Fred Hoyle

Sir Fred Hoyle
Fred Hoyle.jpg
Born(1915-06-24)24 June 1915
Died20 August 2001(2001-08-20) (aged 86)
Bournemouth, England
ResidenceUnited Kingdom
Alma materEmmanuel College, Cambridge
Known forCoining the phrase 'Big Bang'
Stellar nucleosynthesis theory
Hoyle's fallacy
B2FH paper
Hoyle-Narlikar theory
Steady state theory
Triple-alpha process
Scientific career
InstitutionsInstitute of Astronomy, Cambridge
Academic advisorsRudolf Peierls
Maurice Pryce
Philip Worsley Wood
Doctoral studentsJohn Moffat
Chandra Wickramasinghe
Cyril Domb
Jayant Narlikar
Leon Mestel
Peter Alan Sweet
Other notable studentsPaul C. W. Davies
Douglas Gough
InfluencedJocelyn Bell Burnell
Jayant Narlikar
Donald D. Clayton

Sir Fred Hoyle FRS (24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001)[1] was a British astronomer who formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. He also held controversial stances on other scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the "Big Bang" theory, a term coined by him on BBC radio, and his promotion of panspermia as the origin of life on Earth.[2][3][4] He also wrote science fiction novels, short stories and radio plays, and co-authored twelve books with his son, Geoffrey Hoyle.

He spent most of his working life at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge and served as its director for six years.

Early life and career

Hoyle was born near Bingley in Gilstead, West Riding of Yorkshire, England.[5] His father, Ben Hoyle, was a violinist and worked in the wool trade in Bradford, who served in as a machine gunner in the First World War.[6] His mother, Mabel Pickard, had studied music at the Royal College of Music in London and later worked as a cinema pianist.[6] Hoyle was educated at Bingley Grammar School and read mathematics at Emmanuel College, Cambridge.[7]

In 1936 he won the Mayhew Prize (jointly with George Stanley Rushbrooke).

In late 1940, Hoyle left Cambridge to go to Portsmouth to work for the Admiralty on radar research, for example devising a method to get the altitude of the incoming aeroplanes. He was also put in charge of countermeasures against the radar guided guns found on the Graf Spee.[8] Britain's radar project employed more personnel than the Manhattan project, and was probably the inspiration for the large British project in The Black Cloud. Two key colleagues in this war work were Hermann Bondi and Thomas Gold, and the three had many and deep discussions on cosmology. The radar work paid for a couple of trips to North America, where he took the opportunity to visit astronomers. On one trip to the US he learned about supernovae at Caltech and Mount Palomar and, in Canada, the nuclear physics of plutonium implosion and explosion, noticed some similarity between the two and started thinking about supernova nucleosynthesis. He had an intuition at the time "I will make a name for myself if this works out." Eventually (1954) his prescient and ground breaking paper came out. He also formed a group at Cambridge exploring Stellar nucleosynthesis in ordinary stars and was bothered by the paucity of stellar carbon production in existing models. He noticed that one of the existing processes would be made a billion times more productive if the carbon-12 nucleus had a resonance at 7.7 MeV, but the nuclear physicists did not list such a one. On another trip he visited the nuclear physics group at Caltech, spending a few months of sabbatical there and persuaded them against their considerable scepticism to look for and find the Hoyle state in carbon-12, from which developed a full theory of stellar nucleosynthesis, co-authored by Hoyle with some members of the Caltech group.[9]

A blue plaque at Bingley Grammar School commemorating him

After the war, in 1945, Hoyle returned to Cambridge University, starting as a lecturer at St John's College, Cambridge. Hoyle's Cambridge years, 1945–1973, saw him rise to the top of world astrophysics theory, on the basis of a startling originality of ideas covering a very wide range of topics. In 1958, Hoyle was appointed to the illustrious Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge University. In 1967, he became the founding director of the Institute of Theoretical Astronomy (subsequently renamed the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge, where Hoyle's innovative leadership quickly led to this institution becoming one of the premier groups in the world for theoretical astrophysics. In 1971 he was invited to deliver the MacMillan Memorial Lecture to the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He chose the subject 'Astronomical Instruments and their Construction'. Hoyle was knighted in 1972. Hoyle resigned his Plumian professor position in 1972 and his directorship of the institute in 1973, with this move effectively cutting him off from most of his establishment power-base, connections and steady salary.

After his leaving Cambridge, Hoyle wrote many popular science and science fiction books, as well as presenting lectures around the world. Part of the motivation for this was simply to provide a means of support. Hoyle was still a member of the joint policy committee (since 1967), during the planning stage for the 150-inch Anglo-Australian Telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales. He became chairman of the Anglo-Australian Telescope board in 1973, and presided at its inauguration in 1974 by Charles, Prince of Wales. After his resignation from Cambridge, Hoyle moved to the Lake District and occupied his time with a mix of treks across the moors, writing books, visiting research centres around the world, and working on science ideas that have been nearly-universally rejected. On 24 November 1997, while hiking across moorlands in west Yorkshire, near his childhood home in Gilstead, Hoyle fell down into a steep ravine called Shipley Glen. Roughly twelve hours later, Hoyle was found by a search dog. He was hospitalised for two months with pneumonia, kidney problems as a result of hypothermia, and a smashed shoulder, while he ever afterwards suffered from memory and mental agility problems. In 2001, he suffered a series of strokes and died in Bournemouth on 20 August.

Other Languages
العربية: فريد هويل
تۆرکجه: فرد هویل
беларуская: Фрэд Хойл
български: Фред Хойл
català: Fred Hoyle
čeština: Fred Hoyle
dansk: Fred Hoyle
Deutsch: Fred Hoyle
Ελληνικά: Φρεντ Χόυλ
español: Fred Hoyle
Esperanto: Fred Hoyle
euskara: Fred Hoyle
فارسی: فرد هویل
français: Fred Hoyle
galego: Fred Hoyle
한국어: 프레드 호일
Bahasa Indonesia: Fred Hoyle
italiano: Fred Hoyle
עברית: פרד הויל
Basa Jawa: Fred Hoyle
қазақша: Фред Хойл
latviešu: Freds Hoils
magyar: Fred Hoyle
Nederlands: Fred Hoyle
norsk: Fred Hoyle
norsk nynorsk: Fred Hoyle
Piemontèis: Fred Hoyle
polski: Fred Hoyle
português: Fred Hoyle
română: Fred Hoyle
русский: Хойл, Фред
Scots: Fred Hoyle
Simple English: Fred Hoyle
slovenčina: Fred Hoyle
slovenščina: Fred Hoyle
српски / srpski: Фред Хојл
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Fred Hoyle
suomi: Fred Hoyle
svenska: Fred Hoyle
Türkçe: Fred Hoyle
українська: Фред Гойл
Tiếng Việt: Fred Hoyle