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.

“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…

When you think of the night sky — of a good, dark night sky — you probably think of going away, far into the wilderness, away from all human activity. If you’re a little more clever, you’ll head up, to the top of a high mountain, where the air is thin and steady. And if you…

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” –Edgar Allan Poe Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope, we’ve learned for a certainty that the black abyss of empty space isn’t really so empty. Far beyond what we can perceive with our naked…

“Well, this is a thing unheard of. An Elf would go underground, where a Dwarf dare not. Oh, I’d never hear the end of it.” –Gimli, Lord of the Rings When you think about the different elements present here on Earth, I hope you think about the different ways they bind together, combine, and add…

“Just as a Chihuahua is still a dog, these ice dwarfs are still planetary bodies. The misfit becomes the average. The Pluto-like objects are more typical in our solar system than the nearby planets we first knew.” -Alan Stern The last week here at Starts With A Bang saw some great articles that went from Pluto to stars…

“What was scattered, gathers. What was gathered, blows away.” –Heraclitus When you’re looking around in our Solar System, we’ve got the Sun at the center, the planets orbiting them, and then moons orbiting the planets in turn. But why is that necessarily the limit? Couldn’t we have “moonlets” or some other, smaller satellites orbiting the…

“Man loves company — even if it is only that of a small burning candle.” –Georg C. Lichtenberg The Sun, like all stars initially, burns hydrogen fuel into helium through the process of nuclear fusion. But as the Sun ages, as do all stars over a certain mass, it starts burning those heavier elements in its core,…

When it comes to the fabric of our Universe, we live in four dimensions: three space and one time. At least, that’s what it seems like. But it’s possible that at very high energy scales — or at very small distance scales — not only might even more forces unify, but we might discover that…

Is Pluto A Planet Now? (Synopsis)

“Words are the source of misunderstandings.” –Antoine de Saint-Exupéry Back in 2006, the International Astronomical Union officially defined the word “planet” for the first time, claiming that as long as something met all three of the following criteria: It was in hydrostatic equilibrium (pulled itself into a spherical/spheroidal shape under its own gravity), It didn’t orbit…