Professor Brian Cox is on a mission to make science sexy

Professor Brian Cox in a scene from the three-part series In Search of Science.
Professor Brian Cox in a scene from the three-part series In Search of Science. Neil Kent

PROFESSOR Brian Cox is a man on a mission to popularise science.

The physicist and award-winning presenter continues his mission to educate the public on the importance of research and innovation in a new series of programming on Foxtel's BBC Knowledge channel.

"It's the only way we have of understanding nature," Cox told APN.

"I think the power of science is that it's not perfect. It's the only discipline we have that acknowledges its own fallibility."

Cox's three-part series In Search of Science, which debuted this week, explores the work and impact of Britain's scientific founding fathers, including Isaac Newton, through to the ground-breaking work being done by British scientists today.

"Knowledge evolves with new data and understanding," Cox said.

"What we said yesterday we might change our mind (about), but it's about having the framework that's built to change your mind. Can we disprove this theory? That's what gives science its power."

Cox is in the country touring with his Making Sense of the Cosmos live show, as well as doing four special performances with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra next week.

He said his rise in the media, through both television and live shows, had been an accidental one.

"I wasn't really that interested in presenting TV programs," he said.

"I was doing was my research, and in 2007 we had a bit of a funding crisis in physics. I ended up coming into the media arguing (for funding). I thought it was a catastrophic mistake of the government at the time and that's how I got noticed by the BBC, by going on current affairs programs shouting at people in a way."

Cox's other new show sees him explain the scientific principles behind long-running sci-fi drama Doctor Who.

Professor Brian Cox pictured with Doctor Who star Matt Smith in The Science of Doctor Who.
Professor Brian Cox pictured with Doctor Who star Matt Smith in The Science of Doctor Who. Ben Wilson

He presents the TV special, which airs tonight, with the 11th actor to play the Time Lord, Matt Smith.

 "They wanted to do something for the 50th anniversary and I just leapt at it," he said.

"I wanted to try my hand at a bit of acting in the Tardis.

"You can't travel into the past, but in a way the stuff I did in that lecture is similar to what I'm teaching in this term lecturing at Manchester University. It's a way of teaching relativity using Doctor Who. It's a fantastic dramatic conceit (time travel)… and something we all would love to do.

"I wouldn't like to live in the past though, particularly before the discovery of penicillin. I'd prefer to live in the future."

And the future is what Professor Cox is worried about. The particle physicist is an outspoken campaigner for governments and societies making science a priority.

"Americans spend more on pet grooming than on nuclear fusion research," he said.

"It works and would deliver unlimited clean energy, but they spend more on paying somebody else to comb their cat.

"In that sense it's like hang on, we don't run this world optimally. How do we make sure we survive and prosper? Maybe we should invest more in knowledge."

The Science of Doctor Who airs tonight at 8.30pm Qld, 9.30pm NSW on BBC Knowledge.

Topics:  doctor who

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