January 18, 2021
#2413: Pulsar Analogy
[Cueball and Ponytail are standing next to each other.]
Cueball: Why do pulsars spin so fast?
Ponytail: Hmm, let me think of an analogy…
[A tape measure is retracting above Ponytail’s head. To the right of her head, a tape measure is spinning rapidly.]
Retracting tape measure: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
Spinning tape measure: SNAP
Ponytail: You know how when you retract a tape measure and let go, it leaves it spinning?
Ponytail: It’s like that.
Cueball (off-panel): Oh, I see.
[A tape measure with a laser instead of a measuring tape is spinning slowly.]
Cueball (off-panel): And if the tape measure is the kind with a laser level, that’s the beam of radiation?
Ponytail (off-panel): Exactly!
[Cueball and Ponytail are walking next to each other in silhouette.]
Ponytail: And when the tape whips around and smacks your hand, that’s the neutron degeneracy shockwave.
Cueball: Sounds painful!
Ponytail: Top cause of astronomer hand injuries.