The Cannonball Pulsar


  1. The cannonball pulsar
  2. My little dose of charity <3
  3. Lucky number 13 - Houston, we have a problem

Current events

Really cool story published this weekend - astronomers have been tracking a super-fast pulsar 6,500 lightyears away that's hurtling through space at 2.5 million mph! A pulsar is the highly magnetized core of a long-deceased star that emits electromagnetic radiation (usually X-rays) at regular intervals as it rotates, similar to how a lighthouse pulses out beams of light. 

Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

This pulsar, named J0002+6126, was likely flung at such high speeds by the supernova that obliterated its predecessor star 10,000 years ago. It's so fast, it could travel to the moon in just six minutes! And as it flies through the cosmos, its gamma ray pulses sweep across the Earth 8.7 times per second, allowing researches to track it with NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope

Today I learned joined

This section is a bit different today because I have my own little announcement. I joined the Planetary Society!! The Planetary Society is a nonprofit founded by astronomer Carl Sagan and currently run by Bill Nye (yup, the Science Guy) whose mission is to promote outreach and political support for astronomy and space exploration. They strongly advocate for better funding from Congress on behalf of NASA, which is perfect because I always bemoan NASA's pitiful budget compared to the glory days of the Space Race

Not even half a percent! Surely we can do better

Look, I'm a finance guy, not a scientist, so I often analyze problems in terms of return on investment. The money we spend on space exploration isn't just an expense, it's an investment that generates extraordinary benefits for our society, not only through the practical technologies it produces, but also through the inspiration it provides for all mankind and our future generations. And I think it's worth a little bit of our time and treasure. After the balance sheet's been balanced and the dividends have been paid, is it too much to ask to look up at the night sky and dream of something... more?

If you feel the same way and are curious to learn more, check out the Planetary Society website here and consider donating. And watch the video below, it's one of my absolute favorites!

This week in space history

Astronaut Jim Lovell is celebrating his 91st birthday today! Lovell was born on March 25, 1928, and served as Command Module Pilot on Apollo 8, the first time humans ever left Earth orbit and travelled to the moon (they only orbited; Neil Armstrong was first to land). But what Lovell is most famous for is being commander of the ill-fated Apollo 13, which nearly ended in total catastrophe when an oxygen tank exploded en route to the moon. Their moon landing was aborted and the three astronauts, Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise, barely made it back to Earth.

If you're heard the phrase, "Houston, we have a problem," that was Lovell informing Mission Control of the explosion. Fun fact, the actual quote was "Houston, we've had a problem," but the line was slightly edited to make it more dramatic for the movie Apollo 13, where Tom Hanks plays Lovell. If you've never seen the movie before, it's an absolute classic that I highly recommend!


  1. Question:

    NASA budget spikes in the 60s (cold war). Is the NASA budget fully separate from the military’s, or is there some overlap? In the DoD’s proposed military budget, do any space defense dollars get routed through NASA?

    What if we increase NASA’s budget by disguising it as Star Wars? You should go on InfoWars and explain how we need to colonize Mars for national security purposes

    1. Great question! NASA is characterized as a civilian agency, so its budget is separate from the military's. That being said, NASA has always had ties to the military. It was formed during the peak of the Cold War to counter the perceived Soviet dominance of space, all of the early astronauts were former military pilots, and NASA often launches classified military payloads to this day.

      In terms of colonizing Mars for military purposes, Congress is very reactive to these kind of things, rather than proactive. It took a Sputnik moment to ignite the Space Race. Unless China sets up a nuke on Mars, it'll be a tough sell to Congress.