Brian May cofounded the rock band Queen along with Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury. He is known as one of the greatest guitarists in the history of rock music, and he is also an expert in astrophysics and a consultant to NASA. May combines his art and science, earning a Ph.D. in astrophysics in 2007 with a thesis involving the study of zodiacal dust, which fills interplanetary space in our solar system.
May worked with NASA on the asteroid sampling mission OSIRIS-REx. Finding a safe landing spot to take samples of the asteroid Bennu was one of the most significant challenges of the mission. May found a way to use images captured by OSIRIS-REx’s cameras and process them into 3-D images showing the rugged contours of the asteroid. Those images allowed NASA scientists to decide where to land the probe.
In a National Geographic interview, Nadia Drake asked May about his approach to art and science and how he combines these two fields. May made an interesting statement about his personal approach to this issue:
“This is central to my life and my beliefs. I was told that I couldn’t do art and science as I progressed through school. I was very resentful about that because I loved them both. I feel like the rest of my life has been trying to prove them wrong. More and more and more, I’ve discovered that artistic thinking and scientific thinking are just different parts of the same thing. It’s a continuum. They’re inextricably linked. You have to have both sides to function at your full potential.”
According to Wikipedia, May describes himself as an agnostic, but his approach to linking art and science can apply to faith and science. Our quarterly magazine has a regular column in which leading scientists explain how they mesh faith and science. Those who try to use science to destroy faith are making a fundamental error. Our faith in the Creator makes us want to learn more about the creation. At the same time, science is a great tool to grow one’s faith because the more we know of the creation, the closer we get to the Creator.
— John N. Clayton © 2023
Reference: National Geographic October 2023, page 20