Human beings will discover life beyond earth “relatively soon”.
It is with this bold and assured statement that one of the world’s most recognisable physicists got the ball rolling on his show.
From the “eternal inflation multiverse”, the first signs of life on earth roughly 3.8 billion years ago to the legacy of Einstein’s theory of relativity – Professor Brian Cox tackled some meaty subjects as he took to Aberdeen’s His Majesty’s Theatre for the first of more than 40 UK shows.
Described by the professor himself as a “cosmology lecture”, the face of TV’s Wonders series condensed the story of the universe from the big bang to the present day for his evening on stage.
Last seen by many shooting down an Australian climate change denier on TV down under with cold hard data, the affable and interminably smiley scientist is famed for his ability to bring complex scientific facts and theories on space and physics down to earth with the simplest of analogies.
As he walked out into the spotlight of the stage it was against a backdrop of a Hubble Space Telescope-captured image with Carl Sagan’s words pasted above them – “Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known”.
— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) September 21, 2016
Mr Cox’s first aim, he told the audience, was to put the earth in perspective.
Our planet and our solar system within the Milky Way makes up one of 350 billion galaxies in the “observable universe”.
The nearest to our own is the Andromeda Galaxy, which is “twice the size”.
“It’s going to hit us by the way,” he added, “in about four billion years”.
“I am trying to say the universe is big I suppose”, he summarised, “almost beyond imagination”.
To further cement his point he reads out from Sagan’s famous story “Pale Blue Dot” and describes Earth as a mere “point of light” from Mars.
Mr Cox was joined on stage by co-host of radio show, The Infinite Monkey Cage, Robin Ince – who brought a touch of manic comedy to the show in the form of a few choice anecdotes and a spot-on impression of Brian Blessed.
Did you know – were they not thousands of kilometres wide – that the rings of Saturn are thin enough to fit into the HMT itself? That the universe seemingly spawned from “a patch that was a billionth the size of an atomic nucleus”?
Hearing Mr Cox describe the potential origins of blackholes and the sound of the big bang itself, hugely complex ideas are expressed in a tone one might use to describe the basics of draughts and not particle physics.
This politeness is part of his draw and the eloquence with which he describes the vastness of the universe has opened up the world of science to a whole new audience.
By discussing the cosmos with such passion, Mr Cox makes an art out of science.
That said, it is a lot to digest. Some of the science being discussed on stage may just be too complex to describe in a simple way.
Either way, around HMT’s bar and in the hallways during half time Mr Cox’s words had people of all ages contemplating Einstein and the seemingly incomprehensible immensity of the universe around pints of beer and cups of coffee. Which is something not many people have the ability to do.
A brilliant first show – thank you Aberdeen! Next up, Edinburgh…
— Brian Cox Live (@briancoxlive) September 21, 2016
Excellent night at the first date of @ProfBrianCox Live. Some properly confusing, challenging but fascinating stuff in the second half.
— Lewis Co. (@funkadunkalunk) September 21, 2016