I have been informed that my essay titled “A Different Kind of Magic” was one of two winners of the Brian May “A Kind of Magic” contest sponsored by Astronomy magazine.
As most of you probably know, Brian May is the former lead guitarist of the renowned rock band Queen. Brian stopped his research for his astrophysics PhD in the early 1970s to begin his decades-long stint with the band, but a few years ago went back and finished his doctorate in 2007 at the age of 60. The publishers of Astronomy were inspired by his accomplishment of a lifelong dream so many decades after he had started it. Thus, they created the contest in his honor and named it after one of Queen's hit songs. Each entry was to be a short essay on what the writer would do if he or she could “magically” go back to school to become an astrophysicist as Bryan had done. In my essay, I told the story of how I have been doing exactly that, with the unswerving support of my lovely wife, Julie. The prize awarded is a signed autographed copy of Brian’s PhD thesis: A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.
You can now see the essays from both myself and my co-winner on Astronomy’s website: http://www.astronomy.com/akindofmagic
I am very proud to say that my co-winner is 11 year old Jay Mosley. The story of his ambition to obtain a PhD in the study of hazardous asteroids is sure to be as inspiring to others as it was for me when I read it. This young man is bright and motivated with a long productive future ahead of him as an astrophysics researcher. Congratulations, Jay, and I envy you!