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.

“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…

“Black holes can bang against space-time as mallets on a drum and have a very characteristic song.” -Janna Levin If you had told an astrophysicist five years ago that binary black holes were common, that would’ve been news, but not surprising. If you had told them that ~30 solar masses was a good estimate for…

“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” -T.S. Eliot Now that not just one but two gravitational wave events have been directly detected, we’re officially in the era of true gravitational wave astronomy. LIGO…

“There are two possible outcomes: if the result confirms the hypothesis, then you’ve made a measurement. If the result is contrary to the hypothesis, then you’ve made a discovery.” -Enrico Fermi Given the huge number of stars, planets, and chances at life that the galaxy and the Universe has given us, it seems paradoxical that…

“Mozart’s music is like an X-ray of your soul – it shows what is there, and what isn’t.” -Isaac Stern When supermassive black holes have a large amount of matter fall onto them, they accelerate a large amount of the ionized material — particularly electrons — into high-velocity, bi-directional jets. In many cases, those jets…

“It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” -Muhammad Ali It may have been another fun week here at Starts With A Bang, where I’ve just learned something fun: I have an Erdös-Bacon number of nine! On the academic side, I published with Jim Fry, who published with Jim Peebles, who published with…

“The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for among old parchments or musty records. They are written, as with a sunbeam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.” -Alexander Hamilton Seen poking through a cloud,…

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.” –Joseph Campbell Making up some 85% of the mass in our Universe, dark matter is necessary to explain the motions of individual galaxies, the grouping and clustering of assemblies of galaxies, the large-scale structure of the Universe and more. But on a much closer-to-home level,…

“If you’ve seen one gamma-ray burst, you’ve seen one gamma-ray burst!” -Common quote among gamma-ray burst astronomers, emphasizing how little we know about them. When the first gravitational wave signal ever, GW150914, was directly detected, NASA’s Fermi GBM team shocked the world by announcing the detection of a high-energy burst of electromagnetic radiation. This was…

“It turned out that nature was very kind, and there appear to be many of these black holes in the Universe and we were lucky enough to see one.” -Dave Reitze, executive director of LIGO On September 14th, 2015, just days after turning on, the twin Advanced LIGO detectors detected the first gravitational wave signature:…