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Fred Hoyle

Fred HoyleAKA Frederick Hoyle

Born: 24-Jun-1915
Birthplace: Bingley, Yorkshire, England
Died: 20-Aug-2001
Location of death: Bournemouth, Dorset, England
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Agnostic
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer, Physicist, Novelist

Nationality: England
Executive summary: Opposed the Big Bang but named it

Military service: British Admiralty (radar development, 1939-45, WWII)

In work that spanned the sciences from cosmology to chemistry, biology to astrophysics, British scientist Fred Hoyle studied the origins of life and the universe and the eventual demise of galaxies, planets, and stars. He conducted important work in nucleosynthesis, including a landmark 1957 paper co-authored with William A. Fowler and Geoffrey and E. Margaret Burbidge, which showed that many higher elements can only be synthesized in supernovae. The paper brought Fowler the Nobel Prize and forms the basis for much of the current scientific understanding of the origin of chemical elements in stars, and some colleagues have stated that Hoyle's contribution was equally deserving of Nobel honors.

He was respected but controversial in scientific circles, for his adamant rejection of two cornerstone theories in modern science. In 1948 he formulated the Steady-State (or continuous creation) theory, rejecting the Big Bang theory and instead suggesting that the expansion of the universe is constant and interdependent with the creation of matter. Oversimplified, his Steady-State theory posits that the universe maintains a constant average density, and that matter is generated to fill the void left as galaxies recede from each other. He is said to have coined the term "Big Bang", though he meant it to summarize opponents' views derisively. The discovery of background cosmic radiation in 1964 has been widely interpreted as supporting and very nearly proving the Big Bang, but to his death Hoyle viewed the Big Bang as wildly improbably.

Hoyle also disdained the theory that life on Earth sprang from so-called "primordial soup", arguing instead that the introduction of pathogenic bacteria or viruses from outer space triggered the beginnings of life. He was an atheist but spoke of "intelligent design" as a possibility, and for this he is frequently misconstrued as a supporter of the present-day "intelligent design" movement that disputes evolutionary science. His actual position was more nuanced — he opposed extension of Darwinian theory to conclude that life originally evolved from inanimate matter, but never disputed the evolution of species once life was underway.

He was the founding director of the Cambridge Institute of Theoretical Astronomy, and was widely known in the general public for lectures aired in BBC broadcasts, for books popularizing science, and for numerous science fiction novels. His most acclaimed works of science and science fiction remain in print, including his non-fiction The Nature of the Universe and Frontiers of Astronomy and his novels The Black Cloud and October the First is Too Late. With John Elliot, Hoyle was co-writer of the classic BBC science fiction series A for Andromeda, which dramatized events after astronomers detect signs of extraterrestrial life.

Father: Ben Hoyle (mill worker)
Mother: Mabel Pickard (music teacher)
Wife: Barbara Clark (m. 28-Dec-1939, one son, one daughter)
Son: Geoffrey Hoyle (science fiction writer, b. 1942)
Daughter: Elizabeth Jeane Hoyle Butler (stockbroker)

    High School: Bingley Grammar School, Bingley, West Yorkshire, UK (1933)
    University: Emmanuel College, Cambridge University
    University: St. John's College, Cambridge University
    Fellow: St. John's College, Cambridge University
    Lecturer: Mathematics, Cambridge University (1945-58)
    Scholar: Mt Wilson and Palomar Observatories, California Institute of Technology (1956-65)
    Professor: Plumian Prof. of Astronomy and Exp. Philosophy, Cambridge University (1958-72)
    Administrator: Institute of Theoretical Astronomy, Cambridge University (1967-72)
    Scholar: Cosmology, Cardiff University (1973-2001)

    Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal 1968 (with Walter Munk)
    Bruce Medal 1970
    Royal Medal 1974
    Balzan Prize 1994
    Crafoord Prize 1997 (with Edwin E. Salpeter)
    Knight of the British Empire 1972
    American Association for the Advancement of Science 1964:Foreign Member
    American Philosophical Society Foreign Member, 1980
    National Academy of Sciences 1969
    Royal Astronomical Society President, 1971-73
    Royal Institution of Great Britain
    Royal Society 1957
    Royal Society Vice President, 1969-71
    English Ancestry
    Asteroid Namesake 8077 Hoyle (discovered 1986; named 2000)

Official Website:

Author of books:
The Nature of the Universe (1950, non-fiction)
Frontiers of Astronomy (1950, non-fiction)
The Black Cloud (1957, novel)
Ossian's Ride (1959, novel)
A for Andromeda: A Novel of Tomorrow (1962, novel; with John Elliot)
Contradiction in the Argument of Malthus (1963, non-fiction)
Fifth Planet (1963, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Andromeda Breakthrough (1964, novel; with John Elliot)
Of Men and Galaxies (1964, non-fiction)
October the First is Too Late (1966, novel)
Rockets in Ursa Major (1969, novel based on Hoyle's play; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Element 79 (1969, novel)
Seven Steps to the Sun (1970, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
The Molecule Men and The Monster of Loch Ness (1971, short stories; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
The Inferno (1973, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Into Deepest Space (1974, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Astronomy and Cosmology: A Modern Course (1975, textbook)
Highlights in Astronomy (1975, non-fiction)
Energy or Extinction? The Case for Nuclear Energy (1977, non-fiction)
The Incandescent Ones (1977, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Ten Faces of the Universe (1977, non-fiction)
On Stonehenge (1977, non-fiction)
The Cosmogony of the Solar System (1978, non-fiction)
Lifecloud: The Origin of Life in the Universe (1978, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
The Westminster Disaster (1978, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Diseases from Space (1979, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
The Physics-Astronomy Frontier (1980, non-fiction; with J.V. Narlikar)
Ice, the Ultimate Human Catastrophe (1981, non-fiction)
Our Place in the Cosmos (1981, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
Space Travellers: The Bringers of Life (1981, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
The Energy Pirate (1982, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
The Frozen Planet of Azuron (1982, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
The Giants of Universal Park (1982, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
The Planet of Death (1982, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Proofs that Life is Cosmic (1982, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
The Intelligent Universe (1983, non-fiction)
Evolution from Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism (1984, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
From Grains to Bacteria (1984, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
Comet Halley: A Novel in Two Parts (1985, novel; with Geoffrey Hoyle)
Living Comets (1985, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
Archaeopteryx, the Primordial Bird (1986, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
The Small World of Fred Hoyle (1986, memoir)
Cosmic Life-Force (1988, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
The Origin of the Universe and the Origin of Religion (1993, non-fiction)
Home Is Where the Wind Blows: Chapters from a Cosmologist's Life (1994, memoir)
Life on Mars? The Case for A Cosmic Heritage (1997, non-fiction, with N.C. Wickramasinghe)
A Different Approach to Cosmology (1999, non-fiction; with Geoffrey Burbidge and J.V. Narlikar)
Mathematics of Evolution (1999, non-fiction)

Wrote plays:
Rockets in Ursa Major (1962)

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