Queen founder/guitarist Brian May publishes astrophysics thesis

I love it when celebrities embrace higher education. Especially when they do it under the radar, or years later than most. Like when Rivers Cuomo of Weezer graduated from Harvard, more than ten years from when he started. Or news that Shakira was taking classes at UCLA and no one even realized who she was. When I was in college Duff McKagan of Guns N’ Roses and Velvet Revolver was in my art history class, and was about to finish his degree in finance. I am a huge fan of smart celebrities.AQQ

Though I don’t think there’s any comprehensive list of the smartest celebs out there, if there were I’m pretty sure Queen founder and guitarist Brian May would be near the top. May just finished publishing his doctoral thesis in astrophysics. I’m going to just give you a little bit of the highlights, since I have no idea what any of it means. Which tells you something about the usefulness of my degree.

The founder of the legendary rock band Queen has completed his doctoral thesis in astrophysics after taking a 30-year break to play some guitar.

Brian May’s thesis examines the mysterious phenomenon known as Zodiacal light, a misty diffuse cone of light that appears in the western sky after sunset and in the eastern sky before sunrise… May’s work focuses on an instrument that recorded 250 scans of morning and evening Zodiacal light between 1971 and 1972. The Fabry-Perot Spectrometer is located at the Observatorio del Teide at Izana in Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands.

The completed thesis appears as the book “A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud” (Springer and Canopus Publishing Ltd., 2008).

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my years playing guitar and recording music with Queen, but it’s extremely gratifying to see the publication of my thesis,” May said. “I’ve been fascinated with astronomy for years, and I was happy to finally complete my Ph.D. last year and record my studies of the Zodiacal Light in this book.”

[From Live Science]

For any of you science-y sorts, I bet you were just really impressed. For you liberal arts/soft science people like myself, I bet you were just really confused/impressed in theory. Though I don’t understand a word of it, I’ve got to say it’s pretty impressive for a guy to still care enough about astrophysics and academia to keep working on his PhD after thirty years.

Here’s Brian May appearing at the ‘46664’ concert honoring Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday at Hyde Park in London on June 27th. Photographer: Danny Clifford; Images thanks to WENN.

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16 Responses to “Queen founder/guitarist Brian May publishes astrophysics thesis”

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  1. daisy424 says:

    Pretty impressive indeed.

  2. j_ro says:

    this is why queen was such an amazing group! They were full of such smarties. Did you know May even plays harp (A Night at the Opera). I miss Freddie 🙁

  3. Alexis says:

    Well, he does have scientist hair.

  4. Livia says:

    That’s “mad” scientist hair, actually. 😀

  5. AP says:

    Wow. That guy just got 10 times more hotter than I would have EVER thought of him as a rockstar because “astrophysics” and “PhD” were mentioned. Bless!

  6. Samantha says:

    Mayim Bialik (Blossom) was working on her Ph.D in Neuroscience. There was some other female tv star who went on to write a mathematical theorem… I can’t remember for the life of me who she was though! (I bet it comes to me like five minutes after this post.) I love smart celebs too =)

    And what did I tell ya..

    Danica McKellar is the other woman.

  7. Shane says:

    I miss Freddie too. Fantastic guys like Freddie are one in a million.

    God bless Brian, a great guy also!

  8. Dee says:

    Aww. He still looks as good as he did in the ‘Who Wants To Live Forever’ video. Bit creepy he still has the same hair. And hair colour.

    But I know he has had alot of astrological work and photos on his website.

    Good job for him ^_^

  9. Other Karen says:

    The one that did the theorem? I think Danica McKeller from the Wonder Years?

  10. Other Karen says:

    Ah, imdb claims Danica McKeller’s Erdos number is 4. Not shabby at all. Her Kevin Bacon number is 2.

  11. Other Karen says:

    Ashton Kutchner was in a college engineering program at some point.

  12. xiaoecho says:

    He fiiinally did it!!!. Go Brian

  13. Jaundice Machine says:

    That’s awesome! I look forward to NPR’s synopsis of his theory – I’m impressed by his achievements, but there’s no way in hell I can wrap my head around it.

  14. Ethan says:

    This is so cool. The guy is talented and a rocker AND has a Phd.

    Love this story.

    JayBird, where did you take your art history class?

  15. Cally says:

    It’s also facinating to point out that Brian built his own guitar when he was 16 (which he still uses today) out of an old fire place, an old piano, a motorbike spring, knitting needles and some buttons. About the only thing he didn’t make himself were the strings!

    Check it out, it’s called the Red Special. What he’s playing in these pics is a copy of it.

    And John Deacon (the bass player) built his own amp, again which is still used today, out of some rubbish he found in a builders skip.

    (I just read a biography on Queen, very facinating indeed)

  16. Nan says:

    About the only thing he didn’t make himself were the strings.

    About the only thing he didn’t read himself were the strings. I’m referring to String Theory, that is.

    I’m very impressed but let’s not confuse astrophysics w/ actual physics.

    Quantum mechanics, anyone?