Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, March 18, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 18, 2017 


An enormous young planet approximately 300 
light-years from Earth has given astrophysicists a 
rare glimpse into planetary evolution.

 The planet, known as HD 106906b, was 
discovered in 2014 by a team of scientists from the 
U.S., the Netherlands and Italy. It is 11 times the 
mass of Jupiter and is extremely young by celestial 
standards—not more than 13 million years old, 
compared with our own solar system’s age of 4.6 
billion years.

 “This is such a young star; we have a snapshot of 
a baby star that just formed its planetary system—a 
rare peek at the final stage of planet formation,” 
said Smadar Naoz, a UCLA assistant professor of 
physics and astronomy, and a co-author of the study. 
Another of the planet’s unusual characteristics 
is its great distance from its star. Astronomers 
believe that the vast majority of planets outside of 
our solar system exist inside a dusty disk of debris 
relatively close to the center of the star’s planetary 
system. But HD 106906b is far beyond its planetary 
system’s dusty disk—so far away that it takes 1,500 
years for the planet to orbit its star. HD 106906b is 
at least 650 times as far from its star as the Earth is 
from our Sun.

 The study’s lead author is Erika Nesvold, a 
postdoctoral fellow at the Carnegie Institution 
for Science, whom Naoz mentors. She wrote 
software called Superparticle-Method Algorithm 
for Collisions in Kuiper belts and debris disks, or 
SMACK, that allowed the researchers to create a 
model of the planet’s orbital path—a critical step 
because HD 106906b orbits so slowly that the 
researchers can barely see it move.

 The research, published online in the 
Astrophysical Journal Letters (http://iopscience., 
suggests that the planet formed outside the disk, 
where it is visible today, as opposed to having been 
formed inside the debris disk and then thrust far 
beyond it.

 Naoz said that conclusion helps explain the 
shape of the debris disk. “It works perfectly,” she 

 The planet’s orbit is elliptical; it gets much closer 
to the star on one side of its orbit than on the other. 
And its gravity produces an elliptical shape in the 
star’s debris disk as well. One side of the disk is 
closer to the star than the other side, and the dust 
on that side is warmer and glows brighter as a 

 The debris disk was photographed in 2016 by 
American and European astronomers. According 
to Naoz, the disk is an analog to our solar system’s 
Kuiper belt—an enormous cluster of small bodies 
like comets and minor planets located beyond 

 The researchers don’t know if there are additional 
planets inside the disk, but using Nesvold’s 
software—which is also being used to study other 
debris disks in the universe—they were able to re-
create the shape of the disk without adding another 
planet into the model, as some astronomers had 
thought would be required.

 Naoz’s research was funded by a research 
fellowship from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. 
Nesvold’s was supported by a Carnegie Department 
of Terrestrial Magnetism postdoctoral fellowship.


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder






Looking at the alarm clock by my 
bedside, it clearly read 2:37 a.m. 
The loud buzzing sound was not in my head after all. 
Who in the world could be calling me at this hour of 
the night?

 I grumbled to myself, sat straight up in bed and 
gasped. An emergency! Someone’s in the hospital! 
Someone has died!

 All kinds of such thoughts danced through my 
sluggish brain as I reached for the telephone.

 Pastors are on call 24/7 and never know when an 
emergency will summon to duty. It may be in the middle 
of the day, or in this case, in the middle of the night.

 Many telephone calls I’m not so anxious to get.

 Mr. Alexander Graham Bell has a lot of answering to 
do for this contraption of his.

 Among telephone calls I’m not too thrilled about are 
those infernal automatic political calls advising me to 
vote for some candidate – them in particular. Like most 
politicians, these calls never give me an opportunity to 
answer them.

 They unleash their spiel and then hang up, probably 
to go to the next phone number. What I want to know 
is, why don’t these aspiring politicians ever call me when 
they’re not running for some office? Why don’t they call 
me on my birthday and sing happy birthday to me?

 Why don’t they give me their home phone number so 
I can call them and give them a piece of my mind?

 I would like to get my hands on the person who taught 
these politicians how to dial phone numbers.

 Another category of phone calls I am not too 
enthralled with are telemarketers. I have a difficult time 
hanging up on people. As long as they want to talk I 
can’t, or I don’t have the heart to hang up on them.

 I know they are just people doing their job. I know 
much of what is sold via the telephone is excellent 
and useful, but I do not like anyone telling me what I 
should be buying, especially when I have just put on the 

 The only thing I have been able to do is take the 
conversation in hand from the very beginning. As soon 
as the person on the other end of the phone begins 
talking, I start engaging them in chitchat.

 I ask about their family, about the kind of day they are 
having and what they plan to do on the weekend. I ask 
for their home phone number so I can call them back.

 It has become a sport for me and I am anxious for the 
next phone call to come so I can tell them about my day 
and my plans for the weekend. After all, they called me, 
it is my turf.

 This telephone call at 2:37 a.m. was not from a 
politician or a telemarketer.

 When I answered the telephone, I heard a raspy voice 
on the other end say, “Is the reverend home? I need to 
ask him a question ‘bout the Bible.”

 By this time, every fiber of my being stood at attention, 
ready to serve. Someone needed me, which was all I had 
to know to fly full-speed into action.

 “Yes, this is the reverend” I responded, “how may I 
help you?”

 “I have a biblical question for ‘ya, and I need to know 
right away. It’s something that has been a-bothering me 
and I was a-wondering if you could help me?”

 “Sure,” I said, trying to figure out what the emergency 
could possibly be at 2:37 in the morning. What could be 
so important that a person could not wait a few more 
hours to call?

 “Well,” the man stammered and hiccupped. I began 
to be a little suspicious of the whole matter, “I just 
can’t believe that Jonah and the whale story. Do ‘ya 
really think it’s possible for a fish to swallow a man? 
And, how come that fish didn’t chew Jonah up before 

 The whole picture became clear at that moment. His 
problem was not with the whale swallowing Jonah, but 
with him swallowing a tank full of libations. His pick-
me-up at 2:37 in the morning got me down, if you know 
what I mean.

 I suppose that if you want to drink alcoholic 
beverages, I can’t stop you. Personally, I think it is the 
scourge of our country and has done more damage to 
our society than any other single thing. However, that is 
your decision, bad though it may be.

 I do not mind if you telephone me at 2:37 in the 
morning. I do not mind answering biblical questions. 
The truth is, I enjoy such employment whenever I can 
find it and I work rather cheap.

 What I do mind is, when you drink and then phone 
me at 2:37 in the morning from a local bar. I do not 
discuss biblical enquiries with someone tanked, 
regardless of the time of night or day.

 Call me crazy, call me quirky but please, do not call 
me drunk. Some people ask questions, not because they 
want information. They just want to waste someone’s 

 As a Christian, I have an obligation to give answers. 
The Bible says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your 
hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every 
man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you 
with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15 KJV)

 For the sincere inquirer there are answers. More 
importantly, there is hope – in Jesus Christ.


 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

[Christopher Nyerges is author 
of several books, such as Extreme 
Simplicity: Homesteading in 
the City (co-author), and How 
to Survive Anywhere. He has led wilderness expeditions 
since 1974. He can be reached at Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 
90041 or via]

 On the 17th of this month, we celebrate “Saint Patrick’s 
Day,” that day when people pinch each other if they’re not 
wearing green, when the local grocer starts selling little 
potted shamrocks, and where the local bars sell green beer. 
But what’s this really all about?

 First, a little wake-up call about “Saint Patrick.” Patrick 
was not Irish, had nothing to do with leprechauns, almost 
certainly was not a drunkard, and didn’t drive all the snakes 
out of Ireland. In fact, there were believed to be no native 
snakes in Ireland, though this story is generally regarded 
as an analogy for driving out the so-called “pagans,” or, at 
least, the pagan religions.

 Patrick was one of the “greats” of history who nearly 
single-handedly preserved the best of Western culture 
when much of Europe was devolving into chaos and ruin. 
He deserves far better than remembering him in the silly 
ways we do today, such as wearing green, pinching each 
other, and getting drunk. Rather, he deserves an accurate 
memory, and our emulation. Unfortunately, like all true 
Saviors of history, they are either killed off, or relegated to 
the closet of ridicule. 

 So who exactly was Saint Patrick? Will the real Saint 
Patrick please stand up?

 His real name was Maewyn Succat, born around 385 
A.D., somewhere in Scotland, or possibly somewhere else, 
as there is conflicting historical data on his exact date and 
place of birth. His baptismal name was Patricius. 

 Around age 16, he was sold into slavery in Ireland 
and worked for the next 6 years as a shepherd. Keep in 
mind that human slavery, as well as human sacrifice, was 
considered “normal” for those times.

 After his six years in slavery, he believed that an angel 
came to him in a dream, prompting him to escape and seek 
out his homeland. He actually walked about 200 miles to 
the coast, where his dream indicated a ship would also be 
waiting for him. He successfully escaped, found the ship he 
dreamed about, and spent the next twenty years of his life 
as a monk in Marmoutier Abbey. There he again received 
a celestial visitation, this time calling him to return to the 
land where he’d been enslaved, though now with a mission 
as a priest and converter.

 Patrick was called to Rome in 432, where Pope Celestine 
made Patrick a Bishop, and sent him off on his mission.

 Patrick returned to Ireland with 24 supporters and 
followers. They arrived in the winter of 432. In the spring, 
Patrick decided to confront the high King of Tara, the 
most powerful King in Ireland. Patrick knew that if he had 
the King’s support, he would be free to take his Christian 
message to the people of Ireland.

 Patrick and his followers were invited to Tara by the 
King of Laoghaire. It was there that he was said to have 
plucked a shamrock from the ground as he tried to explain 
to the Druids and the King that the shamrock had three 
leaves just like the idea of God’s three aspects, the Trinity: 
The Father, The Son and the Holy Ghost.

 Of course, triads and trinities were a common concept 
among the Druids. In fact, one could argue that the 
trinity (a term not found in the Bible) was a concept given 
to Christianity by the Druids, rather than the other way 
around. Nevertheless, whatever momentousness Patrick 
conveyed, King Laoghaire was very impressed with 
Patrick, and chose to accept Christianity. He also gave 
Patrick the freedom to spread Christianity throughout 

 When Patrick returned to Ireland, he treated the 
“pagans” with the respect implicit in his dream. Part of this 
respect was attempting to communicate with the Druids 
on their terms, which is why he used the shamrock as a 
teaching tool. He also blended the Christian cross with 
the circle to create what is now known as the Celtic cross. 
He used bonfires to celebrate Easter, a Holy Day that 
Christianity supplanted with the already-existing spring 
equinox commemoration. In fact, he incorporated many 
of the existing “old religion” symbols and beliefs into his 
Christian teachings.

 He spent his last 30 years in Ireland, baptizing the non-
Christian Irish, ordaining priests, and founding churches 
and monasteries. His persuasive powers must have been 
astounding, since Ireland fully converted to Christianity 
within 200 years and was the only country in Europe to 
Christianize peacefully. Patrick’s Christian conversion 
ended slavery, human sacrifice, and most intertribal 
warfare in Ireland.

 Patrick was also unique in that he equally valued the 
role of women in an age when the church ignored them. 
He always sided with the downtrodden and the excluded, 
whether they were slaves or the “pagan” Irish.

 According to Thomas Cahill, author of How the Irish 
Saved Civilization, Patrick’s influence extended far beyond 
his adopted land. Cahill’s book, which could just as well 
be titled How St. Patrick Saved Civilization, contends that 
Patrick’s conversion of Ireland allowed Western learning to 
survive the Dark Ages. Ireland pacified and churchified as 
the rest of Europe crumbled. Patrick’s monasteries copied 
and preserved classical texts. Later, Irish monks returned 
this knowledge to Europe by establishing monasteries in 
England, Germany, France, Switzerland, and Italy. When 
the lights went out all over Europe, a candle still burned in 
Ireland. That candle was lit by Patrick.

 Veneration of Patrick gradually assumed the status of 
a local cult. He was not simply remembered in Saul and 
Downpatrick, he was worshipped! Indeed, homage to 
Patrick as Ireland’s saint was apparent in the eight century 
AD. At this time Patrick’s status as a national apostle was 
made independently of Rome. He was claimed locally as a 
saint before the practice of canonization was introduced by 
the Vatican. The high regard in which the Irish have held St 
Patrick is evidenced by the salutation, still common today, 
of “May God, Mary, and Patrick bless you”.

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