Professor Brian Cox has challenged David Cameron to visit Jodrell Bank and formally recognise its importance on the world stage.
Standing in the shadow of the giant Lovell Telescope last week, he described it as ‘an iconic symbol of international science’ – and appealed for the government to do more for science.
Prof Cox, famed for bringing physics to the masses, was at the centre in Lower Withington for three nights of Stargazing for the BBC.
The Express was there as he filmed a live webcast lesson to give children a ‘whirlwind tour of the universe’.
Afterwards, he spoke passionately about Jodrell’s role in the future of space exploration.
He said: “Jodrell Bank is one of the most important scientific icons in Britain and the telescope is one of the most important objects in the world.”
Prof Cox added: “Jodrell is still the best in radio astronomy but we can aspire to be better.
“We need to make Britain the best place in the world to do science and I think we should make the government do that.
“In fact, I challenge David Cameron to stand in front of the Jodrell Bank telescope, recognise its importance, and vow to make Britain the best place in the world to do science.”
The TV scientist, who grew up in Chadderton, Oldham, first visited Jodrell Bank aged seven.
He added: “This place inspired me to get into science as a boy.
“It stands as an inspirational symbol of science that was built even before we made it into space. It’s amazing that Bernard Lovell could think of building this telescope more than 50 years ago. It’s a beautiful symbol of what we are capable of.”
And he said cloudy northern weather was no excuse for not having a go at stargazing.
“I was in Cape Town in South Africa recently and it rained every day and we could hardly see anything. Over the last three days here the skies have been crystal clear in Macclesfield.”
In his lesson to kids from Leeds and Widnes, who won a competition organised by The Big Bang UK Young Scientists and Engineers Fair 2012, Prof Cox spoke of the Hadron Collider in Geneva, the search for the ‘missing particle’ Higgs boson, and answered questions ranging from why space is black to how black holes are formed.
Associate director Tim O’Brien said: “The stargazing has been great fun. Jodrell is so important for children to inspire them, they come and look in awe at the telescope a link to space.
“Brian does a brilliant job in inspiring people in a way people find easy which encourages them to get into the subject.
“I remember when I first became interested in space after seeing Dr Who – which shows how important television programmes like Stargazing can be to influence careers and to help people realise what we do and how science is behind everything we all do. You should never forget what science has done for the modern world.”