It was NASA astronomer Carl Sagan’s book Cosmos that first inspired Brian Cox to be become a scientist.
The well-known Oldham physicist, TV presenter and author read the book at the age of 12 – and never looked back.
Music was also a major part of the young scientist’s life – so much so that he played in the bands Dare and D:Ream while studying at the University of Manchester.
As the music faded into the background, Cox carved out a career as one of the most prominent scientists and broadcasters of the day – particularly on the BBC.
Many have hailed him as the natural successor to science broadcasters David Attenborough and Patrick Moore.
Cox was born in March 1968 at the Royal Oldham Hospital and grew up in Chadderton. He attended Hulme Grammar School and his hobbies included gymnastics and plane-spotting.
Cox completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in high energy particle physics at the University of Manchester after the group D:Ream disbanded in 1997.
His thesis was based on research at the Hadron Elektron Ring Anlage particle accelerator in Hamburg, Germany.
Cox was the keyboard player for the rock band Dare in the 1980s and early 1990s. Two albums were released – Out of the Silence in 1988 and Blood from Stone in 1991.
The band’s original line-up also included Darren Wharton from Thin Lizzy on vocals and keyboards, Vinny Burns on guitar, Martin Shelton on bass and James Ross on drums.
D:Ream topped the singles chart in early 1994 with the track Things Can Only Get Better. It was later adopted by the Labour Party as their theme tune for the 1997 General Election.
Cox often played at the group’s live concerts, juggling his appearances with academic studies. D:Ream released two studio albums between 1992 and 1997 as well as 10 singles.
Cox is a regular radio contributor. He has been co-presenting the BBC Radio 4 science magazine programme The Infinite Monkey Cage with comedian Robin Ince for nine years and often appears on the BBC 6 Music Breakfast Show.
He is probably best known on TV for his five-part BBC 2 series Wonders of the Solar System, broadcast in early 2010, and the follow-up Wonders of the Universe in 2011.
The programme Wonders of Life, which portrayed natural history through the eyes of a physicist, was broadcast in 2013.
Cox has made a number of documentaries for the BBC Horizon series including What on Earth is Wrong with Gravity and Can We Make a Star on Earth?