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Nobel Laureate Brian Schmidt to Speak at UH Manoa

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For immediate release
May 10, 2012


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Brian Schmidt
Brian Schmidt. Photo by Dr. Tim Wetherell. High-resolution (1.7 Mb)

Nobel laureate Brian Schmidt will speak on “The Accelerating Universe,” on Thursday, June 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Kennedy Theatre on the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus.

Tickets, which are free, are required for admission. They are available at

The lecture, presented by the UH Institute for Astronomy (IfA), is the first in a series, the Sheraton Waikiki Explorers of the Universe, that will feature Nobel-laureate-level speakers.

In 1998, two teams traced back the expansion of the universe over billions of years and discovered that this expansion is accelerating, a startling discovery that suggests that more than 70 percent of the cosmos is contained in a previously unknown form of mass/energy called “dark energy.” Schmidt, the leader of the High-Redshift Supernova Search Team, will describe this discovery and explain how astronomers have used observations to track our universe’s history back more than 13 billion years, leading them to ponder the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

Raised in Montana and Alaska, Schmidt received undergraduate degrees in physics and astronomy from the University of Arizona in 1989, and a PhD in astronomy from Harvard University in 1993. He joined the staff of the Australian National University in 1995, and is now a laureate fellow at the ANU’s Mount Stromlo Observatory.

In 1994, he and Nicholas Suntzeff (now at Texas A&M) formed the High-Redshift Supernova Search Team, a group of 20 astronomers on five continents that includes IfA’s John Tonry. They used distant exploding stars to trace the expansion of the universe back in time. This group’s discovery of an accelerating universe was named Science Magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year for 1998. In 2011, Schmidt received the Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter, for this work.

Schmidt is continuing to use exploding stars to study the universe, and is leading Mount Stromlo’s effort to build the SkyMapper telescope, a new facility that will provide a comprehensive digital map of the southern sky from ultraviolet through near-infrared wavelengths.

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Founded in 1967, the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii at Manoa conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea.

Established in 1907 and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the University of Hawaii is the state's sole public system of higher education. The UH System provides an array of undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees and community programs on 10 campuses and through educational, training, and research centers across the state. UH enrolls more than 50,000 students from Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and around the world.