The Universal World of Brian Cox

So, last week I went to see Brian Cox at the Plenary in Melbourne. My wife had asked to go and see him late last year when he was next out, and so tickets were bought (Cox himself made a joke at the price of the tickets) and then late June 2019 the day had rolled around and he was back in Melbourne.

For those who don’t know of Brian Cox, this is not the actor, rather the physicist and cosmologist who has quite the following around the world at the moment. In fact this show was is largest ever in the Southern Hemisphere with five and a half thousand packed into the Plenary, which is a venue contained within the Melbourne Entertainment and Conference Centre, previously known as the Exhibition Centre, or ‘Jeff’s Shed’.

I’ve been before, the annual Flight Centre Travel Expo is held in the exhibition area, but I had never actually been to the Plenary which is quite a decent venue that obviously holds a lot of people. It feels rather like the Melbourne Concert Hall and I think does have music events staged there too.

You know it’s a big event when you have to empty your water bottle before entering the space outside the hall. Never had that before except at the airport. Which I presume meant that this was considered the kind of event that might be targeted by terrorists. Or Flat Earthers as Brian talks about the Universe and does seem to be of the opinion that the earth is spherical.

‘Brian Cox Universal World Tour 2019’ is the title of the show, which continues on in other cities and countries, and basically it’s around 2.5 hours, with an interval, and he talks space, the universe, time travel and black holes. In summary – it’s a bit of a ‘university lecture’ (his words) with a few jokes and some mind blowing photos and imagery.

He is ably supported by Brian Ince, a comedian with which Brian does a podcast known as ‘The Infinite Monkey Cage’. The podcast has been going since 2009 and has over 100 episodes, and before last week I had never heard of it, nor Robin Ince who does nicely to add humour to the facts and explanations.

The thought of a couple of hours of listening to someone talk about stars, black holes and the chance of life beyond this Earth (and what it might be like) is perhaps not for everyone. It might not fall into your fields of interest. One can’t help but suspect that the fact that Brian is a pretty good looking guy with an ease about him obviously is part of his ‘pull’.

And really, a journey millions of light years into space – wouldn’t that be the ultimate travel bucket list goal? Well, I reckon it would. And there are moons in the Milky Way galaxy that are capable of supporting life. What that life is is another question all together. Also, how many frequent flyer points would you need to get you there?

The thing that made me happiest here was that so many people were willing to come out on a COLD winter night and see Brian Cox talk about the universe. That people were interested in learning. Because watching enough TV here you would quickly think that no-one is interested in anything other than who got eliminated on (insert name of reality TV show HERE) last night.

Black holes are amazing beasts. The effect they have on viewing them, so it’s predicted, is incredible. Because although the speed of light is a universal constant, light can get bent and distorted due to passing around or close to something like a black hole. It doesn’t slow down or speed up, but it does have to travel a greater distance before being seen. Brian seems sadly adamant that (as Einstein was) you cannot travel faster than the speed of light. Which kinda puts the kybosh on time travel.

The visuals are impressive, especially the CGI rendering of a black hole which was created from calculations to approximate as best as possible was it might look like and it’s effect on the way stars around it might be seen. This was then compared to the recently taken first picture ever of a black hole – and was not dissimilar!

I think that, despite Brian Cox and Ince clearly embracing their celebrity-dom, it’s great that people are going out and learning about our universe. As a young kid, nothing excited me more than learning about the planets and the milky way. And then, suddenly it didn’t seem to anymore. But, I feel it again today. Who knows, perhaps one day the ultimate travel experience will no longer be science fiction, but reality for anyone who can afford it? Thanks for visiting – May the Journey Never End!

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Andy,

    I am very interested in cosmology. I have to say that I would pay ‘not’ to go to an event hosted by Saint Brian Cox. Living in Britain nearly every vaguely science themed programme or event has Brian Cox shoe horned in somewhere. I’m sure actually he is a nice guy but I’ve just got sick of seeing him beaming from every corner. Also I like my science with a dose of mysticism and Brian Cox seems to be too rationalistic for me. Sorry don’t mean to rain on your parade. I enjoyed your post. Just offering a different perspective.

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