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.

“Nothing is lost… Everything is transformed.” –Michael Ende If you take all the kinetic motion out of a system, and have all the particles that make it up perfectly at rest, somehow even overcoming intrinsic quantum effects, you’d reach absolute zero, the theoretically lowest temperature of all. But what about the other direction? Is there a…

“Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away.” –Marcus Aurelius There are four known fundamental forces: gravitation, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force and the…

“When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.” –Niels Bohr Shortly after the Big Bang, the first nuclear fusion reactions occurred in the Universe, filling it with hydrogen, helium, and little else. Billions of years…

A Quantum of Parody (Synopsis)

Although physicists are well-known for their quirky personalities, the in-joke among ourselves is our extremely nerdy sense of humor, telling jokes about our field, our equations, and of course, the legends in our field. These range from the subtle (Schrodinger walks into a bar, and also he doesn’t), to the mischievous (Heisenberg gets pulled over…

If we want to understand the Universe at a fundamental level — all the forces on all scales — the biggest obstacle facing us is to come up with a correct, consistent, testable and verifiable theory of quantum gravity. To no one’s great surprise, we’re not quite there yet. In 2001, Lee Smolin — one…

“The wonder is, not that the field of the stars is so vast, but that man has measured it.” –Anatole France Wherever large, dense collections of cool gas gather together under the force of their own gravity, new stars are bound to form. Every galaxy goes through peaks and lulls in star formation, yet at…

“There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.” –Jiddu Krishnamurti If you want to learn something — whether it’s abstract or concrete, solving…

“Men who wish to know about the world must learn about it in its particular details.” -Heraclitus This past week at Starts With A Bang put on quite a show, and you — as always — didn’t disappoint. If you missed anything, here’s what went on: Learning to chill (a guest post from Paul Halpern), Does a…

“I just think too many nice things have happened in string theory for it to be all wrong. Humans do not understand it very well, but I just don’t believe there is a big cosmic conspiracy that created this incredible thing that has nothing to do with the real world.” –Edward Witten It’s a difficult…

They say ‘A flat ocean is an ocean of trouble. And an ocean of waves… can also be trouble.’ So, it’s like, that balance. You know, it’s that great Oriental way of thinking, you know, they think they’ve tricked you, and then, they have.” –Nigel Tufnel When you travel towards an object like a moon,…