By James Dacey
He may be more famous as the University of Manchester particle physicist and the face of popular science through his role presenting the BBC series Wonders of the Solar System.
But in a previous life, professor Brian Cox was the keyboardist for D:Ream, the British pop group who had a number of hits in the early-to-mid 1990s. The band are perhaps best known for their number one hit “Things can only get better”, which became associated with the wave of euphoria that surrounded the rise of Tony Blair and New Labour as the party adopted the song for their 1997 election campaign.
After D:Ream went their separate ways in 1997, Cox was able to focus full time on his other love – physics. He received his doctorate from the University of Manchester the following year and has since gone on to work on the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN.
Alongside his research, however, Cox has continued to crave the stage making regular appearances on popular science programmes. His presenting career has really kicked off this year as he hosted Wonders of the Solar System, a five-part series in which he travels the globe explaining various phenomena in our solar system. He has also begun filming on the follow-up series, Wonders of the Universe, to be broadcast in the UK in early 2011.
But Cox is clearly a man who likes to keep busy, and this morning he revealed via Twitter that he is returning to the studio with his old group to record a couple of new tracks. The band reformed in 2008 with two of the band’s main members singer – Peter Cunnah and DJ Alan Mackenzie – and the pair are currently working on a new album, In Memory Of… scheduled for release in March 2011. It is not yet clear whether Cox will join the band for the tour that will accompany this release.
And it seems that Cox is far from alone in being a professional physicist with a passion for music. Cox’s colleagues at the ATLAS collaboration are planning to release a double album, covering a range of popular styles, under the scientists’ own record label, Neutralino Records. I’m just waiting for the day that D:Ream team up with Kate Mcalpine and her crew who made the headlines back in 2008 when they recorded the “Large Hadron Rap” to coincide with the switch-on of the LHC, which has now attracted more than six million hits on youtube.