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Hoyle, Sir Fred

theory universe space steady

(1915–2001) British cosmologist and astrophysicist: jointly proposed the steady-state theory of the universe.

Even as a small boy in a Yorkshire village, Hoyle was ‘at war with the system’ and became a long-term truant. Later he had problems in entering Cambridge. In 1973 he resigned his chair after disputes with the university authorities.

Together with , Hoyle proposed the steady-state theory for the origin of the universe in the 1950s. This theory assumes that the universe is not only homogeneous and isotropic in space, but also unchanging with time. The known expansion of the universe is explained by the continuous and spontaneous creation of matter to maintain the mean mass density at a constant value. Newer evidence has left that theory with few supporters. Hoyle also suggested (in 1957, with W A Fowler (1911–95) and Geoffrey ) how elements heavier than helium and hydrogen might have been created by nuclear synthesis in the interior of stars, eventually being ejected into space and incorporated into new stars formed from clouds of interstellar matter. All this work has led to fruitful advances, directly or through their effect on others: and the ‘B2FH paper’ is now accepted as a major contribution to cosmology.

More recently Hoyle, with Geoffrey Burbidge and J V Narlikar, developed a quasi-steady-state theory, in which the creation of matter is not continuous but intermittent. These creation events, the theory suggests, are linked with strong gravitational fields and can occur on various scales, with our part of the universe being created about 15 billion years ago. These ideas did not find wide support.

He was also a believer in an extraterrestrial origin for life, suggesting that biological molecules such as amino acids are synthesized in space on dust particles. His view that infective agents such as viruses can arrive from space found little support. He, however, was notably successful as a theorist and as a writer both of popular science and of science fiction.

Hu-Dehart, Evelyn (1947–) - Latin American/Caribbean History; History of the Asian Diaspora; Ethnic Studies [next] [back] Howard, Terrence Dashon (1969–)

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