Watching Professor Brian Cox on BBC2’s Horizon the other night, two things struck me. One was the fact that physics appears to have come quite a long way since I did my GCSE (and got an A in it, for the record). The other was a reminder that being a good communicator is actually a skill in itself.
I’ve been given a guided tour of the CERN nuclear laboratory, on the French/Swiss border: I’ve actually seen all the kit, up close. But its sheer significance didn’t hit me until I saw this video of Brian Cox, professor at the University of Manchester and CERN researcher, speaking at the TED Conference last year. If you haven’t watched it, make a cuppa and enjoy the next 15 minutes.
How can that possibly be? How can it be more affecting to watch a YouTube video of some floppy-haired bloke giving a lecture, than to actually walk the corridors where the history of the universe is being rewritten (present tense)? It’s the most tangible evidence I can think of, that communicating well about what you’re doing is just as important as what you’re doing… with lessons for all of us in this business.
Sometimes I wonder if he’s just a bit too good-looking for his own good: the ‘indie kid’ clothes, the model hair, the dazzling teeth. But there’s no getting away from his sheer talent – and his passion for the subject. You listen to him, and you come away caring about something you know is w-a-y beyond your comprehension. The Horizon programme – ‘Can We Make A Star On Earth?’, about nuclear fusion – is available on iPlayer until mid-April, and it’s well worth an hour of your time.