Ask Ethan

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“Thus it seems Einstein was doubly wrong when he said, God does not play dice. Not only does God definitely play dice, but He sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.” –Stephen Hawking You’ve no doubt heard that Stephen Hawking is claiming that the black hole information paradox has now been…

“The total number of people who understand relativistic time, even after eighty years since the advent of special relativity, is still much smaller than the number of people who believe in horoscopes.” –Yuval Ne’eman It’s been 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang for us, and when we look out at a distant object in…

“First, you should check out my house. It’s, like, kinda lame, but way less lame than, like, your house.” –Lumpy Space Princess, Adventure Time When you visualize our Universe today, you probably think about the great clumps of matter — planets, stars, galaxies and clusters — separated by huge distances. But on the largest of…

“All enterprises that are entered into with indiscreet zeal may be pursued with great vigor at first, but are sure to collapse in the end.” –Tacitus If you want to form a structure like a planet, star or black hole, you need a large amount of mass together in one place. The way to bring…

“Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.” –Stanislaw Jerzy Lec You’ve heard it said many times here: the Universe, since the Big Bang, is 13.8 billion years old. But how do we know this to be true? Moreover, how many different lines of evidence do we have that leads…

“As the blackness of the night recedes so does the nadir of yesterday. The child I am forgets so quickly.” –Sylvia Ashton-Warner While the night sky is littered with thousands of points of light — the stars visible to the naked eye — we know that beyond what human perception can see, there are hundreds of…

“What was scattered, gathers. What was gathered, blows away.” –Heraclitus When you’re looking around in our Solar System, we’ve got the Sun at the center, the planets orbiting them, and then moons orbiting the planets in turn. But why is that necessarily the limit? Couldn’t we have “moonlets” or some other, smaller satellites orbiting the…

“It’s hard to build models of inflation that don’t lead to a multiverse. It’s not impossible, so I think there’s still certainly research that needs to be done. But most models of inflation do lead to a multiverse, and evidence for inflation will be pushing us in the direction of taking [the idea of a]…

“Revolutions are something you see only in retrospect.” –Alan Greenspan If there’s one thing you can be certain of when it comes to the fundamental, scientific truths of our Universe, it’s this: someday, in the not too distant future, those truths will be superseded by more fundamental ones. And even those, quite likely, won’t be…

“I soon became convinced… that all the theorizing would be empty brain exercise and therefore a waste of time unless one first ascertained what the population of the universe really consists of.” –Fritz Zwicky When we look out at the galaxies in the Universe, watching how they rotate, we find that the starlight we see…