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.

“Perhaps in time the so-called Dark Ages will be thought of as including our own.” -Georg C. Lichtenberg There was so much action on Starts With A Bang this week, from darkness to the brightest lights, that it’s going to be a bear choosing what to highlight from the comments. Here’s what this past week saw: The…

“One feels that the past stays the way you left it, whereas the present is in constant movement; it’s unstable all around you.” –Tom Stoppard You might best know Einstein for E=mc^2, but I would argue that the far greater contribution was the development of relativity. Think about the following: if you strike the upper…

Does a black hole have a shape? Is there a front and back or side view? Does it look the same from all vantage points? When you think about a black hole, you very likely think about a large amount of mass, pulled towards a central location by the tremendous force of gravity. It’s not…

Learning to Chill (Synopsis)

The heat death of the Universe is the idea that increasing entropy will eventually cause the Universe to arrive at a uniformly, maximally disordered state. Every piece of evidence we have points towards our unfortunate, inevitable trending towards that end, with every burning star, every gravitational merger, and even every breath we, ourselves, take. Yet even…

“Oh leave the Wise our measures to collate. One thing at least is certain, light has weight. One thing is certain and the rest debate. Light rays, when near the Sun, do not go straight.” –Arthur Eddington While we know full well today that Newtonian gravity is just an approximation to a more correct theory…

“Each generation goes further than the generation preceding it because it stands on the shoulders of that generation. You will have opportunities beyond anything we’ve ever known.” –Ronald Reagan Three years ago, Sally Ride — the first American woman in space — died of pancreatic cancer. This past week would have been her 64th birthday;…

“The crust, being so thin, must bend, if, over wide areas, it becomes loaded with glacial ice, ocean water or deposits of sand and mud. It must bend in the opposite sense if widely extended loads of such material be removed. This accounts for… the origin of chains of high mountains… and the rise of…

A few weeks ago, Amanda Peet gave a public lecture that we live-blogged here. In the Q&A part after the talk, she made a statement that I sort of glossed over: that the LHC was able to verify some of the predictions of String Theory. In my head, I thought, “yeah, all the predictions that…

It’s one of the cardinal laws of physics and the underlying principle of Einstein’s relativity itself: the fact that there’s a universal speed limit to the motion of anything through space and time, the speed of light, or c. Light itself will always move at this speed (as well as certain other phenomena, like the force…

“The world exploded into billions of atoms, and when it rearranged itself, it may have looked the same, but really, it was a Whole New World.” –Claire LaZebnik At the center of almost every galaxy is a supermassive black hole (SMBH); at the center of almost every cluster is a supermassive galaxy with some of…