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.

“All sins have their origin in a sense of inferiority otherwise called ambition.” -Cesare Pavese We’re halfway through the year at Starts With A Bang, but it feels like the greatest things are just getting started! For one, enjoy our newest podcast: on Interstellar Travel, highlighted by an interview with Larry Niven last month at Balticon…

“Find a place inside where there’s joy, and the joy will burn out the pain.” -Joseph Campbell One of the cardinal rules of a black hole is that anything that falls inside the event horizon — that crosses that invisible boundary — can never escape. That’s because the escape velocity from inside the event horizon…

The Physics of Fireworks (Synopsis)

“Celebrate the independence of your nation by blowing up a small part of it.” -The Simpsons When gunpowder was first invented more than 1,000 years ago by mixing activated carbon (charcoal), sulfur and potassium nitrate together, its first major application was to the development of fireworks. By combining four simple elements – a launch, a…

“How well I have learned that there is no fence to sit on between heaven and hell. There is a deep, wide gulf, a chasm, and in that chasm is no place for any man.” -Johnny Cash The largest mountains, the greatest chasms, steepest cliffs and the tallest peaks on Earth are certainly impressive, particularly…

“I have this one little saying, when things get too heavy just call me helium, the lightest known gas to man.” –Jimi Hendrix The second lightest and second most abundant element in the Universe, helium, is incredibly rare on Earth. Practically none of the helium that Earth was formed with still exists, since was too easy…

“We have made the discovery of a new particle – a completely new particle – which is most probably very different from all the other particles. It’s nearly a once in a lifetime experience, I would say.” – Rolf-Dieter Heuer At the end of its second, high-energy run, the Large Hadron Collider appeared to display…

“It used to be that Pluto was a misfit. Now it turns out that Earth is the misfit. Most planets in the solar system look like Pluto, and not like the terrestrial planets.” -Alan Stern The combination of New Horizons and Hubble to work together allow us to create the longest-baseline parallax images of all…

“All sins have their origin in a sense of inferiority otherwise called ambition.” -Cesare Pavese After another Universe-investigating week here at Starts With A Bang, I’m pleased to make two simple but very satisfying announcements: The latest Starts With A Bang podcast, on Interstellar Travel, will be going live next week, so look for it soon! I…

“You can be the Moon and still be jealous of the stars.” -Gary Allen Earlier this week, NASA announced the discovery of Asteroid 2016 HO3, calling it Earth’s second moon. And it turns out that this is an object in a stable orbit, the same distance from the Sun as the Earth, that can be…

“Those who know that the consensus of many centuries has sanctioned the conception that the earth remains at rest in the middle of the heavens as its center, would, I reflected, regard it as an insane pronouncement if I made the opposite assertion that the earth moves.” –Nicolaus Copernicus There are certain words that simply…