brian news

JULY 2007


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**Wed 11 Jul 07**

Readers with an interest in Astronomy may like to know of a new web site ( launched yesterday, for a new project known as Galaxy Zoo - a research project headed up by Dr Chris Lintott (one of Brian's Bang! co-authors) which intends wil cal on members of the public to log onto its web site and help analyse and classify one milion galazies!!! It is hoped around 30,000 people may take part in the project, which could help reveal whether our existing models of the Universe are correct. Press release follows. Also the BBC News has a feature about the project HERE.


Galaxy Zoo opens

Press Release: 10 July 2007

Everyone can visit the ‘Galaxy Zoo’

Astronomers are inviting members of the public to help them make major new discoveries by taking part in a census of one million galaxies.

Visitors to will get to see stunning images of galaxies, most of which have never been viewed by human eyes before. By sorting these images into “spiral galaxies” (like our own Milky Way) or “elliptical galaxies”, visitors will help astronomers to understand the structure of the universe. The new digital images were taken using the robotic Sloan Digital Sky Survey telescope in New Mexico.

‘It’s not just for fun’ said Kevin Schawinski of Astrophysics at Oxford University where the data will be analysed. ‘The human brain is actually better than a computer at pattern recognition tasks like this. Whether you spend five minutes, fifteen minutes or five hours using the site your contribution will be invaluable.’ Visitors will be able to print out posters of the galaxies they have explored and even compete to see who’s the best virtual astronomer.

The team were inspired by projects such as Stardust@home, in which NASA invited the public to sort through dust grains obtained by a mission to Comet Wild-2. Oxford’s Dr Chris Lintott, co-presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night programme and team member, commented: ‘What the Stardust team achieved was incredible, but our galaxies are much more interesting to look at than their dust grains. We hope that participants in Galaxy Zoo will not only contribute to science, but have a lot of fun along the way.’


Images for the project are taken from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which uses a 142-megapixel digital camera to create the largest digital map of the universe. ‘It is great that digital archives we have built for science are now being used by the public to look at the universe’ says Professor Bob Nichol from the University of Portsmouth. ‘It will be great to have all the galaxies classified; it’s as fundamental as knowing if a human is male or female.’

The astronomers hope that the survey will shed light on how different kinds of galaxies are distributed across the sky. The results might even reveal that there is something fundamentally wrong with existing models of the universe.

Sir Patrick Moore, an enthusiastic supporter of the project, said: ‘Non-professionals have always been deeply involved in studying the sky and they now have yet another opportunity to make themselves really useful. Moreover, their help is now of immense value so do join up – as I am doing myself!’

For more information visit


**Wed 11 Jul 07**

Brian's Honorary Degree gets a mention in the Guardian today...

11 July, 2007

Exeter University is topping up its celebrity quotient by awarding a succession of honorary degrees to the stars of music, television and sport. While most universities do something similar, the institution is doing it wholesale: among the recipients are Yusuf Islam - the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens - awarded a degree for humanitarian work and improving understanding between Islamic and western cultures, Brian May, the astronomer and physicist best known as Queen's lead guitarist who has been awarded a science doctorate, comedian Jennifer Saunders and her husband Adrian Edmondson, who live locally and receive literature doctorates, Jonathan Dimbleby, another local resident, and Sir Clive Woodward, the former rugby coach, who becomes a doctor of laws. Exeter's chancellor, Floella Benjamin, once presenter of Play School, said: "I am delighted to be welcoming such well-known faces ... they are leaders in their fields and people who the university is proud to have an association with."


**Wed 11 Jul 07**

Further to our report that Rockland Radio in Germany will be airing a radio programme specially for Brian's birthday - some more detail...


19 July 2007
Starts at 8 p.m. CET
Listen online:

The show will feature:
- Brian May music only to be played - that is, songs written by Brian or where he is on vocals (such as "One Rainy Wish").
- Brian speaks about his work and about his special sound. (2004 interview)
- Roger Taylor tells how it is to work with Brian.
- Frank Rohles - the guitar player in the German "We Will Rock You" show tells about his work with Brian and what's the secret of the Red Special. BRAND NEW INTERIEW!!!!

Brian signs a guitar for German Radio DJ, Torsten Buschmann


**Tue 10 Jul 07**

Brian May today received an Honorary Doctorate of Science Honoris Causa from the University of Exeter on the first day of Exeter's Summer Graduation ceremonies, presided over by University Chancellor Floella Benjamin, OBE. The morning session saw Yusuf Islam (formerly Cat Stevens) receive an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree for his humanitarian work and improving understanding between Islamic and western culturan Honorary Doctorate

Shortly after 2.30pm, and according to Ade Edmondson - after a liquid lunch - the afternoon graduands entered the hall and took their places on the platform. Everyone was welcomed and then the presentations began. Honorary Degrees were presented to Sir Robert Owen, judge (LLD), Anthony Gibson, Farmers Union (LLD), Ade Edmondson and his wife, Jennifer Saunders, separately both receiving Honorary Doctor of Letters, and both delivering most enjoyable acceptance speeches.

Between the Honorary Awards, many new young graduands of the Univesity filed across the stage, as their awards and names read out, to be presented to the Chancellor.

The last of the Honorees of the day was Dr Brian May, who received Doctor of Science. Professor Tim Naylor read an entertaining citation, followed by Brian receiving his scroll from Dr Benjamin. After much applauds, she invited Brian to say a few words....

Transcripts of the citation and acceptance speech follow. After the proceedings, the platform guests left the stage to the strains of a brass band, who played a series of marches and, as they had done in the morning, but more appropriately after Brian's ceremony - "We Are The Champions".

Many congratulations to Brian and his fellow honorees.


Exeter University Graduation Ceremony
10 July 2007


Brian was the last honorary graduand to receive his doctorate this afternoon, preceded by Ade Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders, who both gave entertaining speeches about their life and work.

After the citation for Brian by Professor Tim Naylor, University Dr Chancellor Floella Benjamin invited Brian to give his address:



"I now call upon the Public Orator, Professor Tim Naylor, to present the Honorary Graduand."



"Brian May.


I wish all my lectures started like that.


Brian May is one of the world’s leading rock guitarists, so those of you who’ve been doing an analytical study of the programme may be wondering why on earth Exeter is giving him the degree of Doctor of Science.

Well, let me start by attempting to answer the question.  I’d like you to imagine interviewing the 18-year old Brian May for a place to read on an undergraduate Physics course.  His burning interest in Astronomy would be clear.  This is the boy who frightened the neighbours by standing in the middle of the road at night to see an object that was rising in the east.  The neighbours assumed he was a burglar.  He’ll need that sort of enthusiasm to carry him through the course.  But, he’s built a guitar and a telescope and uses them both.  So, he’s a practical bent, which is always a good indicator, and, he’s got musical ability, which so often goes with Physics or Maths.  The will to succeed in such outside interests is a good indicator, provided they don’t take up too much time.

And finally, it’s clear there’s a formal intellect there.  He has good ‘A’ levels in Maths and Physics from Hampton Grammar School.  I suspect, but I don’t know, that you’d also detect a certain style there - style, combined with the precision of a mathematician.  I think we’d let him in.

Unsurprisingly therefore, Brian May won a place at Imperial College to read Physics and from there went on to do a PhD, studying the dust between the planets.  This may sound a dry, academic study, but it has its roots in a very important problem – the problem of how the planet that you’re sitting on today coagulated from dust around the early Sun, how those particles stick together, and why the resulting boulders don’t smash themselves apart.  It’s still an area of active research, closely related to the star and planet formation research, which we carry out here in Exeter.

But returning to Brian May’s PhD, he found music was increasingly cutting into his time.  For example, he served on the Entertainments Committee.  This was no small-time venture though.  They booked the Albert Hall for people such as Jimi Hendrix to come and appear.  At the same time Brian May was playing in his first band, Smile, but then with Roger Taylor, Freddie Mercury and John Deacon, the band that became Queen.

In the end, the combination of teaching Maths in a Comprehensive School, writing up a thesis, and playing in a band that was on the bring of breakthrough was too much, and Brian made a choice to drop the Astrophysics.


His best-known contributions to Queen are as writer, vocalist and lead guitar.  His songs include “We Will Rock You” which has become an anthem, though not the anthem he chose to play on the Palace roof - that’s another story.   As a vocalist  he not only contributes to the distinctive harmony of the group, but also some of the lead vocals.  His guitar solos have a real drive and precision to them.  As anybody knows, for example, “I Want To Break Free” can testify.  I choose this one as an example, because of the way Deacon’s lyrics are driven home by accompanying video.  Brian May puts in a memorable performance in a pink dressing gown, curlers(!) and the most amazing pair of slippers – a certain style to match the drive and precision of his guitar playing.

With Queen his work includes the solo album “Back To The Light” in which “Too Much Love Will Kill You” shows his real versatility, in addition to winning an Ivor Novello Award.

But Brian May has never managed to break with Astronomy.  He still uses his telescope, oh, and the guitar, his famous Red Special.

About 10 years ago he struck up a friendship with Patrick Moore, who persuaded him to take seriously the idea of co-authoring a book on Cosmology.  Such books popularising Science are crucial.  Not only do they encourage  more people to take up Science, but they also spread scientific understanding to a more general audience in an increasingly technical age.  The resulting book, simply called Bang! is written in an extremely informal style, with the deliberate aim of engaging a new audience.  Very often such an approach can lead to glib partial truths.  Not here though.  Scientifically, the descriptions are very precise.

The third author of the book is Dr Chris Lintott, who describes Brian May’s constant questioning to find rigorous analogies like being in a 3-year long Viva, with a particularly tenacious examiner.   To the professional eye, that effort shines through. 

Thus, for demonstrating precision, this time not in a musical sense, but in that enduring academic quality of rigorous argument, and combining it with style – style which could only come from one of the world’s greatest rock guitarists, Chancellor, it is my honour to present Brian May with a degree of Doctor of Science Honoris Causa."



I would now like to invite Dr Brian May to address the Congregation. Brian.



"Oh Lord, the moment they all dread.

To follow Ade Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders is of course an impossible task. I'd like to thank you, Prof, for a wonderful oration. Thank you to the University of Exeter for this GREAT honor. I resisted the temptation to make notes 'cos I wouldn't have been able to read them anyway, so I have to speak from the heart and all I can say is, "It's a funny old life." I'm quoting my lovely wife in saying this.

I'd like to say to all you parents, congratulations, cos I too am a parent and I know what its like. I know what it takes out of you to raise a child from the cradle to the point where they receive a degree. Fantastic. Well done.


But they won't appreciate it yet, but that's okay.

But most of what I have to say is to you guys, the graduands. I think they really should've put you down in the front in the expensive seats. Seems a little unfair to me, cos this is your day. And as an old guy, none of us can resist giving a little bit of advice, so I'll try.

I know what it's like to slave away at a degree for three years. Strange enough I've just done it again, following the book that we published I got kind of inveigled back into Astronomy full-tim, so for the last 9 months I've done nothing except slave over my PhD, which is now written up, thank God.

But there are times when you really want to give up. There are times when you go "Why on earth did I take this on?" So congratulations to all of you for getting through those times. I know you all have and it's a great achievement.

The only other thing I'd have to say would be, the rest of what you have to do, you've just learned so much at University of Exeter. The rest has to be learned in the University of Life, and sometimes its not that easy and its difficult in different ways. It seems to me that if you work very hard for something and you get rewarded, you might make the mistake of thinking that it's always that way.

Well, not always. It's not always that straight forward. Very often you might feel that you are in total control of your life, but not so. There are so many things which will come into all of your lives which will probably completely capsize you and push you off into another direction, and all these wonderful, best laid plans, will suddenly go by the board and you'll find yourself sailing on a different sea.

It's happened to me many times. My life has been anything but smooth. I stand before you today, I guess a symbol of success in some ways, because you have given me this great honour, but life has taken me to very many dark places as well as to many FANTASTIC, joyful places, and it seems to me the secret is to always just play the cards that are in your hand to the best of your ability and take advantage of what comes to you, accept what comes to you, find JOY in what comes to you, and make it into something great. I have to say that most of the great things in life are very scary, and this is included.

I have to say we all feel very nervous, coming up and accepting an honour like this, and you notice that most of the mature graduands don't take their caps off cos they're afraid of what their hair's gonna look like.



(Applauds as mature graduands on platorm take their caps off - Brian takes off his own cap, shakes hair and laughs. Audience laughter, cheers, whistles.)

OK. I'd just like to say to all you graduates, please join me in putting a big fist in the air. A big punch in the air. God bless you all and may all your dreams come true."

(Brian Sits down. Long, loud ovation.)


Ah .... we couldn't have a more kinder, more generous person joining our extended family. Thank you for all the good work you've done, Brian, and than you for honouring us today. In fact I thank all our Honour Graduands for joining us today.



**Tue 10 Jul 07**

Brian is in Exeter today and after lunch received on Honorary Doctorate from Exeter University, in a ceremony which commenced at 2.30pm. (Webstream available HERE) The morning session which featured an interesting address, towards the end by Yusuf Islam, is already archived. The band break into We Are The Champions at the end of the proceedings.

Video links (or open in Windows Media Player)
featuring Ade Edmondson, Jennifer Saunders and BRIAN MAY

and the morning....
featuring Yusuf Islam

University Download page

With thanks to Exeter University


**Mon 09 Jul 07**

Torsten Buschmann, a DJ on Germany's two most successful Rock-Stations Radio21 and Rockland Radi, on July 19th, will he airing a Special Brian May Show, to be broadcast on both stations. The livestream will be linked on many Queen fan pages around the world and also on the Germant Queen Musical site,

Torsten also did an Interview with Brian in 2004 which will appear in the show. Check out the live-stream on the day.

The Show will start at 8 p.m. CET and the live stream URL is:


**Mon 09 Jul 07**

Brian May's College, Imperial, today gets its Royal Charter from HM The Queen to become an independent university and gains its independence from the University of London.

NEWS RELEASE:The Queen bestows Royal Charter that declares Imperial an independent universityInstitute of Biomedical EngineeringThe first ever Imperial College London degrees are awarded today (9 July), following the bestowal of a Royal Charter by Her Majesty The Queen that declares the College an independent university in its own right.The Queen will be joined at Imperial by His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh, who is one of five distinguished figures to be awarded an honorary Imperial College degree. The Duke is recognised today for his wide-ranging initiatives for young people as well as his outstanding support for scientific and technological research. He will be amongst the first people to wear the College's new purple ceremonial robes, designed in tribute to Imperial alumnus Sir William Perkin who discovered mauveine, the first synthetic dye.

The Royal party is joined by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned of Qatar, who also receives an honorary degree in recognition of her work with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development.

The five honorary graduates recognised are:
His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh
Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned of Qatar
Dame Vivien Duffield, Chair of the Clore Duffield Foundation
Mrs Lily Safra, Chair of the Edmond J Safra Philanthropic Foundation
Professor Winston Wong, Taiwanese business leader and a physics alumnus of Imperial who is also a Visiting Professor in the Institute of Biomedical Engineering

Imperial's Rector Sir Richard Sykes adds: "All of today's honorary graduates are prominent supporters of science, technology and medicine, and all lead efforts to improve human welfare around the world. We are proud to have this opportunity to recognise their endeavours."Imperial achieves independence from the University of London after becoming one of its constituent colleges in 1929 and awarding its degrees since 1908. The College was granted the ability to award its own degrees by the Privy Council in 2003 but has not exercised this until today.The first students to register for an Imperial degree will be postgraduates enrolling in October 2007, while the first undergraduates will be those beginning their course in October 2008.The College's new Royal Charter states: 'The Objects of the University shall be to provide the highest specialised instruction and the most advanced training, education, research and scholarship in science, technology and medicine, especially in their application to industry; and in pursuit of these objects to act in co-operation with other bodies.

'The honorary degree ceremony forms part of a royal visit to celebrate the Centenary of Imperial's foundation on 8 July 1907. During the visit, The Queen will also open the College's new Institute of Biomedical Engineering.More information on Imperial's Centenary is available at:


**Sun 08 Jul 07**

Without again repeating details given in our previous report 25 April '07, of a New Brian Biographgy on the way, in which Brian has no direct involvement...On-line stores now are displaying a rather lovely cover picture (see opposite) for the forthcoming hardback book by Laura Jackson - the UNOFFICIAL "Brian May - The Definitive Biography", due 25 October 2007.Click image for largerMore information HERE.


**Sat 07 Jul 07**

HONOARY GRADUANDS Brian May, Yusuf Islam, Jennifer Saunders and Adrian Edmondson are among 21 key figures who will receive Honorary Degrees at the University of Exeter this July. Honorary Graduands from the fields of broadcasting, the arts, business, law and sport will join more than three thousand students in ceremonies from 10 to 16 July 2007. Brian will received an Honorary Doctorate.Webcast HERE - 10 July, 2.30pm


**Thu 05 Jul 07**

Brian May 60th LisbonThe legendary guitar player from Queen will be 60 years old on July 19th. In order to celebrate the occasion, the Queen Fan Club Portugal Keep Queen Alive will organize a tribute to Brian May in Lisbon on Saturday, July 21st.

Considered to be one of the most talented guitar players of our time, with an extremely active career during the last 3 decades, Brian May has earned his place in Rock history through his work. Successful composer, he is the author of some of Queen's greatest hits, such as We Will Rock You, Who Wants To Live Forever, The Show Must Go On and Fat Bottomed Girls. Brian has recently resumed his old passion for Astronomy, releasing "Bang", a book on the origin of the Universe. Not leaving music behind, Brian May and Queen plan on releasing an album of originals together with Paul Rodgers in 2008.

The event will take place Saturday, July 21st, at 9 p.m. at Rock in Chiado, Lisbon. Programming contemplates the visualization of Queen concert in Nep Stadium, Budapeste, in 1986; karaoke with Queen songs only; the special and indispensable performance of the Portuguese Queen Tribute Band One Vision.


**Thu 05 Jul 07**

Last Thursday, 28 June, Brian gave a talk to his Astrophysical group at Imperial College, on the subject of Zodical Light, explaining the work he has undertaken in for his PhD thesis on interplanetary dust. Even though Brian abandoned his study of the subject over 3 decades ago and there has been little interest in that field in the intervening period, luckily for Brian, this currently is an area of Astronomy enjoying newly-revived interest as we now able able to see further into space and observe the dust surrounding distant stars. Brian's talk to his peers was accompanied by his first ever Powerpoint presentation. Andrew Jaffe recounts the event in his blog HERE, and, as is customary, they all went to the pub afterwards.


**Wed 04 Jul 07**

Foreign language editons of Brian May's book "BANG! The Complete History of the Universe", written with co-authors Sir Patrick Moore and Dr Chris Lintott, are due to be published soon. See below for a list of languages, publishers and planned publication dates. This month sees release of the Dutch, Finnish and Romanian editions.

Please visit the book website:

for more information about the book and the forthcoming exciting new edition - "Bang! Up To Date".


Spanish - club

Spanish - trade

Nyt Nordisk
Editorial Critica

20 July 07
23 July 07
25 July 07
10 Aug 07
01 Sept 07
01 Sept 07
01 Sept 07
01 Sept 07
15 Oct 07
15 Oct 07
15 Oct 07
Oct/Nov 07


**Sun 01 Jul 07**

Brian revealed at the end of last week that the revised edition of "Bang - The Complete History of the Universe" will be on bookshop shelves later in the year. See SOAPBOX.

The book will be distinctively titled "BANG! - 'BANG! UP TO DATE" on its orange belly band - check out large size impression of the new cover WITHOUT it's belly band here:

"BANG! Is an anazing story, and this new edition brings it BANG! up to date. Is it fiction? The authors hope not, since it is based upon lifetimes of work by great scientists such as Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking and hundreds of other brilliant minds. Enjoy and let your imaginaton run riot."