Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, November 29, 2014

MVNews this week:  Page B:2



Mountain Views-News Saturday, November 29, 2014 


Scientists have produced a new version of what is 
perhaps NASAÕs best view of JupiterÕs ice-covered 
moon, Europa. The mosaic of color images was 
obtained in the late 1990s by NASAÕs Galileo 
spacecraft. This is the first time that NASA is 
publishing a version of the scene produced using 
modern image processing techniques.

 The image features many long, curving and 
linear fractures in the moonÕs bright ice shell. 
Scientists are eager to learn if the reddish-brown 
fractures, and other markings spattered across 
the surface, contain clues about the geological 
history of Europa and the chemistry of the global 
ocean that is thought to exist beneath the ice.

 In addition to the newly processed image, a new 
video ( details 
why this likely ocean world is a high priority for 
future exploration.

 Hidden beneath EuropaÕs icy surface is 
perhaps the most promising place in our solar 
system beyond Earth to look for present-day 
environments that are suitable for life. The 
Galileo mission found strong evidence that a 
subsurface ocean of salty water is in contact with 
a rocky seafloor. The cycling of material between 
the ocean and ice shell could potentially provide 
sources of chemical energy that could sustain 
simple life forms.



 New observations with ESOÕs Very Large 
Telescope (VLT) in Chile have revealed 
alignments over the largest structures ever 
discovered in the universe. A European research 
team has found that the rotation axes of the 
central supermassive black holes in a sample of 
quasars are parallel to each other over distances 
of billions of light-years. The team has also found 
that the rotation axes of these quasars tend to be 
aligned with the vast structures in the cosmic 
web in which they reside.

 Quasars are galaxies with very active 
supermassive black holes at their centers. These 
black holes are surrounded by spinning discs of 
extremely hot material that is often spewed out in 
long jets along their axes of rotation. Quasars can 
shine more brightly than all the stars in the rest of 
their host galaxies put together.

 A team led by Damien HutsemŽkers from the 
University of Li�ge in Belgium used the VLT to 
study 93 quasars that were known to form huge 
groupings spread over billions of light-years, seen 
at a time when the universe was about one-third 
of its current age.

 ÒThe first odd thing we noticed was that some 
of the quasarsÕ rotation axes were aligned with 
each otherÑdespite the fact that these quasars 
are separated by billions of light-years,Ó said 

 The team then went further and looked to see 
if the rotation axes were linked, not just to each 
other, but also to the structure of the universe on 
large scales at that time.

 When astronomers look at the distribution of 
galaxies on scales of billions of light-years they 
find that they are not evenly distributed. They 
form a cosmic web of filaments and clumps 
around huge voids where galaxies are scarce. This 
intriguing and beautiful arrangement of material 
is known as large-scale structure.

 The new VLT results indicate that the rotation 
axes of the quasars tend to be parallel to the large-
scale structures in which they find themselves. 
So, if the quasars are in a long filament then the 
spins of the central black holes will point along 
the filament. The researchers estimate that the 
probability that these alignments are simply the 
result of chance is less than 1%.

 You can contact Bob Eklund at:b.eklund@


Black Friday. 
When I was a 
child 50 years 
ago, we never 
heard that 
word. Oh, it 
was around, 
and it seems to 
have taken on 
a heightened 
life of its own 
in the decades 
that followed. 

I can recall 
that in my world as a child Ð which was the vastness 
of Pasadena Ð every store closed on Thanksgiving. 
The streets were quiet, and you knew everyone was 
home preparing a meal, or theyÕd driven away to 
some other town to visit relatives. But commerce 
ceased. You were pitied if you had no family, and 
you were looked down upon if you kept your 
business open. 

 ÒToo bad that guy has to actually work on 
Thanksgiving,Ó weÕd hear my father say. Most 
businesses were closed, and when my father realized 
that he had no working batteries for a camera or 
flashlight, heÕd send one of my older brothers on a 
mad dash to find a store, any store, that was open 
and sold batteries. There was no internet, and no 
easy way to figure out who was open and closed 
unless you spent an hour on the phone. Suddenly, 
it wasnÕt such a bad idea to have a store open. Of 
course, my father would be furious and heÕd blame 
it on someone else for forgetting to stock up on 
some batteries. Usually, my brother would be gone 
an hour or two, but somehow managed to come 
home with the needed batteries. 

 Still, there seemed something very special to 
demand of yourself that Thanksgiving be set aside 
for family, for remembrance, for breaking the spell 
and monotony of work only and working only for 
material goals. In the United States, that used to 
be Sunday where people took the day off. In some 
areas, Sunday is still to the week what Thanksgiving 
is to the year. For example, try finding an open store 
in Utah on Sunday. Oh, youÕll find one, but not until 
you do a bit of searching. 

 Our values determine who we are, and who we 
become. In this world, everything seems to drive 
only the materialistic instincts. Merchants cannot 
wait even a few extra hours to open their doors for 
the Black Friday specials, and we are encouraged to 
rush out the door and buy now before the next guy 
gets the discounted item offered to the first 50 folks 
who push their way into the door. 

 The mindset is rampant in our society. A natural 
hillside, and lush trees on a lot, are described as 
non-performing real estate. Relaxing on a Sunday is 
thought of as being lazy. Studying esoteric literature 
is regarded sometimes as impractical. We are fast 
becoming a nation of non-thinkers, and it is usually 
(but not always) when we break out of our routine 
and out of our comfortable box of thinking that we 
rise to who we really are as spiritual beings, and live 
lives which reflect some higher goal. 

 I want a low price and a deal just like the next guy, 
but I am not willing to do anything to get that deal. 
I regard Thanksgiving day as nearly sacred, the 
closest thing we have to national holy day where we 
attempt to ponder who we are, what we are, what we 
did right, what we did wrong, what we need to do 
next. To quickly eat a slice of turkey and then some 
cranberry, and rush out the door to fight the mobs 
to get a deal is nearly sacrilegious in my thinking. 

 I have both good and bad memories mixed 
into Thanksgiving. By my teens, our family 
Thanksgiving gatherings were crowded, loud, 
raucous events that started the night before and 
included the whole weekend. Yes, there was the 
prayer that my mother insisted upon, and there 
were moments of quiet reflection. My mother began 
forcing each of us to say what we were thankful for, 
and with close to 20 people in a room, that could 
take a while. But then, food and wine and beer was 
served, and the ÒconversationÓ was more like non-
stop yelling, while the TV played a football game in 
the next room at the highest possible volume. 

 No wonder I got to the point where I told my 
parents I would not be there on Thanksgiving. I 
didnÕt try to make them feel bad by giving them all 
my reasons, but I did come the next day with my 
wife and weÕd sit quietly and talk for awhile when 
the mob was gone. At first, my father called me a 
bad son for not showing up on Thanksgiving, but 
eventually he enjoyed the more thoughtful visits. 

 This year, I went to a local park with a small 
group and we together shared Native American 
skills that the east coast Indians would have taught 
the starving pilgrims of the Plymouth Rock colony. 
We taught about wild plants, and making fire, and 
weaving with natural fibres, and weaponry, and 
painting with natural minerals. Yes, we had some 
snacks, but it was not about food. 

 It has taken a long time to find what I consider a 
better way to commemorate this very special day. 
It was thoughtful and quiet and insightful while 
our small group learned and talked together. We 
shared the myths and the realities about the people 
at that Òfirst Thanksgiving,Ó and looked at how the 
Indians were thanked for their generosity. ThereÕs a 
lot buried just beneath the surface that is so relevant 
to each of us today that itÕs a shame more of us donÕt 
open our encyclopedias and explore these American 

 Like so much of American history, there are 
plenty of myths, and plenty of facts. And like so 
many of American holidays, commercial interests 
seems bent on convincing us that Òbuying stuffÓ is 
somehow synonymous with commemorating the 
special day.

 [Nyerges is the author of ÒHow to Survive 
Anywhere,Ó ÒExtreme Simplicity,Ó ÒSelf-Sufficient 
Home,Ó ÒGuide to Wild Foods and Useful Plants,Ó 
and other books. He conducts classes in practical 
self-reliance. He can be reached at School of Self-
Reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90401, or www.]