PhilSci Archive

When is a prediction anthropic? Fred Hoyle and the 7.65 MeV carbon resonance

Kragh, Helge (2010) When is a prediction anthropic? Fred Hoyle and the 7.65 MeV carbon resonance. [Preprint]


Download (890kB)


The case of Fred Hoyle’s prediction of a resonance state in carbon-12, unknown in 1953 when it was predicted, is often mentioned as an example of anthropic prediction. An investigation of the historical circumstances of the prediction and its subsequent experimental confirmation shows that Hoyle and his contemporaries did not associate the level in the carbon nucleus with life at all. Only in the 1980s, after the emergence of the anthropic principle, did it become common to see Hoyle’s prediction as anthropically significant. At about the same time mythical accounts of the prediction and its history began to abound. Not only has the anthropic myth no basis in historical fact, it is also doubtful if the excited levels in carbon-12 and other atomic nuclei can be used as an argument for the predictive power of the anthropic principle, such as has been done by several physicists and philosophers.

Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Kragh, Helge
Keywords: anthropic principle, prediction, Fred Hoyle, astrophysics, nucleosynthesis
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Physics
General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Depositing User: Helge Kragh
Date Deposited: 04 May 2010
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2010 15:19
Item ID: 5332

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item