Sir Fred Hoyle FRS (24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001) was an English astronomer noted primarily for the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis.
Hoyle spent most of his working life at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University and served as its director for a number of years. He died in Bournemouth, England.
‘The second of Hoyle’s nucleosynthesis papers introduced an interesting use of the anthropic principle, which was not then known by that name. In trying to work out the routes of stellar nucleosynthesis, Hoyle calculated that one particular nuclear reaction, the triple-alpha process, which generates carbon from helium, would require the carbon nucleus to have a very specific resonance energy and spin for it to work. The large amount of carbon in the universe, which makes it possible for carbon-based life-forms of any kind to exist, demonstrated to Hoyle that this nuclear reaction must work. Based on this notion, Hoyle therefore predicted the values of the energy, the nuclear spin and the parity of the compound state in the carbon nucleus formed by three alpha particles, which was later borne out by experiment.’
This energy level, while needed to produce carbon in large quantities, was statistically very unlikely to fall where it does in the scheme of carbon energy levels. Hoyle later wrote:
Would you not say to yourself, “Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”— Fred Hoyle