Brian Cox and Robin Ince: Christmas head-to-head

Physicist Brian Cox squares up to Scrooge-like comic Robin Ince to argue Yuletide: yes or no?

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  1. Brian Cox loves Christmas…
  2. …and Robin Ince hates it

Brian Cox’s ten reasons for loving Christmas

© Rob Greig

1. Stars
‘I wish it could be Christmas every day – you know, when the bells start ringing and bands begin to play. I’m always looking for an excuse to tell people about the stars and how we are all made of atoms forged in fiery stellar furnaces.’

2. The Big Bang
‘Christmas is a wonderful time to pause, breathe in and look up upwards at the majesty of the night sky: a tableau that 13.798 (plus-or-minus 0.037) billion years ago was something of infinite density and no mass.’

3. Nativity plays
‘I love nativity plays: I was always a Wise Man because I could point so well. Though I would get told off when I explained the astronomical errors in the tale of following the star.’

4. Craters
‘I also love simply having a wonderful Christmas time… the moon is… Hang on, I’m not quoting Paul McCartney. I was just pointing out that it’s a perfect time to observe the moon’s craters.’

5. A sing-song
‘I sit at the piano and play all of the hits I was involved with, like “Things Can Only Get Better” and the other ones. You know the other ones, right?’

6. A glass of something
‘I love that Christmas is an enforced holiday. I can sink into a sofa and drink wine and not think about muons, gluons, or up or down quarks. By Boxing Day, I’ll be back to equations and particles again, but it’s good to sluice out the brain with chablis. It worked for astronomer Tycho Brahe, though he had a false nose and he got his pet elk drunk. It died falling down the stairs.’

7. Tall tales
‘On the subject of the bizarre, I also love Christmas stories, however ridiculous. One of the most intriguing tells of a spaceman who came travelling on his ship from afar, ’twas light years of time since his mission did start…’

8. Peace
‘The city seems so different on Christmas day: the air seems different. I love walking around and enjoying the silence.’

9. Hope
‘And so this is Christmas, and what have you done, another year over, and a new one just begun. And as John Lennon sings, we all hold hands and hope.’

10. Poo
‘I like making reindeer poo. Ensuring that Santa’s visit is believable has moved on since I was a kid. It’s not enough just to leave out a glass of port. These days you have to mix Nutella and peanut butter to create the idea of incontinent reindeer.’


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