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.

“To be is to be the value of a variable.” –Willard Van Orman Quine Those constant, fixed points of light in the night sky — the stars — turn out not to be so constant if you looked with great precision at them. A star like our Sun varies in brightness, periodically, by about 0.1% over the…

“A cosmic mystery of immense proportions, once seemingly on the verge of solution, has deepened and left astronomers and astrophysicists more baffled than ever. The crux… is that the vast majority of mass of the universe seems to be missing.” –William J. Broad When we look out at the Universe, the other things we see…

When it comes to dark matter, the mysterious substance that makes up the vast majority of the mass in the Universe, there’s a whole lot we don’t understand or know about it. You might think that there are so many unknowns that are so huge that — quite reasonably — perhaps it doesn’t exist at all,…

When you close your eyes and picture a galaxy, what pops into your mind? For most people, it’s a beautiful, spiral shape, where a bright central region fans out with arms that wind around and around, over and over, littered with brilliant, glittering stars. And in almost all the pictures you see, there are two…

“Our knowledge of stars and interstellar matter must be based primarily on the electromagnetic radiation which reaches us. Nature has thoughtfully provided us with a universe in which radiant energy of almost all wave lengths travels in straight lines over enormous distances with usually rather negligible absorption.” –Lyman Spitzer, Jr. There’s nothing quite like looking…

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, ‘This is what it is to be happy.’” –Sylvia Plath The modern world can often make you feel like you’ll never find anything good “playing by its rules” in it. This feeling is evoked, tremendously, in the songs of Bonnie “Prince”…

“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” -Neil Armstrong This past week was the 46th anniversary of the first Moon landing…

“As the blackness of the night recedes so does the nadir of yesterday. The child I am forgets so quickly.” –Sylvia Ashton-Warner While the night sky is littered with thousands of points of light — the stars visible to the naked eye — we know that beyond what human perception can see, there are hundreds of…

“You can spend too much time wondering which of identical twins is the more alike.” –Robert Brault Earlier today, NASA announced the “most Earth-like exoplanet yet,” a planet just 60% larger in radius than our own, orbiting a star of the same spectral class as our Sun and with an almost identical orbital period: 385…

“It was quite the most incredible event that has ever happened to me in my life. It was almost as incredible as if you fired a 15-inch shell at a piece of tissue paper and it came back and hit you.” –Ernest Rutherford Over 100 years ago, Ernest Rutherford fired a stream of alpha particles…