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#TheUnknownHustle: Brian May

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Brian May has the "book smarts" to match his "hook smarts." The Queen guitarist and composer behind "We Will Rock You" and "I Want It All"—and Rami Malek's new BFF—earned his Ph.D. in astrophysics from Imperial College in 2007.

 

Before Queen formed in 1971, May was working on his thesis on "Zodiacal Dust," molecular sized bits of space dust that can settle into "clouds" that appear as a faint glow just above the horizon. "When I was about to finish my thesis, it was just the beginnings of Queen and I had to make that choice," May told Time Magazine. "And my choice was made on the assumption that I wasn’t very good at physics and I might be quite good at music.”

When the topic of "Zodiacal Dust" came back into fashion in astronomy circles in the 2000s, May decided to finally finish the research he had started over 30 years earlier. "I put everything, and I mean everything, on hold for a year. And they put me in a little office in Imperial College [in London] and I got down to it,” he said. May submitted his thesis, "A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud," in September of 2007.

 

Recently, May had the opportunity to combine his two passions. At NASA's request, he composed a song honoring the New Horizons spacecraft reaching Ultima Thule, the most distant object ever explored. 🌌🎸

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