Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, February 25, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, February 25, 2017 


NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has revealed the 
first known system of seven Earth-size planets 
around a single star. Three of these planets are 
located in the habitable zone, the area around the 
parent star where a rocky planet is most likely to 
have liquid water.

 The discovery sets a new record for greatest 
number of habitable-zone planets found around 
a single star outside our solar system. All of these 
seven planets could have liquid water—key to 
life as we know it—under the right atmospheric 

 “This discovery could be a significant piece in 
the puzzle of finding habitable environments, 
places that are conducive to life,” said Thomas 
Zurbuchen, associate administrator of the agency’s 
Science Mission Directorate in Washington. 
“Answering the question ‘are we alone’ is a top 
science priority and finding so many planets like 
these for the first time in the habitable zone is a 
remarkable step forward toward that goal.”

 At about 40 light-years (235 trillion miles) from 
Earth, the system of planets is relatively close to us, 
in the constellation Aquarius.

 Using Spitzer data, the team precisely measured 
the sizes of the seven planets and developed first 
estimates of the masses of six of them, allowing 
their density to be estimated.

 Based on their densities, all of the TRAPPIST-1 
planets are likely to be rocky. Further observations 
will not only help determine whether they are rich 
in water, but also possibly reveal whether any could 
have liquid water on their surfaces. The mass of the 
seventh and farthest exoplanet has not yet been 
estimated—scientists believe it could be an icy, 
“snowball-like” world, but further observations are 

 In contrast to our sun, the TRAPPIST-1 star—
classified as an ultra-cool dwarf—is so cool that 
liquid water could survive on planets orbiting 
very close to it, closer than is possible on planets 
in our solar system. All seven of the TRAPPIST-1 
planetary orbits are closer to their host star than 
Mercury is to our sun. The planets also are very 
close to each other. If you were standing on one 
of the planet’s surface, you could gaze up and 
potentially see geological features or clouds of 
neighboring worlds, which would sometimes 
appear larger than the moon in Earth’s sky.

 The planets may also be tidally locked to their 
star, which means the same side of the planet is 
always facing the star, therefore each side is either 
perpetual day or night. This could mean they have 
weather patterns totally unlike those on Earth, 
such as strong winds blowing from the day side to 
the night side, and extreme temperature changes.

 Spitzer, an infrared telescope that trails Earth 
as it orbits the sun, was well-suited for studying 
TRAPPIST-1 because the star glows brightest in 
infrared light, whose wavelengths are longer than 
the eye can see. In the fall of 2016, Spitzer observed 
TRAPPIST-1 nearly continuously for 500 hours. 
Spitzer is uniquely positioned in its orbit to 
observe enough transits of the planets in front of 
the host star to reveal the complex architecture of 
the system. Engineers optimized Spitzer’s ability to 
observe transiting planets during Spitzer’s “warm 
mission,” which began after the spacecraft’s coolant 
ran out (as planned) after the first five years of 

 “This is the most exciting result I have seen 
in the 14 years of Spitzer operations,” said Sean 
Carey, manager of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center 
at Caltech. 

 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




I remember my grandfather telling me that the older you get the faster time flies. 
Laughing at him at the time I thought it was another of his little stories he loved 

 Just the other day I caught myself telling one of my grandchildren, “The older you get the faster time 
flies.” Then it occurred to me. I am my grandfather. I am not sure how I got here, but here I am.

 It is hard keeping up with things, especially when time ticks by so fast. Just when you think you are 
all caught up, you realize you have to start it all over again.

 I was complaining about this the other day to the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Normally, I try 
not to do any complaining in her presence. She has the ability of turning my complaint upside down 
and confusing me to the extent that I have no idea what I am complaining about.

 In my complaint I said, “Where does time go?”

 “Where,” my wife said rather sarcastically, “do you want time to go?”

 I had to stop and think about that one. In fact, I am still trying to think about that one. To be rather 
honest, I do not know where I want time to go. The only thing I do know is, I do not want it to go by so 
fast. Why can’t time slow down just a little bit, especially as I get older.

 In my confused state of mind my wife said, “Would you do me a favor and go to the grocery store and 
pick up some items? I just don’t have enough time to do it myself.”

 Whenever my wife asked me to do her a “favor,” I believe there should be some kind of a recompense 
for my time. After all, my time is valuable, at least to me it is.

 So, I said, “Would you mind…” and my wife interrupted, “Yes, I would, just get what is on the list. I 
need it tonight.”

 Being of a husband mentality, all I really heard her say was “yes.”

 As I was headed out the door, I heard her say, “And hurry, I need that stuff for this evening.”

 I looked at the list and there were about 12 items she wanted me to get at the grocery store.

 Because time was of the essence, I tried to hurry us much as I could. In Pennsylvania we have an 
old saying that says, “The hurrier I go the behinder I get.” Believe me, much of my life has been in the 
behinder category.

 Before starting out, I glanced at the list to make sure I knew what she wanted. I got to the grocery 
store, parked my vehicle and then went in and got a shopping cart and started my journey of shopping. 
Which I really, really hate. Shopping is not a favorite thing of mine.

 Starting up the first aisle, I grabbed for the shopping list to see what my first item would be. I checked 
my shirt pocket, no shopping list. I searched all of my pockets and much to my chagrin, no shopping 

 I may have left it in my vehicle, but since time was of the essence, I did not have time to go back to 
try to look for it. I thought I could do everything from memory. After all, I do not use my memory that 
often so I should be in good standing.

 I threw about six items in the shopping cart and then looked at my watch. I was running out of time. 
Time goes so quickly when you are trying to remember something, especially your wife’s shopping list.

 Knowing there were around 12 items on the shopping list I sank into panic mode. What were those 
other six items? For the life of me, I could not remember.

 I did have an option I thought about. I could call my wife on my cell phone and ask her to text me 
the list. Then, I would be in trouble because I would not have enough time to call her and then get the 
items and get home in time.

 I tried to put in things I thought were on the list, but it was getting late. Time was running out.

 Then I did something I would later regret. Headed towards the checkout line, I passed the bakery 
where they had Apple fritters on sale. Without even stopping, because time was getting away from me, 
I grabbed two apple fritters and threw them in the shopping cart.

 Why I did that, who knows.

 When I brought all the items from the grocery store and put them on the kitchen table, my wife 
looked them over and informed me that I only got two items on her list. “Why didn’t you get the rest of 
the items?”

 All I could say was, “I’m sorry, time got away from me.” Believe me when I say, that will be the last 
time I use that excuse.

 I could not help but think of a verse of Scripture. “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every 
purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

 Everybody has the same amount of time; it’s how you use that time that really makes the difference. 
Time, as I have discovered, is no excuse for not getting something done.

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

[Nyerges is the author of “Extreme Simplicity,” “Self-Sufficient Home,” “How to 
Survive Anywhere,” and other books. He can be reached at www.SchoolofSelf- or Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041.

 My friend and I were checking out at a small grocery store. The clerk 
was on her cell phone, an obviously personal call, and yet she managed to 
check each item with mechanical efficiency. She smiled towards us, without actually looking at u 
s. She spoke the price, I handed her some bills, and she returned the correct change. The groceries 
were bagged and we walked away.

 I was a bit nonplussed, even though this scene has become way too normal. To speak on a cell 
phone to someone else while handling a paying customer is the antithesis of service. My friend 
told me I was making a big deal out of nothing.

 “Besides, I do that all the time at my office and home,” she smiled. “Multi-tasking.”

 “Really?” I responded. “So that’s your fancy word for doing two things at the same time and 
doing them both poorly?”

 “But that clerk didn’t do her job poorly, “ my friend protested. “You got the correct change, 

 “Yes, I got the correct change but that’s not the point. Let’s just say that if she were my employee, 
she’d get one warning and then I’d fire her.”

 “But that was a small store,” my friend said. “How do you know that she wasn’t the boss?”

 “I don’t know that,” I said, trying to explain why I felt that we’d just had less than an ideal 
interaction. Perhaps it was because the clerk’s mind was elsewhere, and that I believe you really 
cannot do two things 
simultaneously, and do 
them each well, which 
is why it is illegal to 
talk on a cell phone and 
drive. I asked my friend 
to explain what sort of 
“multi-tasking” she 
does at work.

 “You know, the 
usual,” she responded. 
She described a 
variety of tasks such 
as paperwork, letters, 
taking phone calls, 
reading e-mails. “If you 
don’t give a task your 
full attention, do you 
think the task suffers?” 
I asked.

 She thought about 
it. “Not really,” she 
said. “As long as I do an 
adequate job, there’s no 

 “But what if you are talking face-to-face to someone and you’re still typing or shuffling papers. 
Don’t you feel that the person will feel slighted?” I asked.

 “Well, I suppose it depends on the person,” she responded.

 I dropped the subject for fear that if I pushed my point further, a friend would soon be a former 

 I’m not a big fan of so-called “multi-tasking.” I think it’s a somewhat fraudulent, self-deceptive 
concept where you believe you’re doing more than you actually can do. It’s a belief that by moving 
a lot of stuff around, that your quantity is more important than quality. This is probably one of 
the reasons why the quality of goods and services has declined.

 In a similar vein, today there are many multi-purpose tools now on the market, such as a tool 
which promises to be a hammer, a screwdriver, a saw, a shovel, a can opener and pliers. Such tools 
do about 40 tasks poorly and none well. 

 I do believe that Swiss Army knives pack a lot of quality into a little package, though they cannot 
handle big jobs. The Leatherman tool is also generally a good combination tool because it is well 

 But as a rule of thumb, the more tasks a tool claims, the more poorly it performs. And, generally, 
as the price lowers, so does the performance and longevity of the tool. 

 In my world view, it is better to have just a few quality tools that a tool box full of cheap 
tools that mostly result in frustration. 

 My friend reminded me that the benefit of her “multi-tasking” is that she gets more 
done at a lower cost, more quickly. I had to think about what that means.

 Yes, true quality – in a service or in a product – takes more time and costs more. And 
because most of us want it now and want it cheap, we’ve created a frustrating world of 
low quality service and goods. Change will only come slowly, when enough of us realize 
that fast and cheap is just a quick thrill with no lasting satisfaction.

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