After Brian Cox read Carl Sagan’s book “Cosmos” at the age of 12, he knew how he wanted to spend his life.
“At that point I knew I had to become a physicist,” Cox says in a phone interview from France.
Cox, who was born in raised in Lancashire, England, is an award-winning broadcaster and professor of particle physics at the University of Manchester. He has hosted numerous shows about the universe in the United Kingdom and in the U.S.
Cox, 51, is on his world tour, “Universal: Adventures in Space & Time,” which will stop April 25 at the Durham Performing Arts Center. Cox will talk about a myriad of subjects, including the origin and evolution of our solar system, the nature of space and time and black holes.
Cox recently called to discuss whether he believes whether we’ve been visited by those from another planet, if there is an afterlife and what song best sums up his philosophies.
Q: When you look at the vastness of space, what’s the first question that enters your mind?
A: What does this all mean? What does it mean to be human in an infinite universe. We’re just one very small, fragile piece of what is possibly an infinite and possibly eternal universe. My questions are far beyond, “Why is the sky blue”?
Q: Do you believe that aliens have ever landed on earth and do you buy into the Roswell cover up?
A: No to aliens landing here and definitely no to anything having happened in Roswell, New Mexico. With so many galaxies, you would expect some civilization to be all over the place but I don’t think anyone has ever visited here. I don’t think that such a cover-up could be pulled off. I think a good cover-up lasts six months.
Q: Is there an afterlife?
A: I think our existence is finite in an infinite universe. We need to appreciate what we experience during our 70 or 80 years here since it moves quickly.
(Comedian) Robin (Ince), who is part of my show, showed me some footage of him playing in the woods with his son. I looked at it and it reminded me how transient life is. When we’re with our kids, we want that extra day with them when we’re on vacation since childhood, like life, ends.
Q: You used to be in a rock band. What song best describes our life in the universe?
A: I’m a big fan of David Bowie but that’s so predictable with all of his songs that have space elements to them. “All Things Must Pass,” by George Harrison is the song that reflects what I think. It’s a beautiful song, and the reality is that all things must pass. We’re around for a really short time in the scheme of things.
We need to do all that we can while we’re here and hopefully enjoy our time on this planet and do what can to keep this planet alive and healthy. We should also wonder about what’s out there.
Who knows? There’s 3 trillion galaxies out there. Is there intelligent life out there? Maybe. We’re learning more about what’s out there every day, and I can’t think of anything that’s more exciting than finding out what’s happening in the universe and space.
Who: Brian Cox presents “Universal: Adventures in Space & Time”
When: 8 p.m. April 25
Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham
Tickets: Starting at $43
Info: 919-680-2787 or dpacnc.com