Fred Hoyle An observer of the world and a ponderer on its problems ...
By Fred Hoyle
This tract was written during the summer months of 1947. Re-reading the manuscript a year later I find, especially in the last two chapters, that on several issues I have been guilty of too confident assertion, while, on the other hand, a number of suggestions have been strengthened by subsequent investigation. In spite of the temptation to rewrite the passages concerned, I have decided to adhere to the original form. New considerations are added as brief supplementary notes at the end of Appendix II. More
In compiling the sections dealing with observational material I have frequently had recourse, in addition to papers cited in the text, to articles by G. Abetti and S. A. Mitchell in the Handbuch der Astrophysik and also to Physik d. Sternatmosphären by A. Unsöld. The work of Chapters III and IV, which contain the bulk of the original material included in the tract, was carried out in collaboration with R. A. Lyttleton and H. Bondi (M.N. 107, 184, 1947). Although, in the remainder of the tract, the amount of theoretical material taken directly from astronomical literature is not large, my views on many important questions have been much influenced by other authors. In particular, my outlook on electromagnetic effects at and below the photosphere has arisen largely from the work of S. Chapman and T. G. Cowling, while the discussion of electromagnetic effects in the solar atmosphere has been mainly stimulated by the investigations of R. G. Giovanelli. I am indebted to Dr. Giovanelli for allowing me to look over preliminary drafts of several recent papers. My thanks are also due to D. R. Bates, who has been my guide in all matters relating to the Earth's atmosphere.
ST. JOHN'S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.
27 June, 1948
It was "The Nature of the Universe" that brought Sir Fred Hoyle to the notice of the general public. This book, published in 1950, is based upon a series of lectures on astronomy given by Sir Fred for the Third Programme on BBC radio.
This book, as in all of his others, Hoyle speaks in a language easy for the layman to understand and comprehensible for the non-specialist.
First of all, Hoyle describes our Earth, the planet which we inhabit. He then takes us on a tour of nearby space and our closest neighbours, our moon and the planets of the solar system. He explains in clear and non-technical terms theories on how our solar system was formed from the primal dust and gas which condensed into solid and gaseous bodies billions of years ago. More
Hoyle then goes on to discuss the sun and the stars in our galaxy. Again, in easy to understand terms, he explains how the sun gives out its heat and light by means of nuclear fusion processes, yet at the same time maintains itself as a stable and constant star. Hoyle explains stellar evolution and shows the course that the sun, like most other Main Sequence Stars, will take in the next few billion years before eventually swelling to Red Giant proportions and then shrinking to a Brown Dwarf when all its nuclear fuel is spent.
It was in this series of broadcasts, and the subsequent book, that Sir Fred Hoyle brought to greater public attention his theory on the cosmological nature of the Universe. He rejected the super dense theory ( now known as the Big Bang ) of George Gamov and Georges Lemaitre and maintained that the Universe had no beginning and nor will it ever have an end: it has, he argued, always existed. As the glaxies speed away from each other into infinity, hydrogen atoms are constantly being created to replenish the Universe with new stars and galaxies. This he termed the Steady State Theory by means of continuous creation.
"The Nature of the Universe" may appear to be dated, yet it is a classic for all time as it brought to wider public awareness the new cosmology and Man's place in the Universe.
The author is no longer solely concerned, with astronomy, as in the days of his unforgettable broadcasts, and his best-selling The Nature of the Universe. In this challenging new book, with its alarming warning about the prospect before the world, he bestrides all the sciences.
He considers the problems of this atomic age, the chances of survival of our nation, and the wider issue of the chances of survival of our whole present-day civilisation.
If the world saves itself from atomic destruction, will we be able to feed its expanding populations? Are we to continue to allow overcrowding in the world with the inevitable self-restoring balance only brought about by famine, disease and war? Or can we think with a sufficiently international mind of an intelligent humane control of atomic power, of maximum food production, of discouragement of overpopulation, so that we may be the first civilisation to foresee and prevent its own destruction? More
There comes a time in life when a man feels under an obligation to the country that reared him, and to the people that he grew up amongst. It may seem strange that this should have led to the writing of a book that seeks to emphasise our economic and physical insecurity. But in recent years I have come to feel more and more urgently that public commentators arc not bringing this insecurity home to us with sufficient vividness; of our being tied to a wasting economy; of what the fate of this tightly packed island in an atomic war would very likely be; of the menace of the world's rapidly rising population; and of the threat of an ultimately disastrous decline in world-wide resources.
If our fate were certain there might be some point in keeping these matters hidden. But disaster is by no means inevitable. It is perfectly possible to counter the threat of atomic weapons, for instance, by dispersing a considerable proportion of our population to the Dominions. Whether we ought in fact to adopt such a measure is not for me, or for any other person, or for any limited group of persons, to decide. In a matter of such great moment, it is the will of the whole British people that ought to be decisive. But-and here is the crucial point the people cannot offer a considered opinion until they become sharply aware of the facts on which such an opinion should be based.
This will explain why I have discussed so forcefully those matters that, as a scientist, I feel myself in a position to appreciate. It may be that too strident a picture has sometimes been painted, and that distortions may have been introduced. Thls is apt to happen when, for the sake of conciseness, one is striving to represent a big subject on a small canvas.
Nowadays scientists find themselves between two fires. When they keep silent on political matters, they are accused of being indifferent to the abuse of their discoveries. When they speak out, they are usually told that their views are too 'calculated', or that they are too 'naive', or that they are guilty of 'oversimplifying' difficult problems (By implication, all problems in science being easy). I suppose what I have written will very likely provoke these responses from the experts. This has not dissuaded me, however, mainly for the reason already explained, but partly also because the successes that have so far been achieved by the people who claim to understand the subtlety of human problems have not been impressive. This being so, I do not think that the non-expert need be unduly bashful about putting forward a new outlook on human affairs.
Cambridge, November, 1952.
Professor W. H. McCrea, in his review of "Frontiers of Astronomy" in the Spectator in 1955 wrote that "For its significance in the progress of thought it may be ranked with, say, Charles Darwin's 'Origin of Species'. His book marks a turning point in our understanding of the physical universe". Yet, Darwin's "Origin of Species" 148 years after its publication is still in print, whereas Sir Fred Hoyle's "Frontiers of Astronomy" 52 years after its appearance in the bookshops is no longer available except through antiquarian book-dealers.
There seems to be no logical explanation for this difference in re-publication policy between the two books. Both biology and astronomy have moved on in leaps and bounds since the respective first impressions of "Origins" and "Frontiers". In fact, "Frontiers" is far more relevant to astronomy in the opening years of the 21st century than is "Origins" to biology. More
It could be argued that the discovery of cosmic background radiation by Dennis Sciama and Robert Wilson in 1965 has done less damage to Hoyle's Steady State theory than has been done to Darwinian evolution by Watson and Crick's discovery of DNA in the 1950's.
Perhaps the enduring success of Darwin's "Origin of Species" can be put down to the great controversy it caused not only in the scientific community but in the religious establishment itself. Neither Steady State nor Big Bang cosmology has had the same earth shattering consequences that Evolutionary Theory had.
If we take a tour of Hoyle's great work, we should come to the conclusion that controversy alone is not a rational reason for a book's endurance. Though the book is about astronomy, Hoyle devotes the first two chapters of "Frontiers" to planet Earth. Some commentators have viewed this as being rather odd but we must come to the realisation that Earth is no less a part of the Universe than is the Andromeda Galaxy. Throughout his career Hoyle was constantly criticised for stepping into disciplines in which he had no training. Hoyle countered this criticism by explaining that nature does not categorise in the way academe does; there is always going to be overlapping among the sciences. It makes no sense whatsoever to suggest that an astronomer can pronounce on the rock composition and the weather patterns on Mars but only a geologist and a meteorologist can have anything relevant to say respectively on Earth's rocks and climates!
The concept of overlap continues in chapters III and IV as Hoyle takes his readers down into the microcosmic world of the atom and explains the nature of sub-atomic particles. It is impossible to attain any grasp of how the Universe functions in its vastness without a proper understanding of what is going on at the atomic and sub-atomic levels. Microcosm and macrocosm are inextricably bound up.
It is only from chapter V that we leave the Earth to begin a study of the moon, the planets and our nearest star the sun. As we progress through the remaining 15 chapters we find ourselves taken further out into deep space as we consider the origins of the solar system and examine the various types of stars in our galaxy. Moving onwards Hoyle fascinates us with the different kinds of galaxies and their enormous distances in an expanding Universe.
Hoyle concludes his work by giving an outline of the Steady State Theory and its adjunct theory of the continuous creation of matter. The Steady State Theory's non-viability in its original form puts it on a par with Darwinian Evolutionary Theory thus raising the hope one day we may witness "Frontiers of Astronomy" and "Origin of Species" separated on the bookshelves only by the academic labels of "biology" and "astronomy".
Sir Fred Hoyle wrote his book "Man and Materialism" back in 1957, yet much of what he says can be seen as relevant to the present day. Although Hoyle was an astrophysicist, he showed great insights into political and social matters.
Although the world at the time was going through a very severe Cold War, Hoyle put the situation into a rational perspective by warning against seeing too sharp a distinction between Communism and Capitalism. Although Hoyle argued that the Capitalist system was more efficient, he showed that much of what we term as "communism" had nothing to do with the basic concept of that creed.
In the later chapters of this work, Hoyle examines the history of civilisations from the earliest history to the present day. According to Hoyle knowledge is more durable than any particular civilisation, and while civilisations wax and wane, come and go, knowledge does not. So when one civilisation collapses another can quickly arise Phoenix like from the ashes - provided knowledge is not lost.
At the conclusion of this work, Hoyle speculates about the future of Mankind. He sees a bleak future for our species if there is no alternative found to fossil fuel which he maintains will very quickly reach depletion levels. However, if nothing stands as a barrier to advancing knowledge, then Mankind may have a long future ahead
..What is a materialist? In the popular view I suppose a materialist is a pretty unpleasant person who gobbles babies for breakfast. This is a view I do not agree with. I am a materialist and I haven't gobbled any babies yet ..
Fascinating introduction to astronomy. Discussion of physical principles is embedded in and illuminates the historical development of the science, and is clearly illustrated. For example, shows how the ancients were able to determine a wide variety of astronomical phenomena (time, season, direction, latitude, axial tilt, stellar coordinates) using a few simple tools. Historical photos and illustrations augment the text. Concludes with what was known in astronomy at the time of writing (1960) and speculates on future discoveries.
British mathematician and astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) coined the phrase 'Big Bang Theory' to describe the currently accepted explanation of the origin of the universe, and he did important work on the origins of stars and on the elements within stars. To the general public he was known more as a prolific writer of popular science books, in which he offered his stimulating ideas on the nature of our huge, fascinating cosmos. In this compilation of popular lectures delivered in 1964, he comments on the nature of the scientific enterprise, gives his view of life on Earth from the perspective of astronomy, and speculates about the future. Among the many interesting ideas discussed in this book is Hoyle's suggestion that 'the emergence of intelligent life is not a meaningless accident' and he estimates that the existence of intelligent life on other planets is highly probable.
Despite the enormous distances that separate the stars and planetary systems, he considers it very likely that humanity will eventually discover the technological means to communicate with intelligent extraterrestrial life.
He also feels that the developmental pattern of life on Earth is probably not unique and that we 'are following an inevitable path, one that must have been followed many, many times on other planets'. In conclusion, he conjectures that contact with more advanced civilisations may prove vital to learning how to address the most daunting problems of life on Earth, such as avoiding nuclear war and managing the global stresses of the population explosion. These forward-looking lectures by one of the 20th century's great scientific minds make for exciting and rewarding reading.
In a new and unusual volume, Fred Hoyle, the renowned philosopher-astronomer, describes what he believes is mankind's unconscious program of self-destruction.
The disastrous submergence of the individual, the "modern disease" of nationalism, the catastrophic rise in world population, and the spectre of nuclear warfare are evidences, Hoyle feels, of a breakdown in the evolution of civilisation. Human beings are still committed to primitive mystiques when they trust only the colour of a person's skin, his religion, his language, or the slant of his eyes.
To counteract these influences, Hoyle pleads for a return to and states that man must combine intellect with the forces of nature in order to escape from the race to doom. More
"We are already beyond the normal form of biological control, the control that has directed evolution over the past thousand million years .. a new control is going to come into operation .. as to justify the title of a new species." This new species, on which the author places his hope for the future, will not permit irrevocable changes to occur, and will be of a questioning (thus scientific; "sane") mind. In the organisation of his own life, Fred Hoyle has made this his credo.
This is a controversial and thought provoking analysis of man's place in the universe, fascinatingly written by a man who has been called "a twentieth-century Leonardo da Vinci," and who is highly regarded as the world's foremost cosmologist.
Fred Hoyle, in addition to his stature in astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy, is also famed for his several plays and novels-the most noted of which are Black Cloud and A for Andromeda. He achieved international acclaim in 1951 when his book, The Nature of the Universe, was published. It was in this book that he first proposed his revolutionary theory of the continuous creation of the universe. This theory was further elaborated upon in 1956 when Mr. Hoyle enlarged the meaning of the nature of matter with the publication of his Man and Materialism volume in the World Perspectives series.
ABOUT THE EDITOR
Ruth Nanda Anshen, philosopher and editor, plans and edits The Credo Series, as well as World Perspectives. Religious Perspectives, and the Science of Culture Series. She writes and lectures widely on the relationship of knowledge to the meaning of existence.
In this book Professor Hoyle deals with many of the most exciting current topics in astronomy: the problems of galaxies and their formation, radio galaxies and quasars, cosmic rays, X rays, and gamma rays. In the first section he has summarised the work on which he has been engaged during the past ten years, in collaboration with colleagues at the California Institute of Technology and the University of California.
He devotes one chapter to the history of matter. Later chapters are concerned with cosmology, the study of the universe in the large. One is an exposition of the steady-state theory, explaining in detail the modern formulation of this theory. Another advances new possibilities differing radically from the steady-state concept. These new considerations seek to relate the radio sources directly to cosmology, with the implication that in these sources we may have direct evidence of the creation of matter.
Galaxies, Nuclei and Quasars is illustrated with thirty-four diagrams and thirty-six photographs, many of the latter being of unusual and singular objects.
Columbia University Press; First Edition edition (1966)
Looking back along this chain of evolution, this incredibly detailed chain of many steps, I am overwhelmingly impressed by the way in which chemistry has gradually given way to electronics. It is not unreasonable to describe the first living creatures as entirely chemical in character. Although electrochemical processes are important in plants, organised electronics, in the sense of data processing, does not enter or operate in the plant world. But primitive electronics begins to assume importance as soon as we have a creature that moves around, instead of being rooted in a particular spot, as a plant is. This is surely what we mean by an animal, a creature that moves around. In order to move in any purposeful way a system capable of analysing and processing information about the external world, about the lay of the land as one might say, becomes necessary. The first electronic systems possessed by primitive animals were essentially guidance systems, analogous logically to sonar or radar. More
As we pass to more developed animals we find electronic systems being used not merely for guidance but for directing the animal toward food, particularly toward food in the form of another animal. First we have animals eating plants, then animals eating animals, a second order effect. The situation is analogous to a guided missile, the job of which is to intercept and destroy another missile. Just as in our modern world attack and defence become more and more subtle in their methods, so it was the case with animals. And with increasing subtlety, better and better systems of electronics become necessary. What happened in nature has a close parallel with the development of electronics in modern military applications.
I find it a sobering thought that but for the tooth-and-claw existence of the jungle we should not possess our intellectual capabilities, we should not be able to inquire into the structure of the Universe, or to be able to appreciate a symphony of Beethoven. What happened was that electronic systems gradually outran their original purposes. At first they existed to guide animals with powerful weapons, teeth and claws, toward their victims. The astonishing thing, however, was that at a certain stage of subtlety the teeth and claws became unnecessary. Creatures began to emerge in which the original roles of chemistry and electronics were reversed. Instead of the electronics being servant to the chemistry, the reverse became the case. By the time we reach the human, the body has become the servant of the head, existing very largely to supply the brain with appropriate materials for its operation. In us, the computer in our heads, the computer that we call our brain, has entirely taken control. The same I think is true of most of the higher animals, indeed I think this is how one really defines a higher animal.
Viewed in this light, the question that is sometimes asked—can computers think?—is somewhat ironic. Here of course I mean the computers that we ourselves make out of inorganic materials. What on earth do those who ask such a question think they themselves are? Simply computers, but vastly more complicated ones than anything we have yet learned to make. Remember that our man-made computer industry is a mere two or three decades old, whereas we ourselves are the products of an evolution that has operated over hundreds of millions of years.
What makes Sir Fred Hoyle's work on Nicolaus Copernicus so interesting is that it does not despise the old Ptolemaic theory of a geocentric universe. "Indeed Copernicus had to struggle long and hard over many years before he equaled Ptolemy, and in the end the Copernican theory did not greatly surpass that of Ptolemy" ( P. 3 ) Hoyle points out in many places throughout this work, that in pure terms of kinematic models, it is immaterial whether one uses the heliocentric or geocentric forms of representation.
Hoyle gives a brief account of Copernicus' personal life in Chapter II. He traces Copernicus' career from his birth in Silesia in 1473 to his death in Frauenburg in 1543. The development of Copernicus' heliocentric model is carefully investigated from the first publication "Commentariolus" to its culmination in "de revolutionibus".
In the other two chapters of the book, Hoyle examines in mathematical terms the heliocentric theory of Aristarchus and the Copernican and Ptolemaic models of the solar system. In the epilogue, which looks at the two models with respect to the 20th century, Hoyle states that one cannot say that the "....Copernican theory is `right' and the Ptolemaic theory `wrong'....". It is simply that using the Ptolemaic model rather than the Copernican one would have been futile within any desire to make scientific progress.
(Published by W.H.Freeman as Highlights in Astronomy 1975)
In the preface to "Astronomy Today", the author, Sir Fred Hoyle makes the following apropos statement: 'In the very troubled times in which we are living today, astronomy offers a welcome new perspective on a scheme of things much larger than ourselves'. This is as true today as it was back in 1974 when Hoyle wrote this book. When contemplating the immense vastness of the cosmos and simultaneously coming to a realisation of the minuteness of the Earth within it, we become more conscious of the need for the greater part of humanity to achieve a greater awareness of just how the petty politicking which absorbs so much of our collective time, energy and passions sooner or later must be put into a more realistic perspective.
In its non-technical, easy to understand terminology, "Astronomy Today" undoubtedly offers a major contribution to the growth and development of that cosmic consciousness on whose evolution and maturity depend the continuation of the existence of the human species - at least in terms of how it is represented on planet Earth.
It is on Earth where Hoyle begins his journey and examines our planet's geological, biological and climatic history. On commenting upon the first of the astonishing pictures in this well-illustrated book, the author amazes at how it was that the animal who was responsible for these extraterrestrial photographs was the one which, weighed down by the force of gravity, evolution never favoured with the ability of flight!
Sir Fred Hoyle has created a new and exciting textbook of astronomy. In Astronomy and Cosmology. he abandons the traditional encyclopaedic approach to the subject in favour of a fuller treatment of such topics as the large-scale structure of the universe, the history of matter, the origin of the planets, and the origin of life.
"I have tried," he writes, "to emphasise the uncertainties and tensions to which the astronomer and physicist are exposed when they work at the frontiers of their sciences."
Astronomy and Cosmology contains nearly 600 illustrations, all closely coordinated with the text. The reader needs no more than a knowledge of elementary algebra to follow the arguments of this provocative and profound book. More
Since several very good astronomy texts are available (I refer to them at the ends of the sections into which this book is divided), I felt that a new departure in presentation would be desirable here. For this reason, I have concentrated more on the relationship of astronomy to physics than is usual in an introductory text. Astronomy was the first of the physical sciences to develop - indeed, we owe the rise of the whole of modern science to critical discoveries made in astronomy some three to four centuries ago. However, and somewhat paradoxically, historical factors have tended to keep astronomy a science apart, studied almost in isolation from the rest of science. Today we see this isolation to be no advantage. The time has come for astronomy to take its place as a major branch of physics. Such is the point of view from which I have tried to write this book.
An irritating detail concerned me from the outset. The quantity we call energy is widely important both in science and in our daily lives; yet there is no well-known unit of energy. When we buy gasoline, we are buying energy; yet we specify a quantity of gasoline by volume (so many gallons), not by its energy content. Electrical devices are rated according to power, not energy; yet we pay our bills to electric companies according to the energy we have consumed. Perhaps the inability of our society to think explicitly in terms of energy has had much to do with the recent developments of the energy crisis.
To be sure, scientists always work professionally in terms of a unit of energy, often a unit called the erg: an object with a mass of 2 grams moving with a speed of I centimetre per second has I erg of energy because of its motion. But this definition seems rather remote from everyday life. To find a definition nearer everyday usage, let us start from the concept of the power rating of an electrical device (so many watts, or so many kilowatts). To calculate the energy used by such a device, we multiply the power rating by the time for which the device is employed:
Energy = Power rating X Time.
A 10-kilowatt device used for 100 hours requires the same amount of electrical energy as a I-kilowatt device used for 1,000 hours-the bill from the electric company would be the same. In this book, however, we will consider time to be measured in seconds rather than hours; so the unit is that of a I-kilowatt device used for I second, a unit known as the kilowatt-second. The relationship of the kilowatt-second to the erg is expressed by the simple equation,
I kilowatt-second = 1010 ergs.
I must also comment on a far more basic topic. Physicists will be surprised to find that, although radiation and the quantum theory are discussed fairly extensively in this book, quanta are never mentioned explicitly. The idea of a quantum of radiation appears at first sight to be a simple and useful concept; but later on, serious confusion emerges when one tries to relate the quantum concept of radiation to the wave description of it. This confusion is the inevitable price to be payed for oversimplification. An accurate description of the specific quantum associated with a specific transition in a specific atom is not simple at all, but is instead quite complicated. It is glossing over this complication which causes the later difficulties. The treatment adopted here, although it can be developed in a way entirely equivalent to the usual treatment, avoids this pitfall. The quantum picture of radiation discussed in Chapter 4 connects to the wave picture without confusion.
Certain technical words have been italicised in the preceding paragraphs. This practice will be followed throughout this book wherever the reader is not expected to know the meaning of such a word beforehand. Instead, the meaning is intended to be explained by the discussion at that place in the book.
This book is divided into six main sections. At the end of each section, I have included additional material in the form of Appendixes, partly to give technical support to the main text, partly to extend the range of the discussion where doing so seemed worthwhile. This additional material can be omitted in an introductory course.
A few equations are used in the main text. These will not give trouble so long as the reader remembers that all equations are of the kind a = b, where a and b are simply the same number. Why bother to write a and b separately if they are the same? In mathematics and in science it is sometimes found that two apparently quite different ways of constructing a number lead to the same value. One way of constructing the number we call a, the other b. Then we express our surprise and delight at finding them equal by triumphantly writing a = b. All the unexpected regularities we find in the world are expressed in this way. So if we refuse to write any equations at all, we simply lose all the remarkable equalities which have been discovered between things that, to begin with, seemed different from each other. Our understanding of the world would then have become quite unnecessarily blurred.
It is a pleasure to express my thanks to Robert M. Blanchard for preparing the artwork for this book, and to Aidan A. Kelly for editing a far-from-easy manuscript. I also wish to thank Evaline Gibbs, Jan Rasmussen, and my wife, Barbara, for typing and for helping organize the material of the book.
Pasadena, California January 1975
This monograph is based on four lectures given at the faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the State University of New York, Buffalo.
As the title of the book suggests, Sir Fred Hoyle looks at the Universe from ten different perspectives. The first chapter is entitled "God's Universe" and it is here that Hoyle displays his familiar dislike of conventional religious beliefs and practices. God, for Hoyle, is part of the mathematical creation which is the Universe, rather than someone who, in traditional theology, stands outside of it and apart from it.
Imagine. When you see a ruined block of big stones, can you claim that the stones are there only to predict eclipses? How will you go about building a case for your claim? Can you convince the world that it is indeed true? Fred Hoyle has done just that, and he convinces you beyond any doubt.
He theorises that the primary reason Stonehenge was built was to predict eclipses. He proceeds to support this thesis by piecing blocks of the puzzle into one cohesive, convincing argument. The book has all the detective drama of Sherlock Holmes, except that the mystery is real and the argument is based on facts. Along the way, you get an intimate knowledge of the megalith and the minds of the ancient men who built it.
Whether you are interested in Stonehenge or not, this book gives you a fascinating insight into how scientists propound theories and proceed to build a case around them. A master work of logical thought.
"Energy or Extinction" although a short 80 page book consisting of a forward, introduction, six chapters and an index, clearly, succinctly and persuasively lays forth the case for nuclear power as the only viable alternative to oil and coal. Sir Fred completely debunks the scaremongering of the anti-nuclear lobby which conveys the notion that nuclear power constitutes a danger. Backing up his argument with the use of statistics, he shows that there is more radiation emanating from common rocks, coal ash and hospital x-rays than from nuclear power plants. Hoyle makes perfectly clear that driving, living in cities, and working in the construction, coal-mining, dock and textile industries are far greater hazards to life and health than the nuclear power industry.
In this book a theory of the origin of the Solar System is presented which rests largely on empirical facts, i.e. those of densities, masses and angular momenta of the planets. These facts show the traditional view of planet formation to be far too simple. In particular, emphasis is laid on the observed slow rotation of the Sun and the observed very low concentrations of the rare gases in the terrestial atmosphere.
The discussion proceeds to consider the formation of organic material in the gas cloud which became the Solar System, the aggregation and rotation of the planets, and other relevant topics.
In conclusion, Sir Fred examines the roles of meteorites and minor planets, and the chemical composition of late additions to the Earth and Moon (with particular reference to radioactive materials) together with such controversial issues as the nature of the lunar surface and the cause of plate tectonics. The final topic discussed is the origin of life.
The SS Theory, According to F.H.
Although the age of the whole universe was thought in 1948 to be only about 2 billion years, whereas the age of the Earth was measured to be more than 3 billion years, the detail of this stark contradiction did not worry me unduly, because there was obviously room for adjustment in Hubble's determination of the age of the universe. It was rather than I felt uncomfortable with an age of the universe generally comparable to the age of the solar system. I came to wonder if there could be any form of cosmology, based in a broad sense on Einstein's general theory of relativity, with the time-axis open into the past, not closed at the definite moment of 'origin' of the universe, as it is in the Friedmann cosmologies. More
The Relation of Biology to Astronomy 1980
Every argument I have heard for the cosmological theory of quasar redshifts is model-dependent, in contrast to the anti-cosmological arguments of this essay, which are for the most part model-independent. The basic argument could indeed be applied to marbles just as well as quasars. One enters a room to find marbles scattered on the floor. Were they tossed out of a box at random, or is the distribution so ordered as to suggest, perhaps to the point of certainty, that a child's game must have been interrupted? The corresponding question for quasars is to decide whether their distribution on the sky is random, or are certain very close associations of quasars (with widely different redshifts) genuine physical relationships? If so, and it is so, the cosmological theory is in the wastepaper basket, even without one needing to know the difference between a quasar and a marble. More
There are scientists who distrust a posteriori arguments in principle, no doubt fearing the following ludicrous kind of example. A lone golfer's tee-shot lands on a tuft of grass. The probability of the ball coming to rest on that particular tuft is so minute that there could scarcely be enough golfers in the whole world to have produced such an event. Hence there was no tee-shot, the lone golfer was suffering from hallucination. The fallacy of this argument of course is that there were very many tufts of grass. The tiny probabilities from them all add to unity.
Pursued to a logical conclusion, a distrust of inferences from a posteriori situations would lead one to distrust everything which has already happened, including all past experiments and observations. One would then be in the absurd position of needing to repeat important experiments and observations, and, since the present moment of time immediately flows into the past, the repetitions would have to go on everlastingly.
There is no help for it, unless we are to become entirely swallowed up into a repetitious treadmill, but to use analysis of a posteriori situations to separate out fallacies. This is just what the brain does subconsciously all the time. The eye picks out visual situations as unusual only if they approach a three-standard deviations level of significance. It is no accident that the probability of each of the Arp - Hazard alignments of Figure 4 should turn out to be about one-in-a-hundred, for this is just the level to which our visual analysis attaches significance subconsciously. If the separations from quasar to quasar in those triplets had been half a degree instead of about five arc minutes the eye would have seen nothing in them, and indeed calculation shows there would have been none in such a case.
My own poor-man's method of avoiding fallacies is wasteful of information, and so would not commend itself to an expect statistician. Yet I have always found it a valuable safeguard against self-deceptions. If I come on a situation which on the face of it looks highly unusual I draw no inferences until a second similar situation has been found. I regard the first case as specifying the proposition, the 'game'. Then with the game defined in advance of the second case, I am ready to draw conclusions from that second case, and of course from still further cases.
For me, the calculation of random probabilities for the spacings within groups of quasars was a defined game as long ago as 1966. Every subsequent discovery of spacings with small random probabilities has therefore hit me with full weight. The accumulated product of these probabilities is by now so exceedingly minute that, even without the Arp - Hazard alignments, I personally can have no doubt at all of the error of the cosmological theory. That the astronomical community should continue to think otherwise is more a matter of sociology than of science. Science is not made by what communities think, but by what the Universe is.
If quasar redshifts are not cosmological, what are they then? Towards the end of the essay I have made a suggestion which has the virtue of answering immediate questions in a satisfactory way. After the essay was written in September 1980, Jayant Narlikar raised the question of the effect of observation on triplet alignments, and the results of independent investigations by the two of us are reported in an appendix.
About 1500 quasars are presently known, many with much detail concerning their individual properties. This treasure-house has been assembled through the efforts of many workers. In a recent quasar catalogue compiled by Adelaide Hewitt and Geoffrey Burbidge as many as 743 references to the literature on quasars are given. Unfortunately there was no opportunity for me to pay tribute to more than a few particular islands set in so great an ocean of information. My narrative involves just two topics, the discovery of quasars and the interpretation of their redshifts. The restriction to this particular story line led, of necessity, to the omission, or partial omission, of many names that have greatly distinguished themselves in the subject. Here I would like to express my debt especially to Margaret Burbidge and Roger Lynds, who have always been generous in supplying me with the latest data, and who somehow had the patience not to become exasperated with my elementary knowledge of atomic spectroscopy. I must mention too the many radio astronomers whose unremitting efforts over the years has led to the discovery of so many of these remarkable objects,
Cumbria February 1981
"Ice - The Ultimate Human Catastrophe" published by Continuum New York 1981, shows its author, Sir Fred Hoyle, at his scientific best. The book is extremely well researched and its core arguments are backed up with tables, diagrams, maps and photographs. The technical notes at the back of the book give further substance to the various scientific processes discussed in the main body of the work.
In his Introduction, Sir Fred Hoyle relates how his interest in the various ice ages of the Earth started during his days as a postgraduate research student at Cambridge. In the 1930s, the numbers of students involved in research were very small and this fact provided the chance for students to debate quite freely issues concerning each others' disciplines.
It was no doubt this openness in an era of not too deep and restricted specialisation that gave Hoyle the versatility of mind to write on a variety of issues outside of his field of mathematics and astronomy. In fact, in this book, Hoyle successfully contradicts some of the theories of those who specialise in the Earth sciences when the causes of global cooling are being examined.
The time was mid-February 1972, the place was a smallish office in the Canberra Government buildings. Evening it was, after dinner, the hour of relaxation you might think. But there was no relaxation for Jim Hosie. I could see small beads of sweat on his upper lip. Nor was the meeting an easy one for Taffy Bowen, the Chairman of the Anglo-Australian Telescope Board. The other three of us were angry. Malcolm Fraser, now the Prime Minister of Australia, was angry with the British members of the Board - Jim Hosie, Margaret Burbidge and myself. Margaret was angry with Fraser, while I was just generally mad, as I usually am when suffering from jetlag. Besides which, there was no capacity for worry left in me, since I had used up all my store of worry three or four days earlier, when I had resigned from Cambridge University. More
Because the Anglo-Australian Telescope is often said to be the best in the world, it is possible that one day somebody will write its history from the official documents. The most dramatic moments were deliberately omitted from the official documents, however. On formal detail the documents are of course meticulously accurate but on the problems that caused us the worst difficulties they are bland. The diligent historian will find nothing for instance of the reason for the meeting with Malcolm Fraser in February 1972.
The idea of building a large telescope in Australia may have been mentioned in general terms before Bart J. Bok, but it was Bok's tireless lecturing to specialist and non-specialist audiences alike, up and down the length and breadth of Australia, that caused the idea to become a serious issue. Bok was a Dutchman by birth, an American by adoption, who had come in 1956 as the Director of the Mt. Stromlo Observatory - this was when Dick Woolley returned to the U.K. to become Astronomer Royal. Under pressure from Woolley, the Royal Society set up a committee to report on the desirability of the U.K. participating in the construction of a large telescope in Australia. The committee, of which both Woolley and I were members, was chaired by the Royal Society President, then Lord Florey of penicillin fame. Under pressure from Mark Oliphant, the Academy of Sciences did likewise in Australia. Both committees reported favourably on the suggested project.
This was the general situation in 1965 when the Science Research Council was formed. Further negotiations and discussions on the AAT then passed from the Royal Society to the SRC. Although I cannot fault the SRC's subsequent handling of the project, one might think it strange that the most prestigious scientific society in the U.K. should thus summarily have been written out of all subsequent concern with the telescope. Nor was the Royal Astronomical Society to play any role either, a state of affairs that would surely have been inconceivable earlier in the century. One might say the dismissal of the ancient societies was a reaction against nearly two decades of bungling the construction of the Isaac Newton Telescope, but it was also an indication of the inexorable march of twentieth-century bureaucracy.
In Australia exactly the same shift took place. The Academy there ceased to have any role. Control passed to the Department of Education and Science (DES), a similar but not quite symmetrical situation to that in the U.K. The SRC was one peg down from the actual U.K. Ministry, whereas in Australia the DES was the Ministry. For uncontroversial issues the lack of symmetry made little difference, but in matters of important disagreement our Australian opposite numbers had the advantage of being a step nearer to the upper levels of their government, an advantage that was to become relevant over the period 1970 - 73. ...
This major work by one of the great figures of 20th century science represents a fundamental challenge to established thinking on the origins and nature of the Universe. Fred Hoyle has entered the "creation and evolution" debate with a work of extraordinary, and possibly far-reaching, importance. In a remarkable sweep across the sciences, he assembles the current theories, examines them according to the evidence, and gives judgement. In the course of this sweep, a number of cows sacred to the scientific establishment are comprehensively lassoed.
For those who enjoy being challenged by new and often provocative ideas, this is an ideal book. Sir Fred Hoyle has almost no rival as the source of such ideas, his closest competitor being his old associate Tommy Gold, now at Cornell University. Fred is an uninhibited fountain of new ideas, arguing in this book that the great epochal events and myths of history were caused by cometary showers. (Those who know him are happier with "Fred" than "Sir Fred," with its establishment overtones).
He proposes that his celestial impacts have been responsible for various biblical stories, the fall of the Roman Empire, the Greek legends of Gods warring in the heavens, as well as the extinctions and subsequent innovations that have marked the history of life. He has proposed as well that the pathogens of global epidemics have come from space.
His thesis on cometary impacts is derived in large part from the proposals of two scientists, Victor Clube and Bill Napier, in their book The Cosmic Winter that they are fragments of a giant comet that periodically returns to the earth's vicinity. A somewhat similar proposal has been proposed to account for the extinction of dinosaurs and many other life forms some 65 million years ago.
In this book Hoyle sets forth his ideas with charm and humor. One may not always agree, but one cannot but be thoroughly stimulated. - Walter Sullivan
Fred Hoyle's longtime friend George Carson urged Hoyle to write this book. Carson was a biologist who thought that neo-Darwinian evolution needed to be mathematically analysed, and he knew that Hoyle was capable of doing the job. But Hoyle was preoccupied with cosmology and astronomy at the time. Only later he did turn his attention to biology. In collaboration with his former student, astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe, he studied evidence for organic compounds in space. This work beginning in the early 1970s, and his correspondence with J.B.S. Haldane reopened Hoyle's interest in biology. In 1986, Hoyle finally did the mathematical study that Carson had urged him to do. He dedicated the book to Carson's memory. But, except for a few facsimile copies of Hoyle's manuscript, the book was not published. Now Hoyle has updated the text and written a Foreword for the publication on January 1st, 1999.