Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, April 14, 2018

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, April 14, 2018 


More than halfway across the universe, an 
enormous blue star nicknamed Icarus is the 
farthest individual star ever seen. Normally, 
it would be much too faint to view, even with 
the world’s largest telescopes. Through a quirk 
of nature that tremendously amplifies the star’s 
feeble glow, however, astronomers using NASA’s 
Hubble Space Telescope were able to pinpoint 
this faraway star.

 The star, harbored in a very distant spiral 
galaxy, is so far away that its light has taken 9 
billion years to reach Earth. It appears to us as it 
did when the universe was about 4 billion years 

 The cosmic quirk that makes this star visible 
is called “gravitational lensing,” first predicted 
by Albert Einstein. The effect is similar to 
that of an image behind a glass lens appearing 
distorted because of how the lens bends light. 
The discovery of Icarus through gravitational 
lensing has initiated a new way for astronomers 
to study individual stars in distant galaxies. 
These observations provide a rare, detailed look 
at how stars evolve, especially the most luminous 

 How does gravitational lensing work? Gravity 
from a foreground, massive cluster of galaxies 
acts as a natural lens in space, bending and 
amplifying light. Sometimes light from a single 
background object appears as multiple images. 
The light can be highly magnified, making 
extremely faint and distant objects bright enough 
to see.

 In the case of Icarus, a natural “magnifying 
glass” is created by a galaxy cluster called MACS 
J1149+2223. Located about 5 billion light-years 
from Earth, this massive cluster of galaxies sits 
between the Earth and the galaxy that contains 
the distant star. By combining the strength of 
this gravitational lens with Hubble’s exquisite 
resolution and sensitivity, astronomers can see 
and study Icarus.

 “The star is so compact that it acts as a pinhole 
and provides a very sharp beam of light,” said 
Tommaso Treu, a professor of physics and 
astronomy in the UCLA College and a co-author 
of the research. “The beam shines through the 
foreground cluster of galaxies, which acts as a 
cosmic magnifying glass.”

 The team dubbed the star Icarus after the Greek 
mythological character that flew too near the Sun 
on wings of feathers and wax that melted. Much 
like the mythological character, the background 
star had only fleeting glory as seen from Earth: 
It momentarily skyrocketed to 2,000 times its 
true brightness when temporarily magnified. 
Scientific models suggest that the tremendous 
brightening was probably from the gravitational 
amplification of a star, similar in mass to the Sun, 
in the foreground galaxy cluster when the star 
moved in front of Icarus.

 “You can see individual galaxies out there, but 
this star is at least 100 times farther away than 
the next individual star we can study, except for 
supernova explosions,” said study leader Patrick 
Kelly of the University of Minnesota, Twin 

 When they analyzed the colors of the light 
coming from this object, they discovered it 
was a blue supergiant star. This type of star is 
much larger, more massive, hotter, and possibly 
hundreds of thousands of times intrinsically 
brighter than our Sun. But at this distance, it 
would still be too far away to see without the 
amplification of gravitational lensing, even for 


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder



An excellent food, medicine, and fibre source


[Nyerges is the author of 
“Guide to Wild Foods,” 
“How to Survive Anywhere,” 
several other books, and 
the latest will be “Foraging 
California.” He has led Wild Food Outings since 
1974, and he lectures and writes on natural sciences 
and ethno-botany widely. His website iswww., or he can be reached at 
School of Self-Reliance, Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 

 This year, our rains came late, and many of the 
early spring natives and exotics hardly grew up at 
all. There was an abundance of chickweed, various 
mustards, mallow, and nettles this year, all non-
natives and all very nutritious.At one of my hiking 
spots, I noticed last week that there were contract 
city workers around our parks with their weed 
whackers beginning their annual decimation of the 
useful foods and herbs that have sustained millennia 
of people, just for the picking. This is part of our 
culture’s current schitzophrenia – we talk “green” 
and how we want to be healthy and save ourselves 
and save the earth, yet, the very plants that can save 
us are weed-whacked, sprayed with Roundup, and 
tossed into the trashcans. I can’t change the world, 
but I did tell my friends to collect all the herbs 
they are able to get before they are all cut down. Of 
course, I understand the other side – city officials 
don’t want nettles growing around parks where 
children might sting themselves. Never mind that 
the sting can actually be a benefit to offset future 
arthritis --- the city doesn’t want the liability. So, 
at this time of the year, vast acreages of nettles 
and other useful wild plants are cut down and 
unceremoniously poisoned and killed. Did I also 
mention that these very plants can be purchased 
in decorative boxes in the herb section of Whole 
Foods and other such markets?This year, I have 
collected large volumes of chickweed, mallow, 
hedge mustard, and nettle. Most of it I dry. I used 
the powdered chickweed in an insect repellent, the 
mallow for a mild cough remedy, and the hedge 
mustard makes a spicey powder to add to other 
dishes. But the nettle is the one that I can never 
get enough of.Often during this time of the year, I 
get an allergic reaction when I’ve been under and 
around the trees that produces lots of pollen and 
cottony-fluff, like willows, and cottonwoods, and 
cattail, and oak. I’ve tried numerous remedies over 
the years to combat the allergy, but all with limited 
success. It just won’t work to stay out of the woods.
Here are some of the many ways I used the nettle 
greens I make an infusion of the nettle leaves 
(dried or fresh) for allergy, and I drink it pretty 
regularly in the evenings. It has helped to relieve 
congestion and improve my ability to breathe. It 
seems to work even better than my old standby, 
Mormon tea.I also add the fresh, dried, or frozen 
nettle greens into my evening soup. The soup 
is very enjoyable and tasty. In fact, nettle is one 
of the tastiest wild greens out there, and widely 
under-rated.Sometimes I just cook nettle greens 
like spinach, and I even drink the water because 
it is so flavorful. I add it to various soups and 
stews, egg dishes and omelettes, and even burritos.
Sometimes, if I want a quick meal, I’ll make a 
package of ramen noodles, and add lots of nettle 
and onion greens. I’ve also added the dried or 
fresh leaves of nettle to spaghetti sauce. Powdered, 
I’ve added nettles to pancake batter to increase 
the protein content and improve the flavor or the 
pancakes. I’ve not yet tried making pasta with 
nettles, but a friend of mine routinely dries and 
powders various wild greens, mixes it 50/50 with 
flour, and runs it through a pasta machine to make 
some unique pastas.Years ago, I would periodically 
meet people who survived the hardships of World 
War II, and among other things, they spoke of how 
nettles saved their lives. Usually, they would say 
that nettles and cattails, two widespread common 
plants, had enabled them to make meals. Until 
recently, I thought they were exaggerating because 
I hadn’t been aware of the versatility of nettles, and 
how it’s really a nutritional powerhouse.


Stinging nettle (Urtica dioeca) is a fairly common 
plant throughout most of North America, as well 
most of the rest of the world. It is one of the plants 
that you always see on the charts of “noxious 
weeds” published by companies such as Ortho 
and others, letting you know that their product 
will effectively wipe out these “worthless plants” 
in your gardens.The reason why so many people 
dislike stinging nettles is because when you brush 
up against it, you break off the tips of tiny hollow 
needles that are filled with formic acid, and you 
get a stinging reaction. This reaction is short-lived, 
and can be remedied by rubbing the skin with 
chickweed or curly dock, or even wild grasses.
Nutritionally, nettles is a good source of Vitamin 
C and A. According to the USDA’s Composition 
of Foods, 100 grams of nettle contains 6,500 I.U. 
of Vitamin A, and 76 mg. of Vitamin C. This 
amount contains 481 mg. of calcium, 71 mg. of 
phosphorus, and 334 mg. of potassium. This 
amount also contains 5.5 grams of protein, a lot 
for greens, though not complete protein. Herbalist 
Michael Moore, author of Medicinal Plants of the 
Mountain West, describes nettles as a diuretic 
and astringent, and he advices the tea for use 
in cases of internal bleeding. In general, nettles 
are found growing in the wild near streams, in 
moist soil, in rich soil, and often near raspberries 
and blackberry vines. And in the urban areas, 
it seems to grow everywhere: along roads, in 
fields, backyards, gardens, and at the Highland 
Park Farmers Market, I’ve found it growing in 
the cracks of the sidewalk. If you cannot yet 
recognize the wild nettle plant, most gardeners or 
landscapers should be able to show you one. Or 
go to a nursery, where nettles are often growing in 
their pots and soil. 

My favorite time of the year is 
summer and I don’t care what 
the Gracious Mistress of the 
Parsonage says. Summer is what I live for especially 
here in Florida.

 As soon as Fall arrives in full steam I am 
looking forward to summer with uncontrollable 

 One thing that attracts me to summer has to do 
with the weather.

 I don’t like cold because I’m growing too old 
now to shiver properly. When it is cold and I am 
supposed to be shivering, I don’t have the energy. I 
admit that I don’t have the energy I had a few years 
back. Let’s not talk about how many years back. 
Shivering now is really not part of my exercise 

 I think God created winter for someone like me 
to appreciate summer. I have had enough winter 
now so that I can appreciate summer for the rest 
of my life. I wonder if heaven is going to be like 

 Another thing I don’t like about being cold is 
having to wear sweaters and sometimes coats and 
hats and mittens. When it’s really cold outside 
by the time I get dressed to go outside I’m either 
too tired to go outside or I can’t remember why I 
wanted to go outside in the first place.

 It takes me “forever” to get dressed for cold 

 Another thing about being cold is my brain 
doesn’t function 100%. When it is cold, parts of my 
brain have to be used to deal with the cold weather 
on my body. Don’t ask me how that works, I just 
know it works.

 I have a brain and I take care of my brain and 
feed my brain so I can use my brain for my things 
and not for things like the weather!

 What I like about summer is that it is hot. I 
love hot, contrary to the Gracious Mistress of the 
Parsonage. Don’t let this get around, but she doesn’t 
like when the weather is hot outside. She complains 
and complains about how hot it is outside.

 I remember one time she was complaining 
about how hot it was outside and I was sitting there 
smiling. I try not to let a smile break out on my face 
when she is complaining about something. This 
time, the smile broke out on my face and I could 
not control it.

 “What are you,” she said rather snarly, “smiling 
about now?”

 It’s situations like this that usually get me into 
trouble. If I answer, I’m in trouble. If I don’t answer, 
I’m in trouble. What’s a husband to do?

 But right now it’s not summer and so I’m not in 
my “happy faze.” I have a rule, when the temperature 
drops below my age it’s too cold for me.

 As I was sitting there frowning and muttering to 
myself, my wife said, “So, what are you complaining 

 Unfortunately, I was not thinking, which is the 
usual course for me, and I answered her question.

“I’m just not happy,” I said with a grimace all over 
my face, “about all this cold weather. I can’t wait for 
summer to get here.”

 Of course, that did not set very well with her. 
She’s from the state of New York and winter is 
her best time of the year. She likes snow, which of 
course doesn’t happen here in Florida, for which 
I’m thankful. She loves the cold weather and revels 
in it and there are times, don’t let this get around, 
that she rubs it in my face.

 As of late the weather here has been to her liking. 
And she’s been happy and going around the house 
singing while I’m sitting in my chair grimacing. If 
ever anybody can grimace, it is me. I’ve had a lot of 
practice at it.

 According to her, fall and winter are the greatest 
months of the year. And she’s not short in telling 
me this to my face.

 So, I’m sitting here trying not to shiver too much 
and drinking a very hot cup of coffee. My wife 
makes many things well, but nothing quite as well 
as hot coffee. What she doesn’t realize is, as I’m 
drinking my hot coffee, I’m thinking of summer.

 I’m not sure who was the first one who said it, 
but I think I agree with it, “Opposites attract.” And 
nothing could be more opposite than my winter 
wife and her summer husband.

 As I thought about this it came to me that the 
reason I appreciate summer so much is because of 
the winter. It is during the wintertime that I have 
this longing for the summer weather. If it wasn’t for 
winter, I’m not sure I would appreciate summer as 
much as I do.

 I always have a religious twist to things that are 
happening in my life. As I thought of this it came 
to my mind that the trials in my life cause me to 
appreciate the amazing grace of God. It wasn’t 
for the hard times I wouldn’t appreciate the good 

 I like what James says about this. “Blessed is the 
man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, 
he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord 
hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).

I must honestly confess I don’t know how good I 
have it until I don’t have it so good.


 The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of 
God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He 
lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. 
Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@ The church web site is www.whatafellowship.

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