My speech – Launch of Starmus Stephen Hawking Medal


Check out the FULL speeches HERE

Here’s the rough text of my speech at the launch of the Starmus Stephen Hawking Medal yesterday.

Starmus Medal launch
Kip Thorne (Interstallar), Hans Zimmer, Prof Garik Israelian, Prof Stephen Hawking, Alexi Leonov, Dr Brian May, Sir Harry Kroto, Dr Richard Dawkins: Starmus/Royal Society
Brian showing the Stephen Hawking Medal
Alexi Leonov, Sir Harry Kroto, Dr Richard Dawkins, Dr Brian May, Dr Garik Israelian, Professor Stephen Hawking.

Brian May Speech:

Starmus Medal

Ladies and Gentlemen, I feel humbled in the presence, on this panel, of these men, all hugely distinguished and celebrated scientists, including, not least, the man who made all this happen – Dr Garik Israelian. Why am I here ? I’m here because I represent a bridge between the Music of the Spheres and the music of humans. How come ?

When I was a boy I had two dreams – two passions. To be an astronomer, and to be a musician. My Dad was very encouraging. He helped me with everything, and together we made a 4 inch reflecting telescope and a home-designed guitar, all with just hand tools.

But at school I was told … “You cannot be an artist and a scientist. You must choose between the two.” I chose to take the science route, and was told “you’re a scientist: you cannot take Biology. You must take German instead, so you can read German Scientific papers.” Maybe that’s when I began to smell a rat. (Actually I discovered later that rats smell quite nice …!)

To cut a long story short, I pursued Physics, Maths and Astronomy all the way to post-graduate studies. But then something else took hold of me … something that had never left my soul. Music grabbed me back. And for about 30 years I travelled the world as a musician, making contact with people of almost every nation on Earth.

THEN – thanks to a great friend – one of the greatest science communicators in Britain’s history, Patrick Moore – I returned to my Astronomy thesis just 8 years ago and completed it to become, finally, a Doctor of Astrophysics. My two dreams had come true.

I met Garik Israelian half a lifetime ago. Here was a man who also had twin passions of Music and Astronomy – both very strong. But he had gone the other way round in his life. He had spent 30 years in Science, building a huge reputation in the study of Stellar Evolution; but the fire of Music still burned in his soul.

When Garik told me his dream for a Starmus Festival, a kind of inspirational fusion of Astronomy, Astronautics, Cosmology, Astrobiology, and yes – music – I thought it was a kind of madness – an impossible dream – but I loved it. The dream was completely in harmony with my own dreams, and I dedicated my support to Garik. And the dream ? Somehow … the Dream came True.

The key words of Starmus are Outreach, Communication, and Inspiration. Starmus became a place where scientists and artists shared their passions, in language understandable by all … not just by specialists. We heard Neil Armstrong, almost at the end of his life as it turned out, speak of a new age of the development of the human character. We heard Alexei Leonov, a prime example of a great scientist and a wonderful artist, speak of the first space walk. We heard Richard Dawkins speak of evolution. We heard Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Duke, George Smoot, Kip Thorne, Jill Tarter, Jack Szostak – and a legion of other amazing speakers, some of the 21st century’s greatest communicators. We took in the cosmic music of Edgar Froese, Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman. We shared the joy of being complete human beings, inspired alike by art and science – we did not have to make a choice. And last year, we listened in awe to surely the greatest science communicator of our age – Stephen Hawking.

The third Starmus next year will be dedicated to Stephen Hawking, the great scientist, and the great human being. And in his honour, a new medal has been struck … the Stephen Hawking medal, which will be awarded for the first time at Starmus 3 … to the human being who, by his sharing of science and music with us all, has been the greatest inspiration to the next generation of artist-scientists !! Join us there !! Bri I recommend the Starmus experience to anyone who has a love of Science and Art, and a deep curiosity ! Or just some one who wants to see and hear great stuff ! cheers all Bri Stephen Hawking Medal – showing the Red Special