Timothy Ferris

Timothy Ferris

Ask a question about 'Timothy Ferris'
Start a new discussion about 'Timothy Ferris'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
Timothy Ferris is a science writer and the best-selling author
An author is broadly defined as "the person who originates or gives existence to anything" and that authorship determines responsibility for what is created. Narrowly defined, an author is the originator of any written work.-Legal significance:...

 of twelve books, including The Science of Liberty (2010) and Coming of Age in the Milky Way (1988), for which he was awarded the American Institute of Physics
American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics promotes science, the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies...

 Prize and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize
Pulitzer Prize
The Pulitzer Prize is a U.S. award for achievements in newspaper and online journalism, literature and musical composition. It was established by American publisher Joseph Pulitzer and is administered by Columbia University in New York City...

. He also wrote The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report
The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report
The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-universe Report is a non-fiction science book written by author Timothy Ferris originally published in 1997. In his book he provides a wide-range report of current research on cosmology, the study of the universe, and its trends going into the 21st century...

(1997), a popular science book on the study of the universe.

Background and education

Ferris is a native of Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

, and a graduate of Coral Gables High School
Coral Gables High School
Coral Gables Senior High School is a secondary school located at 450 Bird Road in Coral Gables, Florida, USA.Coral Gables SHS opened its doors in 1950; its architectural design reflects a Spanish influence with its open courtyards adorned with water fountains...

. He attended Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

, graduating in 1966, and studied for one year at the Northwestern University Law School before joining United Press International
United Press International
United Press International is a once-major international news agency, whose newswires, photo, news film and audio services provided news material to thousands of newspapers, magazines and radio and television stations for most of the twentieth century...

 as a reporter, working in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...


Writing and NASA

After starting his career as a newspaper reporter, Ferris became editor at Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone
Rolling Stone is a US-based magazine devoted to music, liberal politics, and popular culture that is published every two weeks. Rolling Stone was founded in San Francisco in 1967 by Jann Wenner and music critic Ralph J...

magazine. Ferris produced the Voyager Golden Record
Voyager Golden Record
The Voyager Golden Records are phonograph records which were included aboard both Voyager spacecraft, which were launched in 1977. They contain sounds and images selected to portray the diversity of life and culture on Earth, and are intended for any intelligent extraterrestrial life form, or for...

, an artifact of human civilization containing music, sounds of Earth and encoded photographs launched aboard the Voyager 1
Voyager 1
The Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 722-kilogram space probe launched by NASA in 1977, to study the outer Solar System and eventually interstellar space. Operating for as of today , the spacecraft receives routine commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of as of...

 spacecraft. He has served as a consultant to NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 on long-term space exploration policy, and was among the journalists selected as candidates to fly aboard the Space Shuttle
Space Shuttle
The Space Shuttle was a manned orbital rocket and spacecraft system operated by NASA on 135 missions from 1981 to 2011. The system combined rocket launch, orbital spacecraft, and re-entry spaceplane with modular add-ons...

 in 1986. He was also a friend of and collaborator with American astronomer Carl Sagan
Carl Sagan
Carl Edward Sagan was an American astronomer, astrophysicist, cosmologist, author, science popularizer and science communicator in astronomy and natural sciences. He published more than 600 scientific papers and articles and was author, co-author or editor of more than 20 books...



Ferris is a Guggenheim fellow and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
American Association for the Advancement of Science
The American Association for the Advancement of Science is an international non-profit organization with the stated goals of promoting cooperation among scientists, defending scientific freedom, encouraging scientific responsibility, and supporting scientific education and science outreach for the...

 (AAAS). He won the Klumpke-Roberts Award
Klumpke-Roberts Award
The Klumpke-Roberts Award was established from a bequest by astronomer Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts and recognizes outstanding contributions to the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy...

 of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific
Astronomical Society of the Pacific
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific is a scientific and educational organization, founded in San Francisco on February 7, 1889. Its name derives from its origins on the Pacific Coast, but today it has members all over the country and the world...

 in 1986, and has twice won the American Institute of Physics
American Institute of Physics
The American Institute of Physics promotes science, the profession of physics, publishes physics journals, and produces publications for scientific and engineering societies. The AIP is made up of various member societies...

 science-writing medal and the American Association for the Advancement of Science writing prize.


Ferris has taught astronomy, English, history, journalism, and philosophy at four universities; he is currently an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...


Articles & Essays

  • "An Experiment in Reason: True Liberalism is a proposition, not a dogma," Oxford American
    Oxford American
    The Oxford American is an American quarterly literary magazine "dedicated to featuring the very best in Southern writing while documenting the complexity and vitality of the American South."-First publication:...

    , Issue 70, 2010.
  • "Worlds Apart: Seeking New Earths", National Geographic, December 2009, pg 78.
  • “Raising Heaven,” National Geographic, November 2007.
  • “Seeing in the Dark,” HighDef magazine, Sept/Oct 2007.
  • “Mix Tape of the Gods,” The New York Times Op-Ed page, September 5, 2007.
  • Liner notes for the music album “Private Investigations - The Very Best of Dire Straits
    Dire Straits
    Dire Straits were a British rock band active from 1977 to 1995, composed of Mark Knopfler , his younger brother David Knopfler , John Illsley , and Pick Withers .Dire Straits' sound drew from a variety of musical influences, including jazz, folk, blues, and came closest...

     and Mark Knopfler
    Mark Knopfler
    Mark Freuder Knopfler, OBE is a Scottish-born British guitarist, singer, songwriter, record producer and film score composer. He is best known as the lead guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter for the British rock band Dire Straits, which he co-founded in 1977...

    ”, November 2005.
  • “Sedan Delivery,” Automobile, July 2005.
  • Foreword to Michelle Feynman, ed., Perfectly Reasonable Deviations From the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman. New York: Basic Books, 2005.
  • “C6 Appeal,” Automobile, September 2004.
  • “The Waiting Game,” Automobile, April 2004.
  • Forward to Field Guide for Science Writers, 2004.
  • Forward to Hunter S. Thompson’s Kingdom of Fear. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2003.
  • “A New Pathway to the Stars,” The New York Times Op-Ed page, Sunday, December 21, 2003; reprinted in the International Herald Tribune and the Long Beach Press-Telegram.
  • “The Wonder of Seeing Red,” Los Angeles Times Opinion page, August 24, 2003.
  • “’Taken’ Off,” Skeptical Inquirer, March/April 2003.
  • “At Dawn, the Columbia,” The New York Times Op-Ed page, February 3, 2003, and other newspapers.
  • “The Whole Shebang: How Science Produced the Big Bang Model,” from The Whole Shebang, American Educator, Fall 2002.
  • “Killer Rocks From Outer Space,” adapted from Seeing in the Dark, Reader’s Digest, October 2002.
  • “Voyager: A Message From Earth,” The Planetary Report, September/October 2002.
  • “Astronomy’s New Stars,” from Seeing in the Dark, Smithsonian, September 2002; reprinted in The Best American Science And Nature Writing 2003.
  • “On Science Writing,” Physics in Perspective, vol. 4 (2002) 1, 3-12, February 2002.
  • Foreword to James Trefil and Margaret Hindle Hazen, Good Seeing: A Century of Science at the Carnegie Institution of Washington 1902-2002. Washington, Joseph Henry Press, 2002.
  • “Infinite Loop,” Yahoo Internet Life, September 2001.
  • Introduction to Celestial Nights: Visions of an Ancient Land, by Neil Folberg. New York, Aperture, 2001.
  • “Snafu Snared, Scientists Say,” ScienceWriters, Spring 2001.
  • “Concerning John Archibald Wheeler,” Contentville.com, February 2001.
  • “Reforming Voting Machine Technology,” Contentville.com, January 2001.
  • “Five Gs and a 125-Pound Head,” Men’s Journal, January 2001.
  • “Stars and Pyramids,” Contentville.com, December 2000.
  • “Bush and Gore on Science and Technology,” Contentville.com, October 2000.
  • “Many Questions, Some Answers,” Forbes ASAP, October 2, 2000.
  • “Faster Than a Speeding Unser,” Men’s Journal, September 2000.
  • Contributions to “What Are the Grand Questions of Science?” and “What Are the Next Breakthroughs in Science?” in Robert Lawrence Kuhn, editor, Closer to Truth. New York: McGraw Hill, 2000.
  • “The Sinking of the Kursk,” Contentville.com, September 1, 2000.
  • “Precious Metal,” Automobile, September 2000.
  • “Switching the Light Fantastic,” Forbes ASAP, August 21, 2000.
  • “Where Are They?” Contentville.com , August 1, 2000.
  • “On Stargazing,” Contentville.com, July 25, 2000.
  • “How Will the Universe End? Time, April 10, 2000.
  • The Light and the Dark, Automobile, March 2000.
  • A Space Station? The New York Times Magazine, November 28, 1999. Reprinted in MAX Magazine, Germany, 1999.
  • If Forced to Choose, American Scientist, November-December 1999.
  • The Cruel Sport, Talk, November 1999.
  • The Last Bit: Is Information Theory the Answer to Everything? Forbes ASAP Big Issue IV, October 4, 1999.
  • Personal Places, National Geographic Traveler, October 1999.
  • How to Predict Everything, The New Yorker, July 12, 1999.
  • Introduction to The Scientific American Book of Astronomy, The Lyons Press, 1999.
  • Whine of the Region: If You Want to Know Why a Ferrari is a Ferrari, Just Drive One in its Homeland, Automobile, July 1999.
  • Interstellar Spaceflight, Scientific American Presents: The Future of Space Exploration, Spring 1999.
  • Communication With High-Performance Automobiles, Wired, January 1999.
  • NASA’s Mission to Nowhere, Op-ed page, The New York Times, Sunday, November 29, 1998.
  • The Three Immensities, Forbes ASAP Big Issue III, November 30, 1998.
  • Seeing in the Dark, The New Yorker, August 10, 1998.
  • Not Rocket Science, The New Yorker, July 20, 1998.
  • Flight of the Bumblers, Op-ed page, The New York Times, September 24, 1997.
  • The Space Gamble, The New York Review of Books, September 25, 1997; reprinted in Le Recherche, Paris, November 1997.
  • Inflating the Cosmos, Astronomy, July 1997.
  • The Wrong Stuff, The New Yorker, April 14, 1997.
  • The Risks and Rewards of Popularizing Science, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 4, 1997; reprinted in The Informal Science Review, May/June 1997.
  • The Moon's Big Splash, Natural History, March 1997.
  • Is This the End? The New Yorker, January 27, 1997; reprinted in Germany and Australia and in McGraw-Hill=s Quantitative Reasoning Workbook., 1997.
  • Weirdness Makes Sense, The New York Times Magazine, Sept. 29, 1996.
  • A Message From Mars, The New Yorker, August 19, 1996.
  • Express Train of the Sky, Op-Ed page, San Francisco Examiner and other newspapers, June 4, 1996.
  • Foreword, Robert P. Crease and Charles C. Mann, The Second Creation: Makers of the Revolution in Twentieth-Century Physics, Rutgers University Press, 1996.
  • Alien Ambition, The New Yorker, February 12, 1996.
  • Apollo 13 and the Strip-Mining of American Culture, Newsday, July 11, 1995; reprinted in the Washington Times, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Phoenix Gazette, other papers.
  • At the Cosmological Conference, The New Yorker, May 15, 1995.
  • The Interpreter, lead essay in Ted Anton and Rick McCourt, editors, The New Science Journalists: The Future of Our Planet, Our Species, and Our Psyches, From the Most Renowned Literary Science Journalists Working Today, New York, Ballantine, 1995.
  • Science and Genesis, chapter in Clifford N. Matthews and Roy Abraham Varghese, editors, Cosmic Beginnings and Human Ends: Where Science and Religion Meet, Chicago, Open Court, 1995.
  • "Earthbound," The New Yorker, August 1, 1994.
  • "Ayrton Senna's Intense, Deadly World," San Francisco Examiner Op-Ed page, Sunday, May 15, 1994.
  • "Seeing Stars," The New Yorker, January 31, 1994.
  • "Evolution of Interstellar Communications Systems," chapter in Bang: The Evolving Cosmos: Nobel Conference XXVII, Richard Fuller, editor, University Press of America, 1994.
  • "The Future is Coming," The New York Times Op-Ed page, November 12, 1993.
  • "Babbling Brooks and Talking Dogs," The New York Times Op-Ed page, June 8, 1993; reprinted in the San Jose Mercury News and other newspapers.
  • "Life, the Universe and Me," The Times, London, February 20, 1993.
  • "When Science is the Star," The New York Times, Arts & Leisure section, Sunday, August 16, 1992.
  • "Total," The New Yorker, July 29, 1991.
  • "The Space Telescope: A Sign of Intelligent Life," The New York Times, Week in Review section, front page, Sunday, April 29, 1990.
  • "Zen and R. H. Blyth," The Nation, April 30, 1990.
  • "Grand Unification Theories," in Holcomb B. Noble, editor, Next: The Coming Era in Science, Boston, Little, Brown, 1988.
  • "Where Are We Going? Notes on the Absolute Motion of the Solar System Through Space." Sky & Telescope, May, 1987.
  • "The Year of the Red Lights: Challenger, Chernobyl, the Titanic, and 'Star Wars,'" Life, January 1987.
  • "Albert Einstein's Annus Mirabilis," Science 84 fifth anniversary issue, November 1984; reprinted in Annual Edition: Western Civilization, Vol. 2, 1985.
  • "Mind Over Matter: The Singular Stephen Hawking," Vanity Fair, June 1984; reprinted in The Journalist, March, 1985.
  • "The Other Einstein," Science 83, October 1983; reprinted in A Passion to Know, Allen L. Hammond, editor, New York, Scribner's, 1984.
  • "Beyond Newton and Einstein: On the Frontiers of Physics," The New York Times Magazine, September 26, 1982.
  • "The Perfect Circle," Science Digest, July 1981.
  • "A Conversation With Lewis Thomas," Smithsonian, April 1980.
  • "Navigators Who Probe the Mysteries of Deep Space," The New York Times Magazine, April l, 1979; reprinted in Science of the Times 3, New York, Arno Press, 1979.
  • "Crucibles of the Cosmos," The New York Times Magazine, January 14, 1979; New York Times Syndicate, 1979; reprinted in Readers' Digest, May 1979; Science of the Times 3, 1979; The Living World of Nature, Readers' Digest Press, 1980.
  • "Seeking an End to Cosmic Loneliness," The New York Times Magazine, October 23, 1977; reprinted in Science of the Times 2, 1979.
  • "The Odyssey and the Ecstasy: The Viking's Search for Life on Mars," Rolling Stone, April 7, 1977; reprinted in Rolling Stone: The 70s, Little, Brown, 1998.
  • "The Universe as an Ocean of Thought," Harper's, July 1975.
  • "All That Glitters is not God," Rolling Stone, January 30, 1975; reprinted in Paul Scanlon, editor, Reporting: The Rolling Stone Style, New York, Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1977.
  • Interview with Erich von Daniken, Playboy, August 1974.
  • "Raquel Welch Speaks Her Mind," Rolling Stone, August 29, 1974.
  • "Where Does it all End? A Debate About the Edge of the Universe," Harper's, June 1974.
  • "A Special Report: Is the Free Press In Danger?" Rolling Stone, April 26, 1973.
  • "How Do We Know Where We Are If We've Never Been Anywhere Else? Cosmological Perspectives," Rolling Stone, March 15, 1973.
  • "A Conversation With Carl Sagan," Rolling Stone, June 7, 1973; reprinted in Tom Head, ed., Conversations With Carl Sagan, 2006.
  • " David Brinkley vs. Woeful Ignorance," Rolling Stone, September 14, 1972.
  • "Hometown Folks: Letters from American Political Prisoners," Rolling Stone, March 16, 1972; The Rolling Stone Reader, New York, Warner Library, 1974.
  • “Robert Johnson,” Rolling Stone, February 4, 1971.
  • “An Evening With Muhammad Ali,” New York Post, March 22, 1971.
  • "Turning Off the Sun," New York Post Magazine, March 7, 1970.
  • "Mars: Can It Sustain Life?" New York Post Magazine, July 23, 1969.


  • Producer, narrator, and writer, Seeing in the Dark, sixty-minute documentary film, PBS premier September 19, 2007; DVD and BR-DVD releases, PBS Home Video, 2008.
  • Author and narrator, Life Beyond Earth, two-hour PBS television special, world premier November 10, 1999; DVD release, PBS Home Video, 2000.
  • Author and narrator, The Creation of the Universe, ninety-minute television science special; U.S. premier, PBS network, November 20, 1985; also broadcast in the United Kingdom, Japan, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Venezuela, and Brazil. Inaugural release, PBS Home Video, 1991; laserdisc release, Pacific Arts Video, 1992; CD-ROM release, The Voyager Company, 1993; DVD release, PBS Home Video, 2005.
  • Producer, Voyager phonograph record, archive of Earth's music carried aboard the Voyager interstellar spacecraft, launched from Kennedy Space Center
    Kennedy Space Center
    The John F. Kennedy Space Center is the NASA installation that has been the launch site for every United States human space flight since 1968. Although such flights are currently on hiatus, KSC continues to manage and operate unmanned rocket launch facilities for America's civilian space program...

     1977. Released in CD-ROM format, Warner New Media, 1992.
  • Author and narrator, audiotape editions of The Whole Shebang, 1997; The Red Limit, 1996; The Mind's Sky, 1992; Coming of Age in the Milky Way, 1988 (Los Angeles, Dove Books).
  • Writer and narrator, segments on The MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour, PBS television: Exploding Stars and the Origins of Human Civilization, October 21, 1993; Pipe Organs and Particle Accelerators, June 8, 1993; "Columbus Day," October 7, 1992; "The Voyager Encounter With Neptune," August 22, 1989.
  • Executive producer, Galaxies, original sound track recording of music by Kevin Braheny, San Francisco, Hearts of Space Music, 1988.
  • Author, narrator and director, Galaxies, internationally syndicated planetarium program; world premier, Hansen Planetarium, Salt Lake City, Utah, March 18, 1987.

External links