Brian Cox

On this date in 1968, Brian Edward Cox was born in Lancashire, England. After completing his secondary education, Cox joined the rock band Dare as a keyboardist. Following the band’s breakup, Cox enrolled at the University of Manchester to study physics. He continued his career in music, playing with the pop band D:Ream, while receiving his B.Sc. and M.Phil degrees. D:Ream had several hits in the UK charts, including “Things Can Only Get Better,” a number one hit. In 1998, Cox received his Ph.D. from Manchester University based on research in high-energy physics done at the HERA particle accelerator. Cox is a professor at the University of Manchester, where he is a member of the high-energy physics group. He is also a member of the ATLAS research group at CERN in Geneva and a fellow of the Royal Society.

Cox is best known for his science outreach to the general public. He has appeared as a presenter for numerous BBC television and radio programs on scientific subjects, including “Wonders of the Solar System” and “Wonders of the Universe.” Since 2009, Cox has co-hosted the BBC Radio 4 program “The Infinite Monkey Cage” with comedian Robin Ince. The show features a rotating panel of scientists and entertainers discussing topics, as well as an occasional “Stand-up mathematician.” Cox and Ince are strong advocates for a rational point of view. Some episodes have directly tackled the topic of science versus the supernatural. Cox also lectures widely, has given several TED talks, and has co-authored several books about physics, including 2009’s Why Does E=mc2? (And Why Should We Care?). Cox is a strong advocate for science education and government funding of scientific research, and seeks to actively combat scientific ignorance and anti-scientific attitudes. Cox told the Guardian (Mar. 7, 2010), he had never believed in God, saying, “I was sent to Sunday school for a few weeks but I didn't like getting up on Sunday mornings.” He lives in Manchester with his wife Gia Milinovich and their children.

List: How interested are you in debating the other side of the argument with all those God-type folks?

Brian Cox: . . . The problem with today’s world is that everyone believes they have the right to express their opinion AND have others listen to it. The correct statement of individual rights is that everyone has the right to an opinion, but crucially, that opinion can be roundly ignored and even made fun of, particularly if it is demonstrably nonsense!

Compiled by Eleanor Wroblewski

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