Fred Hoyle: An Online Exhibition
Hoyle vs Ryle
For the steady state theory to be true, the universe must have been, on a large scale, the same for all of its existence. There would be no evolution of different types of stars or galaxies, types which existed only for part of the life of the universe. In the late 1950s, new astronomical objects started to be discovered. They emitted large quantities of radio waves, and werevery compact. They were named quasi-stellar-objects, or quasars.
The radio astronomers in Cambridge were in a separate department to Hoyle, who worked with mathematicians and theoretical physicists. Led by Martin Ryle, the radio astronomers set out to determine where in the universe the quasars were located. If they could show that they were not evenly distributed, but that they all lay at very great distances from the Milky Way, then the steady state theory would be severely weakened.
The arguments between Hoyle and Ryle made the headlines in the national and international press. In February 1961, Martin Ryle announced to a press conference that he had proof that the steady state theory was incorrect, because quasars existed only at vast distances from the earth, and therefore only at times in the distant past. This announcement was widely reported in the newspapers, and was seen as a major blow to Hoyle's theory.
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