Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

About Schmidt

Credit: Juliet Taylor

Credit: Juliet Taylor

By Jay Furby

Nobel Prize winner Brian Schmidt discusses global warming, exploding stars, politics and Star Wars.

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

“The first thing I did when I won the Nobel Prize was to sit my wife down. I told her I was sorry. I knew everything was about to change.”

It’s not every day you meet a Nobel Prize winner, and while Brian P. Schmidt appears, at first glance, no different than the average guy you’d bump into at a bus stop, the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Schmidt is 48. Born in Montana, he married an Australian and emigrated here in 1994. Described by some as a militant agnostic, his tagline of “I don’t know and neither do you” often raises a smile. He believes in global warming, and has even placed a $10,000 bet on temperatures rising with the chairman of the Prime Minister’s Business Council.

We meet in the ruins of Mount Stromlo observatory, which was burnt to the ground by bushfire in 2003. As his voice echoes off the walls, I quickly determine that behind his disarming charm and piercing blue eyes, a brain pulsates as powerful as the supernovae he’s studied.

“You see, I’m just an ordinary guy,” he continues with a wry smile, casually leaning up against the stone ledge in front of me. “Even my old teacher’s reaction to my win was like, ‘You?’ It’s a bit surprising, really. I just worked hard and was enthusiastic.”

I nodded but I didn’t buy it for a second, for Schmidt seemed to glow, like the anointed ones do, and I was well aware that...

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