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Wonders of the Solar System

Professor Brian Cox is a ‘rock scientist’ – no, not a geologist but a scientist who has the aura of a rock star. He presents a new series on BBC2 called Wonders of the Solar System which attempts to explain to the layman through use of fantastic colour graphics, music and simple language, how our world and planets beyond tick.

He explains about the Big Bang when the universe was created. He details the formation of the moon, the planets Mars, Venus, Neptune etc and describes what their atmosphere must be like. The special effects make it a feast for the eyes.

Brian Cox himself is a very interesting character. He comes from Oldham, Lancashire and started his career as a musician playing keyboards for D:Ream, a band whose hit Things Can Only Get Better was the anthem for the Labour Party when Tony Blair came to power in 1997.

He left pop music (‘it’s only a career for the young’) and gained a doctorate in high-energy particle physics at Manchester University. Since then he has become a research fellow of the Royal Society and works on the Large Hadron Collider experiment in Geneva Switzerland – which he describes as the most important experiment of the past several decades. All the press speculation that it would cause a black hole and lead to the end of the world, Brian described in his blunt style as ‘bollocks’.

The TV series he presents is a fantastic attempt to explain the universe to the masses and he is the perfect person to do it. Looking far more youthful than his 42 years, he is handsome and enthusiastic with a smiling, open face and down-to-earth northern accent. It’s the kind of accent that says to a British audience (and hopefully to others as well) ‘I’m telling you the truth in a direct, no-nonsense way’.

His accent always makes me think of Christopher Eccleston in his Dr Who incarnation. When someone questioned why a time lord favoured northern pronunciation, he replied, ‘Lots of planets have a north’.

Professor Cox believes in cutting through the mumbo jumbo pervading our world at the moment. His recent appearance on the Jonathan Ross Show revealed a man of great humour, warmth, huge intellect and logical thought. We believe him, we trust him, we like him and his series makes us feel hopeful as we look in wonder at this beautiful world. He says, ‘If people don’t have an understanding of what science is and what scientists do, then they tend to think that global warming, for example, is just a matter of opinion’.

His science hero is American physicist Richard Feynman, he believes Newton’s theory on gravity is the most important scientific thesis and he thinks Carl Sagan did the best job in explaining science to people. He says he doesn’t believe in God but doesn’t have strong views on religion except illogical religion such as’ young earth creationism’ which he describes, predictably, as bollocks.

Professor Cox makes us hopeful for our planet and that perhaps is the reason for his popularity and the success of this wonderful series.

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