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The Red Limit

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  214 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
For centuries, it was assumed that our universe was static. In the late 1920s, astronomers defeated this assumption with a startling new discovery. From Earth, the light of distant galaxies appeared to be red, meaning that those galaxies were receding from us. This led to the revolutionary realization that the universe is expanding. The Red Limit is the tale of this discov ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published June 20th 1983 by Harper Perennial (first published June 20th 1977)
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Dec 18, 2008 is currently reading it
Mom gave me this book.
I'm currently reading it to my 5 year old son.
His choice, not mine. But, we are both enjoying it.
Jan 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a good introduction to the history of Cosmology up to the early 1980's. Ferris takes us on a chronological journey through the development of the the field giving us a very personal perspective of each of the major contributors. He leaves the reader impressed by the great insights of each contributor but also presents their more human flaws and petty rivalries. Along the way we learn a great deal about the impressive explosion of knowledge in Astrophysics and Cosmology and the technologi ...more
John Min
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am such a fan of Timothy Ferris! I once met the man, although I didn't recognize the name at the time, but he came into my office and having noticed he was a science writer, I commented that one of my favorite science books was a compendium of different essays by various scientists, "The World Treasury of Physics, Astronomy and Mathematics". He told me right then he was the editor of that book to my delight and surprise! I have read many of his other books with awe and wonder and finally made ...more
Bob Nichols
Nov 07, 2010 rated it liked it
Ferris begins this book by writing, "In the time it takes to read this sentence, the Earth will glide 200 miles in its orbit around the sun, the sun 3,000 miles in its orbit around the center of our galaxy, and 350,000 miles of additional space will have opened up between our galaxy and those of the Hydra cluster as the universe goes on expanding." Later, Ferris ties the outer edges of space back to the earth: "Imagine light from a distant galaxy traveling a billion light-years and then encounte ...more
William Hamman
Dec 29, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: science
I read this chiefly as a result of a misunderstanding. The date given on the BN website gives one the impression that the book was revised in 2009, but it was actually revised in 1983, and thus even as a layman's introduction to cosmology and the "red limit" it is unsuitable. Had I known that the actual revision date was 1983 (or had I been more diligent in checking) I wouldn't have bothered, because cosmology as Ferris described it in 1983 and cosmology as it is debated today are two very diffe ...more
Todd Martin
Feb 14, 2012 rated it liked it
The Red Limit tells the story of the discoveries that led to our current understanding of the universe. In the past, our picture was one of a static universe containing only one galaxy (the Milky Way). Over time, scientific discoveries have shifted our view to a dynamic universe that began with the big bang, expanded to its present size, is filled with hundreds of billions of galaxies, and is continuing to expand at an ever increasing rate. Along with this understanding, humanities view of itsel ...more
Sep 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
I read this book when it was first published in the 80s and was fascinated, especially the history and squabbles of the Giants of Astronomy, cosmology and mathematics of the late 19th and early 20th century. It's been sitting on my bookshelf for 30 + years and I just decided to reread it. Still fascinating.

Although my college major was Astronomy and I initially was firmly in the Big Bang camp, My views have changed over the years. Halton Arp's theories and observational evidence have been compl
Mar 19, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Susanna, Hayes(for S), Wanda(for W)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Valdimar Ágúst
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book.
Ferris is a great writer and the prose is poetic and beautiful. I notice that people are giving it 3 star reviews because it is out of date. Well, it's over 30 years old, so no wonder it only encompasses the state of cosmology back then. Similar to Cosmos, the ideas that it describes are by no means out of date, even though a few things have been updated.

The history of cosmology up to 1980 is a complicated and interesting subject in itself and if you want to get up to date then
Marc Huete
Jun 27, 2011 rated it liked it
My major disappointment with this book is I was expecting a book on cosmology, but it's a book on history. If you're looking for a book that personalizes the characters involved in discoveries of space, this is probably what you want. Unfortunately, it seems just about every book written about space dedicates at least half its pages to reviewing this history, so if you've already done some reading on the topic, this is an old story to you. If you're looking on information on space or current res ...more
May 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are not a lot of Astronomy books that can survive a couple decades without feeling out of date. I just recently watched BBC Planets that came out in 1999, and there was a lot of date. Timothy though delves into the history of astronomical thinking, and where we have come up to the point when this was published which was 1977. At times it gets a bit dry when it delves into mathematical principles but that was a lot of astronomy is, but he keeps it interested in telling the stories of the li ...more
Baal Of
Dec 07, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a pretty decent overview of cosmology, but because the revision was in 1983, it is rather out of date. It is also marred by an ending that muddles the concept of faith, applying it in a sloppy and incorrect way to science. That said, the historical aspects were well done and nicely organized.
Jun 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although this is already outdated, astronomy probably having advanced in the last 30-40 years,
some of it must still be true and this book is a delightful telling of the story of the universe,
and some of the cosmologist who spent there lives figuring it out. Good book.
Edelhart Kempeneers
Aug 02, 2013 rated it liked it
Niet echt iets nieuw geleerd, maar best interessant om tussendoor eens te beluisteren.
Nov 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Awesome insight into the breakthrough by Hubble and co...
Ravi Warrier
A detailed chronology of finding the answers of how old and big is the Universe! A perfect history book for the science of cosmology (or a branch thereof).
Christy Day
Jun 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great overview of modern (~1900 -1990) cosmology. Pretty easy read, even for people (like me) who have little background in physics and astronomy.
Jessica Robinson
Sep 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, science
An enjoyable but extremely outdated overview of the history of cosmology.
Sep 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Great book, read years ago. I think this might have been the inspiration of The Creation of the Universe PBS video.
Jan 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A good physics book! A bit heavy on cosmology. Towards the end, it get's a little bit far-out, but that's the 1970's for you.
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Timothy Ferris is the author of a dozen books (most recently The Science of Liberty), plus 200 articles and essays, and three documentary films—"The Creation of the Universe," “Life Beyond Earth,” and “Seeing in the Dark”—seen by over 20 million viewers.

Ferris produced the Voyager phonograph record, an artifact of human civilization containing music and sounds of Earth launched aboard the twin Voy
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