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 self-same atoms which, chaotically dispersed, made the nebula, now, jammed and temporarily caught in peculiar positions, form our brains; and the ‘evolution’ of brains, if understood, would be simply the account of how the atoms came to be so caught and jammed.” -William James Summer is coming. No, not to Westeros, but to your…

“When we are sure that we are on the right road there is no need to plan our journey too far ahead. No need to burden ourselves with doubts and fears as to the obstacles that may bar our progress. We cannot take more than one step at a time.” -Orison Swett Marden Every Messier…

“The contemporaries and rivals of Zeuxis were Timanthes, Androcydes, Eupompus, and Parrhasius. This last, it is said, entered into a pictorial contest with Zeuxis, who represented some grapes, painted so naturally that the birds flew towards the spot where the picture was exhibited. Parrhasius, on the other hand, exhibited a curtain, drawn with such singular…

“For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.” -John F. Kennedy After a great week over on the new Starts With A Bang blog, where we covered a whole slew…

“You may not feel outstandingly robust, but if you are an average-sized adult you will contain within your modest frame no less than 7 × 10^18 joules of potential energy—enough to explode with the force of thirty very large hydrogen bombs, assuming you knew how to liberate it and really wished to make a point.”…

“There is no question that climate change is happening; the only arguable point is what part humans are playing in it.” -David Attenborough If you had never heard of global warming before, how would you figure out whether it was happening, whether humans played a role, and what the magnitude of it was? Thankfully, we…

“Physical reality does not require that we be pleased with its mechanism; we must see the implications of a theory for what they are and not for what we would like them to be.” -Kevin Michel If you’ve been following along for a while — particularly in light of the recent BICEP2 results — you’re…

“I have announced this star as a comet, but since it is not accompanied by any nebulosity and, further, since its movement is so slow and rather uniform, it has occurred to me several times that it might be something better than a comet. But I have been careful not to advance this supposition to…

“I recognize my limits, but when I look around I realise I am not living, exactly, in a world of giants.” -Giulio Andreotti There are a huge number of deep-sky objects visible from Earth, and every Monday — with the Messier Monday series — I’ve made it my goal to tell you about one of…

“Ten percent of the big fish still remain. There are still some blue whales. There are still some krill in Antarctica. There are a few oysters in Chesapeake Bay. Half the coral reefs are still in pretty good shape, a jeweled belt around the middle of the planet. There’s still time, but not a lot,…