Ask Ethan

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“A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.” -Tennessee Williams The depiction of dying in space — by exposure to its terrifying vacuum — is incredibly varied, from freezing to swelling and bulging to simply exploding. For this week’s Ask Ethan, we take on…

“It followed from the special theory of relativity that mass and energy are both but different manifestations of the same thing — a somewhat unfamiliar conception for the average mind.” -Albert Einstein In physics, we’re always on that quest for the next frontier: the next order of magnitude higher in energy, the next order of magnitude closer…

“Henceforth space by itself, and time by itself, are doomed to fade away into mere shadows, and only a kind of union of the two will preserve an independent reality.” -Hermann Minkowski When you think of waves, chances are you think of some type of pressure wave moving through a medium, like sound or water…

“Go then, there are other worlds than these.” -Stephen King, The Dark Tower Ever since quantum mechanics first came along, we’ve recognized how tenuous our perception of reality is, and how — in many ways — what we perceive is just a very small subset of what’s going on at the quantum level in our…

“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.” -Albert Einstein And yet, this is a very good reason! We need things to happen in stages: you can’t form human beings before you form planets (that would be bad); you can’t form stars before you form atoms (also bad); you can’t form…

“The single most powerful element of youth is our inability to know what’s impossible.” -Adam Braun “I’m going to be a star,” says every clump of matter in a molecular cloud, as it prepares to collapse under the tremendous pull of gravitation. But try as they might, only a small fraction of that gas and…

“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.” -Kurt Vonnegut The Universe is expanding and cooling, with all but a few of the closest galaxies receding from our view. In fact,…

“What is that feeling when you’re driving away from people and they recede on the plain till you see their specks dispersing? — it’s the too-huge world vaulting us, and it’s good-bye. But we lean forward to the next crazy venture beneath the skies.” -Jack Kerouac But how do you say goodbye to a galaxy that will…

“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.” -Wayne Dyer We all can think back to that moment that happened where we knew our lives would be forever different, right? To that one moment in our past where we suddenly knew what it was that we wanted to be,…

“We are incredibly heedless in the formation of our beliefs, but find ourselves filled with an illicit passion for them when anyone proposed to rob us of their companionship.” -James Harvey Robinson The Universe seems to be full of contradictions. On one hand, everywhere we look — in all directions and at all locations —…