Some of my earliest memories are of standing with him out on the deck by his little 
battered Weber, watching the great clouds of pungent smoke billow over the roof. If he felt 
especially magnanimous, he’d let me hold the marinade pan between bastings.

 My husband, on the other, was born into the latter category and is trying to move over to 
the former. His was a very urban childhood without these early formative BBQ experiences. 
In an attempt to learn, he bought a large multi-function grill to use at his parents’ new house. 
(We can’t practice at home because we’re in a little second story apartment and would feel 
weird grilling in our carport.) He stores the iron giant in his parents’ garage and, due to 
its bulk, rarely uses it. He also thinks that hooking up the gas and waiting 30 minutes for 
it to heat up can only be rationalized if he’s going to make a lot of food at once. I mentally 
contrast this line of reasoning with images of my dad wheeling his little Weber under the 
overhang to avoid winter rains.

 Maybe my husband and I will bring something tame and manageable, like macaroni salad, 
to our friends’ Labor Day BBQ. Needless to say, we won’t be hosting one this year, but, if you 
are, then I wish you happy grilling! 

RICH Johnson


My column last week 
“To Mosque or Not to 
Mosque” earned me a 
two finger salute (you 
guess which fingers) from 
a rather intolerant soul. 
What was fascinating was 
I was trying to agree with 
him. Well, that’s what happens when one 
ventures out into the public. Fortunately it 
happens rarely (a swift thank you to all who 
encourage me in more positive ways.)

So how about some ponderable statements 
to lighten the load?

I don’t suffer from insanity; I enjoy every 
minute of it.

Consciousness: That annoying time between 

Ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

A hangover is the wrath of grapes.

How do you fold fitted sheets?

Do you think the freezer deserves a light 

Was learning cursive (writing) really 

Why can’t there be a sarcasm font?

And Map Quest needs to start their directions 
on step #5. I’m pretty sure we all know how 
to get out of our own neighborhood.

 I need to promote three of my favorite 
causes. Local singer/songwriter Jane Fuller 
is hosting an “Open Mic…for kids” night 
at Café 322 
on Saturday night, September 11. Showtime 
6:00 pm to 7:30 pm. Kids 17 and under are 
invited to get up on stage and sing a song or 
play an instrument. Let’s come support this 
unique opportunity for our kids and enjoy 
a great meal. Bring a young one if you have 
one. Jane will also be performing after the 
Open Mic event.

Quick, think back to a magic experience 
from your young years that is forever etched 
in your memory. June Chandler is building 
those lifelong memories in our young kids 
at her Fairy Tale Theatre series. The plays 
are interactive involving the kids in the play 
itself. And the kids can interact with the 

actors after the play. 

Finally, my friend Oscar, proprietor of 
Fresco’s Family Restaurant in the Albertson’s 
shopping center on Michillinda is offering 
great lunch combos at very special prices. 
$6.95 buys you a simple hamburger and fries, 
taco salad, ••• a turkey avocado sandwich 
with soup or salad, or a cheese enchilada 
(with rice and beans.) They all include a soft 

$7.95 buys you a carnitas burrito, country 
style jumbo hot dog, reuben sandwich with 
fries, chicken pasta, or a chicken tostada, 
again with a soft drink included. And $9.95 
buys you pepperoni pizza for 2 with 2 soft 
drinks included. This is Monday through 
Friday from 11:00 to 2:00)

Have a good week! (Yes, you too Mr. 


June Chandler and a terrific cast of actors have spent the summer 
creating lifelong memories in the hearts of hundreds of children.

The Sierra Madre Playhouse has played 
host to Ms. Chandler’s Fairy Tale Theater 
offering up a series of four classic fairy 
tales including “Dorothy and the Wizard 
of Oz,” “Treasure Island,” “Sleeping 
Beauty,” and “The Frog Prince.”

Each of the plays has been uniquely 
written and produced inviting interaction 
between the cast and the children. The 
characters routinely move through the 
audience seeking help, advice, and yes 
even more from the kids, like hiding 
Dorothy from the Wicked Witch!

A steady parade of princes and princesses, 
wizards, pirates, ghosts, frogs, dogs, kings 
and queens enchant our young audience 
each week. What’s more the entire cast 
will meet and greet audience members 
after each performance. What a perfect opportunity for kids to have a photo taken with their favorite 

If your kids, or kids you know have not 
experienced these plays there is still 
time. Showtimes are Saturdays at 11:00 
and 2:00. Performances are 45 minutes 

The Frog Prince hops on stage on 
September 11 at 11:00 and 2:00.

Treasure Island sails on stage 
September 18 at 2:00 only.

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz takes 
the stage on September 25 at 2:00 only.

Tickets: $18, children under 12: $12.

Credit Card sales:

Phone: (626) 355-4318

The Sierra Madre Playhouse is located 
at 87 West Sierra Madre Blvd. Sierra 
Madre, CA, 91024

Chamber Business Workshop to Focus on 
Facebook for Your Business

 The Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce will hold a “Facebook 
101 Workshop” featuring tricks and tips on how to use Facebook as 
a marketing tool for your business. 

The workshop, facilitated by HUTDogs, will take place at The Shabby 
Dog, 31 E. Montecito Ave. in Sierra Madre, from 8:30 to 10:30am on 
Wednesday, September 15th. Cost of the workshop is $10/Chamber 
members and $15/non-members. 

Attendees are encouraged to bring their laptops and follow along. 
There is very limited seating, so reserve your spot today by visiting and clicking on the link to “Workshops.”

MVNews this week:  Page 12