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Astrophysicist Guitarist?

  1. Jul 16, 2007 #1

    George Jones

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    Here a question from a midterm that I gave to an Astronomy class (non-science majors) in Fall 2005. If I give this question again, it seems that I will soon have to modify it slightly.

    Who, before becoming famous as a rock guitarist, was a Ph.D. candidate in astrophysics?

    a) George Harrison.

    b) Jeff Healy.

    c) Eddie Van Halen.

    d) Slash.

    e) Brian May.

    Answer.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 16, 2007 #2
    I know this one. I first came across it in an issue of Physics World...I think it was in their Christmas quiz or something. :biggrin:
     
  4. Jul 16, 2007 #3
    Man. Thats something.
     
  5. Jul 16, 2007 #4
    Well he appears on The Sky at Night(astronomy show) Hosted by Sir Patrick Moore, on a frequent basis, and is very authoritative on astronomy, it would be hard for me not to know this. He made the right choice in retrospect I think. :smile: Besides you can earn a PhD at any time in your life within reason, how often does an opportunity for fame and riches drop in your lap?
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2007
  6. Jul 16, 2007 #5

    turbo

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    You may also be interested to know that he and his father built his signature guitar together. He's quite an interesting character.
     
  7. Jul 16, 2007 #6

    Mk

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    That's so cool!!
     
  8. Jul 16, 2007 #7

    Kurdt

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    I heard somewhere that he still uses and old sixpence as a pick. Not sure how true that is but you may know Turbo.
     
  9. Jul 16, 2007 #8

    symbolipoint

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    For pHD candidate? One of those names is recognizable as a former astronomy or astrophysics college student, but whether he was pHD candidate, I can't remember -- only read about his education from the inside of the album cover.
     
  10. Jul 16, 2007 #9

    Astronuc

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    Very cool indeed! :cool::tongue2:
     
  11. Jul 16, 2007 #10

    turbo

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    Probably true. I used silver dimes for years, then moderated and used Tortex picks on nickel-wound strings with vintage-stagger Strat-type pickups. Eventually, I figured out that if I wanted to sound like the blues/rock players of the 50's, I'd have to use tortoise or plastic picks, heavy nickel-would strings with wound G strings and pickups with vintage-staggered pole-pieces. Duh! It only took ne about 20 years to figure out that the "best" and "newest" gear and the "hottest" pickups were taking me in the wrong direction more often than not.
     
  12. Jul 18, 2007 #11

    mgb_phys

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    In an interview - he had submitted his PhD but had some corrections to do when Queen really began to take off. He also said that his topic of interstellar dust is so slow and boring that there hadn't been any major changes in the last 30years while he was busy elsewhere.

    Info on the guitar http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Special
     
  13. Jul 18, 2007 #12

    brewnog

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    Easy!

    Pop trivia - his first guitar was made from a toilet seat.
     
  14. Jul 18, 2007 #13

    symbolipoint

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    So it was Brian May, guitarist of Queen. Very lenient of the institution to allow him to finish his pHD thesis after 30 years. Do institutions place a time limit on this usually?
     
  15. Jul 18, 2007 #14
    It wasn't as if he hadn't kept up his studies, he was still keenly interested in the field. If as mentioned, the field was basically unchanged I'm not sure it would make much difference, as long as he went through the same procedure all PhD students do and gave a paper that was up to a Universities standard. I'm sure he was thoroughly examined on the subject of his work to make sure he knew his stuff. I doubt a University is going to put it's credibility on the line by accepting a half baked thesis.
     
  16. Jul 18, 2007 #15

    mgb_phys

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    No in the UK there is no official time limit although if you are research council funded there are restrictions. You can keep applying for extentions and defer indefinately.
    In this case I think his original PhD was at Imperial, where most of the members of Queen were students, but was granted this one by Hatfield. His supervisor is Michael Rowan-Robinson a very well known top UK astronomer.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2007
  17. Oct 9, 2010 #16
    THANK GOD HE WENT ON WITH QUEEN INSTEAD OF HIS PHD. I'm actually listening to "don't stop me now" by queen RIGHT NOW. They are easily one of my favourite bands and i've only discovered them 2 weeks ago.
     
  18. Oct 9, 2010 #17

    Astronuc

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    May finished his dissertation, published it and received his PhD.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1559314/Brian-May-Queen-legend-hands-in-star-thesis.html

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/6929290.stm
    http://www.livescience.com/space/080801-brian-may-doctorate.html

    A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud
    http://www.amazon.com/Survey-Radial-Velocities-Zodiacal-Cloud/dp/0387777059
     
  19. Oct 9, 2010 #18

    turbo

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    Two astrophotographers that I greatly admire and whose work often previews on an astronomy forum that I frequent, published a book of their work a while back. The title is Star Vistas. Greg Parker does the imaging from England and Noel Carboni (a Floridian software guru) does the processing. The three forewords to their book were written by Sir Arthur C Clark, Sir Patrick Moore, and Dr. Brian May. World-class astro-imaging, with some pretty prominent fans. Clark's foreword was written before his death (of course) while the book was in progress. Greg posted a picture of himself with Brian May at a signing (IIR), and he was STOKED, with a huge grin.
     
  20. Feb 19, 2011 #19
    wow....this is so cool and revealing. I am a rock/metal guitarist who is reading geophysics with an inclination for astrophysics. I thought it was not going to be possible to combine the two and was confused on what i really want to do...but this information has help me get my confidence and move on. This is what i have been waiting for. Thank God i found it.
    Thanks everyone.
     
  21. Feb 19, 2011 #20
    I'm proud that I didn't recognize a single name on that list.
     
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