“The universe is big, its vast and complicated, and ridiculous. And sometimes, very rarely, impossible things just happen and we call them miracles. And that’s the theory. 900 years, never seen one yet, but this would do me.” –Steven Moffat

They say that the best things in life are free, and I’m a firm believer in that. In fact, that’s part of the reason I think the stories I’m always telling — about the Universe, how it is, how we know it, and how it came to be — should be free as well. But I’m not going to lie: in terms of effort, time, energy, and (for my contributors) money, telling that story isn’t quite free at all.

Images courtesy of (clockwise, from top left) Paul Halpern, Amanda Yoho, Summer Ash, Jillian Scudder, Ethan Siegel, Sabine Hossenfelder, Brian Koberlein and James Bullock.

Images courtesy of (clockwise, from top left) Paul Halpern, Amanda Yoho, Summer Ash, Jillian Scudder, Ethan Siegel, Sabine Hossenfelder, Brian Koberlein and James Bullock.

But I don’t want to just keep doing what I’m doing now; I want to enhance our offerings, create more and better things, and have this be the focus of my professional life. I can’t do it alone, though, and I can’t do it without your support. So for the first time, I’ve set up a Patreon, where everything I create will still be free and freely accessible to all, but if you can support me and my contributors, you’ll receive a reward. Here’s our intro video:

Now go learn about this new endeavor, and then — if you can afford it — make a small, monthly donation to us here!

Comments

  1. #1 Ragtag Media
    June 1, 2015

    Aren’t ya suppose to just write books annually and require students to pay exorbitantly inflated prices for them?
    Is that model no longer relevant?

  2. #2 Patrick Dennis
    Charlotte, NC
    June 1, 2015

    I’d love to contribute, but, please offer an option for a one-time contribution, thanks.
    Pat Dennis

  3. #3 Sinisa Lazarek
    June 1, 2015

    @ Ragtag

    No one is forcing you to pay anything, you basically get free education at this blog. It’s extremely vulgar to mock and ridicule the person doing all the writing just because he set up a page for getting donations from people willing to give them.

  4. #4 Ragtag Media
    June 1, 2015

    @Sinisa
    lighten up Francis (eat a Wow cookie?).. it was a play on the ridiculousness of what higher ed became with students going into eye bulging debt and the extremely ridiculous book prices that the printing company had a stranglehold on.
    Google Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons Inc Supreme court case and get up to speed.

  5. #5 Wow
    June 1, 2015

    Yeah, well why didn’t you eat a cookie rather than post your diss?

    Ah, is it that others are at fault, you never are? *you* were justified, ergo not a rant. SL isn’t you, you don’t agree with him, therefore he’s just emotional ranting.

    It stops you having to think, doesn’t it, dearie?

  6. #6 Ragtag Media
    June 1, 2015

    Nope, SL misunderstand my comment and I corrected him. It’s that simple.

  7. #7 Sinisa Lazarek
    June 1, 2015

    @ Rag

    the way I understood you (and I know what you were referencing) .. is you putting Ethan in that same group of people. Far be it for me to defend Ethan.. no reason for that.. but I do think your comment was rude and aimed at a person who’s doing his best to spread the knowledge at no financial cost to the readers… I don’t live in US, and honestly speaking, if it wasn’t for people like Ethan, I wouldn’t be able to learn from and interact with actual astrophysicists, astronomers and particle physicists other than actually going to the university and enroling.

    If you want to diss someone.. then diss online portals who actually charge money for you to be able to read a scientific papers.

  8. #8 Wow
    June 1, 2015

    “Nope, SL misunderstand my comment and I corrected him. ”

    Odd. Completely divorced from what you posted.

  9. #9 Ragtag Media
    June 1, 2015

    @SL
    “the way I understood you”
    There in lies the Rub

  10. #10 Wow
    June 1, 2015

    If everyone else is getting your point wrong, maybe the problem is in the fewer number of people: you.

  11. #11 Ragtag Media
    June 1, 2015

    Fallacy Man goes from Ad hominem to genetic in one fell swoop….. Shameful pile on. But I guess you owe SL, he has stuck up for your uncouth behavior at times so it’s all good.

  12. #12 Denier
    United States
    June 1, 2015

    @Ragtag Media

    I totally get the joke. Profs are almost impossible to fire once they have tenure and dictate that students subsidize their income by forcing them to buy outrageously expensive text books. Furthermore I know you didn’t mean it in the way everyone is tarring you with because you don’t work in academia. You don’t have tenure. You make a good living by providing a product society finds valuable. I do too. And I totally support Ethan in his willingness to venture outside the stupid tenure-textbook model. I hope all of you do because all of you obviously see the value in his work or you wouldn’t waste your time coming here. Even if it is for $1, hit the button.

    As for myself, I’m reveling that Ethan didn’t see the gaping hole in his plan. Ethan and Starts With A Bang are now in the pocket of Big Denial. Expect to see articles on the physics of the American Ninja Warrior Warped Wall, how Climate Scientists have rigged the peer review process to perpetrate the biggest hoax in US history, the annual review of hot hot coeds in STEM, and of course Rick Santorum: The Scientist’s Choice for President!

    mu muHu MUHWAHAHAHHAHA!!!!**

    **unless I get out voted.

  13. #13 dean
    June 1, 2015

    I totally get the joke. Profs are almost impossible to fire once they have tenure and dictate that students subsidize their income by forcing them to buy outrageously expensive text books.

    What a load of bullshit. The notion that it is almost impossible to fire a tenured faculty person is ludicrous to people who actually teach. Faculty are not “at will” (except for a few institutions with accordingly lower academic reputations) employees, true. But when faculty violate institutional guidelines (there is no universal set) there are clear guidelines for administration to follow to remove those faculty. The higher bar of tenure was originally set for several reasons, primary among them:
    –> to protect faculty when they speak out against policies put down by administration that are perceived to be against the best functioning of the institution (whether they are are not, faculty are allowed to voice disagreement without risk of job loss)
    –> as a trade off for what were originally lower wages than could be obtained in the non-academic world – to a good extent, wages for math, statistics, and most science faculty in academics are significantly lower than what an equivalent degree could earn in industry (especially in statistics, my area: Ph.D. statisticians in pharmaceutical areas can earn between 2 and 3 times my salary – rarely are they allowed to do research in areas of their own choosing, however)

    You don’t have tenure. You make a good living by providing a product society finds valuable. I do too.

    Aaaah yes, the idea that people in education provide nothing of value. You have chosen your registered name here well.

  14. #14 Wow
    June 1, 2015

    “Fallacy Man goes from Ad hominem”

    Who?

    Oh, by the way, check up what Ad hominem is, dearie. You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

  15. #15 Ragtag Media
    June 1, 2015

    dean you miss the point, the educational system has some flaws that have been glaring for years and things need to change.
    And they are slowly but surely. Adjunct Professors on food stamps is flat out pathetic just as me cutting a check for over 2 grand for a couple of my kids text books for a year is ridiculous.

    Like Denier said “I totally support Ethan in his willingness to venture outside the stupid tenure-textbook model”

    Khan Academy and the many like it are changing things and in a good way.

  16. #16 Denier
    United States
    June 1, 2015

    @dean #13

    I will give you there was a bit of exaggeration in the statement, but only a little. My wife still recounts how the worst prof she ever had started the first class of the semester with the statement of how he had tenure now and couldn’t be fired. If I get her permission I will out him by name here in this forum. For as much as that school cost, that attitude is unforgivable.

    However, after leaving school she now has a government job, and really really can’t be fired. It is so bad that when they have someone completely worthless, then have to create a position and promote the worthless individual to get them out of the way. My wife has stupidly high-paid co-workers that do nothing but read the newspaper waiting for the clock to run on their retirement.

    I’ve never said educators and universities never provided anything of value. Quite the contrary. While my only kid is just 2-1/2 years old, I anticipate spending a boatload on exposing him to the best teachers I can find.

    As for the grass being greener for PhD pharma statisticians outside of academia, biotech is a lot rougher game than it looks like from the outside. There are PhD pharma statisticians who would trade places with you happily.

  17. #17 Wow
    June 1, 2015

    h”as some flaws that have been glaring for years and things need to change.”

    Yeah, right.

    As someone who isn’t in it, you’re the best one to know it, right?

    Blowhard bloviates. Nobody is surprised.

    Do you know why your kids have to stump up so much cash? Because morons like you refuse to pay taxes. So now your universities are underfunded and yelled at for spending anything. Because “It’s my tax money!”.

    And now you want to take away cash for them selling stuff too. I guess you yell holy murder over the rate you pay for your kids tuition, right?

    When money mostly came from government, there was no need for multiple people taking a cut (and with the mantra of “government does it worst”, those people taking cuts are private industry, therefore shareholders wanting ROI over profit), and little was earmarked only for commercial use, since government didn’t have to worry about the next quarters’ results or the shareholder meeting announcements.

    And now you’re finding, as you do with your laughably named healthcare system, that you spend more than those who give to their government for a private system that gives no better results.

    Twice as much per head spent in the USA, and worse outcomes.

    All because you have unshakeable faith in the incompetence and evil of government and the pristine uncompromising benefits of the “free market”.

    You’re right, but because you haven’t a clue, your rants will be to ramp up the damn problems!

  18. #18 Ragtag Media
    June 1, 2015

    Wife was on the school board for many years, 35+ Million budget and 50+ funding formulas. District receives approx 20% less state funding per pupil unit and yet turns out higher scores on testing.
    I’ve seen it and lived it first hand, we had to cut a teacher after her first year there because we couldn’t touch the basketball goal/net money by law even though the goals and nets were fine.

    Oh and the TENURED teacher who kept leaving his job to try other careers because contractually the district had to save his spot for up to 5 years in case he decided to come back. Therefore we could only hire teachers temporarily.
    AND All the wasted humanities and social science studies.
    Naomi Schaefer Riley was on to something.

  19. #19 Wow
    June 1, 2015

    “Wife was on the school board for many years”

    So was by uncle.

    It didn’t mean he knew how the education system worked. He worked with the school, not the education system as a whole.

    “District receives approx 20% less state funding per pupil unit and yet turns out higher scores on testing”

    20% less than what? I’m talking about SANE school education systems. Even the UK does far better with a hell of a lot less. We’re not the best in Europe by a fair shot (not in the bottom half, but nowhere high enough for our aspirations on the world stage).

    And would this be under the insane USA system of funding being from local rates, therefore a school in a rich place needs less aid than that in a poor area?

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