Nobel Prize winner in physics to speak at Notre Dame


Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt, a winner of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, will deliver a public lecture at 7 p.m. Feb. 27 (Monday) in Room 101 of the Jordan Hall of Science at the University of Notre Dame. The talk, titled “The Accelerating Universe,” is part of the John A. Lynch Lecture Series coordinated by the Department of Physics and is free and open to the public.

Schmidt was awarded the Nobel Prize jointly with Adam Riess and Saul Perlmutter for their research in the 1990s that revealed the expansion of the universe is accelerating. An accelerating expansion implies that most of the universe is made of a mysterious dark energy. Notre Dame physicist Peter Garnavich was a key member of Schmidt’s “High-Z Supernova Search” team along with Riess. Perlmutter was leader of the rival Supernova Cosmology Project.

Schmidt’s lecture will describe the discovery that suggests upwards of 70 percent of the universe is composed of an unknown form of energy. He will explain how astronomers have used observations to trace our universe’s history back more than 13 billion years and how the discoveries affect speculation on the ultimate fate of the cosmos.

The awarding of a Nobel Prize only 13 years after initial publication indicates the significance of the research and its impact on the standard model of cosmology. The High-Z team gathered data, including supernovae data from the Hubble Telescope, which showed unexpectedly that the universe’s expansion is accelerating. Since then, researchers have cataloged hundreds of supernovae with ground-based telescopes and hope to collect significantly more data with space-based equipment to pursue the understanding of dark energy.

Schmidt, a winner of the Shaw Prize in astronomy and the Gruber Prize in Cosmology, is a distinguished professor at the Australian National University. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Sciences in the United States and the Australian Academy of Sciences.

The lecture series was established by John A. Lynch, M.D., of Kansas, a 1951 Notre Dame graduate. Lynch passed away Feb. 6 in Topeka, Kan. He was a native of Iowa who earned his medical degree from St. Louis University School of Medicine in 1955, served in the U.S. Navy and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit before he moved to Topeka in 1963. As a founder of Kansas Orthopedics & Sports Medicine, he was an early leader in total joint replacement to treat arthritis.

Contact: Marissa Gebhard, 574-631-4465,