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Author Topic:   What got into Hoyle?
Percy
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Posts: 18417
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 1 of 38 (397569)
04-26-2007 3:59 PM


Fred Hoyle was on track to win the Noble prize for his work on stellar evolution when he suddenly began exhibiting questionable scientific judgement. It wasn't the positions he was taking so much as his justifications for supporting them, and I'm talking, of course, about his support for steady state theory in cosmology and his anti-evolution positions in biology.

I've read one biography of Hoyle, and it gave short shrift to his reasons and motivations for supporting these positions, other than to say that he was being true to his belief that one should follow the evidence wherever it leads. But whatever he was doing, it certainly couldn't be described as following the evidence. What was going on in his head? Does anyone know?

I've wondered this for a long time, and Hoot's raising of the issue of Hoyle's and Wickramasinghe's ideas about abiogenesis in another thread reminded me that I still don't have a satisfactory answer. Anyone come across any good explanations?

--Percy


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AdminWounded
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 38 (397577)
04-26-2007 4:30 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
04-26-2007 3:59 PM


Where were you thinking of for this, 'OOL', 'is it Science' or somewhere else?

TTFN,

AW


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Percy
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Posts: 18417
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 2.8


Message 3 of 38 (397605)
04-26-2007 8:27 PM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminWounded
04-26-2007 4:30 PM


I think Is It Science? might be best, since it's related to the way he pursued his science.

--Percy


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AdminNosy
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Message 4 of 38 (397608)
04-26-2007 8:29 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
Brad McFall
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Posts: 3428
From: Ithaca,NY, USA
Joined: 12-20-2001


Message 5 of 38 (397610)
04-26-2007 8:32 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
04-26-2007 3:59 PM


Polkinghorne on Hoyle's reasoning process
After winning the Templeton Prize’
http://physicsweb.org/articles/news/6/3/10
John Polkinghorne
Spoke at Cornell
http://www.news.cornell.edu/chronicle/04/4.22.04/Polkinghorne_lect.html
http://www.news.cornell.edu/releases/April04/Polkinghorne.lect.fac.html
in 2004 and I attended.

He spoke about Hoyle.

I can not recount the exact tempo of the presentation but I may be able to find my micro tape recording.

What John said was, that based on what the standard secular viewpoint was, that Hoyle, reasoning we were carbon beings(nothing having to do with religious bias nor secular slanting), required there to be some particular carbon value IN some particular database in a California physics databank. Polkinghorne described a telephone call that Hoyle made (to Cal Tech? I cant quite remember) and TOLD them what data should be there.

The Americans apparently replied that it WAS NOT THERE. Eventually it was found that Hoyle was correct, or so said Polkinghorne, and thus with this event as story goes…, Hoyle was confident that the secular world did not possess the correct database of the world, or so I paraphrase in my own lingo. I think he found this out before he made the calculations Hoot was referencing.

Edited by Brad McFall, : year


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Zhimbo
Member (Idle past 4149 days)
Posts: 571
From: New Hampshire, USA
Joined: 07-28-2001


Message 6 of 38 (397627)
04-26-2007 10:59 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by Brad McFall
04-26-2007 8:32 PM


Re: Polkinghorne on Hoyle's reasoning process
That's the best explanation I've heard yet.

Anyone have any other insights into Hoyle's peculiar views? I've wondered about this myself, Percy.


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Rob 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3986 days)
Posts: 2297
Joined: 06-01-2006


Message 7 of 38 (397904)
04-28-2007 9:34 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
04-26-2007 3:59 PM


What got into Hoyle? Maybe the truth...
Percy:
Anyone come across any good explanations?

Would that explanation contain information?

Are you looking for information that serves a purpose?

Have you considered that 'the explanation' is simple honesty on the part of Hoyle?

Sound to me like he has uncovered the lack of foundations in his previous worldview.

Honest men do not like finding their feet in mid air. And when they do, they are more afraid of floating away into the abyss, than facing the firing squad. After all, if the firing squad is not real, then why fear it?

Just simple query and conjecture...


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Fosdick 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3638 days)
Posts: 1793
From: Upper Slobovia
Joined: 12-11-2006


Message 8 of 38 (397945)
04-28-2007 12:25 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Rob
04-28-2007 9:34 AM


Information in communication networks
Percy:

Anyone come across any good explanations?


Rob:

Would that explanation contain information?

Rob, on another thread (see Message 17) Percy was expaining how binary, digital information works. I don't have authority to post on that thread, so I am posting here an alternative explanation of information, as it is seen by Shannon and those interested in the structure ("infostructure") of communication networks (or systems). Here’s another way to look at information theory, with the emphasis on network communication.

Let’s say you have a four-party telephone network, comprising users John, Sue, Frank, and Carol. There are 16 possible communication lines in this network (4x4), if each party can call himself or herself, and 12 lines if parties cannot call themselves. Let’s assume the latter. Add to that the assumption each member has the same calling frequency (or probability) as any other. Now, suppose each time a call is initiated by any one party it is evenly directed to each of the other parties (e.g., when John makes a call he is just as likely to call Sue or Frank or Carol (i.e., no difference in calling probability), according to you sampling. And let’s also assume the same likelihood of communication applies to all other members of this network.

Given this scenario, you could not predict anything about this communication network except that any call issued within it would have the same probability of receivership. You could then say, in accordance with information/communication theory, that you have zero information about the system. Shannon likened this to Boltzmann’s concept of entropy; in this case maximum entropy.

Now, suppose we have learned that not every single call in the communication network amounts to a random event; say, John calls Sue more often than Frank, and Sue calls Carol more often than John. And your sampling shows that Sue calls more frequently than the others, and that Frank rarley calls at all. Now we can say, stochastically, that this network contains more information about its structure. This information accrues with a reduction of entropy about the network. What you would be estimating, according to many interpretations, would be the system’s “average mutual information.”

Now, suppose this communication system is extremely different, as measured by your sampling. Each time a call is issued it always comes from Carol and it always goes to Sue. Your sampling shows no other calling activity. Therefore, you can predict with a very high degree of certainty how this network will behave in any calling event. You could say, in accordance with information/communication theory, that this network has reached its maximum information content, and that its contains almost no entropy.

Hope it helps.

—HM


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AdminQuetzal
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 38 (397949)
04-28-2007 12:43 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by Fosdick
04-28-2007 12:25 PM


Topic
Hoot:

I don't suppose I have to tell you that, although interesting, this post is so far off topic as to belong in a completely different forum?

OFF TOPIC - Please do not respond in this thread.


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  • sidelined
    Inactive Member


    Message 10 of 38 (398079)
    04-29-2007 8:00 AM
    Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
    04-26-2007 3:59 PM


    Percy

    But whatever he was doing, it certainly couldn't be described as following the evidence. What was going on in his head? Does anyone know?

    Hard to read the intentions of another without knowing them but he did suffer attack by Richard Feynman { apparently a dressing down by Feynman was not one to be relished} at one seminar on quasars and another by Stephen Hawking {then a PhD student} concerning the expansion of the universe. His pet theory turned out to be unsupported by the evidence so it is possible that his ego had taken a beating his was not willing to get over and sought some other way to make his voice heard.

    This is but one possible way that I concur is probably incorrect.


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    aristarchus
    Member (Idle past 966 days)
    Posts: 31
    Joined: 01-11-2005


    Message 11 of 38 (398486)
    05-01-2007 12:10 AM
    Reply to: Message 5 by Brad McFall
    04-26-2007 8:32 PM


    Re: Polkinghorne on Hoyle's reasoning process
    Brad, since this is the first time I've been able to interpret one of your posts, I feel compelled to break my lurker status and respond.

    Your account is accurate. But it refers to the "five nucleon problem". Hoyle reasoned that for us to exist the universe had to provide a way for carbon to be formed, and since we exist, there was a way. He found that if helium had a particular energy level, the problem would be solved. He contacted Willy Fowler at Cal Tech, to have him look for helium at that energy level. Fowler was skeptical, but gave in. Sure enough, he found what Hoyle predicted.

    For those curious, I got this story from Simon Singh's "Big Bang".

    Edited by barfly, : No reason given.


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    aristarchus
    Member (Idle past 966 days)
    Posts: 31
    Joined: 01-11-2005


    Message 12 of 38 (398488)
    05-01-2007 12:25 AM
    Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
    04-26-2007 3:59 PM


    From what I've read about him, there are a few reasons for his position on the Big Bang Theory.

    First,from his childhood, he had a defiant nature that made him prone to defying authority and convention.

    Second, I think his atheism made a theory that came from a priest that and postulated a defnite beginning to the universe anathema.

    Third, he had a problem with fact that the BBT apparently violated relativity.

    Edited by barfly, : No reason given.

    Edited by barfly, : No reason given.


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    Hyroglyphx
    Member
    Posts: 5640
    From: Austin, TX
    Joined: 05-03-2006


    Message 13 of 38 (398555)
    05-01-2007 11:46 AM
    Reply to: Message 1 by Percy
    04-26-2007 3:59 PM


    Hoyle and the
    Fred Hoyle was on track to win the Noble prize for his work on stellar evolution when he suddenly began exhibiting questionable scientific judgement. It wasn't the positions he was taking so much as his justifications for supporting them, and I'm talking, of course, about his support for steady state theory in cosmology and his anti-evolution positions in biology... But whatever he was doing, it certainly couldn't be described as following the evidence. What was going on in his head? Does anyone know?

    From what I understand of Hoyle is that while is dissent from mainstream theory is, in many respects, rare, if not inimitable, there are definite reasons why he believed in his theorems.

    I think Hoyle and his protege, Wickramasinghe, did a lot of good work. I have quoted them in past discussions concerning their caution to the Darwinian theory of evolution. But at the same time, both of them are indirect panspermists, which, lets be honest, is just about as fanciful as Hoyle deemed Darwinian macroevolution is.

    As far as cosmology is concerned, there is scant reason to assume that his Steady State theory is true. Although, during his time and operating with now antiquated technology, one can't discount his reasons for his belief in a static universe. For however many problems people associate with the Big Bang, (which, as a side note, it was Hoyle that actually coined the phrase "Big Bang") it still has more observational backbone.


    "God is like the sun. You can't look at it. But without it you can't look at anything else." -G.K. Chesterton
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    NosyNed
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    Message 14 of 38 (398556)
    05-01-2007 11:51 AM
    Reply to: Message 13 by Hyroglyphx
    05-01-2007 11:46 AM


    The Reasons....
    Although, during his time and operating with now antiquated technology, one can't discount his reasons for his belief in a static universe

    But that seems to be the issue doesn't it? What were his reasons? How 'reasonable' were they?

    Could you elaborate since I don't know much about his arguments?


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    cavediver
    Member (Idle past 1781 days)
    Posts: 4129
    From: UK
    Joined: 06-16-2005


    Message 15 of 38 (398560)
    05-01-2007 12:29 PM
    Reply to: Message 14 by NosyNed
    05-01-2007 11:51 AM


    Re: The Reasons....
    Hoyle's desire for the Steady State cosmology came from the aesthetics of the assumptions of homogeneity (translation invariance) and isotropy (rotational invariance) - simplified, that's 'looks the same in all places and in all directions'.

    Hoyle thought that space-translation invariance alone was rather against the spirit of relativity, and time-translation invariance should be included. The SS was an attempt to salvage this desire from the rather upsetting observation of the expansion of the Universe. The BB was a rather extremem example of a complete lack of time-translation invariance and was anathema to Hoyle. The potentially religious overtone of BB was also disturbing.

    I must stress that this is second-hand information - I personally never knew or even met Hoyle - but I (sort of :)) trust the source and it's backed up by what I have read in his work.

    regarding his views on evolution, I must admit I have no clue as to their source.

    Edited by cavediver, : No reason given.


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