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.

Ask Ethan: What Is Spacetime? (Synopsis)

“‘Space-time’ – that hideous hybrid whose very hyphen looks phoney.” -Vladimir Nabokov Sure, you know what space and time are. If you heard of Einstein and relativity, you might know that they’re not absolute quantities, but that how you experience distances and the ticking of clocks is dependent on your motion through the Universe. But…

“The way to love anything is to realize that it might be lost.” -G. K. Chesterton Worried about the environment of Earth today? Here’s a sobering fact: we already know how it’s all going to end. Not just when the next ice age will come or the next supervolcano will blow, but on cosmic scales…

“There is a voice inside of you That whispers all day long, ‘I feel this is right for me, I know that this is wrong.’” -Shel Silverstein When it was first proposed in 1973 by Brandon Carter, there were only two simple statements that one could hardly disagree with concerning the anthropic principle: 1.) We must…

“For my confirmation, I didn’t get a watch and my first pair of long pants, like most Lutheran boys. I got a telescope. My mother thought it would make the best gift.” -Wernher von Braun Sure, going to space is great for overcoming Earth’s atmosphere, but it’s no substitute for the sheer size of what…

“Work gives you meaning and purpose and life is empty without it.” -Stephen Hawking Throw a book into a black hole, and the information must somehow wind up inside. Same goes for a star, a planet, or even a single proton: that information must be maintained. But allow enough time to pass, and quantum theory…

“Men of genius are often dull and inert in society; as the blazing meteor, when it descends to earth, is only a stone.” -Henry W. Longfellow When you look at the meteors striking Earth today, as well as over the past 466 million years, you find something surprising: they don’t line up with the population…

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re doing something.” -Neil Gaiman Here we are, at the…

“It was a strange lightness, a drifting feeling. Zero gravity. I understood that everything that once seemed solid and immovable might just float away.” -Lisa Unger If you want to experience zero gravity, all you need to do is go to space, turn your rocket off and feel that weightless sensation, right? Except, from up…

“It’s so easy to become a grumbler, someone who condemns and carps at everything on principle and sees an ulterior motive behind it.” -Eric Metaxas If we find out that we truly are alone in the Universe, whether there’s no other life, intelligent life, or spacefaring life, there’s no doubt that makes us special. But…

“There are now dozens of hockey sticks and the all come to the same basic conclusion. The recent warming does appear to be unprecedented as far bas as we can go. But even if we didn’t have that evidence, we would still know that humans are warming the planet, changing the climate and that represents…