Ask Ethan

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“Weakness of character is the only defect which cannot be amended.” -Francois de La Rochefoucauld So, you’d like to ruin the fabric of your space, would you? Similar to tying a knot in it, stitching it up with some poorly-run shenanigans, running a two-dimensional membrane through it (like a hole in a sponge), etc., it’s…

“It would be great some day to have astronauts in a rover on Mars. But just about anyone except an oil company executive would say its more important to have 50 million solar powered vehicles in the United States.” -Brad Sherman Is terraforming a real possibility for Mars? It seems like one of the most…

“I would argue that in any habitable zone that doesn’t boil or freeze, intelligent life is going to emerge because intelligence is convergent.” -Simon Conway Morris Someday, in the far distant future, the evolution of the Sun will cause it to heat up and emit so much energy that the Earth’s surface will reach a…

“In expanding the field of knowledge we but increase the horizon of ignorance.” -Henry Miller You know it as the most fundamental law of relativity: that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. And yet, the observable Universe itself, which has been around for 13.8 billion years since the Big Bang, is now…

“Black holes are the seductive dragons of the universe, outwardly quiescent yet violent at the heart, uncanny, hostile, primeval, emitting a negative radiance that draws all toward them, gobbling up all who come too close…these strange galactic monsters, for whom creation is destruction, death life, chaos order.” -Robert Coover For the third time since it…

“The Edge… there is no honest way to explain it because the only people who really know where it is are the ones who have gone over.” -Hunter S. Thompson When we look at the nearby Universe, it looks a lot like we, ourselves, appear. Nearby galaxies are similar in structure to our own; the…

“It’s everywhere, really. It’s between the galaxies. It is in this room. We believe that everywhere that you have space, empty space, that you cannot avoid having some of this dark energy.” -Adam Riess Have you heard about the accelerating Universe? What about dark energy, vacuum energy, or a cosmological constant? These are terms we…

“Despite its name, the big bang theory is not really a theory of a bang at all. It is really only a theory of the aftermath of a bang.” -Alan Guth When we look to the deepest reaches of space, we can look for the “first” of any type of object. The first galaxy, the first…

“I long ago abandoned the notion of a life without storms, or a world without dry and killing seasons. Life is too complicated, too constantly changing, to be anything but what it is. And I am, by nature, too mercurial to be anything but deeply wary of the grave unnaturalness involved in any attempt to…

“It is conceptually interesting, if not astrophysically very important, to calculate the precise apparent shape of the black hole… Unfortunately, there seems to be no hope of observing this effect.” -Jim Bardeen Black holes were one of the first consequences of general relativity that were predicted to exist, and the more we’ve studied the Universe,…