Fred Hoyle


Fred Hoyle : biography

24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001

Media appearances

Hoyle appeared in a series of radio talks on astronomy for the BBC in the 1950s;Mitton, Simon, Fred Hoyle a life in science, p. 125-138, Cambridge University Press, 2011. these were collected in the book The Nature of the Universe,Gregory, Jane, Fred Hoyle’s Universe, p. 48, Oxford University Press, 2005. and he went on to write a number of other popular science books. In the play Sur la route de Montalcino, the character of Fred Hoyle confronts Georges Lemaître on a fictional journey to the Vatican in 1957.Jean-François Viot, , 2008. Play: , 2009.


Rejection of the Big Bang

While having no argument with the Lemaître theory (later confirmed by Edwin Hubble’s observations) that the universe was expanding, Hoyle disagreed on its interpretation. He found the idea that the universe had a beginning to be pseudoscience, resembling arguments for a creator, "for it’s an irrational process, and can’t be described in scientific terms" (see Kalam cosmological argument).Quentin Smith, . Faith and Philosophy. April 1992 (Volume 9, No. 2, pp. 217–237 Instead, Hoyle, along with Thomas Gold and Hermann Bondi (with whom he had worked on radar in World War II), argued for the universe as being in a "steady state". The theory tried to explain how the universe could be eternal and essentially unchanging while still having the galaxies we observe moving away from each other. The theory hinged on the creation of matter between galaxies over time, so that even though galaxies get further apart, new ones that develop between them fill the space they leave. The resulting universe is in a "steady state" in the same manner that a flowing river is – the individual water molecules are moving away but the overall river remains the same.

The theory was one alternative to the Big Bang which agreed with key observations of the day, namely Hubble’s red shift observations, and Hoyle was a strong critic of the Big Bang. He is responsible for coining the term "Big Bang" on BBC radio’s Third Programme broadcast at 1830 GMT on 28 March 1949. It is popularly reported that Hoyle intended this to be pejorative, but the script from which he read aloud shows that he intended the expression to help his listeners.Mitton, Simon, Fred Hoyle a life in science", p. 127, Cambridge University Press, 2011. Hoyle explicitly denied that he was being insulting and said it was just a striking image meant to emphasize the difference between the two theories for the radio audience.Croswell, Ken, The Alchemy of the Heavens, chapter 9, Anchor Books, 1995.

Hoyle had a famously heated argument with Martin Ryle of the Cavendish Radio Astronomy Group about Hoyle’s steady state theory, which somewhat restricted collaboration between the Cavendish group and the Cambridge Institute of Astronomy during the 1960s.Mitton, Simon, Fred Hoyle a life in science", p. chapter 7, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Hoyle, unlike Gold and Bondi, offered an explanation for the appearance of new matter by postulating the existence of what he dubbed the "creation field", or just the "C-field", which had negative pressure in order to be consistent with the conservation of energy and drive the expansion of the universe. These features of the C-field anticipated the later development of cosmic inflation. They jointly argued that continuous creation was no more inexplicable than the appearance of the entire universe from nothing, although it had to be done on a regular basis. In the end, mounting observational evidence convinced most cosmologists that the steady state model was incorrect and that the Big Bang was the theory that agreed best with observations, although Hoyle continued to support and develop his theory. In 1993, in an attempt to explain some of the evidence against the steady state theory, he presented a modified version called "quasi-steady state cosmology" (QSS), but the theory is not widely accepted.