Fred Hoyle

Fred Hoyle (1915 – 2001) was an English astronomer and mathematician noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stance on other cosmological and scientific matters, in particular his rejection of the correct "Big Bang" theory, a term he coined. He also believed that the Berlin and London specimens of Archaeopteryx fossils, classic evidence for evolution, were fake.

In addition to his work as an astronomer, Hoyle was a writer of science fiction. In his first novel, The Black Cloud, most intelligent life in the universe takes the form of interstellar gas clouds; they are surprised to learn that intelligent life can also form on planets. Later, Hoyle became convinced that intelligent life on Earth had originally come from outer space.

The following lengthy quote from the blog of BBC filmmaker Adam Curtis illustrates the usefulness of Hoyle as a sort of archetype for very dimly enlightened scientists in Delta Green, with a note of Through the Gates of the Silver Key:

Fred Hoyle was one of the first scientists to become famous on television and radio. It was because he told a dramatic story about the universe - about how amazing it is, and the extraordinary discoveries that astronomers like him were making.

Ever since the 1920s scientists had realised that the universe wasn't static - it was expanding. There was a furious dispute about what this meant. One group of cosmologists said it meant that the universe had begun with an enormous explosion. Hoyle thought this was ridiculous, and he derisively gave his opponent's theory a name. He called it "the big bang" on a radio programme in 1949.

Hoyle thought this idea was silly because it meant that everything that now exists in the universe would have had to have been created in that one explosive moment. Hoyle believed that the universe had no beginning and no end - and that fiery stars throughout the cosmos were continually creating new matter that filled up the universe as it expanded.

And in 1948 Hoyle published a paper that was more than just a piece of scientific theory. It amounted to a new philosophical description of the universe, and it captured the public imagination. Two years later the BBC invited Hoyle to give a series of lectures on the radio, and millions listened to his dramatic vision.

Underpinning it was Hoyle's belief that mathematics has an objective truth to it - but that truth is something that we as humans can only dimly perceive. What astronomers were starting to find, Hoyle believed, was just a tiny part of something truly awesome. A giant mathematical plan to the universe that we will only ever understand a tiny part of.

Here are bits from a couple of films the BBC made about Hoyle and his ideas. He is obviously a very difficult character, but he has a great way of expressing himself. I love his description of what human beings are like when faced with the mathematical plan of the universe. They are, he says, like "fish a mile or two off Yarmouth". They can glimpse Yarmouth, but they will never come near comprehending it properly.


The most dramatic part of Hoyle's theory was the way it challenged our concept of time - that all things must have a beginning and an end. Hoyle dismissed his opponents' belief in the big bang as being a simple reflection of the deep human desire to see everything in the world as stories.1

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