Sunday, April 25, 2010

Brian Cox live and unplugged

Our appreciation of Professor Brian Cox has been mentioned on here. So too has my ever so mild irritation that the University of Manchester hasn't found a way to bask in his glow.

That was all rectified on Thursday when he did a lecture for the public at the University. I didn't go, as I was working, but Rachel did. This is her report.

We have adored watching the Wonders of the Solar System on the BBC, not least because of its charismatic presenter, Professor Brian Cox. His boundless enthusiasm and childlike awe at the beauty that surrounds us has made me sigh, more than once, that I should have done more with that grade B at GCSE. Attending his lecture on Thursday night, I convinced myself I wasn't simply a groupie - afterall, Professor Cox isn't bad to look at, for a scientist (no offence intended). His capacity crowd of 600 was an eclectic mix - suited and booted corporate guests through to genuine science students. And I counted around 20 children in the audience. Brian's delivery was warm, enthusiastic and funny. It's impossible not to be blown away by the facts he shared or moved by the importance of science. I had the pleasure of sitting with Harrison, age 9, who was there with his uncle - did he feel the same? Could a teacher like this influence a lifelong yearning for knowledge? There was a moment during the lecture when I was out of my depth. It involved equations which were 4 lines long to develop a point further still for the " really clever people" in the room. Brian promised to go off on this particular advanced mathematics tangent for only 5 minutes, and did so beautifully, I began to kid myself I knew exactly what was going on.

I asked him a question as a mum of 5 boys, to get a sense of which political party was likely to give the best support for science in education and R&D. Working for the BBC, he is unable to be party political but with a twinkle in his eye, he replied in a factual manner, referring me to the letter sent by CaSE to each of the leaders and subsequent replies from Nick Clegg and David Cameron. It's clear that Cox is as serious about any of this as he is about imparting knowledge and remembering what got him excited about science in the first place.

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