August 25, 2008 #039 - Fred Hoyle

Fred Hoyle was an astrophysicist of the first caliber. His main claim to fame was the steady state theory. This theory postulated that the universe had no beginning nor will it end. New stars were forming continuously, filling the void as it was formed by expansion of the universe. Another of his ideas was called Panspermia and it postulated that the precursors of life are scattered throughout space and where ever conditions are favorable to support life they are seeded by the constant exchange of matter carrying these seeds.

As a youngster I read his astronomy books as fast as they came out. "Frontiers of Astronomy " and "The Nature of the Universe" were published in the 50's. I also absorbed his other books which were science fiction. They were astronomy lessons in the form of thought provoking fiction. My favorite was "The Black Cloud". He began the story with an astronomer photographing an interstellar cloud of dust and gas. They can be found in deep sky atlases along the galactic equator. It was calculated to be heading directly towards the solar system, with all the problems you might imagine that would bring. Where this story gets wild is that they discover that the cloud has intelligence. It's organization is based on magnetic fields instead of biological constituents. It travels to star systems to gather energy, replicate, and roam the galaxy.

If you can find a copy, published in 1957, it's a fun read. Today, when ever I see one of these dark regions during one of my deep sky sessions, I remember the story and get a little chill at the back of my neck. Fun stuff.

Clear Sky - Rich

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