Brian Cox Is A World Record Holding ‘Rockstar Scientist’. Here’s Why
Merryn McKinnon, 11 Nov 17

Is it his physics, his hair or something else? Brian Cox pulls record audiences around the world. ntnu-trondheim/flickr , CC BY-NC-SA

The phrase “sold out stadium shows” is not often synonymous with science. Unless of course you are Professor Brian Cox.

Currently touring Australia, he is the holder of the Guinness World Record for the “Most tickets sold for a science tour”.

This is not a record to scoff at, particularly when you look at the details: one physicist filling the 8,700 seats of Wembley Arena in London.

What is it about Brian Cox that makes people part with their money and go along to hear him speak? Is it his topic? The fact he used to be in a band? Is it his hair?

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of a rock star scientist. Because you never know; maybe you could be one too.

Opting for a long style at times, Brian Cox sure does have good hair.  crazybob/flickr, CC BY-SA

Battle of the sciences

Perhaps being a rock star scientist is all about physics. There is a long list of well known physicist communicators: Brian Greene, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Lisa Randall, Katie Mack just to name a few.

Physicist Katie Mack has more than 194,000 followers on twitter.  @AstroKatie

But then equally (or more - depending upon opinion) successful communicators come from other disciplines.

Dr Karl began in physics but then studied biomedical engineering and medicine. Adam Spencer is a mathematician. Bill Nye is a mechanical engineer. Jane Goodall is a primatologist, ethologist and anthropologist.

Arguably the most inspiring science communicator, David Attenborough, has a degree in the natural sciences.

Sorry physics, seems it is not about you.

And – no offence intended – none of the other communicators listed are known for being in a rock band or having great hair either.

There seems to be some kind of ‘X factor’ which makes these people great communicators. If we can identify the qualities of these science communication stars, can we find - or create - the Next Big Thing?

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