Fat bottomed astrophysicists

Contributed by
Aug 24, 2007

Via Asymptotia comes the news that Brian May got his degree!

Most people are surprised -- I was when I first heard -- that Brian May is actually a scientist. He had just started working on his PhD thesis when he got distracted by his guitar playing in some band or another. But he knew was gonna be a big man someday.

According to the article, his thesis is entitled Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud which actually sounds rather interesting to me. The Zodiacal dust cloud is a, well, cloud of dust in our solar system. It comes from the relentless grinding of asteroid collisions. Since asteroids tend to orbit the Sun in the same plane as the planets, the dust cloud is rather flattened, and is seen in the constellations of the zodiac, which are the ones in which we see the paths of the planets as they go around the Sun. An object's radial velocity is its velocity toward or away from the Earth. The radial velocity of the Zodiacal dust will tell us about how the normal orbits of the dust grains are affected by gravity of the planets, or maybe the solar wind and other forces. I'm guessing a bit, as this isn't my field and, of course, I haven't read Dr. May's thesis!

Maybe at some point I'll give it a look over. But I'd better have good music playing in the background...

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