Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Was Brian Cox Wrong?

Professor Brian Cox - who seems to front much of the BBC's science content these days - gave a TV lecture just before Christmas which caused some ripples in the science world.

In a nutshell, he gave a simplified explanation of the Pauli Exclusion Principle for a layman audience.

Some people latched onto it and drew some pretty wild "pseudoscience" conclusions. That can't be helped...

Perhaps more interestingly, some respected physicists took issue with the explanation and a little skirmish ensued between the scientists.

In this Sixty Symbols video, we discuss the whole thing:

And here's some Test Tube bonus footage from the interviews above:


  1. It really surprised me that so many physicists were getting so edgy about Brian Cox's treatment of the Pauli Exclusion Principle. It is hard enough for non-scientists to handle what an energy level is, let alone what a quantum state is. They really should be thinking, "well, of course that's not exactly accurate as descriptions go, but he kept the audience with him" - which is ultimately what you want to do with an audience where you're trying to keep the interest of its members. I'd like to see them trying to explain quantum numbers, quantum angular momentum numbers and so on to a lay audience.

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