and islamic bloggers are already complaining ... poor misunderstood uneducated lowlives they are
FOR the first time since 1915, an Australian has taken home the Nobel Prize for Physics.
Astrophysicist Brian Schmidt last night became only the 12th Australian to win a Nobel prize, recognised for his ground-breaking research on supernovae and the expansion of the universe.
The Nobel jury announced that Professor Schmidt, 44, had won this year's physics prize alongside fellow astrophysicists Saul Perlmutter and Adam Riess of the US.
"I'm in shock," Professor Schmidt said after he heard last night he would split half of the $1.5 million award for physics.
The US-born Australian citizen will share the prize with his long-time friend and collaborator Professor Riess, an astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and the Space Telescope Science Institute.
The other half of the prize goes to Professor Perlmutter, an astrophysicist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley.
While they worked on two separate teams, all three were honoured for using data from exploding stars called supernovae to discover the accelerating rate of the expansion of the universe - including the probable end of the universe in ice - and the importance of so-called dark energy.
The Nobel jury said the trio's discoveries had changed humanity's understanding of the universe. "In 1998, cosmology was shaken at its foundations, as two research teams presented their findings," the jury said.
Australians have now won 12 Nobels, all but one for science and medicine, with the exception being Patrick White's literature award in 1973. Professor Schmidt is the first Australian winner since 2009, when molecular biologist Elizabeth Blackburn was named the Nobel laureate for physiology or medicine.
The first Australians to win a Nobel prize were William Bragg and his son, Lawrence, who were jointly awarded the prize in physics in 1915 for their analysis of crystal structures using X-rays.
Professor Schmidt, of the Australian National University and Mount Stromlo Observatory, told Swedish public broadcaster SVT last night he was "weak in the knees, really excited, and somewhat . . . amazed".
He later said it might not have happened if he hadn't met his Australian wife at Harvard and moved here 17 years ago.
"Being in Australia was probably absolutely essential for being part of this," he said. "I came here at the age of 27 and was (given the resources) to run an international team. And you know that's a uniquely Australian thing."
He described Mount Stromlo as "one of the great astronomical institutions in the world".
The future laureate completed high school in Alaska, and then went to the University of Arizona in Tucson to begin his career in cosmology and astrophysics.
He did graduate work at Harvard University and then, with his new wife, moved to Australia where he is currently at the Australian National University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
''Adam Riess and I were working very closely at the time, trying to figure out this crazy result,'' he recalled of the moment more than a decade ago when they realised that, according to their findings, the cosmos was accelerating toward disconnected nothingness.
''It seemed too crazy to be right. We were a little scared.''
While not undertaking astronomy, Schmidt lives with his family on a 35-hectare farm just outside of Canberra, where he maintains a vineyard and winery, he wrote in an autobiography for another award, the Shaw Prize.
ANU vice-chancellor Ian Young said he was overjoyed. "He has shown that what we see in the skies is but a tiny fraction of what is really out there. Brian reminds us of the infinite mysteries yet to be understood."
The two research teams found more than 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected. This was proof that the expansion of the universe was accelerating.
Albert Einstein had reached the same conclusion in 1917 but thought it must be wrong, calling it his "greatest blunder". So how does Professor Schmidt feel to prove Einstein both right and wrong? "It feels pretty good," he told The Australian. " I'm not sure what old Albert would think but he'd be scratching his head for sure."