Astronomy professor gets star award

Published: 2 July 2002

Professor John Brown, Regius Professor of Astronomy, has won a national award for promoting astronomy through portable planetariums and using magic in lectures.

Professor John Brown, Regius Professor of Astronomy at the University of Glasgow and Astronomer Royal for Scotland, has been selected for one of the 2002 Public Awareness of Physics Awards by the Institute of Physics.

The award, which will be presented at the British Association meeting in September, is in recognition of his leadership in promoting mobile planetarium shows across Scotland, and for his use of magic in science lectures.

In 1996 he received a grant of £78K from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council to purchase Starlab planetarium systems for Glasgow, Edinburgh, and St. Andrews Universities. Through this initiative more than 60,000 pupils and adults have now studied the night sky indoors during the day and in all weathers.

His 'Magic of the Cosmos' lecture series arose out of an early interest in magic and the realisation that the puzzles of magic can parallel and illustrate puzzles of the cosmos, as well as adding a light-hearted side to complex issues. Following his highly successful 'Black Holes and White Rabbits' prototype lecture a grant from the Particle Physics & Astronomy Research Council led to him, Dr Martin Hendry and physics student magicienne Karen Mann, developing a series of 'magiscience' lectures.

On July 3 and 4 Professor Brown will be the invited science entertainer at the Royal Society of London Summer Exhibition Soirees where, inter alia, he will use the quantum uncertainty principle to 'behead' volunteers including Nobel Laureate Professor Paul Nurse FRS


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First published: 2 July 2002

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