Fred Hoyle

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Sir Frederick "Fred" Hoyle (1915-2001), considered the greatest British physicist of the 20th century, was noted for his rejection of naturalistic theories of how the universe came into being.[1] (See Intelligent design.) Nobel Prize winner William Alfred Fowler wrote: "Fred Hoyle was the second great influence in my life. The grand concept of nucleosynthesis in stars was first definitely established by Hoyle in 1946."[2] During a radio lecture, he coined the term "big bang" to ridicule the theory (which he disbelieved[3]) that the universe began from an explosion. Hoyle developed the steady state theory of cosmology.

Hoyle was best known for his seminal contributions to the theory of the structure of stars and on the origin of the chemical elements in stars. He was a joint proponent of the steady state model of the universe, which claims, in contradiction to the Biblical creation account, that the universe had no beginning.

No Nobel Prize

In 1983 the Nobel Prize committee insulted Hoyle by passing him over and giving the award to underlings for his work. "For ... one of the greatest intellectual triumphs of modern physics, he was ignored by the Nobel Prize committee which chose to reward others who had done lesser work in this field. Thus, the scientific establishment, which claims to seek truth dispassionately, treated one of its finest proponents with contempt."[4]

Fred Hoyle probably lost out, at least in part, because several years earlier he had loudly condemned the exclusion of Jocelyn Bell Burnell from the 1974 Physics Prize.[5]

See the discussion of Nobel Prize criteria for further discussion of this topic.

In 1985 (two years later) Hoyle was part of a group that exposed the Archaeopteryx - then a favorite of promoters of evolution - as a fraud.[6]

Stellar nucleosynthesis

By 1946 Hoyle had formulated the original and still generally accepted idea that the elements are generated in evolving stars and injected into the interstellar medium by supernova explosions. In 1957 he collaborated with William Alfred Fowler, Margaret Burbidge and Geoffrey Burbidge on an epoch-making paper on the nucleosynthesis of elements in stars.[7]

Origin of life

Hoyle, a lifelong atheist, was positively anti-theistic;[8] instead of accepting a Divine hand in things, he proposed a deus ex machina alien intervention[9] more in keeping with one of his many science fiction novels [10] than with faith and logic.

"The likelihood (probability) of the spontaneous formation of life from inanimate matter is one to number with 40,000 noughts after it... It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution. There was no primeval soup, neither on this planet nor on any other, and if the beginnings of life were not random, they must therefore have been the product of purposeful intelligence." Sir Fredrick Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1984), p. 148.[11]


  1. He supported the anthropic principle, holding that there is a design in creation: the universe was designed in such a way as to produce life. [1]
  3. Hoyle held out against Big Bang theory, even post-1965, when the discovery of a microwave background in the universe led most cosmologists to favor it. Physics Today obituary
  8. see "Conflict in the Cosmos: Fred Hoyle's Life in Science (Simon Mitton, Joseph Henry Press, 2005) and "How is Where the Wind Blows: Chapters from a Cosmologist;s Life" (Fred Hoyle, University Science, 1994)
  9. see "Evolution from Space: a Theory of Cosmic Creationism (Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe, Simon and Schuster, 1984)

External links