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Brian Cox (physicist)


Brian Cox (physicist)

Brian Cox
Cox in October 2013
Born Brian Edward Cox
(1968-03-03) 3 March 1968 [1]
Oldham, Lancashire, England
Residence Battersea[2][3]
Citizenship United Kingdom
Nationality British
Fields Particle physics
Education Hulme Grammar School, Manchester
Alma mater University of Manchester
Thesis Double diffraction dissociation at large momentum transfer (1998)
Doctoral advisor Robin Marshall[4][5]
Doctoral students
  • Tamsin Edwards[6]
  • Graham Jones[7]
  • James Monk[8]
  • Irina Nasteva[9]
  • Andres Osorio[10][11]
  • Andrew Pilkington[12]
Known for
Notable awards
Spouse Gia Milinovich (m. 2003)
Children Moki, George
  • /
  • .cox/brian/

Brian Edward Cox, OBE (born 3 March 1968[1]) is an English physicist, and professor of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester. He is best known to the public as the presenter of science programmes, especially the Wonders of... series[13][15][16] and has been described as the natural successor for BBC's scientific programming by both David Attenborough and the late Patrick Moore.[17][18] Before his academic career, Cox was a keyboard player for the bands D:Ream and Dare.


  • Early life and education 1
  • Career 2
    • Research 2.1
    • Broadcasting 2.2
    • Filmography 2.3
      • Television 2.3.1
    • Music 2.4
  • Awards and honours 3
  • Personal life 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life and education

Cox was born in the Royal Oldham Hospital, later living in Chadderton, Oldham, from 1971,[19] Cox's parents worked in Yorkshire bank, his mother as a cashier and his father as a middle-manager in the same branch.[20] He attended the independent Hulme Grammar School[21] in Oldham from 1979 to 1986.[22][23][24] Cox revealed on The Jonathan Ross Show that he performed poorly on his Maths A-level: "I got a D ... I was really not very good ... I found out you need to practice."[25] He cites a lack of interest and fledgling band commitments as the reason for the result.

Cox was awarded a first-class Bachelor of Science degree and an MPhil in Physics. After D:Ream disbanded in 1997, Cox completed his Doctor of Philosophy in high-energy particle physics at the University of Manchester.[4] His thesis, Double Diffraction Dissociation at Large Momentum Transfer, was supervised by Robin Marshall[4] and drawn from work he did for the H1 experiment at the Hadron Elektron Ring Anlage (HERA)[4][26] particle accelerator at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg, Germany.[27]



Cox is a PPARC advanced fellow and member of the High Energy Physics group at the University of Manchester, and works on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC)[28][29] at CERN,[30][31][32][33] 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)[34][35] experiment by installing additional, smaller detectors at a distance of 420 metres from the interaction points of the main experiments.[36][37][38][39][40]

Cox has co-authored several books on physics including Why does E=mc2?[41] with Jeff Forshaw, and The Quantum Universe, also with Jeff Forshaw.[42]


A Brian Cox
Brian Cox at Science Foo Camp in 2008

Cox has appeared in many science programmes for BBC radio and television,[13][43] including In Einstein's Shadow,[44] the BBC Horizon series,[45] ("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. Cox 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.[46] A new series, Wonders of Life, completed filming in June 2012,[47] which Cox describes as "a physicist's take on life / natural history".[48]

He co-presents Space Hoppers and has also featured in Dani's House on CBBC.[49]

Brian Cox also presented a three part BBC series called 'Science Britannica' which sees him explore the contribution of British scientists over the last 350 years, as well as the relationship between British science and the public perception thereof.[50]

BBC Two commissioned Cox to copresent Stargazing Live, a three-day live astronomy series in January 2011 – co-presented with physicist-turned-comedian Dara Ó Briain and featuring chat show host Jonathan Ross[51] – linked to events across the United Kingdom. A second and a third series featuring a variety of guests ran in January 2012 and January 2013.[52]

Since November 2009 Cox has co-presented a BBC Radio 4 "comedy science magazine programme", The Infinite Monkey Cage with comedian Robin Ince.[53] Guests have included comedians Tim Minchin, Alexei Sayle, Dara Ó Briain, and scientists including Dr Alice Roberts of the BBC show The Incredible Human Journey. Cox also appeared in Ince's Nine Lessons and Carols for Godless People. 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.[54]

Cox has also appeared numerous times at TED, giving talks on the LHC and particle physics.[55][56] In 2009 he appeared in People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive.[57] In 2010 he was featured in The Case for Mars by Symphony of Science. In November 2010 he made a promotional appearance in the Covent Garden Apple Store, talking about his new e-book set to accompany his new television series as well as answering audience questions.[58]

Cox gave the Royal Television Society's 2010 Huw Wheldon Memorial Lecture on "Science, a Challenge to TV Orthodoxy", in which he examined problems in media coverage of science and news about science. It was subsequently broadcast on BBC Two. On 4 March, Frankenstein's Science featured Cox in discussion with biographer Richard Holmes on Mary Shelley's exploration of humanity's desire to bring life to an inanimate object and whether the notion is possible, in both the 19th century and today.

On 6 March 2011, Cox appeared as a guest at Patrick Moore's 700th episode anniversary of The Sky At Night. He has said that he is a lifelong fan of the programme, and that it helped inspire him to become a physicist. On 10 March 2011, Cox gave the Ninth Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture.

Cox was the science advisor for the science fiction film Sunshine. On the DVD release, he provides an audio commentary where he discusses scientific accuracies (and inaccuracies) depicted in the film. He also was featured on the Discovery Channel special Megaworld: Switzerland. In 2013, he presented another series of "Wonders of Life".

On 14 November 2013, BBC Two broadcast The Science of Doctor Who in celebration of Doctor Who's 50th anniversary, in which Cox tackles the mysteries of time travel. The lecture was recorded at the Royal Institution Faraday Lecture Theatre. In November 2013, the BBC announced that Cox will present Human Universe on BBC Two.



Year Title Role Notes
2005–09 Horizon Himself/Presenter Episodes:
  • Einstein's Equation of Life and Death (2005)
  • Einstein's Unfinished Symphony (2005)
  • The Six Billion Dollar Experiment (2007)
  • What on Earth is Wrong with Gravity (2008)
  • Do You Know What Time It Is (2008)
  • Can we Make a Star on Earth (2009)
2008 The Big Bang Machine Presenter
2010 Wonders of the Solar System Presenter
Dani's House Himself
Would I Lie to You? Panellist
2011–12 QI Panellist Episodes:
2011–15 Stargazing Live Co-Presenter All 5 series
2011 Wonders of the Universe Presenter
A Night With The Stars Presenter
The One Show Guest
The Sky at Night Guest on 700th edition
The Graham Norton Show Guest Series 8, Episode 16
The Horizon Guide: Moon Presenter
2012 The Jonathan Ross Show Guest
Doctor Who Himself "The Power of Three"
2013 Wonders of Life Presenter
Science Britannica Presenter September 2013. BBC Two
Conan Guest Episode 437
The Science of Doctor Who Presenter BBC Two
In Search of Science Presenter Episodes:
  • Method and Madness
  • Frankenstein's Monster
  • Money
2014 Monty Python Live (Mostly) Himself
Human Universe Presenter BBC Two


In the 1980s Cox was keyboard player with the rock band Dare.[59] He studied physics at the University of Manchester, where he joined D:Ream,[60] a group that had several hits in the UK charts, including the number one, "Things Can Only Get Better",[61] later used as a New Labour election anthem.

Session discography[62]

Awards and honours

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's Lord Kelvin Award for this work.

Also in 2006 he was awarded a Royal Society University Research Fellowship (an early-career research fellowship scheme). A frequent lecturer, he was keynote speaker at the Australian Science Festival in 2006, and in 2010 won the Institute of Physics Kelvin Prize for his work in communicating the appeal and excitement of physics to the general public.[63] Cox was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's 2010 Birthday Honours for services to science.[14][64]

On 15 March 2011, Cox won Best Presenter and Best Science / Natural History programme by the Royal Television Society for Wonders of the Universe. On 25 March 2011, Cox won twice at the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards for 'Best Performer' in a non-acting role, while Wonders of the Solar System was named best documentary series of 2010.[65][66]

In July 2012, Cox was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield.[67] Later that year, he was awarded the Institute of Physics President's medal by Sir Patrick Stewart, following which he gave a speech on the value of education in science and the need to invest more in future generations of scientists.[68] On 5 October 2012 Cox was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University for his "Exceptional contribution to Education and Culture".[69] In 2012 he also was awarded the Michael Faraday Prize of the Royal Society "for his excellent work in science communication".[70]

Personal life

In 2003 Cox married U.S. science presenter Apollo 11 lunar module. Milinovich also has a son, named Moki, from a previous relationship. The family currently lives in Battersea.[2][3]

He recalls a happy childhood in Oldham that included pursuits such as dance, gymnastics, plane spotting and even bus spotting. He has stated in many interviews and in an episode of Wonders of the Universe[72] that when he was 12, the book Cosmos by Carl Sagan was a key factor in inspiring him to become a physicist.[1] Brian Cox is a humanist, and is a "Distinguished Supporter" of the British Humanist Association.[73] He is an Oldham Athletic fan, and held a season ticket at the club.[1]

Cox identifies as an atheist and in 2009 contributed to the charity book The Atheist's Guide to Christmas.[74]


  1. ^ a b c d
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ a b c d
  5. ^ (subscription required)
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  10. ^
  11. ^ SPIRES entry for Brian E. Cox
  12. ^
  13. ^ a b c Professor Brian Cox at the Internet Movie Database
  14. ^ a b
  15. ^ Professor Brian Cox on BBC
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ Human Universe - 4. A Place in Space and Time
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ Professor Brian Cox, (with downloadable postscript file), retrieved 6 September 2008
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^ Brian Cox at TED
  31. ^ Brian Cox: CERN's supercollider (TED2008)
  32. ^ Brian Cox: What went wrong at the LHC (TED2009)
  33. ^ Brian Cox: Why we need the explorers (TEDSalon London 2010)
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^ FP420 R&D Project, FP420, 16 October 2007, retrieved 5 April 2011
  37. ^ Brian Cox on Twitter
  38. ^ Brian Cox's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier.
  39. ^ Brian Cox publications in arXiv
  40. ^ List of papers by Brian Cox on inspirehep
  41. ^
  42. ^
  43. ^ Prof Brian Cox on Eden
  44. ^ In Einstein's shadow, BBC, January 2005, retrieved 6 September 2008.
  45. ^ Sue Rider Management, Professor Brian Cox, retrieved 6 September 2008
  46. ^ Wonders of the Solar System, retrieved 4 April 2010
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ Space Hoppers, retrieved 4 April 2010
  50. ^
  51. ^ seriesStargazingRoss returns to BBC for , Catherine Neilan, Broadcast, 25 November 2010
  52. ^ Speech by Saul Nassé, head of BBC Learning, 27 September 2010, retrieved 6 December 2010.
  53. ^
  54. ^ CarPool, Brian Cox on CarPool, 24 July 2009, retrieved 19 September 2009.
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^ Landmark Apple Store Event for Professor Cox, press release from HarperCollins, 24 November 2010, retrieved 6 December 2010.
  59. ^
  60. ^
  61. ^ UK top 40 hit database, (search result for D:Ream), done 6 September 2008
  62. ^
  63. ^
  64. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59446. p. 9. 12 June 2010.
  65. ^
  66. ^
  67. ^
  68. ^ IOP Awards 2012: Professor Brian Cox delivers a key note speech
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External links

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