I had a great time backstage at the Golden [Gods]…
This is the citation I PLANNED to deliver on presenting Matt Taylor with his Metal Hammer award. Of course, standing up there in front of a great Heavy Metal crowd … I veered off into different places. But this is a record of what I intended to say about this exceptional man.
DR MATT TAYLOR CITATION
Presenting the Spirit of Hammer award at the Golden Gods Awards tonight to the big bad-ass boy of Astrophysical research, Matt Taylor, the most awesome (and certainly most tattooed) project scientist ever to head up a space mission. HERO !!! Such men are not born heroes. Heroes come from nothing, and by their achievements become Gods. He’s not American !!! He’s an English boy made good !
I wanna tell you about why this man is a Golden God and is getting this award.
Matthew Graham George Thaddeus Taylor was born in London, in 1973, near Chelsea, and lived his young days mainly in the East End near West Ham.
His background was entirely working class – his father was a bricklayer, who was convinced his son could do better and impressed upon him that Physics would be a good subject because it was “the science of everything”. Even so, Matt would work alongside his father on building sites. From hard hat construction to rocket scientist.
He gained his undergraduate Physics degree at the University of Liverpool, and a PhD from Imperial College London. He’s an expert on the interaction of the Sun’s solar wind with the Earth’s magnetic field – has had a hand in writing 70 papers. In 2005 he began working as a project scientist for ESA – The European space Agency – on the Cluster Project, and about 2 years ago was appointed head of a project called Rosetta !!
Just in case any of you don’t know … last November, these guys landed a vehicle on a comet 317 million miles away. The project, and the space vehicle are called Rosetta – and Rosetta carried a small pod called Philae … which was to actually detach and land on the surface of the comet. At the end of last year, we all watched live on the web as the lander descended to the comet’s surface, bounced a couple of times, then came to rest. Still functional for a while, it sent back pictures for the first time EVER from the surface of a comet. An amazing and unique achievement. Rosetta now stays with the comet as it journeys towards the Sun, observing close up, as the comet heats up, becomes more and more active, and develops its tail. How incredible !
Matt – in the words of his team – is the perfect combination of a very friendly and very smart guy, but also one that doesn’t take any crap. Maybe not a born God, but a born leader. Just the kind of person you want to head up your team. He joined the Rosetta team during a time when there were a lot of problems from different instrument teams that weren’t getting along, – like Rock Stars, scientists have EGOS ! and the process for planning the science observations at the comet had fallen into disarray. He whipped the whole set of mission teams into shape. 🙂 AND … in this once in a lifetime mission –Philae LANDED ON A COMET!!!!
Matt has an interestingly diverse set of tattoos with various themes, eg on one arm the “Dogs of War” and on a leg, the space missions he has worked on, and is in the process of a science-theme set (again, how many tattoos of Einstein have you seen on an imposing guy like Matt?) Perhaps the tattoos and the process of accumulating them have kept this man’s character stable, and anchored his sanity while dealing with this massively stressful mission.
You wanna talk Heavy Metal? How much heavier can you get than hurling a steel and silicon spaceship with a 32-metre wingspan 300 million miles into Space at thousands of miles an hour, and doing it baring your tattoos and chomping on a cigar? Definitely the Spirit of the Hammer.
Last November the power died on Philae, soon after the small lander came to rest. Its batteries were flat because there wasn’t enough sunlight for the solar power generators to charge them up.
The timing of this AWARD could not be better. Just yesterday, Philae – asleep for around 7 months with a flat battery – WOKE UP !!! Another Triumph !
Pretty damn amazing, and the data it can now supply may advance comet science 20 years at a stroke.
My favourite Tweet today was “Today Philae woke up after a 6 month sleep … it’s message was ‘Good morning ! I feel great … all is good … but what the fuck happened on May 7th ?!!!'” ha ha. This is my only joke of the evening !
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure and pride to bestow the equivalent of a Heavy Metal Knighthood – the Spirit of the Hammer of the Golden Gods – on Dr Matt Taylor.
My time backstage with Matt, preparing to go on, was very special. What a very modest and decent man he is. A great scientist, and a great human being, without a doubt. He presented me, following my citation and presentation … with the Riff Lord Award, 2015. For this I was very appreciative. Last year it went to Tony Iommi. How wonderful to be the next recipient. It’s a good-looking award, too … !!!
Cheers and thanks to all.
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