Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, May 13, 2017

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Mountain Views-News Saturday, May 13, 2017 


Sometimes a brown dwarf is actually a planet—
or planet-like anyway. A team led by Carnegie’s 
Jonathan Gagné, and including researchers from 
the Institute for Research on Exoplanets (iREx) 
at Université de Montréal, the American Museum 
of Natural History (AMNH), and University 
of California San Diego, discovered that what 
astronomers had previously thought was one of 
the closest brown dwarfs to our own Sun is in fact 
a planetary-mass object.

 Smaller than stars, but bigger than giant 
planets, brown dwarfs are too small to sustain the 
hydrogen fusion process that fuels stars and allows 
them to remain hot and bright for a long time. So 
after formation, brown dwarfs slowly cool down 
and contract over time. The contraction usually 
ends after a few hundred million years, although 
the cooling is continuous.

 “This means that the temperatures of brown 
dwarfs can range from as hot as stars to as cool 
as planets, depending on how old they are,” said 
the AMNH’s Jackie Faherty, a co-author on this 

 The team determined that a well-studied 
object known as SIMP J013656.5+093347, or 
SIMP0136 for short, is a planetary like member 
of a 200-million-year-old group of stars called 

 Groups of similarly aged stars moving together 
through space are considered prime regions to 
search for free-floating planetary like objects, 
because they provide the only means of age-
dating these cold and isolated worlds. Knowing 
the age, as well as the temperature, of a free-
floating object like this is necessary to determine 
its mass.

 Gagné and the research team were able to 
demonstrate that at about 13 times the mass of 
Jupiter, SIMP0136 is right at the boundary that 
separates brown dwarf-like properties, primarily 
the short-lived burning of deuterium in the 
object’s core, from planet-like properties.

 Free-floating planetary-mass objects are 
valuable because they are very similar to gas 
giant exoplanets that orbit around stars, like 
our own solar system’s Jupiter or Saturn, but 
it is comparatively much easier to study their 
atmospheres. Observing the atmospheres of 
exoplanets found within distant star systems 
is challenging, because dim light emitted by 
those orbiting exoplanets is overwhelmed by the 
brightness of their host stars, which blinds the 
instruments that astronomers use to characterize 
an exoplanet’s atmospheres.

 “The implication that the well-known 
SIMP0136 is actually more planet-like than 
we previously thought will help us to better 
understand the atmospheres of giant planets and 
how they evolve,” Gagné said.

 They may be easier to study in great detail, but 
these free-floating worlds are still extremely hard 
to discover unless scientists spend a lot of time 
observing them at the telescope, because they can 
be located anywhere in the sky and they are very 
hard to tell apart from brown dwarfs or very small 
stars. For this reason, researchers have confirmed 
only a handful of free-floating planetary like 
objects so far.

 Étienne Artigau, co-author and leader of 
the original SIMP0136 discovery, added: “This 
newest addition to the very select club of free-
floating planetary like objects is particularly 
remarkable, because we had already detected 
fast-evolving weather patterns on the surface of 
SIMP0136, back when we thought it was a brown 

 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@

An artist’s conception of SIMP J013656.5+093347, or SIMP0136 for short, which the research team determined is a planetary like member of a 200-million-year-
old group of stars called Carina-Near. Image is courtesy of NASA/JPL, slightly modified by Jonathan Gagné.


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder



Cream’s “We’re Going Wrong” invokes memories of survival.



[Nyerges is the author 
of “How to Survive 
Anywhere,” “Extreme 
Simplicities,” “Foraging 
California,” and other 
books. He can be reached at www.Schoolof Self-]

 Everyone from every culture has musical 
memories: a song that brings back the memory of 
a significant moment, the song you heard when 
you met your spouse, the song you heard while 
driving to the Grand Canyon that made you 
change the course of your life, the song you heard 
when your mother died, etc.

 And when we call a song “classic,” we mean that 
the song is so good that it captured and epitomized 
our very thinking and feeling at that time. Though 
there is always the intellectual question: Did that 
particular song really capture my feeling, or did I 
merely embrace that song to allow it to represent 
a particular time? The answer is that we’ll never 
really know, especially if you’re not a song-writer. 
For most of us, we simply know that the song 
embodies the memory of the time.

 For me, when I was trying to figure out the 
meaning of life, and more particularly my life 
during the mid-1960s to the early 1970s, music 
was a big part of my mental world. Sometimes 
the words and music inspired me. Musicians 
such as Bob Dylan, Traffic, the Doors, Cream, and 
the Chamber’s Brothers were much a part of the 
network of ideas that I wove together to create my 
inner reality and my outer plan of action.

 There was a feeling of change in the air, and the 
expectation of a new world, if we only were brave 
enough to make the inner and outer changes 

 My best friend Neil and I would talk about the 
world as we saw it, and the various particulars 
of what would happen as western civilization 
could no longer maintain itself, and how the 
vast infrastructure that so many depended upon 
would crumble all around us. Somehow, we felt 
that we were above it all, as if we were on top of 
Mount Olympus looking down objectively at 
the doings of mortal humans, wondering and 
picturing how the collapse would occur. We had 
no doubts that another fall of the Roman Empire 
was slowly unfolding all around us.

 We listened to the enigmatic words and 
mournful tune of “We’re Going Wrong” by 
Cream, and discussed the many layers of meaning 
that were not found in the words. Was it about 
someone personally going wrong, or was it about 
the fall of western civilization, and the very 
collapse of what some called “modern Babylon”? 
We didn’t know, but that song was a sort of 
anthem to us. We didn’t really know how grossly 
ignorant we were of the ways of the world, and the 
intricate network that kept churning out food for 
everyone’s table, and the profits that were earned 
all along the way. 

 We knew really very little, but that song by 
Cream was one of our inspirations to begin 
studying ethno-botany, and the rich botanical 
and earth knowledge that our ancestors 
somewhat took for granted in the pre-electrical 
and pre-computer days. We were short on 
details, but we felt that if we could just learn to 
feed ourselves – even just a little – from local 
resources, then we’d be on our way to becoming 
a part of the solution. We didn’t know how 
electricity was created, stored, or transported, 
but we felt that if we could provide some of our 
daily needs without the use of electricity, then 
we believed that we’d relieve an over-burdened 
system at least a little, and we’d be on the road to 
being part of a solution.

 We were just high school boys, interested in 
adventure, and girls, and wondering how we’d 
ever support ourselves. Even then, we knew that 
an increasing population stresses all resources, 
and we did our best to educate ourselves on how 
to live better by using less. 

 That was over 40 years ago. Life has continued, 
and for various reasons, some of the situations 
on earth have gotten better, but many have 
gotten worse. Neil and I knew back then, as we 
know today, that they who do not learn from the 
lessons of their past are doomed to repeat them, 
as we were told by philosopher George Santayana. 
(Some of our school mates insisted that was a 
quote by Carlos Santana!).

 We ruefully listened to the words of “We’re 
Going Wrong,” realizing that collectively we do 
not seem to learn from the past, because of our 
pride, our ego, or our belief that somehow we are 
better than all that, that we have overcome all 
that silly stuff from the past and therefore we are 
immune from the consequences of our actions. 

Neil and I never were soothsayers or psychics, but 
we knew that we could not go wrong if we pursued 
the best of the past, and the ways of our ancestors 
that were sustainable for millennia. 

I was waiting in line at the grocery store minding 
my own business, which is a full-time job these 
days. I have worked hard over the years to master 
this “minding my own business.” I have not been 
all that successful, but I still try.

 As I was standing in line I heard the woman 
behind me say, “Johnny, you can’t have your cake 
and eat it too.”

 I did not know the background story because 
I did not hear the whole conversation. When 
I heard that my mind took me back to those 
thrilling days of yesteryear when my parents, both 
of them addicted to this phrase, said to me, “You 
can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

 I cannot remember the reasons that this phrase 
kept popping up in my parents’ conversation. But 
I never could figure out what in the world they 
were talking about.

 Through the years, I have noticed people say 
things they have no idea what they are saying or 
what it even means. Sometimes people will say 
some odd phrase or a quote in order to bring the 
conversation to a standstill.

 My parents were not interested, particularly 
when we were out in public, for me to carry the 
conversation. Many times, they would shut me 
down so that I would not embarrass them.

 Also, I never could figure out why somebody 
on the stage would be encouraged to “break their 
leg.” It is not a rather mean thing to say to someone 
who is about to go out on stage and do some kind 
of performance? What mean person would hope 
that someone would break their leg in front of an 

 Someone said to me recently, “May the force be 
with you.” I knew the movie he was quoting from 
but I had no idea what he meant for me. What 
is the force he wanted to be with me? Moreover, 
what if I didn’t want that force to be with me?

 We often say things we do not understand or 
mean and I am as guilty as anybody else.

 When something tragic happens some religious 
minded person will say, particularly someone on 
television, “My thoughts and prayers are with 

 What in the world does that mean? What 
thoughts do they have, what prayers do they have, 
and how in the world can they transfer it to me? 
Usually the person saying this is someone who is 
not very religious.

 I do not know what came over me, but once 
somebody, I forget the situation, said, “My 
thoughts and prayers are with you.” For the life 
of me, I do not know what I was thinking about, 
but all of a sudden, I heard myself saying to that 
person, “Thanks but I don’t need your prayers.”

 Why I said that I don’t know, but I do know 
that the person that said it to me was about his 
religious is a dead cockroach. If you don’t pray on 
a regular basis, why do I want your prayers?

 But back to my days of youth. I cannot 
remember how many times my parents, both just 
as guilty as the other, said to me, “You can’t have 
your cake and eat it too.”

 I am still as confused today as I was then. If I 
have my cake, why in the world can’t I eat it? After 
all, it’s my cake. If it wasn’t my cake, I don’t think 
I would eat it.

 However, the most disturbing thing was 
whenever my parents told me that there was no 
cake in view. For example, the young boy standing 
in the line behind me had no cake on his mind 
when his mother told him that.

 Once when my parents said that to me, I said, 
“What cake?”

 My mother looked at me and said, “If you don’t 
know, I’m sure I can’t tell you.”

 Now I was really confused. She is talking about 
a cake but she cannot tell me what cake it is. Her 
assumption is that I know about the cake she is 
talking about when in fact, I have no idea about 
the cake she is talking about. I have no scruples 
about eating my cake, but I like to know where it 
is at.

 My father tried to explain to me one time by 
saying, “Once you eat the cake, it’s no longer 

 Where are parents trained to be parents? If I 
eat the cake, whose cake is it? In fact, if I do not 
eat the cake there is a danger that somebody else 
might eat my cake and I sure do not want that to 

 I think the most disturbing time in a person’s 
life is when they find themselves talking like their 
parents. I distinctly remember the time when my 
kids wanted to do something and I responded by 
saying, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”

Saying things that we do not quite understand 
often gets us into difficulty particularly with 
family. I wonder if the apostle Paul had this in mind 
when he writes, “Let no corrupt communication 
proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good 
to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace 
unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

 I must be careful that I am using words that 
encourage people rather than confuse them.

 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 jamessnyder2@att.
net. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.

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