Professor Brian Cox, presenter of the Wonders of the Solar System program on BBC2 (final episode Sunday) and the upcoming Universal series, has been making an appearance on breakfast tables throughout the country today with a couple of articles in the mass media.
On the front page of the Sun, there is a note on his article on ‘extremophiles’. These hardy creatures are bacteria that survive in the most extreme conditions of temperature, pressure etc, and which could spell the appearance of life in places hitherto unconsidered. Meanwhile, Cox is profiled by Jane Fryer in the Daily Mail.
Professor Cox’s day job is of course working on science related to the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Yesterday saw the particle accelerator reach record energies with collisions of 3.5TeV beams of protons and anti-protons, giving a centre of mass energy of 7TeV. A summary of the events is in Jonathan Butterworth’s blog (he tweets here).
Meanwhile, displaying much the same level of energy on a larger scale, Cox (who tweets here) continues the fight for better representation of science in politics. One of the open fronts suffered a set back today when a group of Labour MPs and one Conservative voted against reform of the libel costs system. Tom Watson, whose concerns about there being no consultation were proven wrong by documents such as this, then resorted to throwing brickbats over twitter. Watson of course made his money as a lawyer using the libel system and now sits in parliament, where by law he can say what he wants without having to back it up in the courts. Scientists on the other hand are finding that the results of their research now not only have to be correct in fact, but sometimes also have to be uncontroversial to avoid anyone with an expensive legal team dragging them through a costly legal battle to suppress the results. The reforms would’ve reduced this cost by a substantial fraction, allowing some fightbacks to be maintained.
Meanwhile, back in the world of Wonders, here’s a preview of the final, Easter Sunday night episode:
(and why the big Cox post? Easiest way to cram all that stuff into one article instead of loads of little ones)