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.

“Don’t get involved in partial problems, but always take flight to where there is a free view over the whole single great problem, even if this view is still not a clear one.” -Ludwig Wittgenstein You know how bad light pollution is for astronomy, and how hard we try to escape it. We search for…

“Other than the laws of physics, rules have never really worked out for me.” -Craig Ferguson When you think about the Standard Model of particle physics, you very likely think about all the matter, energy, particles, antiparticles, forces and interactions of the Universe. And you might legitimately worry that this is all there is. Never fear; it can’t…

How the Sun *really* shines (Synopsis)

“Mr. Burns: Smithers, hand me that ice-cream scoop. Smithers: Ice-cream scoop? Mr. Burns: Damn it, Smithers! This isn’t rocket science, it’s brain surgery!”  -The Simpsons I bet you’re one of those people who hears a term like “nuclear physics” and thinks that’s hard stuff, way over your head. But in many ways, it’s the easiest of all…

The Astro Alphabet (Synopsis)

“When I was having that alphabet soup, I never thought that it would pay off.” -Vanna White A couple of years ago, I had the idea to make a special entry showcasing 26 different astronomical phenomena, one for each letter of the alphabet. Today, that idea’s been built upon and improved, and I’m happy to…

“All is well, provided the light returns and the eclipse does not become endless night. Dawn and resurrection are synonymous. The reappearance of the light is the same as the survival of the soul.” -Victor Hugo During all other full Moons, I wouldn’t dare show you a galaxy for Messier Monday. But when you get…

“I feel very adventurous. There are so many doors to be opened, and I’m not afraid to look behind them.” -Elizabeth Taylor You know how important music is to me, and for many of you it holds a similarly prominent place in your lives and in your hearts. A big part of that experience, going…

“It is dangerous to be right in matters on which the established authorities are wrong.” -Voltaire It’s been another great week over on the main Starts With A Bang blog, where we got to touch on a number of remarkable topics, including: Why are we made of matter? (For Ask Ethan #31) Trompe-l’œil Art (For our Weekend Diversion)…

“Quite frankly, teachers are the only profession that teach our children.”  -Dan Quayle It wasn’t that long ago that I myself was a student, and of course over the past decade-and-a-half I’ve been very heavily involved in education — both formally and informally — at a huge variety of levels. And over time, education methods…

“Man alone is born crying, lives complaining, and dies disappointed.” -Samuel Johnson You might look up at our Sun in the sky, delighted at its brilliance and life-giving brightness, thankful for all it’s brought to our world. But we’re all just a little bit dismayed at the crushing realization that it won’t live forever, and will…

“And everything under the sun is in tune But the sun is eclipsed by the moon.” -Pink Floyd We normally think of eclipses as rare phenomena, something that happens only occasionally. While it’s true than any particular location only experiences eclipses — particularly solar eclipses — infrequently, we actually experience these things around four times a…