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Brian May, Rock Legend, Publishes His Thesis 198

Posted by kdawson
from the eyes-just-like-a-laser-beam dept.
A year ago we took note when Brian May, guitarist for Queen for the last 30 years, submitted his thesis for a Ph.D. in astrophysics. The news now is that the thesis has been published. You, too, can read all about the population of tiny asteroids and space dust that cause the Zodiacal light. The completed thesis appears as the book "A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud" (Springer and Canopus Publishing Ltd., 2008), available at Amazon for $71.96. May was awarded his Ph.D. last summer and accepted a position as chancellor at a British university in November.
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Brian May, Rock Legend, Publishes His Thesis

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  • Too pricey (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ron_Fitzgerald (1101005) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @06:49PM (#24451303)
    $71.96? Come on, Halo 3 was only $60 and that cost $100,000,000 to make.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, but it didn't that 35 years!

      Actually I went to his Imperial College lecture on the subject, and he was well into it.

      Sadly not being a physicist I was initially more interested in that he was using Powerpoint on a Macbook Pro to present the material. But it all looked good, graphs and explanation were all there.

      Glad the guy could finish the PhD he started way back then!

      • by BigBadBus (653823)
        He was bloody lucky. I got my PhD from York University (England), and they got so pissed off with people taking ages to write up and submit that they issued a decree that you must submit within 4 years of starting.
        • by tyrione (134248)

          He was bloody lucky. I got my PhD from York University (England), and they got so pissed off with people taking ages to write up and submit that they issued a decree that you must submit within 4 years of starting.

          You must have been the rejected 5th Beatle I take it? What credible University would turn down Brian May and call him lame for leaving his post-graduate work to persue and help supplant QUEEN as rock legends?

          If you hum a few bars I'm sure a few of us around here can fake it.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Authors usually don't choose those prices, and a price like that generally reflects a low confidence that anyone besides libraries will purchase this work. In this case it seems like a strategic error; I bet there's a huge market for this among fans of his music if it were say $25. But I don't see how that market can be very large at this price point. I suppose once they notice interest in it they might consider releasing it in paperback. But a $71 price tag is generally not something an author wants to

    • Re:Too pricey (Score:5, Informative)

      by reset_button (903303) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @09:36PM (#24452253)
      I just paid $60 for a copy of MY OWN dissertation! Five years of hard work and then my university makes me pay $200+ for copyright and publishing, then charges me another $60 to get a copy!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        That's cold, perhaps you should have considered using the CCD CopyWrite [apotheon.org], instead?

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And this my friends, is the part of the reason why nobody in his right mind busts his hump to participate in science/engineering/mathematical scholarship--and why we have way too many lawyers.

        With very, very few exceptions, you really would have to be at least a little psychotic to want to become an engineer, chemist, physicist, etc. given: the rewards most people reap in these fields of study, the expenditure of money, time and the discipline required to reach competency in your own little niche.

        Yeah, this

      • Didn't you print out a copy for yourself when you submitted it?

        • It's actually up for free on the web - anyone can download it and print it. I want a nice, bounded copy. The $200 that I initially paid includes the cost for bounded copies for the school's library, but if I want one for myself I have to either pay them, or pay someone else to do it (I heard from others that it won't look the same or as good as the original).
      • Did they require you to erase all copies of the original data from our computer, including backups, assuming that you made backups?

  • Rock music (Score:5, Funny)

    by DivineGod (1160361) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @06:49PM (#24451305)
    This sorts of gives that term a new meaning?
  • by radimvice (762083) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @06:50PM (#24451315) Homepage
    "Another One Bites the Dust: A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud".
    • by philspear (1142299) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:33PM (#24451533)

      I wonder if he used a radio-ga-ga telescope to get his data?

      • by cayenne8 (626475)
        "I wonder if he used a radio-ga-ga telescope to get his data?"

        He is, but, first, he has to tie his mother down.

      • I wonder if he used a radio-ga-ga telescope to get his data?

        He tried, but all he got was some background noise. So he ended up having to watch the stars on videos, which took ages.

      • Video killed the Radio star.
      • by nick_davison (217681) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @09:29PM (#24452191)

        The rotation of oscillating rotational planets, as influenced by female homo sapiens with large gluteal regions.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by tyrione (134248)

          The rotation of oscillating rotational planets, as influenced by female homo sapiens with large gluteal regions.

          Fat-bottomed Girls to the less verbose-minded.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rk (6314) *

            I'm so glad that there's always someone to explain all these liberal egg-head jokes around here to me.

      • by mike260 (224212)

        I wonder if he used a radio-ga-ga telescope to get his data?

        Indeed, he did. I believe he also harnessed a SETI@home-like distributed effort to filter the radio ga-ga from the radio goo-goo and radio bla-bla.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Eccles (932)

        Unnecessary. Open your eyes, look up to the skies, and seeeee...

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by MarkTraceur (1329579)

      No, it was "Fat-Bottomed Girls, They Make the Rockin' World Go 'Round: A Study of Possible Causes of Gravity."

      (TOTALLY stolen from UserFriendly, go upmod that site if you like this comment)

    • Is called '39 [queenwords.com] and it's really beautiful. It's about an astronaut leaving Earth and coming back a year later to meet the daughter of him and his deceased love - a hundred years has passed on Earth in the mean time, see twin paradox.

      It's on A night at the opera, you might as well purchase the whole album. It Will Be Worth It.
  • by plopez (54068) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:02PM (#24451383) Journal

    Now all he needs to do is learn how to do brain surgery and start making movies.

    If you don't get the joke, rent this one:
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0086856/ [imdb.com]

    and watch the extended version

  • Professors (Score:5, Funny)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@gmai l . com> on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:02PM (#24451385) Homepage Journal

    His astrophysicist professors kept arguing with him that despite his assertions, fat-bottomed girls did not make the world go round.

    • by meringuoid (568297) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:20PM (#24451471)
      His astrophysicist professors kept arguing with him that despite his assertions, fat-bottomed girls did not make the world go round.

      However, it appears that travelling at the speed of light would make a supersonic man out of you.

      • However, it appears that travelling at the speed of light would make a supersonic man out of you.

        Not in vacuum, though.

        • Not in vacuum, though.

          Space isn't quite a vacuum. There is a very sparse gas, through which the solar wind blows; doesn't really matter for interplanetary navigation as it's not really under pressure, so you don't need much force to break through.

          • That actually raises an interesting question on the side, namely what is the lowest density of matter required for sound wave propagation? Presumably (IANAP so please correct me if I'm wrong) if the density is only a few particles per unit of space, then it becomes very unlikely that a single oscillating particle can transmit an excess energy quantum to the closest (but far away) neighbour. There must therefore exist a critical percolation density below which a sound wave cannot propagate.
    • by oodaloop (1229816)
      Nor does he have time for losers, now that he is the champion.
  • Dedicatory (Score:4, Funny)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:04PM (#24451397) Homepage Journal
    To all people that didn't finished school to search for fame and fortune.
  • ...Nope, can't find it. Come on May, put your thesis on the arXiv like everyone else does these days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Faux_Pseudo (141152)

      He isn't going to publish it on a public source because he is
      following the advice of everyone on Slashdot and adding some form of
      value added feature to his music. At $71 a print he can make enough
      money to support his touring habit and get all the money that the
      labels never paid out from their lawsuits-to-protect-the-artists.

      Think of it as a very expensive tour shirt except that has a lot more
      text on it and you can't get it on a tour. /end insane_justification

    • by Cheesey (70139)

      It is most annoying to see people trying to make money from their theses, especially as almost nobody actually succeeds in doing so. In many cases a thesis is written using tax money, and in all cases the purpose of the thesis is to advance scientific knowledge. So why try to stop people reading it?

      The only reason I can see is that a thesis is often not very good, and if you publish it on the web, this will be obvious to anyone who cares to look. Whereas if someone has to go to the British Library or buy it

    • At least I think this [harvard.edu] is his (free download). It's from 1974 and on the topic of the thesis. Isn't that research a little dated for a dissertation?
  • Good for him (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:17PM (#24451459)

    Sure beats getting coked out and dying in a gutter like some other rock legends.

    • by philspear (1142299) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:31PM (#24451523)

      As someone going for their PhD, I have to wonder if it actually does.

      • by jwiegley (520444)

        Lesson here is... Get coked out and famous FIRST. then your thesis will be worth $70 a copy and sells on Amazon.

        If you skip the coke/fame thing then you get my deal... I can't give away copies of mine.

        So QUICK! suspend your defense, join a band, get famous and then finish. It's too late for me but for you there is still hope.

        • by EricWright (16803)

          Apparently so. I skipped the getting famous part. I think there are exactly 5 copies of my thesis in existence: mine, my parents, a copy for each of my co-chairs and one for the university library.

          The worst part is that I had to PAY for all of them!

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        As someone with a PhD, I can assure you that it doesn't. Posted anonymously for obvious reasons.
         
        D'oh!

      • by tyrione (134248)

        As someone going for their PhD, I have to wonder if it actually does.

        Depends on if your field of study includes access to Level I drugs. If so, then you've got a legal reason to verify your theories.

  • And he still plays! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Master of Transhuman (597628) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:37PM (#24451557) Homepage
    Andrea Corr & Brian May performing "Is This The World We Created?" at the Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Concert at Hyde Park on June 27th 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amG-3BiiEu8 [youtube.com]
    • by bsDaemon (87307)

      What? No Rick Roll?

    • by tyrione (134248)

      Andrea Corr & Brian May performing "Is This The World We Created?" at the Nelson Mandela 90th Birthday Concert at Hyde Park on June 27th 2008. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amG-3BiiEu8 [youtube.com]

      You expected him to pack it in? The guitar is his Girlfriend. You'll have to pry his axe out of his cold, dead hands.

    • Was one of the best concerts I've been to. I am too young to have seen Queen in concert, much to my huge disappointment. They're easily my favourite band, so when I found out he was playing (at some divey bar miles out in the boondocks), I jumped at the chance along with a couple mates.

      He was an awesome performer and I am really hoping he comes back again.

      If there's a band you love, don't pass up on the chance to see them live - before it's too late!

  • Not until he can build a timemachine.

  • Beyond impressed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Pheidias (141114) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:48PM (#24451599) Homepage

    To an opera singer who is wading into comp. sci. / AI / brain science (and rapidly getting submerged, I must admit), this is rather inspiring.

    Come on, Neil Peart! Don't let the guitarists get all the PhD's!

    • by rob1980 (941751) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @08:07PM (#24451719)
      Peart is a fantastic writer. If he put out a thesis in anything I'd take a look just because it'll be an interesting read.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by porcupine8 (816071)
      Not a musician, but Mayim Bialik ("Blossom") got her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA last year. She's still working as an actress, too - mostly voice work in cartoons and guest appearances. As a theater major getting a science PhD, I keep an eye out for these types, they're definitely inspirational. :)
      • Don't forget Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years), who co-wrote a paper on mathematics.
      • by tyrione (134248)

        Not a musician, but Mayim Bialik ("Blossom") got her PhD in Neuroscience from UCLA last year. She's still working as an actress, too - mostly voice work in cartoons and guest appearances. As a theater major getting a science PhD, I keep an eye out for these types, they're definitely inspirational. :)

        Hmm. I wonder why the parts for visual acting aren't ringing off-the-hook?

  • by Hawthorne01 (575586) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:53PM (#24451635)
    the guy will finally be able to score with the chicks!
  • My opinion (Score:3, Informative)

    by DrugCheese (266151) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @07:59PM (#24451667)

    I didn't read the article, but Brian May is one of the greatest unsung guitar heroes still alive.

    • by jeremyp (130771)

      In what sense is Brian May, world famous guitarist with Queen and physics PhD unsung?

    • Yeah, right. Lead guitarist of one of the most famous rock bands of all time, unsung? Hilarious.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Darth_brooks (180756)

        It's very easy to make the case for May being "unsung"

        -First and foremost, Queen is arguably the most successful and ignored band in the United States. Yes, they own the Rock Anthem chart and "we are the champions" is played to death at every major sporting event (C'mon, can't they try "February stars" by the Foo Fighters at the super bowl? just once? ), but in terms of album sales? Queen is so far down the list it's pathetic. Their worldwide sales were disproportionate to their US sales from 1975-ish on. O

        • by tyrione (134248)

          It's very easy to make the case for May being "unsung"

          -First and foremost, Queen is arguably the most successful and ignored band in the United States. Yes, they own the Rock Anthem chart and "we are the champions" is played to death at every major sporting event (C'mon, can't they try "February stars" by the Foo Fighters at the super bowl? just once? ), but in terms of album sales? Queen is so far down the list it's pathetic. Their worldwide sales were disproportionate to their US sales from 1975-ish on. Once glam rock died out, Queen all but disappeared from US charts. From about 84 on they still ruled the rock charts in Europe, but they never toured the US after 1982. As the "Home of rock and roll", i'd say that says something.

          -Solo success. I own Brian May's first post-queen solo album and I'm probably one of the 15 people in the US that does. He's a helluva guitar player (especially considering he and his father *built* his trademark guitar from a discarded fireplace mantle) but if you ask people to name the ten greatest guitar players of all time, I'd bet huge....tracts of land that you probably wouldn't get close to hearing his name. There are plenty of other "name" guitarists out there. He just doesn't have the cult of personality that Clapton, Page, Vaughn or Hendrix have. Heck, He doesn't have the following of Satriani or even Yngwie.

          He's one of the greats, but he's definitely not one of the best known. You've really got to know your guitar Gods to throw May's name out there.

          I know what you're saying, but if over 300 Million world-wide sales doesn't get you noticed in the States as pivotal in music then nothing will.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Queen_(band) [wikipedia.org]

          One of rock's most successful, influential and popular acts, the band has released a total of eighteen number one albums, eighteen number one singles, and ten number one DVDs worldwide making them one of the world's best-selling music artists. Their total album sales have been estimated at over 300 million worldwide[76] including 32.5 million in the United States[77] alone as of 2004. The band is also the only group in which every member has composed more than one chart-topping single.[78]

        • Brian May is an extremely skilled songwriter. The reason he isn't mentioned in the same breath as Stevie Ray Vaughn, Yngwie Malmsteen, Satriani, Vai, etc... is that he simply does not have the technical skills to stand next to them.
          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Freultwah (739055)
            I've seen him standing next to Vai on stage and play a song of Vai's, together with the soloing. He did not miss a note.
            • Well then let me rephrase that.

              Brian May does not display great technical skill in his recordings. He may possess it, but he is not known for it and does not make it known to the world at large.
          • his technical skills are fine, especially in the multiple delay area

  • w00t! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by neokushan (932374) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @08:06PM (#24451709)

    He's the chancellor for MY university [ljmu.ac.uk].
    Sadly, it's the only good thing I can say about said university, but as a massive Queen fan, that's good enough for me!

  • by exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @08:11PM (#24451741) Journal
    That's not news. PhD's are ten a penny and I see no reason to assume that rock legends are less intelligent than the rest of us. It's like those news stories that make a big deal of educated women. "And she has a degree in Mathematics - ooh, aah!"

    Now a PhD becoming a rock legend on the other hand. That would be news! Becoming a rock legend is not an ordinary everyday occurrence.

  • by LM741N (258038) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @08:37PM (#24451879)

    Homer: "Rock stars- they know everything!"

  • by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Saturday August 02, 2008 @08:42PM (#24451907)

    ...for a guy in a band that sang about fat-bottomed girls, bicycles and stormtroopers in stilettos.

  • by astrosmash (3561) on Saturday August 02, 2008 @08:46PM (#24451931) Journal
    Is Brian May a LaTeX user? Perhaps he could write a song about it.
  • I think... (Score:5, Funny)

    by david.given (6740) <dg.cowlark@com> on Saturday August 02, 2008 @09:02PM (#24452023) Homepage Journal

    ...he's going to be the only person in academic history to actually generate any income from selling his Ph.D thesis.

  • "We are golden" - CSNY

    By which they meant that most of our chemical composition elements were forged in the cores of stars before they went supernova. No PhD for plagiarizing Joni Mitchell [youtube.com], though.

  • "Amazon.com Sales Rank: #295,003 in Books"
    Someone hasn't bought their copy yet.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday August 03, 2008 @12:54AM (#24453367) Journal
    Sure he's a rockstar and astrophyics scientist... But is no neurosurgeon, race car driver, nor comic book hero. He gotta ways to go.
  • ... the solar wind blows, Zodiacal Dust doesn't really matter to me... but I perceive maese May as a huge merit human, clearly and distinctly!
  • Or I'd guess so, having stood next to him in a toy shop (The Entertainer in Camberley, UK) selecting Star Wars figures, presumably for our respective kids, but you never know ;O)

  • I was quite surprised to meet him in the elevator or the break room on level 8 in the physics building at Imperial College :)

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