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.

“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…

“If everything seems under control, you’re not going fast enough.” -Mario Andretti One of the toughest things to wrap your mind around in the natural world is the idea of special relativity: the faster you move, the closer you get to the speed of light, the more difficult it becomes to increase your speed at…

“The sun is a miasma Of incandescent plasma The sun’s not simply made out of gas No, no, no The sun is a quagmire It’s not made of fire Forget what you’ve been told in the past” -They Might Be Giants It’s such a simple fact — that the Sun is made out of hydrogen…

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.” -Marcus Aurelius Let there be light! You’d think that would be enough: that you form stars in the Universe, you see those stars in the Universe, and that tells you about what’s out there. If only it were that simple.…

“‘You are a different kind of Irishman, Goll,’ was all she said. ‘Every Irishman is a different kind of Irishman,’ said Goll.” -Charles Brady Sure, we’re all a little bit Irish today. We celebrate in a plethora of different ways, the most common of which is to prominently display the color most associated with Ireland: green. But…