Advisory Board

Professor Ethan Siegel

Ethan Siegel, Ph.D. is a theoretical astrophysicist and science writer, who studies Big Bang theory. He loves writing long, glorious, illustrated articles that tell what we know about the universe and how we know it. He runs Starts With A Bang which is now based at Forbes.com. In the past, he has been a professor at Lewis & Clark College.

Ethan was born in 1978 to a Jewish postal worker and grew up in the Bronx, New York City, where he attended the Bronx High School of Science until 1996.

He worked at Fermilab in 1997. He earned his undergraduate degree in physics, classics, and integrated science from Northwestern University in 2000. He was unsure whether to continue studying and took the GRE Physics Test. He taught in high school in Houston and at King Drew Magnet High School of Medicine and Science in inner-city Los Angeles for a year, and then decided he did not want to teach any longer, influenced by Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, he went back into academia to study the universe.

He studied theoretical cosmology, in particular cosmological perturbation theory, at graduate school at the University of Florida with advisor Professor Jim Fry from 2001. He earned his Ph.D. in 2006. During his graduate studies, he was a teaching assistant and lecturer in physics. He sat on the graduate student affairs committee, and he was an assistant coordinator for REU students.

Ethan was a teaching assistant in undergraduate general physics at the University of Wisconsin in Spring 2007 and then took up a post-doctoral research post at the University of Arizona, known for its physics research. In 2008, he moved with his then fiancée to Portland, Oregon, after deciding to not pursue an ambitious research career with long hours and instead focus on science outreach.

He taught at the University of Portland and then Lewis & Clark College, where he was a visiting Assistant Professor. He later became science and health editor for Trapit (Scribblelive). He moved to Toledo in late 2014, while continuing to occasionally teach at Lewis & Clark. He became a full-time self-employed science writer in May 2018.

In December 2015, Ethan published his popular science book Beyond the Galaxy: How Humanity Looked Beyond Our Milky Way and Discovered the Entire Universe with World Scientific, which he said is for "people who are curious and intelligent but don’t have scientific backgrounds". In his book, Ethan critiques the MOND theory of gravity, arguing "its failure to meet the criteria of reproducing the successes of the already-established leading theory means that it has not yet risen to the status of scientifically viable." Greg Laden compared it to Isaac Asimov’s The Intelligent Man’s Guide to the Physical Sciences, physicist Sabine Hossenfelder said it "is the missing link between cosmology textbooks and popular science articles", and Ph.D. student Jonah Miller said it is "one of those rare books that not only communicates scientific ideas, but communicates what science itself is all about."

In 2012 and 2015, he was the Science Guest of Honor and Toastmaster at MidSouthCon, where he promoted the joy of science. In April 2017, he was the Science Guest of Honor at Norwescon 40. Ethan wears costumes such as a wrestler or superhero to attract attention to his science communication.

Ethan’s blog Starts With a Bang started in January 2008 at startswithabang.com and then ScienceBlogs from March 2009 to October 2017. The blog included a monthly podcast and his posts answered questions from readers in the "Ask Ethan" series. He hosted guest bloggers, including Sabine Hossenfelder and Paul Halpern. The blog is now on Forbes.com.

Topics he covered include adaptive optics, using lasers in astronomy to adjust for atmospheric turbulence, the detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes by LIGO, and why quantum entanglement does not allow faster-than-light communication. By January 2011, his blog had been viewed 2 million times.

Described as "beautifully illustrated and full of humor", his blog won the 2010 Physics.org award for best blog, judged by Adam Rutherford, Alom Shaha, Gia Milinovich, Hayley Birch, Lata Sahonta, and Stuart Clark and the people’s choice award, and his post "Where Is Everybody?" came third in the 2011 3 Quarks Daily science writing awards, judged by Lisa Randall, winning a "Charm Quark" for "[taking] on the challenge of simplifying probability estimates without sacrificing the nature of the enterprise or suppressing the uncertainties involved".

Ethan headed the RealClearScience list of top science bloggers in 2013, as his "unmatched ability to describe the nearly indecipherable made him an easy choice for #1."Ethan also wrote a column for NASA, The Space Place. He continues to contribute content on the Forbes website.

Ethan first published in physics in 2003, working mainly on dark matter and structure formation. His significant works are among others, Cosmological perturbations and their effects on the universe, his Ph.D. thesis at University of Florida; Nonlinear Structure Formation and the Acoustic Scale in The Astrophysical Journal; Beyond the Galaxy: How Humanity Looked Beyond Our Milky Way and Discovered the Entire Universe with World Scientific in December 2015; and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive, with Voyageur Press in October 15, 2017.

Ethan lived in Portland from 2008 to 2014 and has lived in Toledo, Washington since 2014. He is married to Jamie Cummings, who he met in Madison, Wisconsin. He has a large beard and moustache and wears a kilt — with Jamie he entered the West Coast Beard and Mustache competition in Portland in 2011. He is "often asked why he doesn’t look like a scientist". Ethan is Jewish and an atheist. He plays online chess and is a fan of My Little Pony.

Listen to Ethan Siegel on Red Flags of Pseudoscience on Science For The People, Ethan Siegel is together with Andy Weir a guest at Science For The People talking about Impossible Space Engines, and Jes and Jen gets Starts With A Bang, Ethan Siegel to explain at mercurybroadcasting.net.

View his Forbes Contributor profile and his Wikipedia profile. Follow him on his personal Facebook. Visit his Starts With A Bang Facebook and follow his Starts With A Bang Twitter. Visit his Medium homepage and his YouTube channel. Listen to his Starts With A Bang podcast on Soundcloud. Read his posts at Scienceblogs (discontinued). Listen to Ethan at The Space Show, and for the amusement and retrospective into history of internet, visit his 2007 homepage or even earlier homepage from the 90s.