Guess which musician is described here.

See if you recognize this musician

He studied physics and mathematics at Imperial College London, graduating with a BSc (Hons) degree and ARCS in physics with Upper Second-Class Honours. He then commenced his studies for a PhD degree at Imperial College, studying reflected light from interplanetary dust and the velocity of dust in the plane of the Solar System. He temporarily abandoned his physics doctorate to follow a musical career, but co-wrote two scientific research papers: MgI Emission in the Night-Sky Spectrum (1972) and An Investigation of the Motion of Zodiacal Dust Particles (Part I) (1973), which were based on his observations at the Teide Observatory in Tenerife.

In October 2007, more than 30 years after he started his research, he completed his PhD thesis in astrophysics, entitled A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud, passed his viva voce, and performed the required corrections. He graduated at the postgraduate awards ceremony of Imperial College held in the Royal Albert Hall on 14 May 2008. He was able to submit his thesis only because of the minimal amount of research on the topic undertaken during the intervening years and has described the subject as one that became “trendy” again in the 2000s.

He is the co-author of Bang! – The Complete History of the Universe with Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott, which was published in October 2006.

Asteroid 52665 was named in his honour on 18 June 2008 on the suggestion of Sir Patrick Moore (probably influenced by the asteroid’s provisional designation of 1998 **30).

He appeared on the 700th episode of The Sky at Night hosted by Sir Patrick Moore, along with Dr. Chris Lintott, Jon Culshaw, Prof. Brian Cox, and the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees who, on leaving the panel told this person, who was joining it, “I don’t know any scientist who looks as much like Isaac Newton as you do”. This man was also a guest on the first episode of the third series of the BBC’s Stargazing Live, broadcast live on 8 January 2013.

On 17 November 2007, he was appointed Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University, taking over from Cherie Blair, and installed in 2008. He held the post until 2013.

He has been referred to as a virtuoso guitarist by many publications and musicians. He has featured in various music polls of great rock guitarists, and in 2011 was ranked number 26 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”. Former Van Halen vocalist Sammy Hagar stated, “I thought their band was really innovative and made some great sounding records. I like the rockin’ stuff. I think their guitarist has one of the greatest guitar tones on the planet, and I really, really love his guitar work.” This mystery man mainly used the “Red Special”, which he designed when he was only 16 years old. It was built with wood from an 18th century fireplace. His comments on the guitar:

I like a big neck – thick, flat and wide. I lacquered the fingerboard with Rustin’s Plastic Coating. The tremolo is interesting in that the arm’s made from an old bicycle saddle bag carrier, the knob at the end’s off a knitting needle and the springs are valve springs from an old motorbike.”

—     By our Mystery Man

In addition to using his home-made guitar he prefers to use coins (especially a sixpence from the farewell proof set of 1970), instead of a more traditional plastic plectrum, on the basis that their rigidity gives him more control in playing. He is known to carry coins in his pockets specifically for this purpose.

Chameleon Star Baffles Astronomers

Pulsars are small stars, smaller than a large city but they are heavy stars, much heavier than our Sun and they spin very rapidly.  While spinning they emit two beams of high energy electromagnetic waves that flash across the sensors of a variety of scientific recording instruments, like the beam of a lighthouse across the sea. First discovered in 1967 by Jocelyn Bell, now Dame (Susan) Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE, FRS, FRAS and her thesis supervisor Anthony Hewish, they are enigmatic but, up to know, scientists knew they did not understand the fine detail of how these stars operated, but they felt they had a good grip on the general system.

All that has now been changed by a small team working at the University of Amsterdam.  The team also included the University of Vermont’s Joanna Rankin (she has studied this pulsar, known as PSR B0943+10, for more than a decade), Wim Hermsen from SRON, (the Netherlands Institute for Space Research in Utrecht (the lead author on the new paper); Ben Stappers from the University of Manchester, UK; and Geoff Wright from Sussex University, UK.

To upset the pulsar apple cart they elicited the help of colleagues from institutions around the world to conduct simultaneous observations with the European Space Agency’s X-ray satellite (XMM-Newton), and two radio telescopes, the Giant Meter Wave Telescope (GMRT) (India) and the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) (the Netherlands).

This pulsar was previously known to flip on and off every few hours alternating between bright (or strong) radio emissions and quiet (or weak) ones.  Using the combined instrumentation the researchers found, to their surprise, that this pulsar exhibited the same behaviour, but in reverse, when observed at X-ray wavelengths. .Flipping between these two extremes – one dominated by X-ray pulses, the other by a highly organized pattern of radio pulses – was completely unexpected, according to Rankin. Neither of the leading models for pulsar emission predicts, or in fact explains such behaviour.

These observations will probably keep theoretical astrophysicists busy investigating possible physical mechanisms that could cause the sudden and drastic changes to the pulsar’s entire magnetosphere and result in such a curious flip in its emissions.

Pulsar is a portmanteau of pulsating star.  To read more about this definition go here.

To read the rest of the article in ScienceDaily go here.

How the Universe Has Cooled Since the Big Bang Fits Big Bang Theory

Using the  Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) near Narrabri, NSW, an international team from Sweden, France, Germany and Australia has successfully measured how warm the Universe was when it was half its current age. The data is in complete agreement with the predictions of the Big Bang Theory.

Dr Robert Braun, Chief Scientist at CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science says their results represent the most precise measurement ever made of the cooling of the Universe during its 13.77 billion year history,

“Our results verify the prediction of the Big Bang Theory, that the Universe of several billion years ago was a few degrees warmer than it is now,” said the leader of the research team, Dr Sebastian Muller of Onsala Space Observatory at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden.

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