Timothy Ferris

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Timothy Ferris
Timothy Ferris, Sonoma Mountain 13June09 photo Cal Zecca.jpg
Ferris in 2009
Born (1944-08-24) August 24, 1944 (age 79)
Education Coral Gables Senior High School
Alma mater Northwestern University School of Law
Scientific career
Fields Astronomy, astrophysics, cosmology, astrobiology, space science, planetary science
Website www.timothyferris.com

Timothy Ferris (born August 29, 1944) is an American science writer and the best-selling author 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 Prize and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. [1] He also wrote The Whole Shebang: A State-of-the-Universe(s) Report (1997), a popular science book on the study of the universe. Ferris has produced three PBS documentaries: The Creation of the Universe, Life Beyond Earth, and Seeing in the Dark.


Background and education

Ferris is a native of Miami, Florida and a graduate of Coral Gables Senior High School. He attended Northwestern University, graduating in 1966 with majors in English and communications. [2] He studied for one year at the Northwestern University Law School before joining United Press International as a reporter, working in New York City. [3]

Writing and NASA

After starting his career as a newspaper reporter, Ferris became an editor at Rolling Stone , where he initially specialized in science journalism. Ferris produced the Voyager Golden Record, an artifact of human civilization containing music, sounds of Earth and encoded photographs launched aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft. He has served as a consultant to NASA on long-term space exploration policy, and was among the journalists selected as candidates to fly aboard the Space Shuttle in 1986; the planned flight was cancelled due to the Challenger disaster. He was also a friend of and collaborator with American astronomer Carl Sagan.


Ferris is a Guggenheim fellow and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He won the Klumpke-Roberts Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in 1986, and has twice won the American Institute of Physics 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 an emeritus professor at the University of California, Berkeley.[ citation needed ]

The Rocky Hill Lectures

Ferris began a series of brief video lectures, available on YouTube, [4] during the COVID-19 pandemic. The series is named after his astronomical observatory in Northern California. Lecture topics include Symmetry, Time Travel, Global Warming, Interstellar Homesteading, Cities, Progress, and Liberalism. According to a review of the series, "Every lecture is crisp, compelling, and sure to shift your perspective and fuel your curiosity." [5] Another review notes, "In these compact lectures (most are shorter than 10 minutes), Ferris discourses on all manner of big topics—everything from time travel and quantum theory to liberalism and cynicism. The lectures are breezily erudite and blessedly compact—long enough to stimulate, not so long as to bore." [6] [7]



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List of works by or about Timothy Ferris, American science writer.


  1. Rogers, John (November 9, 1999). "Timothy Ferris hopes to stretch viewers' imaginations to possibilities of 'Life Beyond Earth'". The Spokesman-Review . AP . Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  2. Bob Spichen: 'Milky Way' Author Comes of Age as a Modern Poet With His Head in the Stars, Los Angeles Times, September 2, 1988
  3. Timothy Ferris Timeline Archived March 15, 2011, at the Wayback Machine , timothyferris.com
  4. Ferris, Timothy (October 15, 2006). "Timothy Ferris - Official YouTube channel for science writer and filmmaker Timothy Ferris". YouTube . Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  5. Pescovitz, David (September 2, 2022). "Science writer Timothy Ferris explains the Voyager Golden Record, Time Travel, Global Warming, Creativity, and other fascinating topics". Boing Boing . Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  6. Staff (June 8, 2023). "Rocky Hill Lectures". California Magazine . Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2023.
  7. Ferris, Timothy Thomas (June 19, 2023). "Thanks to California Magazine for commenting on the Rocky Hill Lectures". Facebook . Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved June 20, 2023.