In my professional life, I worked as a political scientist. One aspect of public opinion political scientists like to study is issue recognition. I began to wonder if there was anything about living in East Chop that might affect issue recognition.

With that in mind, I polled my neighbors on several important questions. Who is Britney Spears? Can you describe her recent legal problems? How many children does she have? Who is Kevin Federline? You get the drift.

After tabulating the results of the study, an important finding emerged. While issue recognition was high in East Chop (it averaged 90.8 per cent), the results for America were even higher at 97.5 per cent. This finding was significant because it held for each issue studied. There had to be a good explanation.

The answer jumped out at me while grocery shopping the other day. While standing in the checkout line, I noticed that the store did not carry the National Enquirer or any other of the notorious scandal rags. That’s just one of the many reasons I shop at Reliable Market.

Aside from my background as a political scientist, there is another thing you need to know about me as a columnist. I have strange reading habits. About two weeks ago I was reading about dark energy, and discovered quickly that I was way above my head.

Thanks to my correspondent’s post at the Gazette, I knew just where to go. I have learned about all kinds of people on East Chop in the last few months, and John Caldwell would have the answers I needed. I was not disappointed.

John explained that dark energy is the mysterious force that is pushing apart the galaxies in the universe and space itself. It answers the important question of whether the universe will end by collapsing back into itself or expanding forever. Our ultimate destiny is cold and dark, he concluded with a sheepish grin.

John received his doctorate in astrophysics from the University of Chicago in 1977. In researching his dissertation, he designed an instrument and developed mathematical techniques to measure the particles from the Big Bang with the goal of determining how this glorious event took place. A few years after graduating, he brought his mathematical techniques to the oil industry for use in finding oil.

Upon leaving his house, an important idea occurred to me. Here is a man who spent his career searching for heaven and hell, and found neither. That’s an important conclusion, which belongs in my book on evangelical Christianity. You can be sure that it will find its way into the revised edition.

Because John is a resourceful person, he discovered heaven in another way. He retired from the oil industry, and married the beautiful Terry Appenzellar. The two of them then joined the Take This Job and Shove It crowd on East Chop that I wrote about last week.

At present, John works from the Vineyard as a computer consultant for the Department of Homeland Security. I for one sleep better at night knowing that his considerable brainpower is looking out for our welfare. The government and East Chop are fortunate to have him.