YOU'VE got to think big when you’re in the company of Professor Brian Cox.
The man with a talent for making science accessible to all gave the audience a quick run through on Cosmology. That’s the science of the whole universe. As a result, within five minutes he was talking in terms of billions of light years and trillions of galaxies. See what I mean by big…
This was a lightning-fast tour of our understanding of space at the present time, going from our solar system, and the chances of finding life (hydrothermal vents on Saturn’s moon Enceladus sound a good bet) and then wandering out into the galaxy, and the 3,500-odd planets the Kepler spacecraft has so far managed to track down. The closest is in orbit around Proxima Centauri, just four light years away – that was close compared to the other numbers he was throwing around.
Then we all went off to Einstein, relativity, and the Big Bang, and the birth and possible end of the universe. My (not particularly good and forty-years-old) grasp of Physics was starting to creak by now.
However, there was light relief. Comedian Robin Ince, Brian Cox’s partner in crime on Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage, was also part of the package. Effectively this show was the Monkey Cage on tour, and his humour made life easier for people struggling with General Relativity.
But what came through loud and clear was the delight both men took in the beauty of science, and for Brian Cox in particular the beauty of seeing, in the blackness of space, that little blue dot that we all call home.