Let There Be Life

This is my second blog of the night. Go me. (But only my third blog of 2014!)

Currently airing on UK TV is my 2-part doc, The Secrets of Quantum Physics. It’s on BBC4, which means I can basically get stuck into some pretty heavy physics. What is so great about BBC4 viewers is that they want to be stretched. They know that many of the concepts are not going to make complete sense or sink in immediately – for that they would need to do a degree in physics, and possibly a PhD too. But they want to be made to feel clever, to be blown away by some of the deep issues in fundamental science. So well done BBC4 – and anyone at the Beeb think of cutting back on the its science coverage, particularly on my home channel of Four, better watch out.

Read More

Einstein’s Nightmare

I hope people enjoyed the first part of my BBC series, The Secrets of Quantum Physics. Since part two doesn’t really follow on from where I left off (more on that in my next blog coming shortly) I thought I would try and clarify my views here.

In the first film, called ‘Einstein’s Nightmare’, I think I went as far as anyone has on a TV programme for the general viewer, arriving at some pretty advanced ideas in quantum mechanics: the EPR paradox and Bell’s inequality, which provides a mathematical test of whether the world of the very small exists when we are not observing it or whether it just has a fuzzy potential for existence until we look, conjuring it into solidity.

Read More

Brian Cox on the Life Scientific

After three years and, incredibly, 78 episodes, with guests including five Nobel Prize winners and some of the most famous and illustrious names in science, as well as picking up a VLV award earlier this year for best radio programme, the Life Scientific returns for a new run. And I kick off with some Mancunian ex-pop star type bloke who likes gazing up at the sky.

Read More

Peter Higgs’ Life Scientific

Note that this blog also appears on the BBC website where it has a few video clips (yes, we filmed the radio recording!)

They can also be viewed on the IOP website.

I love name dropping about some of the science superstars I’ve interviewed on The Life Scientific. ‘Richard Dawkins was quite charming on the programme, you know’, or ‘James Lovelock is as sharp as ever’, and so on. So imagine my excitement when I heard we had secured the ultimate science celebrity, Peter Higgs.

Read More

Light and Dark, BBC4

Last night, my new two-part documentary, 'Light and Dark', aired on BBC4. The man who deserves almost all the praise is director/producer, Stephen Cooter. He wrote most of the script and put the 120 minutes together into something special. It was produced in partnership with The Open University, and essentially explores how we have uncovered the secrets of our universe by using and manipulating light. It is therefore another one of those science docs I enjoy making that mix stories from the history of science with mind-blowing big ideas and concepts that BBC4 audiences enjoy. 

Read More

Do we have free will – a physicist’s perspective?

This blog was prompted by an online article I was alerted to by Roger Highfield on Twitter, which discussed how neuroscientists were conducting experiments suggesting that free will is indeed just an illusion. It was rather dismissive of the years (no, make that centuries) of philosophical debate that has seemingly not brought us any closer to an answer. Now, as a physicist I am usually at the front of the hard-nosed scientist queue when it comes to philosophy bashing. But on this issue, I am not so sure

Read More

Higgs, shmiggs.. who cares?

So, how do I feel about the Higgs discovery? Am I excited, indifferent or even just a little disappointed? Before CERN’s announcement on the 4 July 2012, I had asked myself on many occasions whether I hoped the Higgs would be discovered or not. After all, if there were no such thing as the Higgs field, or Higgs mechanisms that supposedly gave particles their mass, and hence no Higgs Boson (the particle that is no more than a brief condensation of Higgs field energy) then we would need to revise our theories of the subatomic world… and that would be pretty exciting. Well, it seems like that won’t be necessary (for now) because experiments have confirmed what theory predicted all along.

Read More

Faster than the speed of light?

I have been prompted to write this blog, instead of chilling with a glass of wine after a busy week and watching a movie on TV, because of the flurry of comments via email and Twitter that I have received today regarding the latest news from the Opera neutrino experiment.

It’s entirely my own fault. After the first announcement back in September I volunteered on Twitter, then onBBC television to eat my boxer shorts on live TV if this result is proven to be right. Now, many people mistakenly believe that this second repeated experiment is the confirmation needed for me to fetch the ketchup

Read More