Q & A

Category archives for Q & A

Ask Ethan #17: The Burden of Proof

“Never waste your time trying to explain who you are to people who are committed to misunderstanding you.” -Dream Hampton Perhaps no word in the English language generates as much misunderstanding as the word theory. In scientific circles, this word has a very specific meaning that’s different from everyday use, and — as a theoretical…

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” -Dale Carnegie Our new Ask Ethan segment has been really…

Ask Ethan #1: Back-to-school advice

“Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing worth knowing can be taught.” -Oscar Wilde As many of you know, last weekend I launched a suggestion box here on the site, and I’ve been overwhelmed by the response: about fifty of you have sent something in to…

“As seismologists gained more experience from earthquake records, it became obvious that the problem could not be reduced to a single peak acceleration. In fact, a full frequency of vibrations occurs.” -Charles Francis Richter You’ve all been around long enough to be familiar with the severe damage that earthquakes can cause, rattling and cracking the…

“A lot of mothers will do anything for their children, except let them be themselves.” -Banksy One of the great joys I got to experience came last year, when for the very first time, I was invited to be a guest of honor at a most fabulous convention: MidSouthCon 30! I went into it not…

“If you’re a reporter, the easiest thing in the world is to get a story. The hardest thing is to verify. The old sins were about getting something wrong, that was a cardinal sin. The new sin is to be boring.” -David Halberstam It was only a few months ago that both collaborations at the…

The Universe Just Keeps Trying to Kill Us

“Don’t wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.” -Roger Zelazny It’s always the ones you least expect that get you the worst, it seems. I went to bed last night excited that Asteroid 2012 DA14, a 200,000 ton asteroid, was going to pass within just 28,000 km (or…

How can we see black holes?

“According to the special theory of relativity nothing can travel faster than light, so that if light cannot escape, nothing else can either. The result would be a black hole: a region of space-time from which it is not possible to escape to infinity.” -Stephen Hawking You may have encountered objects that are the same…

How Many Planets Are In The Universe?

“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” -Ray Bradbury It wasn’t all that long ago — back when I was a boy — that the only planets we knew of were the ones in…

What we learn just by being here

“Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others.” -Timothy Leary Here we are, on planet Earth, the product of generations of civilization-building, maybe four-billion years of evolution on our world, around 13.7 billion years into the existence of our…