Professor Brian Cox on his new arena tour - ‘You have to admit that you don’t know everything’

Virgin Radio

2 Aug 2022, 12:43

Professor Brian Cox

Credit: Getty

Professor Brian Cox joined the Chris Evans Breakfast Show to talk about his brand new arena tour: Horizons: A 21st Century Space Odyssey.

Brian is touring the UK and Ireland until the 2nd October, and the show will see him use LED screen technology to take audiences on a cinematic journey, dealing with the nature of space and time, how life began, and what it means to live a small, finite life in a vast, eternal universe. Speaking about the show, he said: “I’m not going to tell you the meaning of life, or the meaning of existence, because first of all, I don’t know, which is really important. Nobody does. And secondly, if I did know, I’d charge a lot more for tickets!”

Talking to Ricky Wilson, who is in this week for Chris, the physicist said: “The key to science is not only being comfortable with not knowing, but being excited about it. First of all you have to admit that you don’t know everything, and secondly, it’s like exploration. You have to go to the horizon, to the edge of knowledge, and look into the darkness, not with fear, but with excitement.” 

Brian is known for his multiple TV shows, including The Wonders of... series and The Planets, and he was famously a member of 90s group D:REAM. Despite his last tour breaking his own Guinness World Record for most tickets sold to a science tour, the audiences’ reactions to his shows are different to when he toured with a band, as he explained to Ricky. “I talk about black holes a lot. We’ve got images of black holes. We’ve got an image of one in a galaxy 55 million light years away. It’s called M87, and it’s six billion times the mass of our sun. So, just think about that. Six billion suns squashed away out of existence. And when you’re looking at the image, you’re looking at the end of time. So, according to Einstein, time ends inside the back hole. And I say that, and then I stop speaking. And I realise that 14,000 people are just… you can’t hear anything. I think, ‘Oh no!’. But they’re listening." 

On the “It’s the opposite of being a band, because you want nothing. You want the audience thinking. The point of the show really is, the things we’ve discovered about the universe. As I said, the end of time inside black holes, or the fact that there are two trillion galaxies in the piece of the universe that we can see. I don’t think anyone knows what that means. Even professional astronomers. You can’t even picture those numbers.”

He added: “So, one of the real points of the show is to just allow people to think about the meaning of it all, with the information that we’ve got.”

Brian will be joined on stage on the tour by Robert Ince, with whom he has co-hosted The Infinite Monkey Cage since 2009. Speaking about our place in the universe, Brian told Ricky, “If you think about what it took to create us, you and me and everyone that’s listening, we’re collections of atoms as old as time, some of them, that can think and feel and explore the universe.

“It could be that, in our galaxy, in 400 billion suns, there’s just little rock where things can think and write music and bring meaning to the universe. And so that makes us extremely valuable, and also extremely tiny. So, we’re not at the centre of the universe, we’re just a speck of dust, but there might be nowhere else where thoughts occur.

“So really, the question becomes, how far do you have to go to find another place like this? And it might be beyond the shores of our galaxy. So it might be, as far as our galaxy is concerned, we’re it. We’re responsible for maintaining that level of life.”

The professor and TV star continued: “I think it is extremely important that we take our responsibility seriously.

“What matters is that as a civilisation, we find a way of getting over our differences and coming together to make sure that there is a future for life, at least in this little corner of the galaxy.”

Horizons: A 21st Century Space Odyssey runs until 2nd October. For tickets, visit

For more great interviews listen to  The Chris Evans Breakfast Show with Sky, weekdays from 6:30am on Virgin Radio, or  catch up on-demand here.