News / USA

US, Australian Researchers Honored for Studies of Expanding Universe

Nobel Prize for physics winner Saul Perlmutter with his wife, Laura Nelson, at his home in Berkeley, Calif., Oct. 4, 2011
Nobel Prize for physics winner Saul Perlmutter with his wife, Laura Nelson, at his home in Berkeley, Calif., Oct. 4, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
David Byrd

Three U.S.-born scientists have won this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for their research on the expansion of the universe.  Their research suggests that that expansion might be speeding up, thanks to a mysterious force known as dark energy.

Americans Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess, along with U.S.-born Australian scientist Brian Schmidt have spent years mapping the universe by analyzing the light from decaying supernovas, or exploding stars.

They found that the light put out by more than 50 of the distant stars is weaker than they expected, which indicates that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. That acceleration is thought to be driven by dark energy, though cosmologists have little idea what dark energy is.

Before these discoveries, scientists believed that the expansion was slowing, more than 14 billion years after what’s called “the Big Bang,” the violent explosion thought to have started the universe.

Borje Johansson is the chairman of the Nobel committee for physics.

“This discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe is a milestone for cosmology," said Johansson. "The expansion history of the universe gives us insights into the evolution of the universe and possibly about the ultimate fate of the universe.”

That fate could be a colder one than previously thought: in its citation for the three physicists, the Nobel committee said if their research is correct and the universe’s expansion is accelerating, it could mean the universe will end in a kind of cosmic deep freeze.

Speaking by phone to a news conference Tuesday, Schmidt said he was amazed and surprised by the announcement.

“I was saying it feels like when my children were born," said  Schmidt. "I feel kind of weak in the knees, very excited and somewhat, I guess, amazed by the situation.”

Schmidt, from the High-z Supernova Search team in Australia, will share one-half of the $1.5 million award with American Adam Reiss from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  The other half will go to Saul Perlmutter, who works with the Supernova Cosmology Project at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkley.

Schmidt said Tuesday he had no idea he would win the prize, and he was honored to receive it.

“No I did not expect it," he said. "It’s one of these things that you, I guess occasionally people mention it but you know, I guess it’s one of these things that you think is probably never going to happen.”

The prizes are named for Alfred Nobel, a Swedish-born scientist, inventor, entrepreneur and peace activist best known for inventing dynamite.

The prize for medicine was handed out Monday.  The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will name the winner in chemistry Wednesday. The Nobel Prize in Literature will be given Thursday. The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient will be named Friday. An award for economics, given in memory of Alfred Nobel, will be announced October 10.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid