Many thanks to all of you who submitted such fantastic essays in the Brian May/Queen “A Kind of Magic” Contest. Brian and I asked you to submit an essay on what you would study if you could magically return to school and focus on an astronomy Ph.D. that would address your wildest dreams in astronomy. The contest was structured like that because, as you may know, Brian returned to finish his Ph.D. in astrophysics after some 35 years of inactivity as he made the music we love so much. The contest was timed in the month of August to be open along with my story “Brian May: A Life in Science and Music,” in the September issue of Astronomy.
I’m delighted to say that we received more than 100 entries and judging them was no easy task. Two winners will each receive an autographed copy of Brian’s Ph.D. dissertation, A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, published by Springer-Verlag in 2008.
The winners are Rick Boozer of Greer, South Carolina, and Jay Mosley of Portland, Connecticut. Rick is a 60-year-old software engineer who returned to school six years ago to get masters in astrophysics, studying galactic astronomy and cosmology. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. program, studying emission nebulae and using the Australia Compact Telescope Array, a 6-kilometer-wide interferometer consisting of six 22-meter dishes. Who says you can’t go back again, just as Brian May did, and do anything you want to do?
By contrast, Jay Mosley is an 11-year-old student at a STEM school in Hartford. He plans to get his Ph.D. in astronomy as he continues in school, and wants to study asteroids. “I want to study the chances of Earth being on a collision course with major asteroids,” says Jay. “I would like to work on the problem of asteroid 1950 DA. ... It is probable that there may be other asteroids that may pose more of a threat that we don’t know about yet.”
I think we have a young future planetary scientist in our midst!
You can read the complete essays written by Rick and Jay at www.Astronomy.com/akindofmagic.
In the meantime, help me congratulate Rick and Jay on their winning essays, and they will certainly be listening to “We Will Rock You” in a little different way now each time they hear it in the future ...