Rothman holds a B.A. from Swarthmore College, (1975) and a Ph.D from the University of Texas at Austin (1981), where he studied at the Center for Relativity. He continued on post-doctoral fellowships at Oxford, the University of Moscow and the University of Cape Town. After returning to the United States, Rothman briefly worked as an editor at Scientific American, then went on to teach at Harvard, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bryn Mawr College and more recently at Princeton University.
Rothman's scientific research has been mostly in the areas of general relativity and cosmology, where he has made contributions to the study of the early universe, specifically cosmic nucleosynthesis, black holes, inflationary cosmology and gravitons.
Tony is the son of science fiction writer Milton A. Rothman. Tony Rothman's first book, written just after graduating college, was The World is Round (Ballantine, 1978), a science fiction novel about the evolution of society on a planet with a rather uncommon feature. His experiences in Russia led to the collection of short stories entitled Censored Tales (1989). He has also published six books of popular science and science history. His collection A Physicist on Madison Avenue (1991) was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, while Doubt and Certainty, with George Sudarshan, was chosen by the A-List as one of the 200 best books of 1998. Sacred Mathematics: Japanese Temple Geometry, with Fukagawa Hidetoshi, the first history of sangaku in English, appeared in 2008.