Ethan was born in New York City as the son of a Jewish postal worker. He did his undergrad at Northwestern, taught public school in Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, California, before moving to Florida, where he got his PhD in theoretical astrophysics at the University of Florida. After that, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he taught at the University of Wisconsin, ate too much cheese, and also met his life partner, Jamie. After working in astrophysics research at the University of Arizona and starting the world-renowned science blog, Starts With A Bang, he moved from the hellish desert to rain-soaked Portland in 2008. Since then, he's been a professor at the University of Portland and Lewis & Clark College, grown a nationally renowned beard and mustache, got invited to join a circus and probably drank more beer than a healthy person should. He currently works as the head curator at Trapit, and can't wait to tell you a little bit more about the Universe.

“But I see it differently now. There has to be a middle. Without it, nothing can truly be whole. Because it is not just the space between, but also what holds everything together.” -Sarah Dessen Sure, the Hubble Space Telescope gives us unparalleled views of our Universe. We can even use it — with its…

“People speak sometimes about the “bestial” cruelty of man, but that is terribly unjust and offensive to beasts, no animal could ever be so cruel as a man, so artfully, so artistically cruel.” -Fyodor Dostoyevsky Humans are part of the natural world, and yet although the natural world is hard and unforgiving in many ways,…

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” -Marcel Proust As another fine week comes to a close at Starts With A Bang, let’s take a look back at all the topics we’ve taken on: Where did light first come from? (for Ask Ethan), Zooming into a fractal (for our Weekend Diversion),…

“Silently, one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, Blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.” -Longfellow The cosmic microwave background is a thing of beauty, as not only does its uniform, cold temperature reveal a hot, dense past that began with the hot Big Bang, but its fluctuations reveal a pattern…

Hubble’s Deepest Look (Synopsis)

When you think of the Hubble Space Telescope, perhaps you think of what’s touted as its most major feat of all: peering off into deep, dark space, collecting light, and discovering the plethora of distant galaxies laying billions of light years beyond our own. It’s a spectacular sight and a spectacular story, and it’s allowed…

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way — things I had no words for.” -Georgia O’Keeffe We thought — back in the time after Maxwell — that if we understood gravitation and electromagnetism, we’d understand all the forces in the Universe. But once we started to dive…

Earth Day in the Universe (Synopsis)

“We came all this way to explore the Moon, and the most important thing is that we discovered the Earth.” -Bill Anders, Apollo 8, 1968 We’ve come an incredible distance in exploring the Universe. In the span of just a single human lifetime, we’ve gone from speculations about what other worlds in our Solar System…

The biggest, most surprising revolution that came along with the development of quantum theory, quantum mechanics and later, quantum field theory, was the overthrowing of the idea of a deterministic Universe, replacing it with a Universe where only a probability distribution of outcomes could be theoretically known, even if you knew all the initial conditions of…

The Illusion of Reality (Synopsis)

When you look out at the nebulae in the night sky — especially if you’re seeing them with your eye through a telescope for the first time — you might be in for a big surprise. These faint, fuzzy, extended objects are far dimmer, sparser and more cloud-like than almost anyone expects. Yet thanks to…

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” -Carl Sagan The Universe is filled with a wide variety of stars, planets, galaxies and other optical phenomenon. Despite the fact…