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Brian May Hands in Thesis

Aug 03 2007 17:22
Ashley Brown
Queen guitarist Brian May has handed in his PhD thesis, 36 years after leaving Imperial.
Brian May with Professor Paul Nandra
The Thesis

A small scrum of journalists gathered in the College main entrance this afternoon to watch Brian May deliver his thesis on "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud". The 60 year-old Imperial graduate registered to complete his doctorate after befriending an eminent astronomer who encouraged him to do so. He left in 1971 after completing an undergraduate degree in Physics and four years of postgraduate study.

An exclusive look at the title page!

May, who began typing his thesis while on tour with Queen last year, will have to tackle his thesis defence on 23rd August when the examinations committee will decide whether to award his PhD or send it back for corrections. Speaking to BBC London, he said it would be a "very public" failure if he did not get the degree.

In an interview with Live!, May discussed his reasons for coming back, describing it as "an opportunity to tie up a loose end", with the PhD being "unfinished business". He revealed that while some things have changed, such as Mechanical Engineering, but said: "Sometimes I think I blinked and I'm back there ... the Physics building is exactly the same". During his undergraduate days he was a resident of Tizard Hall in (old) Southside. Like many residents he also frequented the Southside Bar, telling Live! it was "sadly gone, it did smell bad though".

Sadly gone, it did smell bad though ... it smelt very bad
Brian May, on the Southside Bar

Picking up the thesis where he left off does not seem to have been a problem, with topic "[not] too hard to pick up". It was not without its problems, however, as he described a few moments of panic: "I would hit things which I knew I didn't understand at that time, things which I really hated".

The method of producing a thesis has changed dramatically, with hand written theses typed up by a secretary and hand-drawn diagrams. May said he enjoyed the experience of writing up on the computer, as it felt like the work could be "instantly disseminated" and of use to people. Describing himself as a "photoshop addict", he thumbed through the diagrams to illustrate how he had scanned and enhanced his original hand-drawn ones from the early 70s.

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Brian May speaks to Live!
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Discussion about “Brian May Hands in Thesis”

The comments below are unmoderated submissions by Live! readers. The Editor accepts no liability for their content, nor for any offence caused by them. Any complaints should be directed to the Editor.
Aug 03 2007 19:25

And here's a cartoon about it...

Aug 06 2007 00:19

As an ex-Imperial Physicist, I woudn't have minded having Brian May take some lectures in Blackett, the musical starts/endings of lectures would have been far better than in Chris Phillips' lectures...

3. Seb   
Aug 06 2007 18:20

Oi, Chris Phillips solid state lectures were excellent! Death to the lightbulb!

Aug 08 2007 17:31

I hope he used LateX instead of c**ppy Word. Congrats to him!

Aug 10 2007 17:53

Oh my God how I hated Chris Phillips' lectures, like being back at school. And his jeans are SOOOO tight, not that I was looking or anything...

Though he gets minor respect from me for hooking up a minidisc player to the speakers. Minidisc!

6. Monty   
Aug 14 2007 11:21

Wow, who'd have thought he was into physics.

Hi Ash, lovin the site man!

Sep 06 2007 21:07

I finally heard the interview as well. Btw that is sound advice from him, start writing up now! Back in his days there was no submission limit and now there is one.

May 14 2008 22:27

I saw him graduate today at the Albert Hall - good on you sunshine!

A proud parent of another PHd graduate (well done jenny-Wren).

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