Conflict in the Cosmos: Fred Hoyle's Life in Science

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"A veritable cult figure to many, Sir Fred Hoyle was one of the most important - and controversial - figures of 20th century science. A man of relentless energy whose prolific career spanned more than 60 years, he made major contributions to fundamental astronomy and astrophysics. His greatest legacy consists of seminal work on the evolution of stars, the origin of the chemical elements, the nature of gravitational forces, and the origin of life on Earth. But it was Fred Hoyle's rare talent as a science communicator, as an expert scientist on the BBC, and a writer of now-classic science fiction novels that made him a household name in the 1950s." "Hoyle gained prominence for demonstrating that carbon and all the heavier elements had been created by thermonuclear reactions inside stars whose explosive deaths then scattered them throughout space. It is thanks to Fred Hoyle that we know that we are, literally, made of stardust. In the late 1940s, after wartime work on naval radar, he developed the 'steady state' theory of the universe which was soon challenged by rivals who were promoting what Hoyle derisively referred to as the 'big bang' theory." Simon Mitton's biography draws on his personal knowledge of Fred Holye: the scientist and his science, his collaborators and critics, and his students. Mitton recreates many public clashes between Hoyle and his critics and clearly explains the fascinating science underlying the conflicts.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) was one of the major figures in 20th-century cosmology, but he's perhaps most famous for being spectacularly wrong, as his steady state theory of the universe, which he clung to inalterably, lost out to the big bang theory (which, ironically, Hoyle named during a talk on the BBC). Hoyle played an important role in the popularization of astronomy through radio, science books and even science fiction novels, which, according to astronomer Minton, drew many future prominent astronomers to the field. Hoyle pioneered research into the explosion of supernovas and how they scatter the heavier elements throughout the galaxies, and he determined how the atoms in our bodies are created in stars' nuclear furnaces, again unwittingly boosting the big bang theory. Minton gives just enough attention to Hoyle's childhood years to show how the youth shaped the man. His account of the educational system at Cambridge when Hoyle arrived in the 1930s will interest Anglophiles, although some readers may skim his blow-by-blows of academic infighting in Hoyle's later years. Minton makes a few minor misstatements (e.g., Einstein first proposed the equivalency of matter and energy in 1905, not 1907). But the author's lively writing and extensive research bring to life this important figure in the development of modern astronomy. Agent, Sara Menguc. (On sale Mar. 22) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780309102001
  • Publisher: National Academies Press
  • Publication date: 3/11/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.30 (d)

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