esiegel

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Ethan Siegel

Ethan was born in New York City as the son of a Jewish postal worker. He did his undergrad at Northwestern, taught public school in Houston, Texas and Los Angeles, California, before moving to Florida, where he got his PhD in theoretical astrophysics at the University of Florida. After that, he moved to Madison, Wisconsin, where he taught at the University of Wisconsin, ate too much cheese, and also met his life partner, Jamie. After working in astrophysics research at the University of Arizona and starting the world-renowned science blog, Starts With A Bang, he moved from the hellish desert to rain-soaked Portland in 2008. Since then, he's been a professor at the University of Portland and Lewis & Clark College, grown a nationally renowned beard and mustache, got invited to join a circus and probably drank more beer than a healthy person should. He currently works as the head curator at Trapit, and can't wait to tell you a little bit more about the Universe.

Posts by this author

October 1, 2017
“I see now that the circumstances of one's birth are irrelevant. It is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.” -Mewtwo, Pokemon (via Takeshi Shudo) After a week of commenting technical difficulties here on Scienceblogs, Starts With A Bang!'s Comments of the Week series is…
September 30, 2017
"Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera." -Yousuf Karsh Every time you shine light through a lens or reflect it off of a mirror, no matter how good it is, a portion of your light gets lost. Today’s largest, most powerful telescopes don’t even…
September 29, 2017
"Suddenly whole new programs open up, things you can do that you could never do before. It'd be great scientifically, it'd be great for the nation, for educators, for students, and it'd be just great for the public at large." -Garth Illingworth Looking farther and farther into the distant Universe…
September 27, 2017
"I know of no other scientist, no other theoretical physicist alive who has a clearer focus on whether our theories and ideas are relevant to the real world. And that's always what he's after." -Neil Turok, on Paul Steinhardt The inflationary Universe is one of the most revolutionary new ways of…
September 27, 2017
"Einstein's gravitational theory, which is said to be the greatest single achievement of theoretical physics, resulted in beautiful relations connecting gravitational phenomena with the geometry of space; this was an exciting idea." -Richard Feynman For over a century after the publication of…
September 27, 2017
"The surface of the Earth is the shore of the cosmic ocean. On this shore we’ve learned most of what we know. Recently, we’ve waded a little way out, maybe ankle-deep, and the water seems inviting. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return." -Carl Sagan Here on…
September 26, 2017
“It's always seemed like a big mystery how nature, seemingly so effortlessly, manages to produce so much that seems to us so complex. Well, I think we found its secret. It's just sampling what's out there in the computational universe.” -Stephen Wolfram In the mid-20th century, computers allowed us…
September 25, 2017
"If man is to survive, he will have learned to take a delight in the essential differences between men and between cultures." -Gene Roddenberry The first two episodes of Star Trek: Discovery are now behind us, and while I expected it to be darker and more of a continuous story than a series of self…
September 23, 2017
I know you normally look forward to the weekend as a chance for our comments of the week, but I see that a great many of you have been commenting/posting and have been encountering problems. Specifically, the problem that the system appears to eat your comments. The time I would normally spend…
September 23, 2017
"Day after day, day after day, We stuck, nor breath nor motion; As idle as a painted ship Upon a painted ocean. Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink." -Samuel Taylor Coleridge Here on Earth, water can easily exist in all three…
September 22, 2017
“The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” -Rachel Carson The idea that the spatial fabric of the Universe itself is expanding, and that’s what’s behind the observed relationship between redshift…
September 21, 2017
"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 Did the Universe begin with the Big Bang? When we discovered the cosmic microwave background, and its properties matched exactly the prediction of the…
September 20, 2017
"In terms of weapons, the best disarmament tool so far is nuclear energy. We have been taking down the Russian warheads, turning it into electricity. 10 percent of American electricity comes from decommissioned warheads." -Stewart Brand Arguably the greatest advance of humanity — and the cause of…
September 19, 2017
"Hubble often takes images of distant gravitationally lensed galaxies to infer their substructure and to try to learn about early galaxies in general. For LUVOIR, we would have that same resolution for any galaxy! That’s truly revolutionary." -John O'Meara If you were an observational astronomer,…
September 18, 2017
"We are what we are, and we're doing the best we can. It is not for you to set the standards by which we should be judged!" -Capt. Picard, to Q When you think about Star Trek, a whole variety of things might come to mind. It might conjure images of space exploration, feelings of optimism about the…
September 17, 2017
“There are two problems for our species' survival - nuclear war and environmental catastrophe - and we're hurtling towards them. Knowingly.” ―Noam Chomsky Well, another week of science has gone by, here at Starts With A Bang! and everywhere else in the world, and while we're down one space mission…
September 16, 2017
“There’s something about sitting alone in the dark that reminds you how big the world really is, and how far apart we all are. The stars look like they’re so close, you could reach out and touch them. But you can’t. Sometimes things look a lot closer than they are.” -Kami Garcia When we consider…
September 15, 2017
“The bedrock nature of space and time and the unification of cosmos and quantum are surely among science’s great ‘open frontiers.’ These are parts of the intellectual map where we’re still groping for the truth – where, in the fashion of ancient cartographers, we must still inscribe ‘here be…
September 14, 2017
"The physicist is like someone who’s watching people playing chess and, after watching a few games, he may have worked out what the moves in the game are. But understanding the rules is just a trivial preliminary on the long route from being a novice to being a grand master. So even if we…
September 13, 2017
"There are so many people who are arguing or fighting over issues which don't have much relevance. We must all realise it is not worth it. It's like being in the whirlpools which are always present behind a little rock near a river. We seem to be living in these little whirlpools and forget that…
September 12, 2017
"Being a scientist and staring immensity and eternity in the face every day is as grand and inspiring as it gets." -Carolyn Porco Launched back in October of 1997, Cassini will take its final plunge into the ringed world it’s been orbiting for over a decade on Friday, September 15th. Before it does…
September 11, 2017
"Hurricane Katrina overwhelmed levees and exploded the conventional wisdom about a shared American prosperity, exposing a group of people so poor they didn't have $50 for a bus ticket out of town. If we want to learn something from this disaster, the lesson ought to be: America's poor deserve…
September 10, 2017
“In the media age, everybody was famous for 15 minutes. In the Wikipedia age, everybody can be an expert in five minutes. Special bonus: You can edit your own entry to make yourself seem even smarter.” ―Stephen Colbert It's been another fun-and-fact-filled week here at Starts With A Bang! (And did…
September 9, 2017
"We have to understand the ubiquity of energy in everything we do. Energy is core to our economy and it brings with it environmental challenges, and it's core to our security challenges." -Ernest Moniz In 1953, then-President Eisenhower, in the aftermath of World War II and with rising tensions…
September 8, 2017
“That's a misconception, Lennie. The sky is everywhere, it begins at your feet.” -Jandy Nelson There are all sorts of explanations that people give for why the sky is blue. Some say that it’s because of the fact that oxygen is a light blue gas. Others contend that the sky reflects the blue ocean,…
September 7, 2017
"The older you get, the more you realize that the way you look is a reflection of how you treat yourself." -Hope Davis Age may be just a number, but in cosmic terms, there are some rules it’s pretty important to obey. It should be impossible to have a complex creature that’s older than the planets…
September 6, 2017
"I'd rather fight 100 structure fires than a wildfire. With a structure fire you know where your flames are, but in the woods it can move anywhere; it can come right up behind you." -Tom Watson On September 2nd, a group of teenagers were lighting fireworks in the Columbia Gorge near Eagle Creek.…
September 5, 2017
"The sun is a miasma Of incandescent plasma The sun's not simply made out of gas No, no, no The sun is a quagmire It's not made of fire Forget what you've been told in the past" -They Might Be Giants Ask anyone where the Sun (or any star) gets its energy from, and most people will correctly answer…
September 4, 2017
"Just the fact that you so desperately attempt to dismantle our theory proves that we are on the right track. Otherwise you would not feel so threatened by our theories!" -Giogrio Tsoukalos (in a letter to Jason Colavito) Whenever we detect a signal that we can't immediately explain, it's a very…
September 3, 2017
“There will be days when we lose faith. Days when our allies turn against us...but the day will never come that we forsake this planet and its people.” ―Optimus Prime There was too much to simply keep it to a single article a day this week here at Starts With A Bang! The dynamic duo of Megan Watzke…