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.

The System Is… Having Problems

I know you normally look forward to the weekend as a chance for our comments of the week, but I see that a great many of you have been commenting/posting and have been encountering problems. Specifically, the problem that the system appears to eat your comments. The time I would normally spend writing our Comments…

“Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean. Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink.” -Samuel Taylor Coleridge Here on Earth, water can easily exist in all three phases…

“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” -Rachel Carson The idea that the spatial fabric of the Universe itself is expanding, and that’s what’s behind the observed relationship between redshift and distance has long been controversial,…

“Despite its name, the big bang theory is not really a theory of a bang at all. It is really only a theory of the aftermath of a bang.” -Alan Guth Did the Universe begin with the Big Bang? When we discovered the cosmic microwave background, and its properties matched exactly the prediction of the…

“In terms of weapons, the best disarmament tool so far is nuclear energy. We have been taking down the Russian warheads, turning it into electricity. 10 percent of American electricity comes from decommissioned warheads.” -Stewart Brand Arguably the greatest advance of humanity — and the cause of the greatest increase in our quality of life…

“Hubble often takes images of distant gravitationally lensed galaxies to infer their substructure and to try to learn about early galaxies in general. For LUVOIR, we would have that same resolution for any galaxy! That’s truly revolutionary.” -John O’Meara If you were an observational astronomer, what would your dream telescope look like? It would have…

“We are what we are, and we’re doing the best we can. It is not for you to set the standards by which we should be judged!” -Capt. Picard, to Q When you think about Star Trek, a whole variety of things might come to mind. It might conjure images of space exploration, feelings of…

“There are two problems for our species’ survival – nuclear war and environmental catastrophe – and we’re hurtling towards them. Knowingly.” ―Noam Chomsky Well, another week of science has gone by, here at Starts With A Bang! and everywhere else in the world, and while we’re down one space mission from the start of the week (Cassini),…

“There’s something about sitting alone in the dark that reminds you how big the world really is, and how far apart we all are. The stars look like they’re so close, you could reach out and touch them. But you can’t. Sometimes things look a lot closer than they are.” -Kami Garcia When we consider…

“The bedrock nature of space and time and the unification of cosmos and quantum are surely among science’s great ‘open frontiers.’ These are parts of the intellectual map where we’re still groping for the truth – where, in the fashion of ancient cartographers, we must still inscribe ‘here be dragons.’” –Martin Rees Inside the nuclear…