A New Adventure for a New Year!

"Actually, I wasn't happy or sad. I was medium. And medium is the happiest that I'll ever be." -Axe Cop

It's been an amazing journey over the years, sharing the joys and wonders of the Universe with you. From the smallest subatomic particles, the most fundamental interactions and the shortest timescales imaginable to the stars, galaxies, clusters, superclusters and beyond, we've spent the better part of the last five years together here on ScienceBlogs exploring the most interesting aspects of physical reality together.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF), R. O'Connell (UVa), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee. Image credit: NASA, ESA, F. Paresce (INAF-IASF), R. O'Connell (UVa), and the Wide Field Camera 3 Science Oversight Committee.

And in many ways, the journey has just begun. We can -- with great confidence -- talk about the four fundamental forces governing the interactions of the Universe, the entire cosmic history from the inflationary state that set up the Big Bang all the way up to the present day. We can infer, from our known laws and observations, what the Universe is made out of, including the parts that are unseeable by our eyes and terrestrial apparatuses, and even project what the fate of the Universe will be far into the future!

Image credit: Adam G. Riess / NASA illustration. Image credit: Adam G. Riess / NASA illustration.

But there's still so much more to learn.

What caused the inflationary state that set up the Big Bang, and what caused it to end and create our entire observable Universe?

What is the fundamental nature of spacetime, and is it eternal or did it spring into existence from non-existence?

In the matter-and-radiation filled Universe we inhabit, what is the nature of the unseen dark matter and dark energy that dominate our Universe's energy content?

Image credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, C. Ma, H. Ebeling and E. Barrett (University of Hawaii/IfA), et al. and STScI. Image credit: NASA, ESA, CXC, C. Ma, H. Ebeling and E. Barrett (University of Hawaii/IfA), et al. and STScI.

What specifically caused the matter-antimatter asymmetry that enabled us to exist?

What's the solution to the hierarchy problem, or the cause of non-zero neutrino masses, and are they related?

Are protons truly stable, or will they decay over time?

And finally, is there a quantum theory of gravity at all, or is gravity somehow distinct and unique from the other fundamental forces?

Image credit: NASA/Sonoma State University/Aurore Simonnet. Image credit: NASA/Sonoma State University/Aurore Simonnet.

As we hurtle through space, on this spinning rock orbiting our Sun, revolving around the Milky Way -- the second largest galaxy in our local group -- all while the great cosmic islands and clusters of galaxies recede from us, we search for the answers. We have come so far and learned so much along the journey, and I've been truly blessed and privileged to share the little bit that I know with all of you, and to do it on a wonderful platform like ScienceBlogs since 2009.

But they say that change is the only constant in this Universe, and the new year brings with it a very big one for me, and I hope you'll join me as the journey continues. At the dawn of this new year -- 2014 -- I'm pleased to announce the all-new Starts With A Bang on Medium!

Image credit: Medium / Starts With A Bang, via https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang; background by the CFHT. Image credit: Medium / Starts With A Bang, via https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang; background by the CFHT.

Featuring larger images, a cleaner, ad-free experience, and a mobile-device-friendly interface, I believe I'll be able to deliver an even richer, more valuable experience to you all. For a little sample, you can check out the first new post here, with more to come very quickly!

For those of you who want to know what you can expect, I've compiled a very handy list for you:

  • Messier Mondays will continue every Monday over on the new Starts With A Bang at Medium, until we're through all 110 objects that make up the Messier catalogue.
  • There will continue to be a mid-week post on whatever science-related topic I think will be most valuable to share with you that week.
  • There will be a new Thursday post each week -- a throwback Thursday, if you will -- where I'll share one of the classic posts from the past five years, reworked and improved for a 2014 audience.
  • On Fridays, because the responses to our new Ask Ethan series -- and your questions and suggestions -- have continued to be so overwhelmingly positive, we're going to answer the best question I can pose as inspired by your submissions! (And keep using the submission form here; I'll still read them all!)
  • And finally, we'll continue to have a Weekend Diversion as well, and I'll do my best to find a way to share a weekly song with you as we've done all along!

If you're an RSS feed type of person, make sure you're getting the new Starts With A Bang here, as I wouldn't want you to miss a single post!

Image credit: screenshot from my first new post at https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang. Image credit: screenshot from my first new post at https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang.

Because I know how valuable the community we've built here is, I wanted to share a few possibilities with you for ways you can keep it alive moving forward:

  • The new platform on Medium enables you to leave comments on each particular paragraph or image, so that you can say what you have to say where it's most relevant. All you need to comment is a Twitter account, and comments can be up to 400 characters (rather than the standard 140), and I'll moderate each and every one! (You can find me on Medium here.)
  • If you want to follow all the things I'm involved in, you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ at your convenience.
  • If you need to get a message to me directly, I can't promise you a response, but you can always be sure I'll read what you send me at startswithabang AT gmail DOT com.
  • And finally -- for those of you who are science professionals (i.e., with at least a Ph.D.) -- if you've enjoyed Starts With A Bang and are interested in contributing a guest post, let me know; so many of you have had such valuable things to say over the years that I'd love to share some of that with all of our readers as well!
Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / T. Pyle. Image credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / T. Pyle.

So keep sending in your questions, and I hope you enjoy the new Starts With A Bang as much as I do! I've been so lucky to have your support over the years, and I'm hoping you'll continue to find our time together to be a wonderful addition to your week. Looking forward to seeing you and sharing the joys and wonders of the Universe with you as we journey through it one terrestrial rotation at a time!

(And for the TL;DR crowd: read Starts With A Bang here from now on, including our debut post for the new year, get the new RSS feed here, and I'll see you over on Medium!)

Update: By popular demand -- and an agreement with the powers-that-be -- the Ask Ethan series we've started has been simply too rich to discontinue, so even though I'll be putting out five posts a week over at Medium, we'll still do an Ask Ethan post once a week here! So keep submitting your questions and join me here, once a week, and over at Medium on a nearly daily basis for a double dose of the best science you can find!

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can we add a monthly "wtf is Ethan wearing now?!?!" costume-related post?

So in other words.. have to register on another social media platform (twitter) in order to be able to comment on your site?? That's a pity :(

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 01 Jan 2014 #permalink

Aye, I won't get a twitter/fb/whatever account.

Ad free is good, but only because ads are so terribly bad under "standard usage".

Popup/under/side/behind/crawled/... indicate that the advertising knows it isn't working and therefore has to try to enforce utility with no benefit to the "consumer" (the "benefit" being from their POV as advertisers "they'll see adverts for stuff they'd like!", which isn't their benefit if you find they aren't looking through your ads, is it).

Worse, because of all this, they have to resort to them being hosted elsewhere. This is a move that will never be undone and is why even "old style" ads are worse than they were when run before.

Because they then found the only benefit marketing can get from ads is to track you and that means hosting them on a machine that shares itself for each ad so it can track when you get each advert.

So now the website has to wait until adsense or whatever gets around to being able to present the data for its advert before you can get to what you damn well wanted. After all, being overloaded means the advertiser is getting as much from the capital investment as possible! The fact it grounds the website the ad is on to a halt is not their concern: they aren't in the business of making things work better for people, only making them buy stuff.

So advertising free is only good because advertising screws it up entirely and at a ratcheting level. Not because advertising on a web page isn't wanted, but because it ruins the site that it has no reason to care about.

Getting another ad-directing system to avoid advertising isn't much of a selling point.

And if I don't use it for anything else other than one blog for an activity I enjoy and have hopes is of some use to my fellow humans, then I really don't see a benefit from marketing myself to do only this.

So on a balance of benefits, a site requiring a FB/Google/whatever login to post comments to will not be commented on.

I am not normal in this lack of FB/Twitter/Blargh so you'll likely keep a lot of previous posters and gain some who merely chance across because of site selling on that medium.

But you'll likely see a quite marked change in tone.

I would love an Ethan's costume monthly post! :-D

@ Wow

Agree. I don't have twitter and sure won't start one just so I can comment. Do have FB and gmail, but even so do not use platforms that require my FB or anything in order to "work".

I'm sure Ethan has his own reasons for switching to a new platform, but sad to see this reader community we had here go away. And it will. Am sure many have twitter... but many do not. I, for one, will have to find a new place to hang around.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 01 Jan 2014 #permalink

p.s. for me it was never about larger images, responsive UI (by the way, current blog works perfectly well on mobile as well as desktop), tweets etc.. Wouldn't mind having this whole blog in plain text. After all that's what really matters. What's written. That and the community that gathered here. But it's all text for me. There's another saying that goes: "do not change that which works".

As a daily visitor for several years, Ethan, reconsider this move. Financially to you it might be better. From the blog's and readers p.o.v. .. not so sure.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 01 Jan 2014 #permalink

What this site didn't do well for mobile was allow preview and spellchecking.

It's easier to retype words if you can move a mouse pointer to the location in a large text box where the offending word lies.

Not so easy to plonk a fat finger on the only word on a small textbox that you may have to scroll around with your fat fingers and not touch another "sensitive" spot to enact some unretrievable action.

Spelling mistakes, half formed statements and a raising of the annoyance are a part of what Scienceblogs does when rendered on even a tablet interface, never mind even the largest phone interface.

That could have been fixed by some other method, though it may be that the blog software as configured and unavailable to the bloggers without root access contradicts it.

Personally, with the reader base Ethan has, can't understand why not put up your own domain long time ago. Why be tied with other company when you don't have to.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 02 Jan 2014 #permalink

Another reader and occasional commenter who doesn't have a Twitter account, so won't be commenting on the new series. I hope it goes well.

By Michael Richmond (not verified) on 02 Jan 2014 #permalink

I appreciate the comments and hope that we continue to have good conversations here surrounding the Ask Ethan series.

If I knew of a perfect way to have all the things I wanted from a blogging platform, a commenting service that served the community, and also to be able to afford to do all the things that one wants to do in life, I'd gladly do it; unfortunately, I haven't yet figured out how to have it all. So it goes.

But thanks for all the support, and hoping you continue to enjoy what I'm putting out; there are plenty of good stories that no one else is telling that need to be told, and that's my favorite part of it, so that's what I'll keep doing!

Ethan, best of luck to you! The new sites looks like it'll be great for you to do multimedia stuff, rather than just "wall of text" and cool pictures (I really love the cool pictures, though!).

Unfortunately, I'm another Luddite who doesn't use either Twitter or Facebook.

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 02 Jan 2014 #permalink

I suppose the larger graphics will be nice viewing to many here, but I always found whatever images you had had posted on other sites if I wanted a larger version. Those side trips often became an introduction to another previously unvisited and surprisingly interesting site. I liked that. It was yet another reason to appreciate visiting this blog.

I regret to say that I will not be commenting on your new site. Like many others here, I would not join Twitter for any reason whatsoever, unless my bank began requiring it to access my accounts. (I am grateful for that)

There is a quite large community of academic, interesting and technically inclined people who avoid sites like Facebook and Twitter. Whenever such folks see a site relinquishing control to off-putting entities like Twitter, it is unfortunately viewed as an indicator of a site's imminent degradation. It is inevitably seen as a harbinger of degeneration into mediocrity and a depressing slide into the morass of the commonplace. To bear witness to this esteemed venture resigning itself to the lowest common denominator is unsavory and nauseating to contemplate.

Sorry to use descriptive language like that, but you need to know that there really are a vast number of wonderful, science-loving, technical and involved human beings who do view this move just as I have described. And I should note that it has nothing to do with paranoia. It's just an acute awareness that giving way to the encroaching aspects of the pedestrian (Twitter, Facebook, etc) marks the beginning of a downfall that we have seen before and have committed ourselves to avoid.

Even Google+ has become so undesirably invasive in their practices that many people now will not use it. So far, DISQUS is one of the few still acceptable comment hosting services I will use. I could have weathered that as an alternate.

Starts With a Bang had always been one of my favorite sites to visit. I appreciate all I has been. I hate to see a good part of it collapse like this. I can only assume you were forced into the changeover and you are trying to make the best of it. If so, don’t feel too bad. I’ve seen this happen. It is the nature of the internet that appreciated things such as this often pass. Even some of the greatest species on earth will eventually vanish.

I hope other good things will transpire in life to offset this. It happens.

(Sniffle …)

By MandoZink (not verified) on 02 Jan 2014 #permalink

Possibly the saddest thing yet to transpire will be when a blog is posted answering a long-awaited question from a regular commentor, only to hear no feedback or thanks from that person because they were no longer commenting.

Since this will be my my last chance to offer any suggestions or input myself, I would suggest you may want to consider starting all over with a new Ask Ethan and this fresh set of future commentors, due to the probable occurrence of the above scenario.

By MandoZink (not verified) on 02 Jan 2014 #permalink

I'm another with no use for twitter. I lurk more often than not but but the answers I've gotten from wow and Michael et al when I posed a question have always been phenomenal and are a pretty huge loss for this blog in its new form. Bye guys.

Let me be another to add I think it's a shame that there won't be ordinary web comment forms on the new site. I'm sure it seems stupid to anyone who proficiently juggles a bunch of social platforms but goddamnit I don't want to sign up for anything else or manage any accounts or be tracked across multiple websites. Thanks for the blog Ethan, and I'm sure you gotta do what you gotta do, but in my no-doubt-inconsequential opinion this is a no-good move.

By uncleMonty (not verified) on 02 Jan 2014 #permalink

The new RSS feed works, in that it tells me that there is a new post, but it only contains the first line of text, which tells me nothing. The old RSS feed had most of the post (the text at least).

I'd have told you this on the new site, but I can't. Comment via Twitter? No thanks. Seems like one step forwards, 2 steps back...

Oh for god sakes. The Twitter login doesn't mean you have to tweet. Or do anything else new. Many sites require or permit logins using the Twitter, Facebook, GitHub, etc. APIs because they're very convenient to use as a keyring. Some of you are spending more energy bitching than it would take to create a Twitter account and move on with your lives. I haven't seen a single valid objection to doing so.

By Jason Shanfield (not verified) on 03 Jan 2014 #permalink


I just wanted to say I really appreciate everyone's honesty with me about your feelings about the move and the new venture. I recognize that this is something that isn't going to be a good move for everyone, and that some of you who are happiest with the status quo are going to be the most affected (and disappointed) by changes to it.

I also have definitely taken and listened to a couple of issues that people have brought up to me: the inability to receive a large amount of text from the new RSS feed at http://medium.com/feed/starts-with-a-bang, the inability to comment in any way other than via Twitter, and the inability to share/access Medium posts via StumbleUpon. I have brought all of these issues up to the powers-that-be at Medium, and I will keep you informed as to whether-or-when they get resolved.

I also recognize it's a risk on my part to embark on a new venture like this. I will totally admit to being nervous about it, and that my goals -- to tell better-quality stories and reach a broader audience with them -- might both fail. But there's an opportunity here, and I think there's a chance I can succeed, so I have to try. I have to.

I'd love your support in that, I really would, as much as you can muster. I'm trying to keep as many people with many different interests as happy as I can, and I realize that's not necessarily going to be possible. But if you have questions or you want to reach me, I am truly trying to make myself accessible and to focus on doing what I do best: putting out the best quality articles and stories about the Universe and our understanding of it as I can.

Thanks for all of your support so far, and I'll keep doing my best to create the best content, both here and (especially) at the new site, as I can.

I must apologize somewhat for my first post above which was replete with aggressive and unhappy derived verbiage. I drained half a thesaurus mining for apt adjectives and adverbs.

My memories of happy, care-free commenting here will remain as joyfully intact as the archive searcher's ability to relocate them.

By MandoZink (not verified) on 03 Jan 2014 #permalink

Ethan thanks for taking the time to interact with us Luddite compainers who'll have to be dragged, kicking, to Twitter. I was looking at the new site (and it does look nice) but I don't see any comments at all--do readers have to sign up for something to see comments at all, or are there just no comments yet on any of the three articles?

On the new site I found I had to decrease the size of the page rendering in my browser so the text was scaled comfortably, which had the unfortunate effect of making the images smaller too, and in fact by the time the text felt like it was the right size, the images were no larger than they are on this platform.

By uncleMonty (not verified) on 03 Jan 2014 #permalink

Yes, no comments yet. People are saying lots but they're saying it mostly on facebook and twitter to me rather than on the new blog.

The font size was a concern for me initially, as I had the same reaction you did. Once I got through about two full articles, though, it no longer bothered me. I wonder if it'll become easy for you very quickly, or if you'll prefer the zoomed-out view? But no, there is no option for me to use a smaller font at this point in time.

Since you'll still have an Ask Ethan presence here on ScienceBlogs, will past years' archived posts be accessible here as well? I understand you'll be reworking certain topics, but there is a lot of good stuff buried in those archives; often the simplest answer to a question was "see such-and-such post." When we tweet general comments about a post (as opposed to on a specific paragraph or photo), will they be displayed as a thread like this? Or is interaction among commenters not part of the model? Does the RSS feed consist basically of an email alert to the day's topic and a link to the post? I guess I can set all but the most recent to auto-delete.

By chuckinmontreal (not verified) on 03 Jan 2014 #permalink

Ethan: "People are saying lots but they’re saying it mostly on facebook and twitter to me rather than on the new blog."

Perhaps they are having the same trouble as me. I cannot see any possible way of commenting on the new blog. Is there one?

I signed on to Twitter, was forced to follow 20 accounts, unfollowed them all, blocked the ones now following me, discovered 4 bugs in Twitter, followed @startswithabang, ...and...

I can talk to you OK. I can see your replies to other people OK. I usually cannot see what you're replying to. I can see all the #MessierMonday stuff, because you're used a hashtag, (but I cannot separate them, because they all have the same hashtag). If there was a new hashtag per posting, I could see all the tweets for that, and it would sort of be a comment section. But all the Facebook stuff would be elsewhere.

What am I missing?


Medium as a platform doesn't have comments below the article. Instead they want you to comment (if allowed by writer and signed with twitter etc...) each paragraph and section.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

it makes sense from their standpoint since they revolve their business around twitter. They imagine Medium as a place for twitter and FB people to write more than 140characters. Have to say lol, because that's not really a blog reader crowd. A lot of comments here went well over 140characters.. let alone posts themselves. But I guess for someone twitter heavy, a place that connects to your twitter and you tweet more than 140 is ok and very usable.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 05 Jan 2014 #permalink

davem @23,

I found you and followed you back, although that step wasn't necessary for you to comment.

It sounds like you've found my twitter stream, so if you want to see what people have said or commented about any particular tweets of mine, just click on the tweet in question and click the "details" link; you'll get taken to a page like this. All the comments that have been made are below it, along with my responses.

On facebook or google+ it's a little easier so long as you have an account; just go to my page (here on facebook and here on google+) and you can either friend request (I'll accept)/follow me or add me to your circles, and you'll be able to see all the comments, along with my responses.

I hope this helps! BTW the comments on Medium aren't restricted to 140 characters; there is a character limit but it's more like 400 characters, which is enough to express many (but not all) thoughts. And you can always leave more than one comment if you need the space. :-)

OK, thanks for the pointers. I now discover that if I hover the cursor over a paragraph, I can write a note (that only Ethan and I can see, until Ethan approves of it). I hadn't seen any mention of that...

I can now see some stuff on Twitter, but only 140 characters, I can see some different stuff on FaceBook. And I will see some notes against each paragraph on the blog, when and if they are approved.

Righty-Ho. So I'll just gather the three together, and feed the dog its breakfast :0)

"us Luddite compainers who’ll have to be dragged, kicking, to Twitter"

As a tech geek, as far as tech goes (e.g. twitter), you can't really call me a luddite.

Problem is that such sites require money from monetising the subscribers, and the aim to increase year-on-year (nowadays, merely making a profit isn't enough: you must increase that profit or you'll be abandoned by shareholders and you'll have to close doors, even if you were profitable) means that they get more intrusive.

And increasing profit motive means increasing intrusion.

"Even Google+ has become so undesirably invasive in their practices that many people now will not use it."

It was never popular, but what threw a lot off was making it mandatory. Several users of it I know of dropped it because it was only ever a "meh" thing and never really wanted, so this was enough of a thing to make a choice over: drop it.

@Wow #28: I referred to myself as a Luddite, based on my refusal to adopt the latest fads in social notworking :-)

By Michael Kelsey (not verified) on 06 Jan 2014 #permalink

Aye, I knew you were being "lax", but luddite gets bandied about too often as it is, and in text-only social "interaction", the 50% of conversation that is nonverbal is missing.

And therefore poe's law: no statement can be made tongue-in-cheek that won't be held in all seriousness by someone on the internet.

NOTE: poe's law has no such thing as "You've been poe'd!". It gets a bit like Betteridge's Law of Headlines (where it isn't "Any headline that is in the form of a statement must be answered 'no'"). Or more frequently Ad Hom, which isn't "insulting someone", it's making out error in conclusion based on the character of the one making it in an unrelated context.

Recent headlines have been how FB is being abandoned by the "New Generation" for things like Twitch. Staying with FB isn't luddism. Moving to something else isn't either. They're just choices.

It's been a coupe of weeks that I haven't read any post (high workload and then vacations), and I haven't seen the new site yet (I have no doubts that it is great).

About the commenting issue, I really don't see any problems. It takes one minute to set up a Twitter account and you can start commenting. If you are afraid of I don't know what, make a fake one and then comment. It's all about what one can get/loose with it and if someone thinks it's not worth it then fine. But I think it is!

By Filip Radulovic (not verified) on 09 Jan 2014 #permalink

@Michael Kelsey#30

Well put - " I referred to myself as a Luddite, based on my refusal to adopt the latest fads in social notworking"

Some of us treasure the ability to comment without the banality of embracing the superficial yoke of common social media. It is certainly not bitching, as one spawn of the Twitter mindset stated earlier. It's just that our lives have always been full of interesting and genuine people that never required our "signing up" as a prerequisite to communicate. It's never been necessary in the large hi-tech and low-tech crowd of people I know. I like that

By MandoZink (not verified) on 09 Jan 2014 #permalink

"It takes one minute to set up a Twitter account "

It takes setting up a twitter account.

What if I don't wish to?

"If you are afraid of I don’t know what"

If you don't know what I'm afraid of, why do you think I'm afraid?

Do you not buy a bus ticket to go to town because you're afraid of something? Or because you decided to walk?

When I claimed that the tenor of comments would change, Filip Radulovic is a prime example of what I meant.


ANY wish not to conform to what I consider worth taking any stance on WILL BE taken as a sign of cowardice at best, deliberate asshattery at worst!

The First Rule About Social Networking is YOU WILL USE SOCIAL NETWORKING.

The Second Rule About Social Networking is YOU WILL USE IT!

The Third Rule is YOU WILL NOT *EVER* ask whether it is worth the effort!


@ Wow

If you don't wish to set up an account, then simply don't do it! It's perfectly fine as I said.
But would you please be kind to tell me what exactly is the reason not to set up a Twitter account, even a fake one, in order to be able to comment on Ethan's post in the future?

By Filip Radulovic (not verified) on 10 Jan 2014 #permalink

"If you don’t wish to set up an account, then simply don’t do it!"

Sorry, dear, I wasn't going to do it anyway.

But if I'm allowed not to, then why did you make your statements in #32?

If I don't want to, how is telling me it'll take a few minutes of any purpose or aid?

If it's perfectly possible not to sign up, why did you claim unreasoning as the only option in that post with

If you are afraid of I don’t know what

If you're going to make scenarios up, why not more likely ones like

"If you don't want to sign up, then a fake one helps not at all, so I don't know why I mentioned it, sorry"


By proposing fear as an option and no other possibilities, you've insinuated that fear drives those who do not want to. Whether this is the case or not.

Would you have liked it if I'd said:

"For those who have a monetary interest in pushing traffic to twitter, then this will obviously be a good move"


Would you think, after you posting "This is a great idea!" that I'm insinuating you're a paid shill? Too damn right! Would you be wanting to break down that assertion and claim that you're NOT saying "It's great" because you're getting paid to do so? Damn right!

So I was going to not get a twitter account with or without your permission.

Others were going to not get a twitter account, with or without your permission, too.

None of us are afraid of a damn thing either and your insinuation otherwise is highly offensive.

And your insinuation that you "let" us not get twitter (after pushing it) is also highly offensive.

Moreover, entirely the change in tone I was on about: "everyone must think like I do, therefore anyone thinking different must be doing so because they're not thinking".

@ Wow

I am sorry you took it that way, I did not have that intention. You are right, please accept my appologize!

By Filip Radulovic (not verified) on 10 Jan 2014 #permalink

Your new website won't stay still when i try to read it from a mobile device. It keeps jumping up or down a page the second i stop scrolling to the part i want to read. After twenty minutes of trying to read an article in i gave up in fustration. I really wish you hadn't moved your site ethan, this used to be my favourite blog.


Can you send me a private email (startswithabang AT gmail DOT com) and let me know the specifics? Medium has been pretty good at addressing technical problems in just the two weeks I've been with them, and if you can provide me with information such as:

-What device you're using?
-What OS/browser you're on?
-What post(s) it's happening with?
-And any other information you can disclose,

I'd be happy to pass that on to the admins and see if they can resolve it. I know the new site works very well on mobile for at least five other people (and I'd assume more; people rarely write in to say "everything is great"), but you're the second complaint I've gotten as well surrounding Medium on mobile, so if you can tell me more, I'll do what I can to have it resolved.


"I am sorry you took it that way, I did not have that intention"

It's a fairly common occurrence when it comes to people support for "community" venues. E.g. Steam. Don't like it? YOU CANNOT NOT LIKE IT!!!!. Diablo3's networking? Don't like it? YOU CANNOT NOT LIKE IT!!. Sim City? Same deal.

Each one has to presume with great detail and relish on every single possible insane reason that the fluffer wishies to be the "reason" that someone doesn't want the change.


Social media is now the external representation of the identity of the person who likes it. Much like the faith or religion is taken as the personal identity of the believer, hence attacking (or just not joining in) on the same social interaction is taken not as a choice, but as a PERSONAL affront.

So not wanting twitter cannot be "I do not wish to become another marketing tool" but HAS to be "I am afraid of technology".


Because then you can make the outside group "not really human" and demonise them to make your decision seem even more worthy.

It's extremely common.

Well I had an inactive Twitter account.
Basically, I couldn't figure how to use it in a useful way to me.

Thus motivated, I also learned how to create several Twitter Accounts with 1 email. Haha. So then I created a name, OKThen and a username OKTHenThen (OK Then had been taken) and I posted on the first page of Ethan's new blog.
It seemed to be submitted by OKThen not OKThenThen, which was fine.

But!! One day later and my simple test post is not up.

OK, I'm a Luddite sort of.
But I will post again in the next few minutes on Ethan's first post and see if it works. And I will keep trying until it works.

Here's the deal.
1) I am going to keep reading Ethan. I appreciate and want the education.
2) I am going to figure out how to comment via twitter. I now have a reason to try twitter again.

(I previously tried both Twitter and Facebook. I basically deleted all of my personal data off of Facebook and don't think I would ever put it on facebook again (privacy issue, NOT that anyone really cares about me BUT). But Twitter has really interested me; well since it changed the world with Arab Spring. So I've really wanted to learn how to use Twitter in a way that worked for me.

So now Ethan is trying to use Twitter in a way that will work for him and I'll be there.

But one day later

Oh looks like last time I hit the "save" button; maybe I need to hit the "reply" button. Haha!

Hey wait a minute. My first reply was accepted by ethan. I just didn't know how Twitter worked and how to find my tweets. Nice.

If this village idiot can figure out how to use twitter; then you can too. Ha ha. ha.

I know how it works.

And I find the exchange of benefit compares poorly to the cost requested for the service.

Since I have no right to use the service if I'm not going to agree to the contract, and I find the contract unconscionable by virtue of being unbalanced, I cannot, not merely will not, use twitter.

Now I'm having several problems.

If I go to one my twitter account; I find that I am following Start with a Bang (which is good); but all I can see is a bunch of very short boring conversations. I don't find the whole Post.

Now if I go to medium; well I know how to bookmark the Ethan's first Post but I seem to be forced to scroll through all of Ethan's next post. What I really want is just to land on his most current post and be able to look at his most recent posts and also be able to see and follow who and where others are commenting.

Also it seems that this is not really using twitter. Rather it is using Medium which uses twitter as some kind of interface. Because it seems to me that I can't go to twitter and get to Medium. I hope I am wrong.

Help anyone. Thanks.

Frankly, I never read the contract.
And since I am using a fake user name and a fake name. It doesn't matter to me.
And my gmail is pseudonym name and I can set up multiple pseudonym gmail accounts.

Yes it could get messy.
But I almost have privacy and that's enough.
I mean privacy is an illusion.

So Wow and Sinisa Lazarek and Michael Kelsey I will miss you.

Here's the deal.
Ethan has made a good decision.
Social media is not a fad any more than rock and roll is a fad or physics is a fad or books are a fad.
So let's see what we can learn about these new media.

And I need help. HELP.
How do I follow Ethan's most recent whole posts not just the little tweet.

Never believe the 30 second marketing hype. It takes a week to learn any new tool.

You see. I can go to where I want on wikipedia and have no advertisements.

But I can't navigate to Ethan on Medium; I seemed to be forced to look at "everyone's stories" which is worse than advertisements. And I have no way to get to Ethan's lastest post or story. Yikes, this seems like an archeological dig.

I'm probably misunderstanding something.

"Frankly, I never read the contract."

It'll suck to be you when the term of the contract is used against you in a court of law.

"And since I am using a fake user name and a fake name."

Google+ is requiring in their ToS that you must use a real name. Using a fake name will be computer hacking and computer trespass.

#51 Wow
So what exactly is areal name.
Are Lady Gaga, Stink, George Elliot and Voltaire real names?
They seem real to me.
If celebrities can use psuedonyms, pen names and stage names as real names; then so can us lesser mortals.

I better cook up a few ggogle real names quick!!
Yes before all the good ones are taken by corporations and movie stars.

Oh and I am especially gratified to here that Google + is requiring us to use our "real" name not our "legal" name.
That would be a bummer.

Some one who identified herself as Cybergeek just called on my cell phone, "Hello OKThen. We know your real name. We know what you've been doing out there on Starts with a Bang. We know where you are sitting right now plus or minus 50 centimeters. Enjoy your delusion of privacy."

I said, "I do enjoy my delusion of privacy. I know that I leave a trail of electronic breadcrumbs wider than Niagara Falls. But don't ever call this number again; next time just stop by for a cup of coffee."

And she hung up.

And if that isn't evidence that I really am OKThen, then I don't know what is.

I can do more on it than I could with this HERE blog
1)At the bottom of a page as in his Anthropologic Principle post, I can add links that I think are important. this is a very nice feature.
2) In the side margins, as in his Parallel Universe post, I can add comments
3) There are no advertisements
4) If Ethan blocks someone on his twitter; then he will block them on his blog. BE WARNED. Nice, if he needs it.
5) I can tag my favorite posts in twitter so I can just look through those for reference.

So Medium looks excellent.
I've wanted to find a good use to learn Twitter (this is it)
So be brave. I've spent probably 4 hours today learning how to do this. That's not 30 seconds. But I was prepared to struggle for a week or two; because I really value this post.

So Gals and Guys, don't give me any lame excuses.
You know this blog; you appreciate the space that Ethan has given us here to be an important part of the science dialogue between professionals and laymen.
Ethan has done the hard work of setting up this space.
Are you telling me that you don't have the imagination, determination to continue your part of the dialogue?

Wow, Michael Kelsey, Sinisa Lazarek; you (and others) are valued and respected internet friends. Make the effort for our good internet friend Ethan. Ethan's new blog will not be the same without YOU!!!!

OK, I've got to go spend time with my wife and son.

"So what exactly is areal name.
Are Lady Gaga, Stink, George Elliot and Voltaire real names?"

Since those people are important (except maybe Stink), the law will not be used against them in case plebs get ideas.

However, this is precisely the problem.

The law will be applied when it suits, not when it applies, and nobody can tell beforehand whether they are guilty or not.



Glad you managed to set up everything to suit you. Maybe one day Medium changes their view of the world and allow non-twitter people in (unlikely since the founder of Medium is a co-founder of Twitter). Would be happy to join you back at that time.

The "lame excuses" part I'll skip since I don't want to argue. I'll just say that from my p.o.v. it's just as lame from their part. Like making a portal that you can only view the content i.e. from Opera browser. Or a newspaper stand where you can buy papers only if you bought a Happy Meal in Mcdonalds before that. Same thing. No one forced Medium to require ONLY twitter. It was a deliberate decision. Drive more people to twitter, hence drive more people to Medium. I have no use for twitter. And commenting on Medium is not something I care that much to spend 4 hours setting twitter to "work" as I want. You have a right to think that's lame. But hey.. free world.

By Sinisa Lazarek (not verified) on 13 Jan 2014 #permalink

Wow #57
Yes, yes.
We are all guilty beforehand.
So many laws and rules; how could anyone possibly be innocent?
But as Frank Zappa says, "Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible."

Sinisa Lazarek #58
Yes, yes.
I choose to continue in the discussion on Ethan's NEW Start with a Bang blog.
Ethan's Start with a Bang is not all that I wish or need for my learning. But Ethan's blog is an excellent place and important part of my education. As a science minded layman, I have found no other place where I can learn, discuss and ask questions about areas of physics and astronomy that I try to understand better.

Thank you and well done.
We are lucky to have you here (or on Medium).
And Medium seems like a Guttenberg idea.
https://medium.com/about/9e53ca408c48 Very nice

"But as Frank Zappa says, “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.”"

If the norm is "Don't worry about it, join Twitter"..?

OKthen: https://medium.com/about/9e53ca408c48 Very nice

Hmm. It says "Medium is a new place on the Internet where people share ideas and stories that are longer than 140 characters and not just for friends. "

Dumping Twitter would seem like a good start to me...

OK, so I created a Twitter a/c. Then half a dozen spammers started following me. I blocked them. Then a couple of friends started following me. No, guys, I don't want that. Twitter suggests that I might want to follow some dentist in California. I have no idea why. ...or some 'celebrity' completely unknown to me. I read her pages, and decide that it might be better if I went down town, and bought myself a baseball cap and some long shorts. Maybe wearing the cap backwards, and the shorts half way down my arse, will get me in the right mindset for Twitter. "No, no, do not be assimilated!" I say to myself, and close the account. Phew, saved from the inanity that is the Twitterverse!
Next day, I get 3 emails. Two from Twitter, and one from Ethan, telling me that my closed a/c has been hacked. Sorry Ethan, for whatever it was that my hacker posted. I change the password, block some more spammers, and close the a/c again. Another 29 days before Twitter do the decent thing, and actually close the account.

Like Wow, I'll be reading, but not commenting.

I've looked at the new blog on medium.com and I don't see any comments. Do I need a Twitter account even to _read_ comments. If so, this is a big step backwards.

By Charles Knouse (not verified) on 15 Jan 2014 #permalink

It could take quite a while before those who use twitter and wish to comment build up enough of a head of steam to comment.

This site probably took a while when it started up on scienceblogs to gain much of a *commenting* following.

PS As a point on social media, I think it's quite instructive to see the difference between those who won't use it and those who will:

Those who won't say "I won't be using it."
Those who will say "You should use it! Why won't you use it?"

If those who won't use it were saying "You should not use it, you should boycott it, it's only monetising your participation by marketing you to everyone", then you have an equivalent to the statements of those who use twitter (et al).

If those who will use it were saying "Oh, well I like it, thanks for changing!", then you'd have an equivalent to those who won't use it.

But you never get it that way, do you.

I may choose not to use twitter because the pink gnomes told me they'll murder me in my sleep if I do. So why is asking "why?" of any use? If Gabe Newell were asking why someone won't use Steam, then "Why?" is of some use. Random Joe User? Pointless.

So unless you're willing to ensure that the reason why never occurs (e.g. protect me 24 hours a day from the pink gnome assassins), don't ask why: you have no need to know why.

Well, you know, other than wanting to understand other people's points of view. Maybe learn something that you've never considered before and so change your mind in some way, or maybe help them learn something they've never considered and so change their mind,

but SCREW THAT amirite?

"Well, you know, other than wanting to understand other people’s points of view"

Yeah, funny thing, though, is whenever I've answered a "Why?" then they've always tried to "explain" how I was wrong to think that.

See for example:

About the commenting issue, I really don’t see any problems.


If you are afraid of I don’t know what, make a fake one and then comment.

Not really any wish to know, is there.

But I guess as long as you pretend nobody ever says why and gets a response, you can make up any old tosh to support the demonisation of those who don't think like you, amirite?

Well Ethan
I think you are on to something with Medium.
And well, you have gotten me to write 2 medium posts of my own. Now nevermind that they are not answers or linkable to one of your posts. But they could be.

Well actually the first post could not be. But the second post, well I have no idea where to link it to any of your posts. But here it is http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qt-consciousness/ and if you see a place to link it; well then do so.

As for all of you naysayers, I must disagree. I think Medium offers Ethan a very rich and curious new audience. It may behoove Ethan to keep his blog here hot and active. Yes play both hands well. No inconsistency in serving two audiences. And I also say that Medium offers me a rich opportunity to think publicly upon ideas. Well feel free to follow me on Medium.

So I am out on Medium, inspired by Ethan, and I created myself a blog called OKThen Then https://medium.com/okthen-then

I couldn't have made a blog like this this easily ever before. And of course, I could make who blog pages linked to Ethan's (assuming he accepted the link)

And I've kept my privacy sort of; well as much as I want to anyway.

But yes, someone as serious as Ethan needs I think to keep a presence in both Start with a Bang Bblogs

As for all of you yaysayers, I must disagree.

Do what you want.

Please extend the same courtesy.

I do extend the same courtesy. I respect you and others to much not to do so.
I was just excited by a new tool and other things.

And I was being selfish; because I will miss this community out here. For all the good things that I've said about Medium and the possibility of Start with a Bang on Medium; I believe that something very important is being lost. Namely discussion. 10, 20, 50 , even 500 comments on a single posting of Ethan's out here is irreplaceable discussion. As well, I have been curious about and asked in my comments dozens of questions; and sometimes those questions have been answered with amazing insight and clarity by you wow and others. I don't see how that dynamic will be created on Medium; but I am hopeful.

selfishly I will miss you and others unselfish giving of ideas, perspective and attitude
selfishly, I hope Ethan posts on two blogs, one here and one on Medium
selfishly, i.e. for my own purposes, I have created a blog there
and selfishly, I dare call you friend

I do extend the same courtesy."

No you didn't.

You didn't let it lie. You want to convert "heathens". "Come join us! The water is lovely!"