Saturday, October 09, 2010


A few years ago I blogged a little bit about (Sir) Fred Hoyle and the tendency of some scientists to turn into cranks in the later life ("Fred Hoyle and the Venusian Pox").

Via John Hawks Weblog I came across an interesting article by Robin McKee on whether Hoyle's prickly nature or later lunacy (astronomy joke, sorry, I couldn't resist) cost him the Nobel Prize (his long time collabor Willy Fowler got the Nobel for work that Hoyle and he had done). It is worth reading if you find Hoyle interesting.

Seen from this perspective, Hoyle was the victim of his own intemperate nature, while the Nobel prize committee was guilty of a petty lack of objectivity. But there are other ways of looking at the issue, says British scientist Sir Harry Kroto, winner of the 1996 Nobel prize for chemistry. A Nobel is not just an award for a piece of work but is a recognition of a scientist's overall reputation, he believes . And by that definition, Hoyle – who died in 2001, never having recanted his belief in the steady state theory even when it was clearly demonstrated to be wrong – was unworthy of a prize [emphasis mine].

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