Sir Fred Hoyle FRS 24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001 a Yorkshire man who coined the phrase ‘ The Big Bang’ and missed out on not one but two or three Nobel prizes for physics.
Fred Hoyle was born in Gilstead and went to Bingley Grammar school and Emmanuel College, Cambridge. During the war he worked on radar and assessing the height of enemy planes. After the war and a period as a lecturer at St Johns College he reached the top of ‘world astrophysics theory’ and was appointed to the illustrious Plumian Professor of Astronomy and Experimental Philosophy at Cambridge University.
Fred Hoyle: A Life in Science by Simon Mitton
A fascinating biography ‘The scientific life of Fred Hoyle was truly unparalleled. During his career he wrote groundbreaking scientific papers and caused bitter disputes in the scientific community with his revolutionary theories. Hoyle is best known for showing that we are all, literally, made of stardust in his paper explaining how carbon, and then all the heavier elements, were created by nuclear reactions inside stars. ‘
Fred Hoyle: Fellow of the Royal Society, Astronomer, Stellar nucleosynthesis, Cosmology, Big Bang, Science fiction, Geoffrey Hoyle.
Looking at Stars not Feet in Shipley Glen
In 1997 at the age of 82, while hiking across moorlands in West Yorkshire, near his childhood home in Gilstead, Fred Hoyle fell down into a steep ravine we know as Shipley Glen.
It was approximately twelve hours before Fred Hoyle was found by a search dog deep in amongst the rocks and trees.
He was hospitalized for two months with kidney problems as a result of hypothermia, pneumonia and a smashed shoulder.
It is probable that he never fully recovered as from around that time he suffered from memory and mental agility problems.
Quotes from Fred Hoyle
It seems Fred Hoyle had a way with words and could help the uninitiated get their heads around difficult astronomical concepts as he did with his use of the phrase the ‘Big Bang’ as opposed to his own theory of ‘steady state’.
‘Space isn’t remote at all. It’s only an hour’s drive away if your car could go straight upwards.’
‘When I was young, the old regarded me as an outrageous young fellow, and now that I’m old the young regard me as an outrageous old fellow’. Well I guess that generally goes with being outrageous.
‘The Cambridge system is effectively designed to prevent one ever establishing a directed policy — key decisions can be upset by ill-informed and politically motivated committees. To be effective in this system one must for ever be watching one’s colleagues, almost like a Robespierre spy system.’ Not exactly a tow the line academic!
‘The successful pioneer of theoretical science is he whose intuitions yield hypotheses on which satisfactory theories can be built…..’ Fred put this to the test many times with his own theories. Many of his views were disproved or ridiculed by the establishment and he certainly used intuition in developing his own inimitable style.
‘Things are the way they are because they were the way they were.’
Fiction some co-authored with his son Geoffrey include The Black Cloud, The Westminster Disaster, Molecule Men, In to Deepest Space and Fifth Planet from Amazon