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Fred Hoyle
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Astronomer
    (June 24, 1915-August 20, 2001)
    Born in Gilstead, England, United Kingdom
    Contributed to theories of stellar nucleosynthesis (the creation of heavier elements in the interior of stars)
    Proponent of the steady-state universe (universe has no beginning or end; matter is constantly created to fill in the 'gaps' created as the universe expands)
    Coined the term 'Big Bang' for the rival theory of the origin of the universe
    Promoted panspermia, the idea that life originated in space and arrived on earth via comets
    Wrote the sci-fi novels 'The Black Cloud' (1957), 'Ossian's Ride' (1959), 'A for Andromeda' (1962), 'Fifth Planet' (1963), 'The Andromeda Breakthrough' (1965), 'Element 79' (1967), 'Seven Steps to the Sun' (1970), 'Into Deepest Space' (1974) and 'The Planet of Death' (1982)
    Non-fiction books include 'Frontiers of Astronomy' (1955), 'Astronomy: A History of Man's Investigation of the Universe' (1962), 'Lifecloud: The Origin of Life in the Universe' (1978), 'Evolution from Space' (1984) and 'The Origin of the Universe and the Origin of Religion' (1993)
    As a child, when his parents were absent, he would make gunpowder and cause explosions.
    He went into tax exile from England, teaching at Caltech and Cornell.
    He suggested flu epidemics are caused by viruses falling to earth during meteor showers.
    His claim that the evolution of life was as improbable as 'a tornado sweeping through a junkyard to assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein' became a favorite of creationists and intelligent design advocates.
    He was married to Barbara Clark for 62 years until death.
    His collaborator on stellar nucleosynthesis, William Fowler, won a Nobel Prize in Physics (1983), but he was overlooked, possibly because the Prize committee did not want to seem to be endorsing his more controversial ideas.
    Even when his theories proved to be wrong, they tended to inspire useful research.
    He said, '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.'

Credit: C. Fishel


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