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'Mathematics of Evolution' Hardcover – October 1, 1999

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Fred Hoyle's longtime friend George Carson urged Hoyle to write this book. Carson was a biologist who thought that neo-Darwinian evolution needed to be mathematically analyzed, and he knew that Hoyle was capable of doing the job. But Hoyle was preoccupied with cosmology and astronomy at the time. Only later he did turn his attention to biology. In collaboration with his former student, astronomer Chandra Wickramasinghe, he studied evidence for organic compounds in space. This work beginning in the early 1970s, and his correspondence with J.B.S. Haldane reopened Hoyle's interest in biology. In 1986, Hoyle finally did the mathematical study that Carson had urged him to do. He dedicated the book to Carson's memory. But, except for a few facsimile copies of Hoyle's manuscript, the book was not published. Now Hoyle has updated the text and written a Foreword for the publication on January 1st, 1999.

Fred Hoyle has made a good living by writing about science in a simple and comprehensible style. He retains this style in Mathematics of Evolution. The interested reader will be rewarded with a new perspective on neo-Darwinian evolution.

About the Author

Professor Hoyle has had a distinguished career as a theoretical physicist, writer and researcher. At the University of Cambridge, he was a lecturer in mathematics for eleven years before he was made Plumian professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy in 1958. He founded and was the first director of the Cambridge Institute of Theoretical Astronomy in 1967, was named an associate member of the American National Academy of Sciences in 1969, and has been an honorary professorial fellow at University College, Cardiff since 1976. He has been awarded many honors and was knighted in 1972. Sir Fred Hoyle has shown himself to be a gifted scientist and writer who is willing to address funda mental problems and to challenge established ideas in science.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 163 pages
  • Publisher: Acorn Enterprises Llc; Subsequent edition (October 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0966993403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0966993400
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 6.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,146,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Walter ReMine on February 27, 2000
I thoroughly enjoyed it. This aptly titled book is indeed on the mathematics of evolution. Hard hitting material that places constraints on evolutionary arguments.
First, it is explicit, it takes nothing for granted. Every (or virtually every) assumption, model, and math step is explained. He explains it clearly and completely, rather than just stating his say-so as so many other evolution books do. Based on the text, I was able to re-derive virtually all its math and verify that it is based on his stated models and assumptions. The math techniques are especially valuable for researchers in this field. He gives the clearest explanation of the use of diffusion equations I have found anywhere. Kimura, for example, throws diffusion equations around a lot, but does not explain them nearly as clearly, even in his detailed published papers, which I have read.
Also, Hoyle deals with some highly relevant issues, which other evolution books tend not to do. Evolution books ordinarily try to sell evolution to the public, and to accomplish that they tend to under-discuss the touchy issues. Hoyle's book goes after the touchy central issues unflinchingly. I wish more evolution books were like it. For example, the cost of harmful mutation, and issues like error catastrophe, are almost always avoided or under-discussed in evolutionary genetics books - they assume away this issue, often without even acknowledging it. But it is a key issue and ought be a regular participant in evolutionary discussions. Hoyle approaches it boldly as a centerpiece of his book. Bravo!
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Irwin on November 4, 1999
Sir Fred Hoyle, credited with coining the term 'Big Bang', turns his extraordinary mathematical prowess to consideration of the claims of neo-Darwinism.

His results support the Darwinian findings that 'explain the fine details of the matching of many species to their environment', and undermine the extrapolation of those findings 'to broader taxonomic categories, to kingdoms, divisions, classes, and orders'.

Professor Hoyle states explicitly that he has no theistic faith, but forthrightly (attention, please, all sides of the creationist debate) challenges that the Darwinian theory 'is wrong, and that continued adherence to it is an impediment to discovering the correct evolutionary theory'. He continues: 'To the extent that one is deflected by socioreligious considerations from correcting what is wrong, one hands a victory to opponents'.

Advanced mathematical capability is necessary to follow the book's argument closely, but the text is written in lucid and engaging language which will carry any interested reader along.

This vital work was available only in a few manuscript copies for many years, and the publication by Acorn Enterprises in Memphis Tennessee is a service to the future. I recommend the book for its argument, its nobility, and its value to your great-grandchildren.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Gunkel on February 25, 2000
Hoyle, one of the most brilliant people to go through Cambridge, may have the delightful range of English character that reaches toward eccentricity in its freedom of thought, but he has never failed to be interesting and deep. I admit it is much easier to fall asleep in one's assumptions than to be genuinely and deservedly puzzled by problems not yet solved or situations that promote embarrassment for the casualness of their treatment by the common imitative herd.
This book is very much in character for Hoyle, and I highly recommend it. Few minds in the twentieth century have provided such a constant challenge to the intelligent as has Hoyle throughout his many books and papers in a long career.
It is often a person outside a great field who sees it the most clear-eyed way and knows where it needs to blush because it has cheated.
- Patrick Gunkel
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By The Professor on February 6, 2008
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Sir Fred Hoyle was a professor at Cambridge for much of his career. He is a best selling author who has also widely published in the peer reviewed literature, and a recipient of numerous honors, including knighthood in 1792. He has produced an excellent work on, in his words, why Darwinian theory is wrong. Hoyle stresses his motive to reject Darwinism is not religious (he became an atheist as a young man and explains why in some detail on page XV), but rather because he concluded that Darwinism is an impediment to discovering the correct theory of our origins. He does not deny the paleontological evidence, but rather the core Darwinism theory, the idea that all life evolved from organic molecules by the selection of, ultimately, favorable mutations; the goo to you by way of the zoo theory. In this work he explains in mathematical detail why he rejects Darwinism for scientific reasons, and discuses briefly other theories of origins, such as the conclusion that all, or most, genes in present day organisms already existed in metazoans in the Cambrian. The problem is the alternative theories proposed by Hoyle and others are even more problematic than Neo-Darwinism. This is why they have been rejected by most scientists. The alternative theories are not the focus of the book, though, but the lethal problems of Darwinism are, and Hoyle does a masterful job of documenting them. Much of the work in this book is on mutations and why this event is not a viable source of significant new genetic information. One must have some understanding of math to follow the arguments, but it is well worth it to wade through the math to understand Hoyle's arguments. He adds a bit of humor in places which, for those whose math background stopped at undergraduate calculus, helps to get through the book. My only problem with the book was I noticed about two dozen typo errors, but as I have a copy of the first printing, they may have been corrected in the later printings.
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