Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, October 21, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11

Mountain Views-News Saturday, October 21, 2017 11THE WORLD AROUND US 
Mountain Views-News Saturday, October 21, 2017 11THE WORLD AROUND US 
On August 17, a team of four Carnegie Institutionfor Science astronomers provided the first-everglimpse of two neutron stars colliding, opening thedoor to a new era of astronomy.
Along with colleagues from UC Santa Cruz, theteam used the Swope telescope at Las CampanasObservatory in Chile to discover the lightproduced by the merger, pinpointing the origin ofa gravitational wave signal less than 11 hours after itwas detected. They also obtained the earliest spectraof the collision, which may allow them to explainhow many of the universe’s heavy elements werecreated—a decades-old question for astrophysicists.
Their discovery, named Swope Supernova Survey2017a (or SSS17a), is published in a quartet ofScience papers [].
Neutron stars are the incredibly dense remnantsleft behind after supernova explosions. Theoreticalastrophysicists have speculated for years about whathappens when two of them merge, but until nowthe phenomenon had never been witnessed.
“They are as close as you can get to a black holewithout actually being a black hole,” explainedCarnegie’s Tony Piro, the Carnegie team’s leader.
“Just one teaspoon of a neutron star weighs as muchas all the people on Earth combined,” he added.
Carnegie’s scientists were alerted to the eventby the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave 
Observatory (LIGO), which detects gravitationalwaves, ripples in space-time, caused by distantcosmic events. In February of last year, theLIGO project announced the first detection ofgravitational waves caused by two black holes 
merging—a discovery that was awarded the NobelPrize in Physics earlier this month.
While the LIGO black hole discovery markedan important milestone, black hole mergers do notemit light and are therefore invisible to telescopes.
Neutron star mergers, however, have long beenexpected to produce both light and gravitationalwaves, so the detection of these events was eagerlyanticipated.

“The ability to study the same event with bothgravitational waves and light is a real revolutionin astronomy,” Piro said. “We can now study theuniverse with two completely different probes,
which teach us things we could never know withonly one or the other.” 



Is it possible to observe a pre-commercialized version? 

[Nyerges is the author of severalSeasonal foods such as apples and nuts were often used in

books including “How to Survivethe Samhain rituals. Apples were peeled, the peel tossed over

Anywhere,” “Extreme Simplicity,” the shoulder, and its shape examined to see if it formed the

and “Foraging California.” first letter of the future spouse’s name. Nuts were roasted on 

Information about his books the hearth and then interpreted – if the nuts stayed together,

and classes is available at www. so would the couple. Egg whites were dropped in water,]the shapes foretold the number of future children. Children

Recently, a few associates and I were discussing the strangewould also chase crows and divine some of these things fromcustoms of Hallowe’en. Why has it devolved into a day of funthe number of birds or the direction they flew. 
and fear, we wondered? We wondered how this once- HolyDay was commemorated before it was all commercializedCOSTUMES 
into a scary night. Is it possible to discover the roots of thisCelts would wear masks when they left their homes duringday, and observe it in its original fashion today? the night hours during Samhain days, because they hoped

We determined that we’d need to dig up whatever historicalthey would avoid being recognized by the ghosts and befacts we could find that show how this day was commemoratedmistaken merely for fellow ghosts.
before 1700, more or less. Though we couldn’t be 100%“Mumming” and “Guising” were a part of Samhain fromcertain, we at least assumed that “commercialization” didn’t at least the 16th century and was recorded in parts of Ireland,
really exist in 1700, and all the European and some AmericanScotland, Mann and Wales. It involved people going fromcommemorations before that year probably retained somehouse to house in costume (or in disguise), usually recitingsemblance of what the day was all about, originally.songs or verses in exchange for food. It is suggested that it

So, first, let’s begin with the day.evolved from a tradition whereby people impersonated the

It is believed that the ancient Celts observed somethingaos sí, or the souls of the dead, and received offerings on theircalled a “Samhain festival” towards the end of October. Saysbehalf. Impersonating these spirits or souls was also believedthe World Book Encyclopedia. “The Celts believed thatto protect oneself from them. One researcher suggests thatthe dead could walk among the living at this time. Duringthe ancient festival included people in masks or costumesSamhain, the living could visit with the dead. Elements of therepresenting these spirits, and that the modern custom camecustoms can be traced to a Druid ceremony in pre-Christianfrom this. 
times. The Celts had festivals for two major gods—a sun godand a god of the dead (called Samhain), whose festival wasPARADES 
held on November 1, the beginning of the Celtic New Year.Pagan Celtic priestesses and their followers would roam theThis day, or period, was to mark the end of the harvest and thecountryside, chanting songs in order to frighten away the evilbeginning of winter.spirits thought to be out on Halloween night. I wonder how 

Samhain (pronounced “sow-in,” which means “summer’sthat could be practiced in your neighborhood? 
end,” or the name of a god, or both) is seen by some Wiccansas a time to celebrate the lives of those who have died, and it FIRES 
often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members,Bonfires were a big part of the festival in many areas ofelders of the faith, friends, pets and other loved ones whowestern Europe. Bonfires were typically lit on hilltops athave died. In some rituals the spirits of the dead are invited toSamhain where everyone could see them, and there wereattend the festivities. rituals involving them.

Various sorts of activities done on Samhain have been Bonfires comes from the root, “bone-fires” because the 
described over the centuries. In Ireland, Samhain was a priests sacrificed animals and supposedly even people intime to take stock of the herds and food supplies. Cattle werean attempt to appease the sun god, while also looking forbrought to the winter pastures after six months in the higherfuture omens. The fire was said to be a type of sympatheticsummer pastures. Then, the people chose which animals tomagic, where the fire mimicked the sun, which has theslaughter before the winter. After the slaughter of the animals,power to hold back the darkness of winter. Burning thethere would be feasting. And obviously, if you aren’t anfires was also believed to be a way of banishing evil, at leastanimal-raising farmer, how would you celebrate this aspect,symbolically. 
except for the feasting?

The Catholic Church was aware of all the so-called “pagan”DIVINATION 
observances, and had their own day to commemorate theDivination has likely been a part of the festival since ancientdead, May 13. This began in 609 or 610 C.E., when Popetimes, and it has survived in some rural areas. In part, this 
Boniface the 4th dedicated the Pantheon— the Roman meant that the spirits, the aos sí., could enter your world.
temple of all the gods—to Mary and all the martyrs. Later Many of the food offerings and fires were directed to the aosthat date was changed by Pope Gregory III (731-741 C.E.),sí. Or perhaps, some of the crops might also be left in the 
who dedicated a chapel in Rome to all the saints and orderedground for them the aos sí. The aos sí.were addressed in 
that they be honored on November 1. This was done, in part,various ways, with food offerings, with walks into the ocean,
to overshadow the pre-existing Samhain commemorations.with the idea to hold off any mischief, and perhaps to learn theIn the 11th century, November 2nd was assigned as “Allfuture. 
Souls’ Day” in commemoration of the dead. So this began The belief that the souls of the dead return home on one 
the use of the term Hallow’s Eve, or Hallowe’en for October 31. night of the year seems to have ancient origins and is found in

Hallowe’en customs are similar to the observance many cultures throughout the world. 
of Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, commonlypracticed in Mexico and which can be traced to early AztecCONCLUSION 
times. Apparently, this “day of the dead” was originallySo what do you conclude from all this? Is there an ideal 
commemorated in Mexico in May, and was changed toway to commemorate this ancient day, and still avoid theNovember 2 sometime after Spanish contact to correspondtrappings of commercialization? Is it even possible?
with the Christian tradition. I like the way that the Day of the Dead is commemorated.

There are altars with pictures of the dearly departed, andFOOD and GIFTING plates of good food. Candles are lit, rather than a big

Trick or treating in modern times goes back to leaving foodbonfire which the local fire department would frown 
and wine for roaming dead spirits and ghosts. The custom wasupon. Families gather, and talk in respectful tones aboutreferred to as “going a-souling” and was eventually practicedtheir departed relatives. Yes, of course, even the Day of theonly by the children who would visit the houses in theirDead has turned into wild partying in some quarters, but ifneighborhoods and be given gifts of ale, food and money. Ityou seek a return to roots of the ancient commemorationwas believed the spirits of the dead returned to visit their oldof the dead, perhaps begin here. Begin with family orhomes during this time, so in ancient times, people left foodneighborhood gatherings. Prepare a good meal, and keepout for them and arranged chairs so that the dead would bein the mind the foods that your beloved departeds enjoyed.
able to rest. This is not necessarily because you think their spirits will

Treats called “soul cakes” were given out in memory ofcome to eat (last I checked, ghosts don’t need to eat), butthe departed. The Middle Age practice of souling — goingbecause having, for example, your mother’s favorite dishdoor to door begging for food in return for prayers — becamewill give you another reason to talk about your mother, andpopular and is even referenced by William Shakespeareto remember all the good things she did.
in 1593. This is obviously the root of the modern “trick orThis is at least a start, and it elevates our day of ghoulish andtreating” for mini Snickers bars, a practice no doubt loved bypointless fear-mongering into one that reconnects us with our 
every dentist. roots. 

Drout, who helped guide the discovery, “So we hadthrilling moment.” 
to act fast.” Because they were the first to find the event,

Despite many large teams across the worldSimon and Carnegie-Hubble Fellow Ben Shappeeworking feverishly to find the event, it was thehad time for additional observations. They quickly 
Carnegie and UC Santa Cruz astronomers—a set up spectrographs at the observatory’s two 
small, young group of researchers—who made theMagellan telescopes to obtain several spectra of the 
first discovery of SSS17a.merger.

“We saw a bright blue source of light in a nearbyNo other observatories in the world made 
galaxy—the first time the glowing debris fromcomparable observations during that first night. 
a neutron star merger had ever been observed,” 
recalled Josh Simon, another of the CarnegieYou can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@ 
team’s leaders on this discovery. “It was definitely a 


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder 


All day long, I’ve had thisright after.

burning question in my To stop and get gas at this time would cause memind. One of those questions you just cannotto be that much later. I can always get gas aftershake and as the day progressed, it loomed largermy meeting.
and larger until I had to address it. Personally, ISome educated guesses have never been to 
would like to have addressed it, put a stamp on itschool or if they have, they sure did not payand send it to Timbuktu. I just do not know theattention. 
ZIP code. While driving to my appointment, I wasIt all began first thing in the morning. Some daystrying to think about the appointment and whattry to trick you into thinking it’s going to be aI would do and what I would say and all thatgood day by starting the day off perfect. Suchsort of thing. Even though I was running late, Iwas not the case with this day.could be at least well prepared for the meeting.

The amazing thing about this day was itAs long as when I arrived at the meeting I wasstarted bad and just got worse as the day worewell prepared, all would be right.
on. Some days start out bad and then improve byThen I heard a sputter. It was a familiar sputter.
noon. These days I do not mind. I figure the dayAs I looked at the fuel gauge, it was blinkingis trying to play tricks with my mind. I would“Empty.” At the time, it seemed to be a rathernot mind if I only knew the rules or if my mindsarcastic blinking. In between sputters, I thoughtcould win at least occasionally.I heard a giggle. Cars seem to know when you

The day began with me oversleeping. It reallyare late and, most importantly, how much gaswas not my fault; the alarm clock did not gois needed to get to your appointment. I think itoff. When I looked at my alarm clock, thehas something to do with all of the electronicnumbers were blinking indicating sometimeequipment installed in the car at the factory. Ifduring the night the electricity went off. It is myit takes three gallons to get to your appointmentpersonal opinion the electric company does thisthe car, somehow needs 3 . gallons.
intentionally. The electric only has to flicker andUndaunted by this latest development I coastedall of the digital clocks go on blinking mode.the car off to the side of the road and parked it.
This is a cruel trick perpetrated by our friendlyLooking at my watch I figured, if I put a hurryelectric company just to show us who is reallyto it, I could walk to the meeting. Of course, Iboss. would be late, but I had a good explanation for

When I checked the real time, I discovered my tardiness. Everybody has experienced thisI was late. Have you ever noticed when yousort of a day and so they would understand.
oversleep it is the day you have an early-morningI walked as fast as I could, hoping with everyappointment? Why is it nobody ever oversleepsstep that I would make up some time.
on his or her day off?When I arrived at my meeting, I discovered a

As quick, as I could, I got ready. While I wasbit of information that completely floored me.
shaving, however, I nicked my face. It was one of“I’m Rev. Snyder and I’m here for a meeting.” Ithose little nicks that just does not stop bleeding,said between panting.
no matter what you do. I had blood all over my“What meeting is that?” the secretary asked.
face even dripping down onto my T-shirt.I explained about the meeting and that I was

I quickly dressed and scampered into therunning just a little bit late.
kitchen to grab a cup of hot coffee. In my“Oh, Rev. Snyder,” she said with a smirk ongrabbing, I managed to spill the hot coffee on myher face, “that meeting has been postponed until 
shirt. Now that I am running late, I have to stoptomorrow. 
what I am doing, run back to the bedroom andWalking back to my car a verse of Scriptureput on a new shirt. It was a good thing becausedanced in the back of my mind. “This is the daynot only did my shirt have coffee stains on itwhich the LORD hath made; we will rejoice andthere was a nice splash of blood on it as glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24 KJV).

I grabbed the keys to the car and dashed outI rejoiced all the way back to my car. At least Ithe front door. By now, I was only 30 minuteswasn’t late. 
late and even so, I could make the appointment.
When I started up the car, I heard that familiarDr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family ofdinging indicating I was low on gasoline.God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. 

There are times in your life when you mustHe lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Callmake a quick decision. I estimated by looking athim at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.
the fuel gauge that I probably had enough gas tonet. The church web site is www.whatafellowship. 
get to my appointment, but would have to get gas com. 

CALL PATRICIA 626-818-2698
On August 17, LIGO sent alerts for a gravitationalwave detection from colliding neutron stars toobservatories around the world, firing a “starter’spistol” in the race to spot the source of the space-
time ripples.

Working with David Coulter, Charles Kilpatrick,
and Ryan Foley of UC Santa Cruz, the team begancombing the sky at nightfall for evidence of a never-
before-seen collision of neutron stars. 

“We knew we only had about an hour at thebeginning of the night to find the source beforeit set,” explained Carnegie-Dunlap Fellow Maria 

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