It’s the simple formula we all know and recognize: inner, rocky worlds closest to the Sun, an asteroid belt farther out, and then gas giant worlds out beyond them. That’s how our Solar System works, at any rate. But what about the other star systems in the Universe? We’ve finally got enough data to determine…

When you think about our world and our place in the Solar System, you very likely think about Earth, spinning on its axis, with the Moon orbiting around it, and with the entire Earth-Moon system orbiting the Sun. But did you know that all of it — the Earth spinning on its axis, the Moon revolving around…

“If you are caught on a golf course during a storm and are afraid of lightning, hold up a 1-iron. Not even God can hit a 1-iron.” -Lee Trevino When it comes to lightning, you inevitably think of thunderstorms, rain, and the exchange of huge amounts of charge between the clouds above and the Earth.…

“Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” -Oscar Wilde What do you like? No, I really mean it: don’t think about the things that you’re supposed to like, or the things you’ll admit to the world that you like, but really ask yourself the…

“If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day. That’s a heck of a day. You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.” -Jim Valvano It’s been a little too long since I rounded up the best of your comments and doled out the astrophysics knowledge to…

“Nobody ever did, or ever will, escape the consequences of his choices.” -Alfred A. Montapert You might not think of falling into a black hole as a choice, but in the case of this week’s Ask Ethan, someone is choosing to explore exactly that! Imagine, if you will, taking a solid object that’s completely outside of an…

“On a cosmic scale, our life is insignificant, yet this brief period when we appear in the world is the time in which all meaningful questions arise.” -Paul Ricoeur What you see is what you get, except when it isn’t. We’re all familiar with Hubble’s law, or the notion that the Universe is expanding, and…

Supertides are real!

“But less intelligible still was the flood that was caused by forty days’ rain, and forty nights’. For here on the moors there were some years when it rained for two hundred days and two hundred nights, almost without fairing; but there was never any Flood.” -Halldór Laxness Once every 18 years, a French Abbey…

“There is, I believe, in every disposition a tendency to some particular evil, a natural defect, which not even the best education can overcome.” “And your defect is a propensity to hate everybody.” “And yours… is wilfully to misunderstand them.” -Jane Austen Every time we go to higher and higher energies in our particle accelerators,…

“Studying whether there’s life on Mars or studying how the universe began, there’s something magical about pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. That’s something that is almost part of being human, and I’m certain that will continue.” -Sally Ride When Curiosity landed on the martian surface in 2012, surviving “seven minutes of terror,” it went…