Is there a doctor in the rock band?

I was very amused to read that rock band Queen’s founder and lead guitarist Brian May finally completed his doctoral thesis in astrophysics, after a 30 year break.? The thesis has just been published as a book.

We have heard of PhDs taking 5 and even 7 years to defend their thesis, but this was one PhD that took a little too long šŸ™‚


10 thoughts on “Is there a doctor in the rock band?

  1. Yep, it’s a bit too stretched, compared to anything. I think I should publish mine anytime soon to avoid the world record in that field. But conferring a fresh doctorate a chancellorship is a little outrageous! This can happen only in china, or west bengal where if you could edit a dictated (auto)biography of a half retired politician and a former chief minister [PM aspirant] then you get a deputy VC ship first, & now a C-ship to a newly formed U. This might have happend in erstwhile USSR.

    Lekhni: I guess it’s the same as conferrng honorary doctorates to high-school dropouts (provided they are politicans šŸ˜‰ ) In India we do a lot of that. Plus, our (high-school dropout) Governors are also Chancellors of universities. Hey, at least Brian May was a PhD, not a high-school dropout šŸ˜€

  2. Hilarious. Although is a bona fide celebrity and has a special, albeit odd, take on time…

    Lekhni: You mean, he’s a rock star, and what’s a few decades here and there for a rock star ? šŸ˜‰

  3. Lekhni

    At least May had a legitimate ‘interruption’ for 36 years. Last summer I found myself drawing ‘inspiration’ from his finishing his PhD finally… It was interesting though to imagine how he managed not to get deregistered all this time (other respectable Unis threaten much sooner).

    Cambridge recently awarded a PhD to a 91 year old man, who took 18 years to finish the research and 25 to publish it. Not sure if he beats Brian May or not, considering he did not have an ‘interruption’. He brought an entourage to his graduation when in reality we get 3 tickets per graduand!

    As for chancellorship, it is a decorative post, not a functional one. So academic laurels do not really matter. Chancellorships and rectorships are conferred on people for prestige and ‘networking’ or fund-raising reasons. Bill Bryson (no PhD earned) is the Chancellor of Durham Uni, for instance, and Prince Philip, of Cambridge.

    PS: That his thesis was deemed worthy of being awarded the PhD says something about the sloooooow speed at which things must move in his field. šŸ˜›

    Lekhni: I think PhDs are almost by definition, supposed to drag šŸ˜‰ These days I am very surprised when I hear about the rare person who completes their PhD early!

    I am amazed at the 91 year old guy’s enthusiasm! At 91, (or even 81 or 71) I would have decided to give up on the PhD and focus on shopping for the perfect walking stick and rocking chair šŸ˜‰

    Oh, and I found this. Hilarious.

  4. Strange indeed that in Brian May’s case, the bread-and-butter job was his musical one, while the astronomy was the sideline. Usually, it would have been vice-versa and nobody would have batted an eyelid. (Distinguished astrophysicist likes to play rock on guitar is not nearly half as startling.)

    P.S : Love the new edit in under 5 minutes widget- I just got a chance to try it out now.

    Lekhni: Do you really think so? (Astrophysicist playing rock is not startling?) Maybe you are right. But as a kid, I remember reading about Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar getting the Nobel. “He makes perfectly round dosas”, his wife said proudly. I remember being amazed. He gets the Nobel AND makes perfectly round dosas? Wow. I dd not even know how to make dosas or chapatis. Years later, after I learnt how to make them, I still could not make round ones. So I still admire Chandra for his perfectly round dosas šŸ˜€

  5. He played with Freddie Mercury, wrote a book on astrophysics, earned his PhD, designed his own guitars and played Live Aid.

    Bloody underachiever.

    Lekhni: I know, surely he could have done something with his life ? What a lazeabout šŸ˜‰

  6. i am glad that he had the wish to persue the studies and came out with a great result… ! I am impressed!

    Lekhni: As for the result, I suspect that if you drag on your PhD for a number of years, the University becomes very keen to give you a doctorate and shove you out šŸ˜‰ They don’t want to keep paying your stipend, right?

  7. Lekhni

    That is a hilarious one! šŸ˜‰ I have one favourite that I cannot locate right now but it basically shows one grad student being slapped by a PhD for asking ‘how is your thesis going?’. I periodically find it and send it to a friend who is in the last throes of her thesis and she promises to kick me when she sees me next (admittedly she has 2 children, and in reality, feeds me samosas and keema matar when I visit her…)

    Lekhni: I understand that feeling. There was a time when I knew never to ask this question too šŸ™‚

  8. I think its only till a few years that the university will give you the stipend.. it can’t go on forever! and is it really true that after a while you automatically get a degree! then in India you will find every other person to be a doctorate!!

    Lekhni: Is it only for a few years? I know universities here pay out for the stipend for 7 or 9 years – I am not sure if there is a stipulated upper limit šŸ™‚

  9. With regards to comment 1, I wish to contribute this anecdote. šŸ™‚
    The mayor of Chicago once asked the president of the university (of Chicago) to give the visiting Queen of England an honorary degree. ?We?re happy to consider it,? was the reputed reply. ?Please send copies of her scholarly work.?
    (source: Freakonomics blog)

    Lekhni: That’s funny šŸ™‚ Thanks for sharing that.

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