Cox inspires island’s space generation

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THE Isle of Man is home to a large fraction of the intelligent life in the universe – according to celebrity scientist Professor Brian Cox.

Brian was speaking at a press conference during his first visit to the island – which saw him attend the Tynwald Day ceremony in St John’s as an official guest.

SCIENCE FANS: Professor Brian Cox with Castle Rushen High School students Liam Townsend and Alexander Jackson

SCIENCE FANS: Professor Brian Cox with Castle Rushen High School students Liam Townsend and Alexander Jackson

And he joined NASA astronauts on Wednesday to give a science presentation to secondary school students at the Villa Marina, Douglas.

You can hear the whole press conference by clicking the link at the right of this story -->

Brian said: ‘I have always been interested to come to the island but I didn’t know until recently of its importance to the space industry, which I think was one of the reasons why I was invited.

‘To me obviously the future of the Isle of Man, the UK, Europe in general and North America is high tech industry, things like the space industry.

‘I think you need government support for that and it’s clear to me that’s there in place and it’s one of the big growth areas in the Isle of Man.’

He said: ‘I was fascinated when I learned this is a place that genuinely values space and high tech industry, exploration, science.

‘I wanted to come and see what I could take back to hit David Cameron with, as an example of how we should do it because obviously you have done it right because those industries are flourishing here.’

When asked what proportion of the universe the Isle of Man is, he said: ‘It’s a significant proportion isn’t it if you think about it.

‘One of things we have learned in our exploration of the universe is that the human race is astonishingly valuable.

‘It’s often said in astronomy, some people sometimes misunderstand it and think we are insignificant because we are one amongst possibly an infinite number of stars.

‘But actually as you look and you see the conditions to develop complex life are rare in the universe you find out that we are probably rare and therefore valuable.

‘And the Isle of Man, of course, is a large fraction of the intelligent life in the universe.’

He said it was ‘fascinating’ to attend the Tynwald Day ceremony in St John’s, adding: ‘I was sat next to a Norwegian member of parliament who commented this is a very Scandinavian thing to do.

‘And it was fascinating to see the ceremony which is 1,000 years continuously plus which is astonishing and very non-UK.’

And he said he didn’t mind the rain at all: ‘It added to it because it gave it that ancient sort of feel.’

He said there was an ‘immense interest’ in science and engineering in secondary schools – shown by the questions students asked during the presentation at the Villa Marina.

‘It’s very acceptable to be a geek,’ he said.

Brian is best known as the presenter of Wonders of the Universe, Wonders of the Solar System and Space Hoppers.

He is also a professor at the University of Manchester and was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s 2010 Birthday Honours list for services to science.

Before he was a scientist he was in the pop band D:Ream, famous for Things Can Only Get Better which became the soundtrack to Tony Blair’s election triumph.

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