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.

“Finding out that something you have just discovered is considered all but impossible is one of the joys of science.” -Mike Brown Earlier today, the team of Pluto-killer Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin announced that they had found evidence of a ninth planet in our Solar System beyond the orbit of Pluto, larger and more…

“Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain – and most fools do.” -Benjamin Franklin The history of science is rife with stories of cases where a person or team, usually with a lot of clout, reached a conclusion that seemed incontrovertible. When that occurs, we often find that subsequent measurements agree with that conclusion, even if that…

“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” -Albert Camus If you ask the average person where you can find new stars in our galaxy, they might (correctly) identify the Orion Nebula, a hotbed of…

“Thou shalt not embarrass thyself and thy colleagues by claiming false planets.” -Bill Cochran Last year, Penn State astronomer Jason Wright made headlines by claiming that one of the stars being observed by NASA’s Kepler mission might contain alien megastructures around it. The large dips in its light curve didn’t make sense in the context…

“To know that we know what we know, and to know that we do not know what we do not know, that is true knowledge.” –Nicolaus Copernicus As we peel back the layers of information deeper and deeper into the Universe’s history, we uncover progressively more knowledge about how everything we know today came to…

“Observing quasars is like observing the exhaust fumes of a car from a great distance and then trying to figure out what is going on under the hood.” -Carole Mundell Enjoying what we’re putting out at Starts With A Bang? There was a whole lot that we saw this past week, including a few tour-de-force pieces on…

“Einstein’s gravitational theory, which is said to be the greatest single achievement of theoretical physics, resulted in beautiful relations connecting gravitational phenomena with the geometry of space; this was an exciting idea.” -Richard P. Feynman When Einstein’s theory was first proposed as an alternative to Newtonian gravity, there were a number of subtle but important…

“Beauty provokes harassment, the law says, but it looks through men’s eyes when deciding what provokes it.” -Naomi Wolf Geoff Marcy. Tim Slater. Christian Ott. And a great many more who are just waiting to be publicly exposed for what they’ve done (and in many cases, are still doing). Does it mean that astronomy has…

“When their eyes grew dim with looking at unrevealing dials and studying uneventful graphs, they could step outside their concrete cells and renew their dull spirits in communion with the giant mechanism they commanded, the silent, sensing instrument in which the smallest packets of energy, the smallest waves of matter, were detected in their headlong,…

The Science of Powerball (Synopsis)

“I’ve done the calculation and your chances of winning the lottery are identical whether you play or not.” –Fran Lebowitz Later today, the richest lottery drawing in history — the $1.5 billion Powerball jackpot — will take place. While many outlets are encouraging people to purchase as many tickets as possible, it’s important to run through…