Congratulations Brian May!

brian may receiving his phd from paul nandraFor what? The story is here. Ok. Full disclosure – I was quite a Brian May fan as a teenager, and as a physicist in training while at Imperial College, London. Now I was going to do a long post about playing electric guitars, building electric guitars (because I was into electronics, physics and music, not because Brian May did it too), analyzing his guitar solos, endless listening to Queen, endless teenage arguing with anyone who would engage about why he was a much better guitarist than [pick the flashy guitarist from some other rock group], probably permanently diminishing my hearing a bit at two huge Queen concerts, and maybe best of all …practicing music with my friends in the same room (it was said) over in Beit Quad that Brian used to use for practice in the days before Queen began! That was quite a thing for me back then. Here’s a little interview with him about his Imperial College days from the IC student newspaper Felix

There would have been pictures of the guitars and so forth, a clever post title playing a bit on one of my favourites of the songs that probably nobody knows ‘cos they’ve only listened to Queen’s Greatest Hits (“It’s Late”, if the post was written late at night, “All Dead, All Dead”, if I’m tired while writing it, “Sleeping on The Sidewalk”, if…. er… the post was written while lying on the sidewalk… you get the idea*.)

…And then I would have mentioned this post where I talk about how I sometimes set the lyrics to “’39” as an exam question to see if my students can figure out the Special Relativity (slightly) hidden in them.

…But, after a long day at the conference, and after the long blog post of last night….. I’m a bit blogged out. So this will have to do. Sorry.

So anyway…. Congratulations Brian May! (Story here.)


*I would also maybe have gone for Lazing on a Sunday Afternoon, if the post was written on a Sunday (even though I know it is a Freddie Mercury song).

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11 Responses to Congratulations Brian May!

  1. Aaron F. says:

    LOL!!! I know some people are in grad school for a while, but… 😀

    p.s. You BUILT ELECTRIC GUITARS? Maybe I don’t have what it takes to be a physicist, because I find myself wishing i could build an electric guitar approximately every two weeks… 😛

  2. Clifford says:

    Well… I did not say they were any good now, did I? And, really, it was just the one complete one from scratch….(only the strings were store bought, on the mechanical side of things) while another was a rebuild of an existing one and another was a partial build, in preparation for the real thing. It was a lot of fun.


  3. Chanda says:

    woot! I think it’s a good sign for me that he finished up on my quarter century birthday 🙂 Well, I’m making it a good sign for me, hehehe.

    I am inspired to spend the work day listening to Queen now, thanks!

  4. Clifford says:

    Quarter of a Century?! You don’t seem a day over 25 to me…

    Happy Birthday!!!!


  5. Yvette says:

    Hey, I think the ’39 post was the first one where I started commenting on your posts! 🙂

    On a musical note (har har har), I started to play (acoustic) guitar this summer after fondly remembering my many impromptu lessons from strangers in hostels. My current one is a $30 on eBay sort of purchase made by a friend, and I have no pick or strap, but beginners always start on inferior instruments right? 😉 Only problem is the guitar is trying to eat my soul, or at least my free time, but that’s my violin’s job already and two serious instruments are a bit much for a physics student.

  6. Amara says:

    What a wild ride over the years! I remember in the middle 1970s learning that one of the Queen band members was an astrophysicist. Then I put that information in the back of my mind, and I forgot about it for 30 years.

    Sometime last year, I learned from cosmic variance that Brian May is a coauthor of a popular astronomy book. When I went to the web site of the book, and then to Brian May’s blog, I learned that he was going back to school to finish his dissertation on the interplanetary dust cloud (zodiacal light). OK, that led to more: an effort by me and our interplanetary dust community to help support his thesis effort. I don’t know if what we did helped, but I’m _so pleased_ that his results were excellent. Take a look at his excitement. I’m so happy for him. Now I hope he shows himself in our dust community sometime!

    Greetings from Cologne, Germany, Amara

  7. Clifford says:

    Hi Yvette! I did not know that was your first should out to me… Great!

    About the guitar, and the violin… let them consume you a bit, right along side the physics too. You’ve got the room for it, I’m sure, and they will serve you well now and in the future as a wonderful release. Passions are important.


  8. Clifford says:

    Hi Amara! Greetings from Cambridge! I did not know about you and your community’s involvement with the recent Brian May story. Excellent. Thanks for the pointer to his blog. He does seem pleased, doesn’t he?


  9. Amara says:

    involvement might be too strong a word- I (and we) sent him a book last June of dust papers- the latest work in the interplanetary dust field. I have no news if he used it or it helped him (only that his publisher forwarded it to him), but we hope so!

  10. Yvette says:

    “Passions are important.” Indeed. 🙂 There have been few things more enjoyable than picking up a third instrument in my recent years (I do piano too, though my amateurish repertoire consists of only Fur Elise and Beatles tunes), it’s just the juggling always needs a bit of work.

    I once told a friend that in my life physics was for the mind, music was for the soul, and words were for bringing the two together. I promptly filed it away because I figured it was as concise a life philosophy as I was going to come across in the near future!

  11. Chanda says:


    I wonder if he’ll postdoc somewhere … 🙂