- College Life
Hoyle in Cambridge
Hoyle came up to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, in October 1933. He intended to read for a Natural Sciences degree, focussing on chemistry or physics, but his tutor, the mathematician P.W. Wood, advised that he might consider starting by taking the first year of the Mathematical Tripos in order to improve his maths. Hoyle took this advice, and eventually took his whole degree in mathematics, which, under the Cambridge system, could contain a good deal of theoretical physics for students who wanted it.
As a research student, Hoyle worked on improving the theory of beta decay of the nucleus, first under the supervision of Rudolf Peierls, and then, when Peierls left Cambridge for Birmingham, with Paul Dirac. The partnership with the famously shy Dirac worked well, because Dirac’s unwillingness to supervise was matched by Hoyle’s unwillingness to be supervised. In May 1939 Hoyle won a research Fellowship at St John’s College, and at the end of that year he married Barbara Clark, whom he met when she came to Cambridge for an interview at Girton College.
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