Ask Ethan

Category archives for Ask Ethan

“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fundamental, scientific truths of our Universe, it’s this: someday, in the not too distant future, those truths will be superseded by more fundamental ones.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…

“I just think too many nice things have happened in string theory for it to be all wrong. Humans do not understand it very well, but I just don’t believe there is a big cosmic conspiracy that created this incredible thing that has nothing to do with the real world.” –Edward Witten It’s a difficult…

“[I]f there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” –C.S. Lewis The Universe had two periods where light was abundant, separated by the cosmic dark ages. The first came at the moment of the hot Big Bang, as…

“We are told to let our light shine, and if it does, we won’t need to tell anybody it does. Lighthouses don’t fire cannons to call attention to their shining- they just shine.” –Dwight L. Moody When it comes to the farthest thing we can see in the Universe, that’s the Cosmic Microwave Background, or the…

“Never erase your past. It shapes who you are today and will help you to be the person you’ll be tomorrow.” –Ziad K. Abdelnour But even moreso than the fact that we’re shaped by our past, the Universe itself — geometrically — is shaped by its history and composition. You might imagine all sorts of…

“A single tiny light creates a space where darkness cannot exist. The light vanquishes the darkness. Try as it might, the darkness cannot conquer the light.” –Donald L. Hicks While it might seem like there are an endless supply of stars in the Universe, the process that powers each and every one requires fuel to…