By Michael Banks
When I was a PhD student, I remember having to go through a few rounds of thesis revision, which was usually greeted with a painful moan of once again ploughing through 200 plus pages of dry, technical language, with a few equations thrown in as well. But I never thought about anyone other than a physicist really wanting to read it — even my mum only got as far as the abstract.
Well for all those Queen fans out there, guitarist and astronomer Brian May, who has recently completed his PhD in astronomy at Imperial College London, has now had his PhD thesis published as a book by Springer and Canopus Publishing Ltd.
May’s thesis, and the book too for that matter, is snappily entitled “A survey of radial velocities in the zodiacal dust cloud” and covers the Zodiacal light — a faint diffuse cone of light seen in the west after sunset and the east before sunrise.
May built a “Fabry-Perot” spectrometer, which was deployed at the Observatorio del Teide in Tenerife to record high resolution spectra of the Zodiacal light in two observing periods in 1971 and 1972 with the aim of achieving the first mapping of the magnesium I absorption line in the night sky.
A quick search on Amazon.co.uk, shows that the book is available to pre-order before it is released on 1st September this year. Bargain hunters will no doubt be pleased that Amazon has shaved off £2.20 from the recommended retail price, so the book now costs £41.79.
I can see why someone would want to read May’s previous popular science book “Bang! The complete history of the universe”, co-authored with astronomers Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott. But I doubt his latest book will be a similar hit.