Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Nobel Week

Brian Schmidt

Image: Belinda Pratten

By Stephen Luntz

Brian Schmidt’s world was turned upside down when he was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics for research that has turned our understanding of the universe inside out.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Prof Brian Schmidt has lost count of the number of interviews he conducted in the week after the announcement that he had won the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics. The media office at the Australian National University, where Schmidt is professor of astronomy, estimates it at 150. At least 16,000 articles were published worldwide during that time. In addition Schmidt suddenly found himself invited to meet the Prime Minister and give public lectures.

While Schmidt is full of praise for the ANU media office, which took over his diary soon after the prize was announced, they have not been able to lighten his teaching load, which he describes as the largest obstacle to meeting the sudden rush of requests. He is, he says, “still waiting for an opportunity to think”.

Schmidt did manage to squeeze an interview with Australasian Science into his agenda, albeit after the intensity of the first rush had passed. We benefited from Schmidt’s positive memories of an article he wrote for our themed issue on astronomy (AS, Jan/Feb 2009, pp.12–14), which has suddenly become an auspicious edition; Schmidt’s opening feature was followed by an article by Stuart Wyithe (pp.15–18), who won the 2011 Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Physical Scientist of the Year a few days after Schmidt’s Nobel Prize was announced.

As many of the 16,000 articles have noted, the Nobel Prize came as a...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.