Thursday, July 12, 2007


I think it's wonderful how so many comic book heroes are renaissance men and women. Peter Parker not only wall-crawled the boundaries of human/arachnid physical and ethical achievement, but he was also a world-class chemist and engineer who devised synthetic web formula and the device to shoot it from his wrists. Bruce Wayne is not only a business tycoon and acrobatic crime fighter, but he is also a mechanical, chemical, and computer genius.

Outside of fiction, it's rare to find a true polymath -- someone who makes significant contributions in a variety of different fields. Leonardo da Vinci was possibly the greatest non-fictional polymath, erecting pillars of accomplishment in painting, sculpture, engineering, and biology, just to name a few of his disciplines. Sadly, Leonardo had no documented super powers.

Today, I discovered that a founding member of the rock band Queen, Bryan May, is in the club (polymaths, not superheros). I don't know enough about astrophysics to know if Bryan May's scientific contribution is truly significant (proving "for the first time that dust clouds in the solar system are moving in the same direction as the planets"), but I believe his rock-and-roll contribution to be. Good for you, Bryan May: rocker scientist.

I have to say that rock star/astrophysicist is among the greatest possible polymath combinations. It's quite impressive to be Bo Jackson or Deion Sanders, dominant in two different sporting endeavors (even Michael Jordan couldn't do it). But for the same man to make strides in physics - answering some of the most interesting answerable questions - and pen songs like Fat Bottomed Girls and We Will Rock You. . .

Well, that's a special brand of genius.


Sally said...

I love this. I'm so glad the parents of the world now have Bryan May to reference. "Yes Francis, you can be a rocker, but it's always good to have a PHD under your belt like Bryan May."

"Fat Bottomed Girls" and "We Will Rock You" - what a wealth of talent this man has.

Michael said...

dont forget Milo Aukerman...front man for the DESCENDENTS...he's everybody's favorite punk rock PHD!

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