Brian Schmidt - Science & Environment
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Brian Schmidt

The past, present, and future of the universe.

Astrophysicist and one of the Recipients of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics
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Biography of the Universe

Astronomy, called the first science of humanity, laid the foundations of civilization as it offered early humans a way to navigate and a framework to understand weather. Humans have been observing the Universe for tens of thousands of years, but astronomy developed into a standard mathematical science only in the past few thousand years. During those years, we have come to understand that planets revolve around the Sun, the Universe is comprised of trillions of galaxies, and the Universe is expanding with accelerating speed.

Great astronomers have contributed to those discoveries, the likes of which include Ptolemy, Copernicus, Galileo, Johannes Kepler, Newton, Hubble, Einstein, Carl Sagan, and Stephen Hawking. Another name that should be included in that list is one of the 2011 Nobel Prize Winners of Physics: Brian Schmidt. Professor Schmidt discovered the Universe's accelerating expansion, and by doing so, he gave us the tools to not only more clearly understand its past but also see further into its future.

On GREAT MINDS, enjoy the lecture series “Biography of the Universe” by world-renowned astrophysicist Brian Schmidt. We learn directly from one of the most influential living astronomers everything from the history of astronomy to what we know about the future of the Universe.

Full Bio

Brian Schmidt

The Australian Academy of Science’s Pawsey Medal, 2001
The Shaw Prize in Astronomy, 2006
The Gruber Cosmology Prize (awarded with his colleagues), 2007
Co-recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 2011
Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University, 2016-Present

Australian astrophysicist Brian Schmidt has been the Vice-Chancellor of The Australian National University since 2016. He graduated with a BS in physics and astronomy from the University of Arizona and received an MA and PhD in astronomy from Harvard University. In 1993, under the tutelage of Professor Robert Kirshner, he came into the spotlight in academia with his doctoral thesis on measuring the Hubble Constant using Type II Supernovae.

After his postgraduate study, he served as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics until 1994. In 1995, he formed the High-Z Supernova Search Team to study supernovae at the Mount Stromlo Observatory, the headquarters of The Australian National University Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. Eventually, the team used data on a five-billion-year-old Type Ia supernova to present early evidence that the universe’s expansion rate was accelerating. For this accomplishment, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011.

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