Cockcroft Rutherford Lecture 2012: A Scientist in the Media

When my dad asked if I wanted to go to the 2012 Cockcroft Rutherford Lecture which was being given by Professor Brian Cox, I’m not sure what I was more gobsmacked by; the opportunity to hear Brian Cox’s lecture or the fact that my dad had to even ask!

Brian Cox The lecture was introduced by Professor Dame Nancy Rothwell, Vice Chancellor of the University of Manchester, and the topic of Professor Brian Cox’s lecture was ‘A Scientist in the Media’. Though personally I think he could have called it ‘Why Physics is Important’ and it would have had the same result.

Starting with Carl Sagan, we moved through different scientists who have proved to be inspirational, both for Brian and others. And their effects on the communication of physics to the wider community.

During the rest of the lecture Brian covered everything from the insane mass hysteria of the switching on of the Large Hadron Collider to the Government’s spending on scientific research (which is basically nothing, by the way). He talked about his appearance on ‘Newsnight’ alongside Sir David King, and the advice he was given by a friend of how to deal with someone being difficult (aka wrong) on TV. And then about how Harry Hill mocked him on the ‘Horizon’ episode where he was telling the time.

From there he moved onto telling us about his new series, ‘Wonders of Life’, for which he had to learn Biology but takes a look at the topic from the view of a Physicist, so it sounds like it won’t just be a David Attenborough style show. Oh, and it has a seriously sweet 8 week old lion cub in it who kept scratching Brian and running away.

Brian then finished by going back to the communication of science. Why Carl Sagan was just so good at it and examples of cultural effects, including the famous image ‘The Pale Blue Dot’ which Carl describes with one of his most famous quotes.

Brian Cox

Then it was time for the questions, including one from a small girl who was very shy, but asked the best question I think I have ever heard, “What happens if we find the Higgs particle?”. A very good question, and she got a long round of applause and a full explanation by Brian about what would happen, mentioning that if she wanted to do particle physics research when she is older, that she shouldn’t worry and that the Higgs research would not be over by then. Another person told him “Hi, by the way, I love you!” before asking their question. And I think Brian found that kind of funny, certainly he grinned when the guy said that!

So all in all, an incredible lecture. Completely entertaining and fascinating. Wonder if he’d consider being a visiting lecturer at the University of St Andrews…

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Posted on June 22, 2012, in Astronomy, Particle Physics, Physics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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