Tag Archives: Brian Cox

➤ Prof Brian Cox riotiously funny at stand-up debut, just in case the TV career doesn’t work out

Prof Brian Cox , Institute of Physics, video, media,science,journalism,education,

Are we going to die next Wednesday? Brian Cox talks of “a new golden age of physics” while lampooning idiot coverage by the press. Click picture to open video in a new window

❚ SCIENCE’S TV SUPERSTAR effortlessly passed his audition last night to become a stand-up comedian. After receiving a deeply serious medal at the Institute of Physics, Prof Brian Cox OBE made a highly intelligent yet laugh-out-loud speech attacking rubbish journalism and various politicians, while pouring scorn on homeopathists and other dreamers in la-la land.

The 44-year-old particle physicist has spent the past few years building a media career, explaining the universe from the tops of mountains in a string of TV series including Wonders of the Universe, plus The Infinite Monkey Cage on Radio 4 and as a live stage show, while popping up on 6Music’s breakfast show. Cox’s prodigious and wide-ranging efforts to popularise science persuaded People magazine to include the former the keyboard player for the pop group D:Ream in their list of Sexiest Men Alive. Last night’s speech also threw down an epic challenge to the British government to wake up to the needs of education in science and technology.

➢ Professor Brian Cox’s own website

➢ View Cox’s webcast at Institute of Physics website

➢ Q: If you put your hand in the beam of the Large Hadron Collider what would happen to your hand? A: “It would hurt quite a bit” — Boffins respond at the Sixty Symbols website


➤ INDEX of posts for June 2011

Boy George, 50th birthday,Jon Moss, Barbara Moss,

That Man in the Middle: George O’Dowd at his 50th birthday party with former Culture Club drummer and father of three children, Jon Moss and his wife Barbara. © Dave Benett/Getty

➢ Jarvis takes his lyrics to Eliot’s publisher Faber — video interview with Pulp’s songwriter

➢ Too cool to crow — Paradise Point just happen to be gigging in Hyde Park before Grace and Pulp top the bill

➢ Lest we forget: man has changed his ways since Peter Wyngarde cracked the sickest joke on vinyl

➢ Irrational, Professor Cox! Discussing science in a tent at Glastonbury?

➢ Martin Kemp’s Stalker gets autumn DVD release

➢ Will the magical blasts from the past follow St Martin’s out of Soho? Plus — Pulp’s finest hour at the art school’s farewell party

➢ Heaven 17 remind us how electronic music can send the soul soaring!

➢ The Blitz Kids WATN? No 28: Stephen Linard, fashion designer

➢ Hot days, cool nights, as Blue Rondo join the new Brits changing the pop charts — first glimpse of the crazy seven-piece as the 1981 charts fill with the new British pop

Pepsi DeMacque, Shirlie Holliman, Pepsi & Shirlie, then and now,Here & Now, tour

Back on tour: Pepsi & Shirlie in 1987, and this year photographed by Shirlie Kemp’s daughter, Harleymoon

➢ When Shirl asked Peps if she fancied an arena tour, Peps said to Shirl, Why not? — TV interview

➢ EPIC forecasts for the 2015 media landscape loom closer than we think

➢ Aside from the freaks, George, who else came to your 50th birthday party?

➢ One million people think Charlie really is SoCoolLike — meet  the UK’s most popular YouTuber

➢ 1904, The day Nora made a man of Joyce — Bloomsday celebrated

➢ Boy George hits the big Five-0 and he now says, yes, he has ‘lots of regrets’

Paradise Point, Run In Circles , video, Cameron Jones,pop music

Cameron Jones: Paradise Point vocalist

➢ Hear about the many lives of Midge Ure, the Mr Nice of pop — This Is Your Life, 2001

➢ Wise-cracking Sallon shimmies back onto London’s party scene — Boy George’s best friend recovers after assault

➢ Mix your own version of Bowie’s Golden Years with a new iPhone app

➢ 2010, Lady Gaga ousts Lily Allen as UK’s most played artist

➢ Martin Rushent is dead — friends pay tribute to the man who made stars of the Human League and shaped the sound of 80s electro-pop

➢ What happens when retromania exhausts our pop past — Simon Reynolds on our compulsion to relive and reconsume pop history

➢ Up close and cool — Paradise Point’s first official video wins Boy George’s approval

Farewell St Martin’s, Pulp, Jarvis Cocker,University of the Arts, CSM,

Pulp playing at St Martin’s: Jarvis Cocker bids farewell to his old art school at the best party for years. Grabbed from gstogdon’s YouTube video


➤ Irrational, Professor Cox! Discussing science in a tent at Glastonbury?

Robin Ince, Brian Cox, Radio 4,Infinite Monkey Cage ,science

Two of the BBC monkeys: Robin Ince and co-host Brian Cox

❚ WHETHER OR NOT YOU BELIEVE in miracles, there was something pretty phenomenal about a BBC science show coming from the cabaret marquee over a ley-line at the Glastonbury rock festival, which some people believe is where the make-believe King Arthur’s sword was forged. Inevitably the show had to be fronted by that rock-star among physics professors, Brian Cox, he of Dare/D:Ream fame and today just about the biggest boffin in the telly cosmos. Yet today’s Radio 4 show, The Infinite Monkey Cage, billed as a comedy series, scored a spectacular first in the eternal struggle to explain science to people who think crystals run the world. Confronted with the potty view that scientists are no different from priests for “believing in” their theories, Cox & Co drew a very clear line between mysticism and the rational scientific method in, oh, two minutes flat.

A couple of hippy-dippy guests played the village idiots. Yes, Billy Bragg, we mean you. He’d heard that scientists believe the universe is 95% made of a “hidden mass” called dark matter which we can’t see or touch: “So you believe that, do you?”

Billy Bragg, Glastonbury,

Billy Bragg signing off at Glastonbury: “The space race is over” but how can he be sure?

Step up Professor Brian: “This was an observational statement. It was observed to be true. You have to believe the evidence because that’s what we measured.”

Mystic Bragg:
“But you have to have faith in the fact that the dark stuff is there?”

Prof Brian, offering himself up to the Wicker Man:
“Science is a system of thought that has no underlying prejudice. Science as a process is the absence of a belief system.”

Bragg: “There are areas of science where you don’t know exactly what’s happening so you have a series of beliefs to explain it … ”

Brian: “Theories.” [Exactly, silly Billy. Not beliefs.]

Bragg: “… That’s what religious people do. They explain the world by the existence of a supreme being. Isn’t there a similarity there?”

Prof Tony Ryan of Sheffield: “No! Scientists either search for a better theory (which is happening) or we search for the hidden mass (which is also happening). It’s not a belief system. It’s a belief in looking for evidence.”

[Cheers from the overwhelmingly rational Glastonbury audience. QED.]

➢ Listen to The Infinite Monkey Cage from Glastonbury
on the iPlayer


➤ Rottweiler Dawkins croons his way into our hearts and minds

❚ IT’S NOT RAP AS WE KNOW IT, but here’s the music video of the week — Professor Richard Dawkins crooning his anti-creationist taunts like some born-again Craig David. Also known as “Darwin’s Rottweiler”, Dawkins is one of 10 distinguished thinkers remixed into song to spread enlightenment in A Wave of Reason, a musical compilation of soundbites preaching spiritual fulfilment through scepticism. It’s either shrill or lethal depending on your viewpoint, but does teeter on the brink of characterising the boffins as just as zealous as the believers. In its first three days online this vid has scored 120,340 views! (Click through to YouTube to read the “lyrics” in full. And yes, that is Darwin’s tree of life sprouting at 1:55.)

♫ There is a new wave of reason
Sweeping across America, Britain, Europe, Australia
South America, the Middle East and Africa.
There is a new wave of reason
Where superstition had a firm hold ♫
— Richard Dawkins

This is the seventh instalment in the Symphony of Science music video series, which aims to bring scientific ideas to the public in a novel way, through the medium of music. The mission of John Boswell, its Washington-based producer, is to fight people’s growing and irrational addiction to such pseudosciences as astrology and homeopathy. A sad paradox of the first era to be driven by digital technology is that scientists find it necessary to stand up and actively argue that a scientific worldview is as enlightening as blind faith!

Boswell, an electronic musician, was inspired initially by the American cosmologist Carl Sagan who became a global TV superstar during the 1980s, and the series has grown to embrace many other popularisers such as David Attenborough, in distinctly less strident vein than this week’s effort. In January Attenborough starred in The Unbroken Thread, a beautiful and lyrical tribute to planet Earth. Other eggheads in the series include Brian Cox, Jacob Bronowski, Bertrand Russell, Sam Harris, Michael Shermer, Lawrence Krauss, Jane Goodall, Carolyn Porco, Richard Feynman and James Randi, the stage magician and notorious sceptic best known for challenging the “woo-woo” of the paranormal.

➢ Richard Dawkins is an atheist and critic of creationism and so-called “intelligent design”
➢ Join the Brights movement where the worldview is free of supernatural and mystical elements
➢ Dip into The Third Culture at edge.org where the world’s leading scientists, artists and creative thinkers answer a new Big Question every year — in 2010 it was “How is the internet changing the way you think?”


➤ Status update: QueenLiz2 goes live on Facebook, though Her Maj will not be abused

Fully connected: No of course it’s not Her Maj, just one of the Queen’s impersonators. Photograph © by Mark Bourdillon

❚ NOT BAD — THE ROYAL FAMILY HAS MADE 209,000 friends in its first three days on Facebook. Rebranding what she has along called “The Firm” as The British Monarchy (TBM), Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II this week opened for business on the web’s biggest social network where democracy in action means that, although we cannot strictly become Her Majesty’s “Friend” as with every other Facebook member, we can express her popularity by clicking on the notorious “Like” button. Nor can we “poke” the Queen or Prince Philip in the jargon of getting acquainted online, but we can certainly scrawl on their wall, though the First Footman of the Interweb reserves the right to remove offensive comments. Indeed, he was kept on his toes on Monday heading off a stream of republican abuse that included the phrase “scrounging layabouts”.

Queen Elizabeth II, Johnson Beharry, VC

Here We are today: meeting Lance Corporal Johnson Beharry, holder of the Victoria Cross (VC), Britain’s highest award for gallantry

Innovations include an exclusive “Near Me” application which will enable British citizens as well as Al-Qaeda to track the Queen’s every move on a searchable map of the United Kingdom. The Court Circular, the topical record of official royal engagements produced by the royal household, is also available on Facebook. For the past 200 years The Times and two other newspapers have enjoyed this privilege.

The TBM Facebook group is however reluctant to share the monarch’s intimate tastes such as those reported in yesterday’s Times and elsewhere: that the Queen’s favourite tipples are gin and Dubonnet; that her TV viewing includes The Bill (a police soap), and Kirsty’s Home Videos (compilations of the British public at play) which she asks her servants to tape when she’s busy, as well as re-runs of horse-racing; and that her cornflakes reside in a Tupperware container on the breakfast table.

An aide said: “Facebook is probably the last bastion of social media the royal household had not yet entered, and the Queen is keen to be fully signed up to the 21st century. The important thing about Facebook is its international reach, as the Queen is head of state in 16 countries.” The 84-year-old Queen uses a mobile phone, has her own private email address, surfs the web and ventured into online networking in 2007 by launching TheRoyalChannel on One’s Tube, sorry, YouTube, followed by @BritishMonarchy on Twitter last year and Flickr this summer.

Royal.gov.uk remains the official website of The British Monarchy which represents all 17 “working members” of the Royal Family. It confirms their official surname as Mountbatten-Windsor, and reminds us that the traditional greeting from men is a neck bow (from the head only) whilst women do a small curtsy. Otherwise, a handshake is fine.

➢ The British Monarchy at Facebook


Brian Cox, Vicki Michelle, ’Allo, ’Allo, University of Manchester, British Monarchy,investiture

Stars of TBM at Facebook: Brian Cox, TV meteor and professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester, displays his OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) following an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in October when the Queen honoured him for services to science. A Facebook comment asked: “What about his achievements as keyboard player for D:Ream?” The actress Vicki Michelle, best known for her role as the saucy French waitress Yvette in the BBC comedy series ’Allo, ’Allo (1982-92), won the MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for charitable services. Her catchphrase when being clinched in the kitchen was: “Ooooooh, René.” © Press Association