Fred Hoyle

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Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards.

Sir Fred Hoyle, FRS (June 24, 1915August 20, 2001) was a British astronomer and science fiction author.

Quotes[edit]

We are inescapably the result of a long heritage of learning, adaptation, mutation and evolution, the product of a history which predates our birth as a biological species and stretches back over many thousand millennia.
In the language of religion, it is the facts we observe in the world around us that must be seen to constitute the words of God.
This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.
  • These theories were based on the hypothesis that all the matter in the universe was created in one big bang at a particular time in the remote past.
  • "Big Bang" theory
    • The Nature of the Universe (1950), p. 113
  • It is in the world of ideas and in the relation of his brain to the universe itself that the superiority of Man lies. The rise of Man may justly be described as an adventure in ideas.
    • Frontiers of Astronomy (1955), p. 1
  • It has often been said that, if the human species fails to make a go of it here on the Earth, some other species will take over the running. In the sense of developing intelligence this is not correct. We have or soon will have, exhausted the necessary physical prerequisites so far as this planet is concerned. With coal gone, oil gone, high-grade metallic ores gone, no species however competent can make the long climb from primitive conditions to high-level technology. This is a one-shot affair. If we fail, this planetary system fails so far as intelligence is concerned.
  • I do not believe that anything really worthwhile will come out of the exploration of the slag heap that constitutes the surface of the moon...Nobody should imagine that the enormous financial budget of NASA implies that astronomy is now well supported.
    • Fred Hoyle, Galaxies, Nuclei, and Quasars, Harper and Row, New York, 1965
  • We are inescapably the result of a long heritage of learning, adaptation, mutation and evolution, the product of a history which predates our birth as a biological species and stretches back over many thousand millennia... Going further back, we share a common ancestry with our fellow primates; and going still further back, we share a common ancestry with all other living creatures and plants down to the simplest microbe. The further back we go, the greater the difference from external appearances and behavior patterns which we observe today.
    • Lifecloud: The Origin of Life in the Universe (1978), p.15
  • Space isn't remote at all. It's only an hour's drive away if your car could go straight upwards.
    • "Sayings of the Week", The Observer (9 September 1979)
  • Life cannot have had a random beginning ... The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 1040,000, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup.
    • Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981)
  • Once we see, however, that the probability of life originating at random is so utterly miniscule as to make it absurd, it becomes sensible to think that the favorable properties of physics on which life depends are in every respect deliberate ... . It is therefore almost inevitable that our own measure of intelligence must reflect ... higher intelligences ... even to the limit of God ... such a theory is so obvious that one wonders why it is not widely accepted as being self-evident. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.
    • Fred Hoyle and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space (London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981), pp. 141, 144, 130
  • The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.
    • Fred Hoyle, Hoyle on evolution, Nature, Vol. 294, No. 5837 (November 12, 1981), p. 105
  • The notion that not only the biopolymer but the operating program of a living cell could be arrived at by chance in a primordial organic soup here on the Earth is evidently nonsense of a high order.
    • Fred Hoyle, The Big Bang in Astronomy, New Scientist, Vol. 92, No. 1280 (November 19, 1981), p. 527
  • A junkyard contains all the bits and pieces of a Boeing 747, dismembered and in disarray. A whirlwind happens to blow through the yard. What is the chance that after its passage a fully assembled 747, ready to fly, will be found standing there? So small as to be negligible, even if a tornado were to blow through enough junkyards to fill the whole Universe.
    • Arguing that living organisms could not have arisen by chance alone.
    • The Intelligent Universe (1983), p.19
  • The creationist is a sham religious person who, curiously, has no true sense of religion. In the language of religion, it is the facts we observe in the world around us that must be seen to constitute the words of God. Documents, whether the Bible, Qur'an or those writings that held such force for Velikovsky, are only the words of men. To prefer the words of men to those of God is what one can mean by blasphemy. This, we think, is the instinctive point of view of most scientists who, curiously again, have a deeper understanding of the real nature of religion than have the many who delude themselves into a frenzied belief in the words, often the meaningless words, of men. Indeed, the lesser the meaning, the greater the frenzy, in something like inverse proportion.
    • Our Place in the Cosmos (1993), p.14
  • 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.
    • As quoted in Scientific American (March 1995)
  • There is a coherent plan to the universe, though I don't know what it's a plan for.
    • Attributed in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (1999) edited by Elizabeth Knowles and Angela Partington
  • I do not see any sense in continuing to skirmish on a battlefield where I can never hope to win. 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. If one does so, then of course little time is left for any real science.

Quotes about Hoyle[edit]

  • God was very much disappointed, and wanted first to contract the universe again, and to start all over from the beginning. But it would be much too simple. Thus being almighty, God decided to correct His mistake in a mist impossible way.

    And God said: "Let there be Hoyle." And there was Hoyle. And God looked at Hoyle ... and told him to make heavy elements in any way he pleased. And Hoyle decided to make heavy elements in stars, and to spread them around by supernovae explosions.

    • George Gamow, My World Line: An Informal Autobiography (1970, posthumous), "New Genesis", p. 127 [ellipsis in original]
  • Hoyle's enduring insights into stars, nucleosynthesis, and the large-scale universe rank among the greatest achievements of 20th-century astrophysics. Moreover, his theories were unfailingly stimulating, even when they proved transient.
  • In the popular mind, if Hoyle is remembered it is as the prime mover of the discredited Steady State theory of the universe. "Everybody knows" that the rival Big Bang theory won the battle of the cosmologies, but few (not even astronomers) appreciate that the mathematical formalism of the now-favoured version of Big Bang, called inflation, is identical to Hoyle's version of the Steady State model.
    • John Gribbin, in Hoyle's obituary "Stardust memories", The Independent, Friday 17 June, 2005.
  • Not far from the meeting's venue, at one of the famed Observatory Club tea meetings, Fred once started a talk by saying, 'Oh, Ooh, basically a star is a pretty simple thing.' And from the back of the room was heard the voice of R. O. Redman, saying, 'Well, Fred, you'd look pretty simple too, from ten parsecs!'

External links[edit]

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