Brian Cox, also known as B. E. Cox or popularly referred to as the ‘rockstar physicist’ (born 3 March 1968, Oldham, Lancashire, England), is a particle physicist, a Royal Society research fellow, and a professor at the University of Manchester. He is a member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider, CERN near Geneva, Switzerland. He is also working on the R&D project of the FP420 experiment in an international collaboration to upgrade the ATLAS and the CMS experiment by installing additional, smaller detectors at a distance of 420 metres (1,380 ft) from the interaction points of the main experiments.
He is best known to the public as the presenter of a number of science programmes for the BBC. He also had some fame in the early 1990s as keyboard player in the UK pop band D:Ream. He is married to TV personality Gia Milinovich, and has a son and a stepson. He is a Distinguished Supporter of the British Humanist Association.
Studies and career in music
In 1989 Cox was a member of the rock band Dare fronted by former Thin Lizzy member Darren Wharton.
After attending Hulme Grammar School in Oldham he studied physics at the University of Manchester where in 1993, while still studying, he joined D:Ream, who had several hits in the UK charts, including a number one hit, “Things Can Only Get Better”, later used as a New Labour election anthem.
A year after D:Ream disbanded in 1997, Cox was awarded his PhD degree in high energy particle physics at the University of Manchester, based on his thesis drawn from work he did for the H1 experiment at the particle accelerator HERA at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg. This followed his earlier undergraduate first class honours degree in physics from the same University.
Academic, television and radio
Cox has received many awards for his efforts to publicise science. In 2002 he was elected an International Fellow of The Explorers Club and in 2006 Cox received the British Association Lord Kelvin Award for this work. A frequent lecturer, he was keynote speaker at the Australian Science Festival in 2006.
Cox is also known for his involvement in science programmes for BBC radio and television, including In Einstein’s Shadow, the BBC Horizon series (“The Six Billion Dollar Experiment”, “What On Earth Is Wrong With Gravity,” “Do You Know What Time It Is?” and “Can We Make a Star on Earth?”) and for voiceovers on the BBC’s Bitesize revision programs. Cox was the science advisor for the sci-fi film Sunshine and was featured on the Discovery Channel special Megaworld: Switzerland. He also gives regular lectures on the LHC.
Cox is a regular contributor to the BBC 6 Music Breakfast Show with Shaun Keaveny, with a weekly feature.
Cox appeared on the 24 July 2009 episode of Robert Llewellyn’s CarPool podcast series. Cox gave a talk at TAM London, on 3 October 2009. He spoke about the importance of curiosity-driven science, whilst deriding a science organisation’s presentation slide, giving “the Wow Factor” as a valid reason. Cox contrasted this “Wow Factor” with startling pictures: Carl Sagan’s famous Pale Blue Dot, and Earthrise from the moon. He explained that the higher the energy, i.e. the higher the temperature, the further back in time you go, and the simpler the universe and the laws that describe it become. He spoke of the three generations of matter, the four fundamental forces, and attempts to combine them. He spoke also of the Grand Unified Theory, stating that if supersymmetry is correct, gravity unites with the other three fundamental forces at energies of 1019 GeV, which have not been reached since 10-43 seconds after the big bang.
Cox appeared on The Colbert Report on 28 October 2009 to promote his book Why Does E=mc²?
On 30 November 2009 Cox started a radio show on BBC Radio 4 entitled ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’ airing at 4.30pm. He is the co-host with comedian Robin Ince. Guests have included comedian Dara Ó Briain and Dr Alice Roberts of the BBC show ‘The Incredible Human Journey’. Cox also appeared in Ince’s Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People.
In March and April 2010 Cox presented a five part BBC television series entitled Wonders of the Solar System. He also co-presents Space Hoppers on CBBC. Cox has confirmed that a follow-up series to Wonders of the Solar System, called “Universal”, will start filming in May 2010.
Cox has also appeared numerous times at Technology, Entertainment, Design, giving talks on the LHC and particle physics.