Brian Cox (physicist)

For other uses, see Brian Cox (disambiguation).

Brian Cox

Brian Cox in October 2013
Born Brian Edward Cox
(1968-03-03) 3 March 1968
Oldham, Lancashire, England
Residence Battersea[1][2]
Citizenship United Kingdom
Nationality British
Fields Particle physics
Education Oldham Hulme Grammar School, Oldham[3]
Alma mater University of Manchester
Thesis Double diffraction dissociation at large momentum transfer (1998)
Doctoral advisor Robin Marshall[4][5]
Known for
Notable awards
Spouse Gia Milinovich (m. 2003)
Children Moki, George


Brian Edward Cox, OBE, FRS (born 3 March 1968[3][10]) is an English physicist, and Advanced Fellow of particle physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Manchester.[11][12] He is best known to the public as the presenter of science programmes, especially the Wonders of... series[6][13][14] and for popular science books, such as Why Does E=mc²? and The Quantum Universe. He has been the author or co-author of over 950 scientific publications.[15]

Cox has been described as the natural successor for BBC's scientific programming by both David Attenborough and the late Patrick Moore.[16][17] Before his academic career, Cox was a keyboard player for the bands D:Ream and Dare.


Early life

Cox was born in the Royal Oldham Hospital, later living in Chadderton, Oldham, from 1971,[18] Cox's parents worked for Yorkshire Bank, his mother as a cashier and his father as a middle-manager in the same branch.[19] He recalls a happy childhood in Oldham that included pursuits such as dance, gymnastics, plane spotting and even bus spotting. He attended the independent Hulme Grammar School[3][20] in Oldham from 1979 to 1986.[21][22][23] He has stated in many interviews and in an episode of Wonders of the Universe[24] that when he was 12, the book Cosmos by Carl Sagan was a key factor in inspiring him to become a physicist.[10] 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 practise."[25]


In the 1980s, Cox was keyboard player with the rock band Dare.[26] He joined D:Ream,[27] a group that had several hits in the UK charts, including the number one "Things Can Only Get Better",[28] later used as a New Labour election anthem, although he did not actually play on the track.


Cox studied physics at the University of Manchester during his music career. He earned a first-class Bachelor of Science degree and a Master of Philosophy degree 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][29] particle accelerator at the DESY laboratory in Hamburg, Germany.[30]

Personal life

In 2003 Cox married U.S. science presenter Gia Milinovich in Duluth, Minnesota. Their first son was born on 26 May 2009. George's middle name is "Eagle" after the Apollo 11 lunar module. Milinovich also has a son, named Moki, from a previous relationship. The family currently lives in Battersea.[1][2]

Cox rejects the label atheist but has stated he has "no personal faith".[31] In 2009, he contributed to the charity book The Atheist's Guide to Christmas.[32] He is a humanist, and is a "Distinguished Supporter" of the British Humanist Association.[33]

He is an Oldham Athletic fan, and held a season ticket at the club.[10]



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)[34][35] at CERN,[36][37][38][39] 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)[40][41] experiment by installing additional, smaller detectors at a distance of 420 metres from the interaction points of the main experiments.[42][43][44][45][46]

Cox has co-authored several books on physics including Why does E=mc2?[47] with Jeff Forshaw, and The Quantum Universe, also with Jeff Forshaw.[48]


A Brian Cox
Brian Cox at Science Foo Camp in 2008

Cox has appeared in many science programmes for BBC radio and television,[6][49] including In Einstein's Shadow,[50] the BBC Horizon series,[51] ("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.[52] A new series, Wonders of Life, completed filming in June 2012, which Cox describes as "a physicist's take on life / natural history".[53]

He co-presents Space Hoppers and has also featured in Dani's House on CBBC.[54]

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.[55]

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[56] – 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.[57]

Since November 2009 Cox has co-presented a BBC Radio 4 "comedy science magazine programme", The Infinite Monkey Cage with comedian Robin Ince.[58] 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 24 July 2009 episode of Robert Llewellyn's CarPool podcast series.[59]

Cox has also appeared numerous times at TED, giving talks on the LHC and particle physics.[60][61] In 2009 he appeared in People magazine's Sexiest Men Alive.[62] 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.[63]

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. The BBC subsequently broadcast Human Universe and Forces of Nature also presented by Cox.

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.[64] Cox was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen's 2010 Birthday Honours for services to science.[8][65]

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.[66][67]

In July 2012, Cox was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Huddersfield.[68] 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.[69]

On 5 October 2012 Cox was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Open University for his "Exceptional contribution to Education and Culture".[70] In 2012 he also was awarded the Michael Faraday Prize of the Royal Society "for his excellent work in science communication".[71] He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2016.[9]



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–present Stargazing Live Co-Presenter All 6 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 Himself
Human Universe Presenter BBC Two
2016 Forces of Nature Presenter BBC One


Session discography[72]



  1. 1 2 Gordon, Jane (11 December 2010). "In a taxi with ... physicist Professor Brian Cox". Daily Mail. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  2. 1 2 Falk, Ben (2012). The Wonder of Brian Cox - The Unauthorised Biography of the Man Who Brought Science to the Nation. John Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84358-953-2.
  3. 1 2 3 COX, Prof. Brian Edward. Who's Who. 2016 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription required)
  4. 1 2 3 4 Cox, Brian Edward (1998). Double diffraction dissociation at large momentum transfer (PDF) (PhD thesis). University of Manchester.
  5. Marshall, Prof. Robin. Who's Who. 2015 (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. (subscription required)
  6. 1 2 3 Professor Brian Cox at the Internet Movie Database
  7. "Stargazing Live - BBC Two".
  8. 1 2 "Professor Brian 'chuffed' with OBE". The Sun. London. 12 June 2010.
  9. 1 2 "Professor Brian Cox OBE FRS". London: Royal Society. Archived from the original on 29 April 2016. One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from the website where:
    "All text published under the heading 'Biography' on Fellow profile pages is available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License." --"Royal Society Terms, conditions and policies". Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 9 March 2016.
  10. 1 2 3 Smith, David (14 September 2008). "Putting the fizz into physics". The Observer. London. Retrieved 14 September 2008.
  11. "Cox, Brian E. - Profile - INSPIRE-HEP".
  13. "BBC - Search results for brian cox". BBC.
  14. "'Brian Cox effect' leads to surge in demand for physics". The Daily Telegraph. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  15. "Prof Brian Cox - publications". University of Manchester. Archived from the original on 13 September 2016. Retrieved 18 August 2016.
  16. "Sir David Attenborough says he would like to pass on the baton to Professor Brian Cox". The Daily Telegraph. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  17. "Brian Cox? He's no astronomer! Patrick Moore turns his telescope on the young pretender - and concedes he's really rather good (for an ex-rock star)". Daily Mail. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 30 January 2013.
  18. Human Universe - 4. A Place in Space and Time
  19. "The Times Saturday September 12th 2015 Weekend section".
  20. "Oldham Hulme Grammar Alumni". Oldham Hulme Grammar School. Archived from the original on 17 December 2013.
  21. "Congratulations to Professor Brian Cox OBE". Oldham Hulme Grammar School website. 17 June 2010. Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  22. "Alumni". Oldham Hulme Grammar School website. Oldham Hulme Grammar School. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
  23. "Brian Cox: Science is not 'dominated by old men'". BBC News. 2 February 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
  24. "BBC Two Programmes – Wonders of the Universe". Retrieved 29 March 2011.
  25. "Jonathan Ross welcomes Matt Smith to his Friday night show". BBC. 26 March 2010. Retrieved 4 October 2012.
  26. Naughton, Philippe; Costello, Miles (24 February 2008). "A Life in the Day: Dr Brian Cox". The Times. London. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  27. Caspar Llewellyn Smith (4 April 2010). "Brian Cox: The man with the stars in his eyes". The Observer. London. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  28. UK top 40 hit database, (search result for D:Ream), done 6 September 2008
  29. Cox, B. (2005). "A review of forward proton tagging at 420m at the LHC, and relevant results from the Tevatron and HERA". 753: 103–111. arXiv:hep-ph/0409144Freely accessible. doi:10.1063/1.1896693.
  30. Professor Brian Cox 8 Archived 23 January 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  31. Woods, Mark (9 September 2016). "Professor Brian Cox condemns 'toxic' rows between science and religion". Christian Today. Retrieved 12 September 2016.
  32. "Authors read their contributions to Ariane Sherine's book". The Guardian. London. 2 December 2009.
  33. "Professor Brian Cox OBE". British Humanist Association. Archived from the original on 16 May 2011. Retrieved 31 March 2011.
  34. Cox, B.; Forshaw, J.; Lee, J.; Monk, J.; Pilaftsis, A. (2003). "Observing a light CP-violating Higgs boson in diffraction". Physical Review D. 68 (7). arXiv:hep-ph/0303206Freely accessible. Bibcode:2003PhRvD..68g5004C. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.68.075004.
  35. Cox, B.; Forshaw, J.; Heinemann, B. (2002). "Double diffractive higgs and di-photon production at the Tevatron and LHC". Physics Letters B. 540 (3–4): 263–268. arXiv:hep-ph/0110173Freely accessible. Bibcode:2002PhLB..540..263C. doi:10.1016/S0370-2693(02)02144-5.
  36. Brian Cox at TED
  37. Brian Cox. "Brian Cox: CERN's supercollider - TED Talk".
  38. Brian Cox. "Brian Cox: What went wrong at the LHC - TED Talk".
  39. Brian Cox. "Brian Cox: Why we need the explorers - TED Talk".
  40. Chatrchyan, S.; Khachatryan, V.; Sirunyan, A. M.; Tumasyan, A.; Adam, W.; Aguilo, E.; Bergauer, T.; Dragicevic, M.; Erö, J.; Fabjan, C.; Friedl, M.; Frühwirth, R.; Ghete, V. M.; Hammer, J.; Hoch, M.; Hörmann, N.; Hrubec, J.; Jeitler, M.; Kiesenhofer, W.; Knünz, V.; Krammer, M.; Krätschmer, I.; Liko, D.; Majerotto, W.; Mikulec, I.; Pernicka, M.; Rahbaran, B.; Rohringer, C.; Rohringer, H.; et al. (2012). "Observation of a new boson at a mass of 125 GeV with the CMS experiment at the LHC". Physics Letters B. 716: 30. arXiv:1207.7235Freely accessible. Bibcode:2012PhLB..716...30C. doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2012.08.021.
  41. Butterworth, J. M.; Cox, B. E.; Forshaw, J. R. (2002). "WW scattering at the CERN LHC". Physical Review D. 65 (9). arXiv:hep-ph/0201098Freely accessible. Bibcode:2002PhRvD..65i6014B. doi:10.1103/PhysRevD.65.096014.
  42. FP420 R&D Project, FP420, 16 October 2007. Retrieved 5 April 2011
  43. Brian Cox on Twitter
  44. Brian Cox's publications indexed by the Scopus bibliographic database, a service provided by Elsevier. (subscription required)
  45. " Search".
  46. "brian cox - Search Results - INSPIRE-HEP".
  47. Cox, Brian; Forshaw, Jeff (2010). Why Does E=mc2? : (And Why Should We Care?). Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-306-81876-9.
  48. Cox, Brian; Forshaw, Jeff (2011). The Quantum Universe : everything that can happen does happens. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 978-1-84614-432-5.
  49. "Prof Brian Cox".
  50. "In Einstein's shadow". BBC. January 2005. Retrieved 6 September 2008.
  51. Sue Rider Management, Professor Brian Cox. Retrieved 6 September 2008
  52. Wonders of the Solar System. Retrieved 4 April 2010
  53. "Brian Cox answers your questions about life, the universe and everything". The Guardian. London. 24 March 2011.
  54. Space Hoppers. Retrieved 4 April 2010
  55. "Science Britannica". BBC. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
  56. Neilan, Catherine (25 November 2010). "Ross returns to BBC for Stargazing series". Broadcast. Retrieved 25 November 2010.
  57. "Speech by Saul Nassé, Controller of Learning". 27 September 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  58. Bowbrick, Steve (28 June 2010). "Live chat: science fiction vs science fact". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 6 July 2010.
  59. CarPool, Brian Cox on CarPool, 24 July 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2009.
  60. "Brian Cox". TED. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  61. "Brian Cox: CERN's supercollider". TED. March 2008. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  62. Perkins, Ceri (February 2009). "ATLAS physicist voted sexiest in the world". ATLAS eNews. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  63. Landmark Apple Store Event for Professor Cox, press release from HarperCollins, 24 November 2010. Retrieved 6 December 2010.
  64. "2010 Kelvin medal and prize". Institute of Physics. 2014. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  65. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 59446. p. 9. 12 June 2010.
  66. Cox, Brian; Cohen, Andrew (2010). Wonders of the Solar System. London: Collins. ISBN 978-0-00-738690-1.
  67. Cox, Brian; Cohen, Andrew (2011). Wonders of the Universe. New York: Harper Design. ISBN 978-0-06-211054-1.
  68. "Brian Cox receives degree from Sir Patrick Stewart". BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2012.
  69. IOP Awards 2012: Professor Brian Cox delivers a key note speech
  70. "Conferment of Honorary Degrees and Presentation of Graduates" (PDF). The Open University. 2012. Retrieved 7 July 2014.
  71. "The Royal Society Michael Faraday Prize". Royal Society. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  72. "Brian Cox Discography at Discogs". discogs. 3 March 1968. Retrieved 31 December 2011.

External links

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