Oral history of British science
Wickramasinghe, Chandra (5 of 13). Science and Religion: Exploring the Spectrum. Life Story Interviews
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Science and Religion
2015-07-28, 2015-07-29, 2015-07-30
British Library, London
Wickramasinghe, Chandra, 1939- (speaker, male)
Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)
Part 5: Comments on awareness of work of FH before entry to UOC, including reading of his 'The Nature of the Universe' . Mentions reading of FH's science fiction novel 'The Black Cloud'  in Cambridge, shortly before meeting him. [1:52] Description of FH at first meeting, including comments on his informality and quality of the friendship and collaboration established. [3:09] Comments on FH's view of his science fiction novel 'The Black Cloud' as a vehicle for publication of ideas not then acceptable in mainstream academic astronomical community, including his belief that dust clouds were constituted by organic molecules. [6:07] Further comments on meeting with JN and on view of current debates between astronomers allied to each of the contrasting Big Bang [BB] and Steady State [SS] theories in cosmology, including own interpretation that BB theory was/is underlain by a "cultural backdrop" of Judeo/Christian theology, with SS theory free of this theology; strengthening of BB theory by observations of the 'microwave background' radiation [MBR]. Mentions own view that discovery of MBR challenges SS theory in form argued by FH and colleagues, but does not confirm a single big bang event. [12:26] Comments on absence of discussion/admission of connection between impetus for early acceptance of BB cosmology and dominance (in countries concerned including UK) of Judeo/Christian theology. [13:03] Comments on own view of connection between SS theory and Buddhism, Hinduism and other "oriental philosophies" in which the universe always existed; own (and FH's) reasons for regarding BB theory as philosophically unsatisfactory. [14:46] Comments on many conversations with FH about philosophical/religions connotations of different cosmologies. [15:24] Comments on own view that FH's opposition to communism influenced his tendency to oppose Oparin-Haldane Hypothesis (primordial soup) of origins of life on Earth (given JBS Haldane's significant support for communism). [17:12] Story of conversations with FH leading to decision to focus in own PhD on constitution of interstellar dust (questioning existing ice grain theory), including key interactions during holiday in the Lake District (UK) with FH in 1961. Comments on reason why FH's wife may have suggested idea of joining FH on holiday in the LD. [22:01] Comments on own view of FH as rebellious in the sense of being oblivious to advantage in scientific career of fitting-in with accepted theories/approaches. [23:54] Description of LD holiday with FH, including accommodation (Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel) .
Life story interview with Professor of Astrobiology, Chandra Wickramasinghe