The Scientist And Rock Star: Brian May’s Extraordinary Scientific Career

Brian May has made immense contributions to the music industry with Queen. May wrote many of Queen’s songs with Freddie Mercury and has been praised many times for his songwriting abilities.  Both his songwriting skills and musical ear has been evident since the band’s emergence in the 1970s.

May is one of those musicians who is the jack of all trades. You may have spotted that in some interviews, he has been referred to as ‘Dr. Brian May’ and there is a reason for that. While people find it challenging to complete their studies or follow a successful music career, May succeeded in both areas making his two interests his job for the rest of his life.

How Did May Manage Music And Science?

While he was in the band ‘Smile’ with Roger Taylor, Brian May also studied mathematics and Physics at Imperial College London. He graduated with honors in 1968, two years before Queen’s official formation. After he graduated, May received an invitation from Sir Bernard Lovell, a British physicist and radio astronomer, to work in Jodrell Bank Observatory and do his Ph.D. However, May decided to stay in London so he could continue making music with Smile.

During Queen’s first four years, May studied for his Ph.D. degree in London, Imperial College, and his subject was ‘Reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the Solar System.’ Even though he took a 32-year break from his degree when Queen became more famous, he still contributed to science by writing articles and research papers.

May Returned To Physics After 32 Years

Mercury passed away in 1991, and Queen stopped performing after the heartbreaking loss. However, it took some time before May returned to his studies. He enrolled back at Imperial College in 2006 and finished his thesis in only one year.

Although he is still in the music industry with his solo works and Queen + Adam Lambert, he is also Dr. Brian May and contributes to scientific research. He has stayed in touch with Imperial College and the Imperial Astrophysics Group. The iconic guitarist also appeared in some TV shows about the Universe like ‘The Sky at Night’ and ‘Stargazing Live.’