A Canberra astrophysicist is the first Australian to be awarded a Nobel prize for physics in nearly a century.

Professor Brian Schmidt is part of the supernova search team that has discovered the universe is expanding at a faster and faster rate.

Ashton Rigg reports.


Professor Schmidt from the Australian National University is seeing stars after finding out he will receive a Nobel prize for his work in physics.

His research reveals an invisible force known as dark energy is pushing the boundaries of the universe, making it expand rapidly.

Albert Einstein theorised that gravity would push the universe out, but dismissed his own ideas.

Brian Schmidt’s research proves that Einstein was right after all.

Brian Schmidt, Nobel Prize Winner: “It feels pretty good, I have to admit. I’m kind of curious what Albert would think of it himself but I always like to say Albert’s biggest mistake is my greatest success.”

Before this ground-breaking research, it was thought the universe’s expansion was actually slowing down, not accelerating as Professor Schmidt and his colleagues have now proved.

The achievement is a boost to Australian science and is likely to encourage budding physicists.

Dr Tamara Davis, UQ Researcher:”Working in astrophysics is a fantastic place to be. You get to do so much exciting stuff. You get to work on the cutting edge of physics and occasionally get to make spectacular new discoveries about the universe around us.”

The Canberra-based professor shares the award and the $1.5 million prize money with fellow researchers Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess from the United States.

While this research is certainly a milestone, in the field of science there is always more to discover.

Professor Michael Drinkwater, UQ Head of Physics: “We don’t know where it will lead us, we don’t know where it’s going to come from even but it represents such a large part of the universe it is on the top of the list of where physics has to investigate.”

Although twelve other Australians have received nobel prizes in their respective fields, Professor Schmidt is the first to be honoured in physics since 1915, making this a momentus day for the scientific community.

Ashton Rigg, QUT News.