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.

“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,…

“A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” -Max Planck It’s been a great week for learning a little more about our Universe, from fundamental particles to scales beyond…

“While friendship itself has an air of eternity about it, seeming to transcend all natural limits, there is hardly any emotion so utterly at the mercy of time.” -Robert Hugh Benson If you were headed out into the Universe — spaceship and sci-fi technology and all — it simply wouldn’t make sense to keep on…

“The particle and the planet are subject to the same laws and what is learned of one will be known of the other.” -James Smithson Now that the Higgs has been discovered, the Standard Model is complete. But are there any other new particles? If asymptotic safety is right — and it’s looking like the…

“In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.” -Walt Whitman With the new result out from BICEP2, and even more firm evidence for cosmic inflation in place, many of you must be wondering what this means for the Multiverse. From our observable Universe, we can…

Should you get your PhD? (Synopsis)

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” -Benjamin Franklin It’s graduate school acceptance season, and many people out there have big decisions coming up. Some of you will have questions about where to go to graduate school, while some will have questions about whether to go to graduate school. For those of you in the latter…

“We’ll ride the spiral to the end and may just go where no one’s been.” -Tool A beautifully undisturbed, large spiral can be found right at the heart of the Virgo Cluster. Sure, looking at the heart of the Virgo Cluster on its own, you might totally overlook today’s Messier object. But you sure would…