Queen guitarist Brian May awarded astrophysics doctorate

Saturday, August 25, 2007

LONDON -- Guitarist and songwriter Brian May has completed his doctorate in astrophysics -- three decades after he put academia on hold to form the rock group Queen.

The rocker was awarded his qualification Thursday by London's Imperial College and said submitting his thesis, "Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud," to supervisors was as nerve-racking as any stadium gig.

"I'm feeling rather joyful. I cannot tell you how much of a weight off the mind it is," May said late Thursday.

May was an astrophysics student at Imperial College when he joined Freddie Mercury and Roger Taylor to form Queen in 1970, but dropped his doctorate as the glam rock band became successful. Queen became one of Britain's biggest music groups in the 1970s, with hits including "Bohemian Rhapsody" and "We Will Rock You."

Following Mercury's 1991 death, May produced two solo albums, the latest of which, "Another World" appeared in 1998.

But the guitarist continued to pursue his out-of-this-world interests -- and last year co-authored a book titled "Bang! The Complete History of the Universe."

He told reporters Thursday that handing over his completed thesis -- a 48,000 word study which seeks to prove planets and dust clouds in our solar system orbit in the same direction -- and facing examiners for a review of his work was a tough challenge.

"It was a bit nerve-racking walking into the room, but once we got going it was fascinating," May said. "There's always that feeling they could ask that big question that could sink you, but luckily they didn't."

May will be formally presented with his doctorate next May at a ceremony at London's Royal Albert Hall.

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