Previous speakers and artists

January 19-22, 2015

Science: Humanity's universal bridge

Prof. Brian P. Schmidt

Keynote Speaker

Prof. Brian P. Schmidt is a 2011 Nobel Laureate for Physics at the Australian National University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics, formerly known as Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories.

Raised in Montana and Alaska, Brian Schmidt received undergraduate degrees in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Arizona in 1989. Under the supervision of Robert Kirshner he completed his Astronomy Master's degree (1992) and PhD (1993) from Harvard University.

In 1994 Brian Schmidt and Nick Suntzeff formed the HighZ SN Search Team, a group of 20 astronomers on 5 continents who used distant exploding stars to trace the expansion of the Universe back in time. The group's discovery of an accelerating Universe was named Science Magazine's Breakthrough of the Year for 1998, a year when cosmology was shaken at its foundations as Brian Schmidt and his team presented their findings. His research team raced to map the Universe by locating the most distant supernovae. More sophisticated telescopes on the ground and in space as well as more powerful computers and new digital imaging sensors opened the possibility in the 1990s to add more pieces to the cosmological puzzle.

Brian Schmidt's team used a particular kind of supernova, called type Ia supernova. It is an explosion of an old compact star that is as heavy as the Sun, but as small as the Earth. A single such supernova can emit as much light as a whole galaxy. All in all, the research team found over 50 distant supernovae whose light was weaker than expected - this was a sign that the expansion of the Universe was accelerating.

It was a startling discovery suggesting that an unknown force is countering the effect of gravity and pushing the Universe apart. Today cosmologists believe that this mysterious dark energy comprises 70% of the Universe, but what that dark energy is remains an enigma - perhaps the greatest in physics today.

For almost a century the Universe has been known to be expanding as a consequence of the Big Bang about 14 billion years ago. However, the discovery that this expansion is accelerating was astounding, and if the expansion will continue to speed up the Universe will end in ice.

Professor Schmidt's work on the accelerating Universe using supernovae as cosmological probes was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics. Since then he has continued his work to improve our measurements of the cosmic acceleration, first through the High-Z team and more recently through the Essence Project. He has also worked on exploding stars known as Gamma Ray Bursts to study the Universe, chased asteroids and is now in the process of leading the Australian National University's Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics' 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.

Professor Schmidt joined the staff of the Australian National University in 1995 and was awarded the Australian government's inaugural Malcolm McIntosh Award for achievement in the Physical Sciences in 2000, the Australian Academy of Sciences Pawsey Medal in 2001, the Astronomical Society of India's Vainu Bappu Medal in 2002 and an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship in 2005. In 2006 Professor Schmidt was jointly awarded the Shaw Prize for Astronomy and shared the 2007 Gruber Prize for Cosmology with his High-Z SN Search Team colleagues. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the United States National Academy and Foreign Member of the Spanish Royal Academy of Sciences.

Brian Schmidt also runs Maipenrai Vineyard and Winery, a 2.7 acre vineyard and small winery in the Canberra District which produces Pinot Noir.


Monday, January 19, 2015
10:00 Dialogue with high school students at NIST International School in Bangkok (Thailand)
(not a public event)

14:00 Public keynote speech and dialogue at Kasetsart University in Bangkok (Thailand)
Information and free seat reservation:
Phone: (02) 562-5444, 562-5555 Ext. 1013 or 1111
Email: or
click here for online registration

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

10:00 Dialogue with high school students at the International School of Bangkok in Bangkok (Thailand)
(not a public event)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

19:30 Public keynote speech and dialogue at the National University of Singapore in Singapore
Information and free seat reservation:
phone 6516-3260, fax 6778-5281, email

Thursday, January 22, 2015

10:00 Dialogue with high school students at the Australian International School in Singapore
(not a public event)