I Didn’t Know a Star Could Move that Fast….

I hardly ever get to do math. Mind you, this isn’t real math, but it involves large numbers, a white dwarf and a black hole.

I’ll start here: Science Daily just announced that a team from Michigan State University using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA’s NuSTAR, and the Australia Telescope Compact Array, have apparently found a white dwarf orbiting a black hole.

That’s not necessarily news if that was all there was to report, but the key finding is that the distance between the white dwarf and the black hole is only about two and a half times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

I’ll let that set in. A star is hanging out within spitting distance of a black hole. And, the star hasn’t fallen into the black hole’s event horizon yet. The team from Michigan State believes that the star won’t fall in anytime soon.

How can that be?

Answer: The star apparently makes one full orbit every 28 minutes.

Yes, it’s orbiting VERY fast — like more than 8 million miles/hour fast.

So, I promised math.

* Average Distance from Earth to Moon = 239,228 miles
* Two and one-half times that distance (which is the distance between the dwarf and the black hole) = 598,070 miles
* Circumference of a circle = C = 2 π r
* Thus the orbit of the dwarf around the black hole is = 2 π (598070) = 3.76 million miles
* If the dwarf travels that distance in 28 minutes, then it’s speed is greater than 8 million miles/hour.

That’s just astounding.

We are in a Dangerous Moment….

I’m putting this here because 140 characters are just not enough to do this justice….

From a New York Times Editorial published in Sunday’s issue:

Let’s begin with what the public can know for certain. President Trump had no evidence on Saturday morning when he smeared his predecessor, President Barack Obama, accusing him of ordering that Trump Tower phones be tapped during the 2016 campaign. Otherwise, the White House would not be scrambling to find out if what he said is true.

Just contemplate the recklessness — the sheer indifference to truth and the moral authority of the American presidency — revealed here: one president baselessly charging criminality by another, all in a childish Twitter rampage.

The Times reported on Sunday that the F.B.I. director, James Comey, was so alarmed by Mr. Trump’s fact-free claim — which implicitly accused the F.B.I. of breaking the law by wiretapping an American citizen at a president’s behest — that he was asking the Justice Department to publicly call it false. In other words, the F.B.I. director was demanding that Justice officially declare the president to be misleading the public.

This is a dangerous moment, which requires Congress and members of this administration to look beyond partisan maneuvering and tend to the health of the democracy itself.

…sigh.

SpaceX Just Landed a Booster Rocket

Yesterday, SpaceX launched a Falcon9 rocket in the morning on a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Nine minutes later, the same rocket landed at a nearby landing pad. This is a video of the recovery and successful landing of a primary stage booster for a spaceship. This is just amazing.

Reusing is way better than recycling….

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

Full article is here. via @HuffPostScience

A Tax Overhaul Would Be Great in Theory, But Are We Too Afraid of Change To Implement It?


A great article in the NY Times asserts that a fundamental overhaul of the United States tax law is impeded by the global disruptions that would flow from such an overhaul.

It’s daunting to think that a society can’t change because of inertia, but I can definitely see the point that the United States economy is more like a huge cruise ship than a nimble little speed boat.

[Here is the link to the NY Times Article]

The US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals at Work: State of Wash v. Trump