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Professor Brian Cox is back!

I was very pleased to learn that this most improbable physicist had a new series on BBC2.

Wonders of the Solar System started at 9pm on Sunday 7 March 2010.

I thought we might have lost this young professor, a very talented populariser of science, after the Large Hadron Collider re-opened for business. But no - here he was again.

The first episode was excellent, though I suspected that many people might not understand some of the throwaway lines. Cox seemed to assume considerable familiarity with some fairly difficult ideas in his viewers - like hydrogen nuclei fusing for form helium nuclei. A little more explanation might have been in order.

5 April 2010 Iíve now watched all five episodes. There has been a lot of really interesting stuff that was completely new to me, like one of Saturnís moons that has a similar sort of atmosphere to Earthís, except that methane takes the place of water, providing ice, liquid for oceans and gas/vapour for clouds, and Jupiterís moon Io which is the Solar Systemís most volcanically active body because its fabric is stretched by the conflicting gravitational fields of the parent planet and the other moons, keeping it incredibly hot even so far away from the sun.

The final episode introduced us to the moon Europa, which is covered in a fairly smooth layer of ice - water, not methane. However, there is evidence that below the ice there is actual liquid water, and huge quantities of it. Again, in these frigid reaches of space, the water is kept in the liquid state by the constant mauling the moon gets from conflicting gravitational fields.

I have copied the whole series onto our FreeSat+ box?s external one-terabyte hard drive, and I intend to watch all five episodes in rapid succession soon. I?m quite disappointed that there doesn?t appear to be an accompanying book. No doubt Prof Brian is too busy at CERN to write one. Pity.

Personal site for Paul Marsden: frustrated writer; experimental cook and all-round foodie; amateur wine-importer; former copywriter and press-officer; former teacher, teacher-trainer, educational software developer and documenter; still a professional web-developer but mostly retired.

This site was transferred in June 2005 to the Sites4Doctors Site Management System, and has been developed and maintained there ever since.