9 May 2005
UCL's Dr Jane Gregory (Science and Technology Studies) has published Fred Hoyle's Universe a fascinating biography of maverick astronomer and science promoter Sir Fred Hoyle.
Fred Hoyle was one of the most widely acclaimed and controversial scientists of the 20th century, who combined a brilliant scientific career with a passion for communication. He coined the phrase 'big bang' - a theory he challenged - and relished debating with his rivals.
He played a huge role in rebuilding British astronomy after the Second World War and can take credit for some groundbreaking scientific achievements, including his discovery that all chemical elements can be formed by nuclear reactions inside stars, thus explaining that we are all made of stardust.
By drawing on previously confidential government documents, recently released personal correspondence and interviews with Hoyle's friends, colleagues and critics, as well as with Hoyle himself, Dr Gregory has produced a behind-the-scenes look at Hoyle's role in the ideas, organisation and popularisation of astronomy in post-war Britain and examines the triumphs, jealousies, rewards and feuds that surrounded him.
Dr Gregory said: "Hoyle had his fingers in so many scientific pies, and fought many battles - with scientists, politicians and journalists - over a career spanning seven decades. He annoyed a lot of people and delighted just as many with his adventurous science and anti-establishment manner. Then he would relax by writing science fiction. If you challenged me to tell the history of 20th century science through the life of just one person, Fred Hoyle would be a good candidate.'
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