Theoretical astrophysicist Ethan Siegel entertains and informs with his award-winning blog about the mysteries, beauties and quirks of the universe – Starts With A Bang at http://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang.
Q. Your blog covers everything from questions about a Martian colony to the reason behind the existence of life. How would you describe your site’s main mission?
A. There’s a whole universe out there to not only marvel at, but also to try and understand. A lot of people presume that there’s no way they can understand it without years of specialized study, but I disagree, and think the joys and wonders of the universe are for everyone.
Q. Your “Ask Ethan” sections seem particularly popular. What are the most common questions?
A. There are some very big questions out there that science is beginning to uncover the answers to, such as “Where does all this come from?” “How did life begin?” “Do black holes really exist?” and “Why is our galaxy a spiral?”
Q. What do you most wish nonscientists understood about the universe?
A. For me, the most astounding fact about the universe is that it can be understood. Everywhere we look, it obeys the same physical laws, the matter in it has the same properties, and even the most distant recesses of deep space are made out of the same “stuff” that we are.
The fact that we can understand the universe at all is the most amazing thing about it to me, and I think if we all made the effort to learn, respect and enjoy what the scientific truths about the natural world are, we’d have a better world for us all here on Earth.
Q. Your blog’s quotations and images reach beyond the world of science to those of literature, art, and science fiction. How do those fields inform the realms of astronomy and physics?
A. Literature, art and science fiction are all sources of inspiration that fire our imagination and creativity. Although we have a picture of science and scientists as being cold, calculating and dispassionate, I’ve never found that to be true at all. (Well, except for the calculating part; there is a lot of that!)
But you have to be willing to look beyond the horizons of what we presently know; otherwise you’ll never discover anything new.