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Sir Fred Hoyle


Sir Fred Hoyle has a memorial website in his honour, and produced abut 390 research publications in science, several novels, and works of music. His most notable contribution is nucleogenesis, for which his co-author Fowler was awarded a Nobel prize. The latter was withheld from Hoyle without any real reason. He predicted an excited state of the carbon twelve isotope from consideration of the evolution of a red giant star. This is consistent with Hoyle's steady state theory of the universe, but is not consistent with Big Bang. As Bernard Lovell (the founder of Joddrell Bank) writes in his obituary of Hoyle in the Guardian, a lot of ill feeling wsa generated by this Big Bang steady state debate. To me as a chemical physicist it all seemed peripheral to practical matters in the late sixties and seventies, when I was a student and post doc. in chemical physics. Hoyle sums up the Cambridge system in very negative terms: "To be effective in this system one must forever be watching one's colleagues......if one does so, then of course little time is left for real science". I have the same negative view of the Cambridge system. In fact I saw no point in leaving Aberystwyth, which unfortunately got a Head of Department, Jeremy Jones, from Cambridge. He imported the same arrogant and conspiratorial Robespierrian approach, resulting promptly in the closure of EDCL. 

It is now known that nothing physically correct could have been predicted either by Hoyle or Hawking if they used the, let's face it, incorrect Einstein field equation. Other aspects of Hoyle's work are outstanding, but the same cannot be said of Hawking or Penrose in my opinion. The kind of pseudo-academic censorship that led to the denial of a Nobel Prize for Hoyle is now worse than ever, the system being more corrupt than ever, and this corruption is what Stephen Crothers has been fighting against courageously in the field of cosmology. He should be given all support for those who have science (i.e. truth) at heart.

The fact that you are at Cambridge or Oxford is not a particularly good sign, as far as I am concerned, despite being an Oxford JRF myself. Of coruse there are some excellent people always there, but one does not feel that there is toleration of genuinely new ideas, especailly those coming from outside (like Cornell and UNCC, to be notorious). In the long term historical analysis this does not matter at all, because one cannot stop people thinking and cross-checking eah other's work for accuracy. My instinct at Aberystwyth was to stay at Aberystwyth, and if it were not for the vainglorious and imported Cambridge academic Jeremy Jones, there I would be. All my contemporaries would have agreed - they still do. 

British Civil List Scientist
Posted: 6 May 2008 


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