Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, February 4, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, February 4, 2017 


Newly released images showcase the incredible 
closeness with which NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, now 
in its “ring-grazing” orbits phase, is observing Saturn’s 
dazzling rings of icy debris.

 The views are some of the closest-ever images of 
the outer parts of the main rings, giving scientists 
an eagerly awaited opportunity to observe features 
with names like “straw” and “propellers.” Although 
Cassini saw these features earlier in the mission, the 
spacecraft’s current, special orbits are now providing 
opportunities to see them in greater detail. The new 
images resolve details as small as 0.3 mile, which is on 
the scale of Earth’s tallest buildings.

 Cassini is now about halfway through its 
penultimate mission phase—20 orbits that dive past 
the outer edge of the main ring system. The ring-
grazing orbits began last November and will continue 
until late April, when Cassini begins its grand finale. 
During the 22 finale orbits, Cassini will repeatedly 
plunge through the gap between the rings and Saturn. 
The first finale plunge is scheduled for April 26.

 For now, the veteran spacecraft is shooting past the 
outer edges of the rings every week, gathering some 
of its best images of the rings and moons. Already 
Cassini has sent back the closest-ever views of small 
moons Daphnis and Pandora.

 Some of the structures seen in recent Cassini 
images have not been visible at this level of detail since 
the spacecraft arrived at Saturn in mid-2004. At that 
time, fine details like straw and propellers—which 
are caused by clumping ring particles and small, 
embedded moonlets, respectively—had never been 
seen before. (Although propellers were present in 
Cassini’s arrival images, they were actually discovered 
in later analysis, the following year.)

 Cassini came a bit closer to the rings during its 
arrival at Saturn, but the quality of those arrival images 
was not as high as in the new views. Those precious 
few observations only looked out on the backlit side 
of the rings, and the team chose short exposure times 
to minimize smearing due to Cassini’s fast motion as 
it vaulted over the ring plane. This resulted in images 
that were scientifically stunning, but somewhat dark 
and noisy.

 In contrast, the close views Cassini has begun 
capturing in its ring-grazing orbits (and soon will 
capture in its Grand Finale phase) are taking in both 
the backlit and sunlit side of the rings. Instead of just 
one brief pass lasting a few hours, Cassini is making 
several dozen passes during these final months.

 “As the person who planned those initial orbit-
insertion ring images—which remained our most 
detailed views of the rings for the past 13 years—I am 
taken aback by how vastly improved are the details in 
this new collection,” said Cassini Imaging Team Lead 
Carolyn Porco, of Space Science Institute, Boulder, 
Colorado. “How fitting it is that we should go out with 
the best views of Saturn’s rings we’ve ever collected.”

 After nearly 13 years studying Saturn’s rings 
from orbit, the Cassini team has a deeper, richer 
understanding of what they’re seeing, but they still 
anticipate new surprises.

 “These close views represent the opening of an 
entirely new window onto Saturn’s rings, and over 
the next few months we look forward to even more 
exciting data as we train our cameras on other parts of 
the rings closer to the planet,” said Matthew Tiscareno, 
a Cassini scientist who studies Saturn’s rings at the 
SETI Institute, Mountain View, California. Tiscareno 
planned the new images for the camera team.


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@

Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




[Nyerges is the author of “Guide to Wild Foods and Useful plants,””Extreme Simplicity,” 
and about a dozen other books on ethno-botany, survival, and self-reliance. He can be 
reached at, or Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041.]

 A woman I know saw me trying to select chocolate at a store. “Chocolate?” she 
said to me. “Why are you looking for chocolate? I thought you only ate health foods. 
Chocolate is a junk food!” Was she right? Is chocolate a worthless food, something 
to be avoided?

 I made my first “authentic” chocolate drink by steeping the coarsely ground beans of the chocolate plant in 
warm water, adding a little honey. If historians are correct, this was the type of beverage -- called “xocoatl” -- 
that Cortez found Montezuma drinking. The whole beans were oily. Once ground and made into a beverage, 
the drink had the color of weak coffee. It had a pleasant bitter-chocolate flavor. To me, one cup seemed as 
stimulating as two to three cups of coffee. It was good!

 Montezuma believed chocolate to be a food of the gods, which was brought to the Aztecs by a healer or 
prophet who traveled over the waters, possibly Quetzalcoatl. To this day, chocolate is known to botanists as 
Theobroma, or “Food of the gods.” It was widely regarded as an aphrodisiac, a food that gave Montezuma the 
strength do deal with his many wives!

 Chocolate pods are produced on a smallish tree; they are about a foot long, and contain white beans. Once 
picked, these beans are allowed to ferment for a few days or longer, whereupon they take on their characteristic 
chocolate aroma and brown color. Once dried, the beans are then exported and typically processed with modern 
machinery. However, it is certainly possible to process your own, as it’s often done today in Mexico.

 During the normal manufacturing process, the beans are first “conched,” which means that heat and grinding 
pressure are applied to produce a thick liquid called chocolate liquor. When this chocolate liquor hardens, bitter 
-- or baker’s -- chocolate results. This is indeed bitter – and most people don’t care for it since it has no sweetness. 
When this baker’s chocolate is then subjected to great pressure, both a liquid and solid result. The liquid is cocoa 
butter, and the solid is cocoa. Cocoa butter added back to baker’s chocolate in greater amounts results in bitter-
sweet, semi-sweet, or sweet chocolate, three more grades or types of chocolate. The addition of milk creates milk 
chocolate. Sugar, vanilla, and various other ingredients are often also be added. 


[Source: Los Angeles Times science writer Usha Lee McFarling, Feb. 16, 2000]

 Certainly, chocolate is fattening if you consume a lot and are sedentary. A small 12 ounce candy bar typically 
contains about 220 calories.

 The raw bean does contain high amounts of theobromine and caffeine, but these oil-soluble stimulating 
alkaloids are largely lost during the processing. An average ounce of bittersweet chocolate contains from five to 
10 mg. of caffeine, compared with 100 to 150 mg. of caffeine in an average cup of coffee.

 Although it is commonly believed that eating chocolate causes an increase the incidence of acne, there is no 
scientific data to support this belief. 

 As for cavities, at least three separate research centers have revealed that the cocoa powder within chocolate 
contains a substance that actually inhibits cavities. 


 The culprit in this case is not chocolate, but sugar. Sugar is clearly is a cause of cavities. Milk chocolate, for 
example, contains 55% sugar by weight. And most often, chocolate is made with “white sugar,” which is the 
cocaine of the food industry. White sugar is a foodless “food.” In most cases, the worst thing about chocolate is 
that it contains so much white sugar. Most commercial chocolate products list white sugar (in any of its various 
guises) as the primary ingredient.

 One way to sidestep the detrimental effects of so much white sugar in chocolate is to make your own chocolate 
products by mixing cocoa (or bitter or baker’s chocolate) with honey, or other natural sweeteners. There are a 
few commercial chocolate bars which contain no white sugar, but these are not yet common, and cost up to three 
times as much as others with white sugar.


 Ninety percent of the cocoa bean is digestible, comprising 40% carbohydrates, 22% fat, and 18% protein. 
Chocolate contains substantial amounts of vitamins A, D, B2, as well as vitamin E and K, calcium, thiamine, 
riboflavin, iron, phosphorus, linoleic acids, and phenylethylamine. For a food that is often regarded as a junk 
food or pleasure food, it’s really pretty good for you!

 A study conducted at the Harvard School of Public Health indicated that people who eat from one to three 
chocolate bars a month live almost a year longer than those who do not eat chocolate. Hooray!


 Nothing smells better in the morning than a 
fresh pot of coffee in the kitchen. The Gracious 
Mistress of the Parsonage has it set so that at a 
certain time in the morning, the coffee begins 
brewing and we wake up to that wonderful 

 I love my coffee in the morning and nothing 
gets me on the road better.

 I did have a little glitch this past week. I had to 
go in for my yearly blood test. If you ever had your 
blood taken, you know you are not supposed to 
eat or drink anything after midnight in order for 
them to be able to take the correct blood sample. 
Even Count Dracula was not that demanding!

 I did not think about it until when I get up 
that morning, the coffee was brewing, the aroma 
filled the house and I was ready for my first cup of 
coffee of the day. Then my wife looked at me and 
said, “Don’t you have a blood test this morning?”

 My heart sank to the bottom of my feet. How 
can I begin the day without my morning cup of 

 When I went to the doctor’s office that morning 
I said to the nurse, “You are the bravest person I 

 She looked at me rather quizzically and I 
explained. “Not having my morning coffee 
makes me a raging grouch of a person.” And I 
meant it.

 She laughed and said, “That may be true, but I 
have the needle I’m going to stick in your arm.” 
With that, she laughed, but I did not return the 

 Upon leaving the doctor’s office, I went 
straight to McDonald’s for a cup of coffee. How 
I got there, I will never know. After several sips 
of coffee I seemed to settle down and become a 
rather decent sort of a person. Or, so I think.

 I am not quite sure where I learned to love 
coffee so much. Growing up, my parents drank 
coffee, but it was that terrible instant coffee. How 
anybody can drink that is beyond me. For the 
longest time that is what I thought coffee tasted 
like and I did not want anything to do with that.

 I distinctly remember the first time I had a real 
cup of coffee.

 I was helping my grandfather with some lawn 
work and about midmorning he looked at me 
and said, “Son, how old are you?”

 I thought it was a rather silly thing for my 
grandfather to ask, but I retorted with a cheerful 
“I’m 14, grandpa.”

 “That’s good,” he said to me smiling, “you’re 
old enough for some real coffee, let’s go inside.”

 That is when I was introduced to real coffee. To 
this day, I am not quite sure how he did it, but I 
know he put a lot of energy into his coffee. It was 
coffee perked on an old-fashioned wood stove in 
the kitchen.

 So, I owe my love of coffee to my grandfather 
who knew how to make real coffee and not that 
artificial instant coffee my parents made.

 Since that time, I have been enjoying coffee and 
perhaps, as my wife says, I have been enjoying it 
too much.

 Not long ago about the middle of the morning, 
she looked at me while I was drinking a cup of 
coffee and asked a strange question. “How much 
coffee have you had today?”

 For the life of me, I am not sure why she asked 
such a question, because nobody can have too 
much coffee.

 Not sure how to answer, I very carefully 
said, “This is the only cup of coffee I remember 
drinking today.”

 I find it wonderful getting old when you can 
blame everything on old age and forgetting 

 “I’m not so sure,” she said rather hesitatingly, 
“this is the third pot of coffee I made today.”

 After all, who counts how much coffee they 
drink. One cup is as good as another cup. I am 
not the kind of person that discriminates about 
anything, especially coffee. Of course, if it is 
instant coffee, then I will discriminate.

 “I think,” she said very seriously, “that you are 
a coffeeholic.”

 That rather stunned me because I had never 
heard that word before. I am somewhat of a 
wordsmith and enjoy words and phrases, but 
this word, Coffeeholic, I had never heard before. 
At first, I thought maybe she was making it up. 
Upon a little bit of research, there is such a word.

 She was not finished with her little coffee chat, 
“I think you are drinking too much coffee and 
should consider cutting back a little bit. Caffeine 
isn’t good for you.”

 I am not sure where all that came from, but 
I will “think” about what she just said. I do not 
plan to do anything about it, because I think she 
would not like to be around someone like me 
who has not had his coffee for the day.

 I have so many other things to think of, just 
like the apostle Paul said, “Finally, brethren, 
whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are 
honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever 
things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, 
whatsoever things are of good report; if there be 
any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on 
these things” (Philippians 4:8).

 This is what I am going to be thinking on, but 
not on cutting back on my coffee.


 Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God 
Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He 
lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him 
at 352-687-4240 or e-mail 
The church web site is

Serotonin A neurotransmitter which plays a role in regulating mood. Though found in chocolate, 
it’s found in much higher amounts in other carbohydrates.

Caffeine This stimulant is found in very small amounts in chocolate.

Theobromine Cocoa beans are about 2% theobromine, a central nervous system stimulator, which 
stimulates and dilates the blood vessels of the heart and brain, and dilates the bronchii 
of the lungs.

Phenylethlamine An amphetamine-like substance, also found in the brains of people “in love.” Though 
found in chocolate, it’s found in much higher amounts in meats, such as salami.

Polyphenols These antioxidants (also found in green tea and red wine) may prevent heart disease by 
preventing the clogging or arteries, and lowering cholesterol levels. 

Cannabinoids These chemical, which are the active ingredients in marijuana, are found in very small 
amounts in chocolate, and may influence the brain’s own production of painkilling 
compounds. By “very small amounts,” you’d have to eat about 22,000 pounds of 
chocolate to have any drug-like response.

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