Professor Brian Cox inspires in his home town with Oldham event

WORLD famous physicist and former Lydgate resident Professor Brian Cox brought his talents to his one-time doorstep by holding a night of inspiration organised by Mahdlo Youth Zone.

Some 900 school pupils and college students packed into Oldham’s Queen Elizabeth Hall as he delivered a superb presentation.

And they were told that in his opinion, many would venture into space themselves as space tourism became cheaper and therefore more commonplace in decades to come.

The Oldham-born professor of particle physics warmed up for his Europe-wide Horizons: A 21st Century Space Odyssey tour with the event.

He also pointed out it would be scientists from their generation that would be the first to analyse soil samples sent back from NASA’s Perseverance Rover when they arrive on earth from mars in 10 to 15 years’ time.

Prof Brian Cox

Prof Cox was also made an Honorary Patron of Mahdlo and told why he backs it.

He said: “I come from Oldham and I was lucky in that I had opportunities.

“So, I’m a very strong believer that every young person should have the opportunity to do what they want to do as we send them out into the world, and that’s the philosophy behind Mahdlo.

“But it shouldn’t have to be through luck, everyone should have access to opportunity.”

Prof Cox admitted the age range in the audience – 10-19-years-old – may have provided a challenge but it was the younger ones who test him the most.

He added: “It’s interesting, because you might think that it will create a big challenge because a 10-year-old doesn’t want to hear the same stuff as an 18-year-old.

“But actually, the 10-year-olds I meet tend to be interested in black holes, the origin of the universe, and the origins of life.

They ask the same questions, sometimes better questions, actually.

“So as long as I don’t start writing equations, I think they are fully capable and interested in difficult concepts and ideas.”

He also urged everyone to follow their dreams and do what interests them, saying: “I could give you a lot of answers about the economy requiring people trained in science and engineering and so on, but for me, it’s about enjoying what you do, so the reason I think science and astronomy are important is because they’re enjoyable.

“I always give the same advice, which is choose the things that you are interested in. So, if you’re really interested in astronomy, then that is something that you can do.

“And certainly, you could end up doing physics and astrophysics, which is essentially astronomy, at university as I did.

“But it could be history, it could be music, it could be literature, drama, anything as long as you enjoy doing it.”

Mahdlo’s Chief Executive, Lucy Lees, said: “We wanted to do something special for the town’s young people to start the new year feeling inspired and positive about their futures.

“It was an absolute privilege to announce Professor Cox as an Honorary Patron of Mahdlo.

“When we asked him to come back to his home town to provide a night of inspiration we were absolutely delighted when he said yes.

“We cannot thank him enough for taking the time out of his busy schedule to give young people of Oldham this incredible opportunity.”

The evening was made possible thanks to the support of sponsors The Ogden Trust, The Stoller Charitable Trust, Summit Up climbing centre and Eton Star Alliance, the Berkshire college’s partnership with Star Academies, which hopes to open a college in Oldham.

Sean Costello, Head of Educational Opportunities at Eton College, says: “We are proud to sponsor this prestigious education event in Oldham and collaborate on initiatives that contribute to the educational enrichment of this fantastic community.

“It is crucial that young people in Oldham have access to influential figures such as Professor Brian Cox.

“Seeing so many students from our partnership network of schools in attendance underscores the shared commitment to providing valuable opportunities for young people.”

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