Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 26, 2014

MVNews this week:  Page B:2



Mountain Views-News Saturday, July 26, 2014 


In 2012, the Voyager mission team announced 
that the Voyager 1 spacecraft had passed into 
interstellar space, traveling farther from Earth 
than any other manmade object.

 But in the nearly two years since that historic 
announcement, and despite subsequent 
observations backing it up, uncertainty about 
whether Voyager 1 really crossed the threshold 
continues. There are some scientists who say that 
the spacecraft is still within the heliosphere—the 
region of space dominated by the Sun and its wind 
of energetic particles—and has not yet reached the 
space between the stars.

 Now, two Voyager team scientists have developed 
a test that they say could prove once and for all if 
Voyager 1 has crossed the boundary. The new test 
is outlined in a study accepted for publication in 
Geophysical Research Letters, a journal of the 
American Geophysical Union.

 The scientists predict that, in the next two years, 
Voyager 1 will cross the “current sheet”—the 
sprawling surface within the heliosphere where the 
polarity of the sun’s magnetic field changes from 
plus to minus. The spacecraft will detect a reversal 
in the magnetic field, proving that it is still within 
the heliosphere. But, if the magnetic field reversal 
doesn’t happen in the next year or two as expected, 
that is confirmation that Voyager 1 has already 
passed into interstellar space.

 George Gloeckler, a professor in atmospheric, 
oceanic and space sciences at the University of 
Michigan in Ann Arbor and lead author of the 
study, who has worked on the Voyager mission 
since 1972, has been a vocal opponent of the view 
that Voyager 1 has already entered interstellar 
space. He said that, although the spacecraft has 
observed many of the signs indicating it may have 
reached interstellar space (such as cosmic rays), 
Voyager 1 did not see a change in magnetic field 
that many were expecting.

 “This controversy will continue until it is resolved 
by measurements,” Gloeckler said.

 If the new prediction is right, “this will be the 
highlight of my life,” he said. “There is nothing 
more gratifying than when you have a vision or an 
idea and you make a prediction and it comes true.”

 The twin Voyager spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 
Voyager 2, were launched in 1977 to study Jupiter 
and Saturn. The mission has since been extended to 
explore the outermost limits of the Sun’s influence 
and beyond. Voyager 2, which also flew by Uranus 
and Neptune, is on its way to interstellar space.

 Alan Cummings, a senior research scientist 
at Caltech and a co-investigator on the Voyager 
mission, believes Voyager 1 has most likely 
crossed into interstellar space, but he said there is a 
possibility that Gloeckler and Fisk are right and the 
spacecraft is still in the heliosphere. He said that if 
Voyager 1 experiences a current sheet crossing like 
the one being proposed in the new study, it could 
also mean that the heliosphere is expanding and 
crossed the spacecraft again.

 “If the magnetic field had cooperated, I don’t 
think we’d be having this discussion,” Cummings 
said. “This is a puzzle.”

 Ed Stone of Caltech, who is NASA’s Voyager 
Project Scientist, added that “It is the nature of 
the scientific process that alternative theories are 
developed in order to account for new observations. 
This paper differs from other models of the solar 
wind and the heliosphere and is among the new 
models that the Voyager team will be studying as 
more data are acquired by Voyager.”

You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@

 At one time, 
life stretched out 
like eternity, like the 
last scene from “The 
Good, The Bad, The 
Ugly,” where you 
knew there were winners and losers and fools, and 
you hoped desperately that you’d be a winner. Well, 
at least a good guy. That’s the perspective of a child, 
seeing the world through simplistic eyes, black and 
white, good and bad, right and wrong. That’s good, 
really, but as Mark Twain once noted, there is enough 
good in the worst of us, and enough bad in the best 
of us, that we should quit pretending and start 
working together. At least Twain said something 
like that, and what he meant was that only in movies 
and childhood dreams do we ever get to see absolute 
clarity which doesn’t exist in the real world.

 In childhood, I assumed that the older bodies 
also contained minds that were more developed, 
and advanced, and therefore more objective and 
mature. I assumed that parents were the fair arbiters 
of disputes and that elected officials took those 
positions because they cared about the good of the 
people they represented. I believed in the Jimmy 
Stewart world of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” even though 
I never found it.

 I believed that there must be a sanctuary of sanity 
somewhere where people practiced lives of sanity 
and non-prejudice, and where fraud and cheating 
were unheard of. I lived on a farm for awhile right 
after high school, and I felt that perhaps there, in the 
rough existence where your work resulted in a very 
tangible result that supported your existence, it was 
hard to cheat and defraud, and the folks had pride 
in their skills, their sense of community, and their 

 Could the urbanization of the world be part of the 
culprit in our fall from grace? Perhaps. 

 But it’s still no excuse. Even if I never found 
Shangra-la on earth, I have not stopped believing 
in the principles by which such a place must exist. 
For example, you must keep your word. Yes, printed 
papers are OK for poor memories, and for those 
who are inclined to twist the words later to mean 
something else from the original intent. But when 
you twist your word, and bend your word, you bend 
your very soul, and you dis-integrate your very 
integrity. That’s why my father always said to keep 
your word, that a person is only as good as their 
word. Even in middle-class Pasadena, my father 
knew that there was an ineffable something about 
the giving and keeping of your word. In Shangri-la, 
you would always keep your word.

 In my vision of Paradise, there would be work, 
but the god that we all trusted wouldn’t be money. 
Money, or some version of it, seems inescapable 
for daily commerce and for converting your work 
and time into a medium of useful, recognizable 
exchange. But in Paradise, money would naturally 
be a tool to assist others to get their own enterprises 
going, and to provide for the common good. People 
would not be obsessed by money and would not be 
driven by the desire for money. Killing for money 
would be unheard of.

 Work must have a tangible result, within the 
framework of a goal. A person must naturally 
feel uplifted by doing one’s work, and when one 
knowingly works at a menial and pointless job to 
fulfill someone else’s desires and goals, it’s hard to 
feel uplifted. 

 Of course, bits and pieces of this Shangra-la exist 
right now, everywhere, 
in most people. I 
believe that everyone 
has an innate desire to 
find rightness, and even 
fairness, and everyone 
ultimately recognizes the 
objective reality of the 
Law of Thought, that what you think and what you 
do has ramifications that are scientific result of those 
specific thoughts and actions. 

 If you inwardly believe in the possibility of a 
Paradise on earth, you must start to grasp those 
principles of living and thinking that lead to Shangri-
La. And though you must do so personally, on your 
own, it is fortunate that there are others, if you can 
find them, who are also seeking a higher road. 

 Shangri-La is not a place that you find, but rather, 
a place that you earn the right to be a part of, by the 
evolution of your thought and actions. What does 
that mean? What must someone do? Again, the 
answers are everywhere, hidden in plain view. They 
go by such names as learning to think, separating 
feeling from emotions, distinguishing empathy 
from sympathy, learning to use words precisely, 
working hard to see world events objectively, and 
not subjectively based on your personal cultural 
bias. It means learning the practical value and living 
the precepts taught by all the great Way-showers of 
history, from all cultures. Ever heard of the Golden 
Rule? That’s a good place to start. How about the 
10 Commandments? Another good starting point.

 One winter night during high school, my friend 
Nathaniel and I bicycled into a little side canyon of 
the Angeles National Forest, and we made a safe 
little fire in our campground and talked about the 
meaning of life and how we thought that civilization 
might fail. It had never occurred to us that we 
are barely civilized now, and we only believe we 
are “civilized” because of our material wealth and 
technological toys. We bemoaned the fact that 
society is on the fast road to uncivil barbarousness, 
and wondered what could be done, and what should 
be done. 

 We always toyed with the idea of becoming 
hermits and hiding out in a cave somewhere, but 
both of us were way too social to live out our lives 
in a cave. By whatever choices we made, we felt that 
everyone should be a good example, and no one 
should assume that there is no hope for the future. 
Our civility, our culture, our sense of civilization, 
after all, is an internal concept that we first keep 
alive inside our thinking. Once that flame is bright 
within, it is proper to share with others, and attempt 


By Christoper Nyerges

Nyerges is the author of such books as “Self-Sufficient Home,” “Extreme Simplicity,” “How to Survive Anywhere,” 
and “Guide to Wild Foods.” He has been teaching self-reliance skills since 1974. He can be reached at Box 
41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or]