Brian Cox is an English physicist who serves as a professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. Further, he is best known to the public as the presenter of science programs, especially the Wonders of… series and for popular science books, such as Why Does E=mc²? and The Quantum Universe. He has been the author or co-author of over 950 scientific publications.
Cox has been described as the natural successor for BBC’s scientific programming by both David Attenborough and Patrick Moore. Before his academic career, Cox was a keyboard player for the British bands D:Ream and Dare.
Early Life & Education
Cox was born on 3 March 1968 in the Royal Oldham Hospital, later living in nearby Chadderton from 1971. His parents worked for Yorkshire Bank, his mother as a cashier and his father as a middle-manager in the same branch. He recalls a happy childhood in Oldham that included pursuits such as dance, gymnastics, plane spotting and even bus spotting. Similarly, he attended the independent Hulme Grammar School in Oldham from 1979 to 1986. Further, he has stated in many interviews and in an episode of Wonders of the Universe that when he was 12, the book Cosmos by Carl Sagan was a key factor in inspiring him to become a physicist. He said on The Jonathan Ross Show that he performed poorly on his maths A-level exam: “I got a D … I was really not very good … I found out you need to practise.”
In the 1980s and early 90s, Cox was a keyboard player with the rock band Dare. Dare released two albums with Cox – Out of the Silence in 1988 and Blood from Stone in 1991. He joined D:Ream, a group that had several hits in the UK charts, including the number one “Things Can Only Get Better”, later used as a New Labour election anthem, although he did not play on the track.
Cox studied physics at the University of Manchester during his music career. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree with first-class honors and a Master of Philosophy degree in physics. After D:Ream disbanded in 1997, he completed his Doctor of Philosophy degree in high-energy particle physics at the University of Manchester. His thesis, Double Diffraction Dissociation at Large Momentum Transfer, was supervised by Robin Marshall and based on research he did on the H1 experiment at the Hadron Elektron Ring Anlage (HERA) particle accelerator at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg, Germany.
Career in Research
Cox is a Royal Society University Research Fellow, a PPARC Advanced Fellow, and a particle physicist at the University of Manchester. He works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, near Geneva, Switzerland. He is working on the research and development project of the FP420 experiment in an international collaboration to upgrade the ATLAS and the Compact Muon Solenoid (CMS) experiment by installing additional, smaller detectors at a distance of 420 meters from the interaction points of the main experiments.
Cox has co-authored several books on physics including Why does E=mc2? and The Quantum Universe, both with Jeff Forshaw. He has supervised or co-supervised several PhD students to completion including Tamsin Edwards.
Cox has appeared in many 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 as a voice-over for the BBC’s Bitesize revision programmes. He presented the five-part BBC Two television series Wonders of the Solar System in early 2010 and a follow up four-part series, Wonders of the Universe, which began on 6 March 2011. Wonders of Life, which he describes as “a physicist’s take on life/natural history”, was broadcast in 2013. He co-presents Space Hoppers and has also featured in Dani’s House on CBBC.
Cox has voiced his concerns about Brexit saying he feels it is a “weakening of our interaction with our neighbouring countries” and that “it cannot be the right trajectory.” On 23 June 2018, the People’s Vote march was held in London to mark the second anniversary of the referendum to leave the European Union. Cox tweeted that, “if [a people’s vote were] held on known exit terms and leave commanded majority, I’d back it as settled, informed decision. That’s my argument for having one.”
Since March 2019, Cox tweeted that he had signed a UK Governments and Parliament petition to ‘Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU’
In 2003, Cox married U.S. science presenter Gia Milinovich in Duluth, Minnesota. They have a son born in 2009, and Milinovich has a son from a previous relationship. The family currently lives in Battersea. Similarly, Cox has rejected the label atheist but has stated he has “no personal faith.” Since 2009, he contributed to the charity book The Atheist’s Guide to Christmas. Likewise, he is a humanist and is a Distinguished Supporter of Humanists UK. Since June 2019, Cox explained that he cannot be sure there is no God and that science cannot answer every question. Cox is an Oldham Athletic fan and held a season ticket at the club.
- Full Name: Brian Edward Cox
- Date of Birth: 3 March 1968
- Age: 51
- Birth Place: Oldham, Lancashire, England
- Residence: Battersea, London, England
- Education: Hulme Grammar School
- Alma mater: University of Manchester (BSc, MPhil, PhD)
- Music groups: D:Ream (since 1993 – 1997), Dare (1986 – 1992)
- Books: The Quantum Universe, Universal: A Guide to the Cosmos, etc.
- Spouse(s): Gia Milinovich (m. 2003)
- Children: 1
- Awards: Lord Kelvin Medal (2006), Kelvin Prize (since 2010), OBE (2010), Michael Faraday Prize (2012), University Research Fellow (2005–2013), FRS (2016)
- Fields: Particle physics
- Institutions: University of Manchester, CERN, DESY
- Thesis: Double diffraction dissociation at large momentum transfer
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Reference Brian Cox