Delivered at Conway Hall 12 October 1956. Chaired by Professor Sir Hermann Bondi and presented by Professor Sir Fred Hoyle.
Taking a billion to be a thousand million, the earth is estimated to be 4 and a half billion years old, and the sun-hence the solar system- about 5 billion. Some of the oldest stars so far discovered are 6 and a half billion years old, and it is unlikely that any star is more than 7 and a half billion years in age. The material of which the earth is composed is older than the earth itself: it is at least 7 and a half billion years old, and could even be 10 billion. If we take the material comprising the universe to be 10 billion years old at most, then this period is the universe’s time scale. Its time scale is not necessarily its age, because the universe may have existed in a previous form, in a previous ‘generation’. The postulate of successive ‘generations’ of the universe is that of the continuous creation of matter in conformity with physical law. Against this is set the view that the universe had a single beginning in time, and has existed in one form only.
This latter view involves the argument that, in the beginning, matter existed in a densely congested state. However, the recent discovery of the anti-proton suggests there are two different types of matter in the universe, and that they are mutually antagonistic. Hence matter could not have existed in a densely packed state.