Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sceptical spirit of science epitomised

Until 1998 it was generally accepted that the Universe would eventually stop expanding, contracting until the Big Crunch.

Then Australian astronomer Brian Schmidt overturned this theory, finding that the Universe will expand forever at an accelerating rate.

The Universe will just keep getting bigger and bigger.


And. Ever.

For his work, Brian Schmidt was awarded the prestigious Gruber Prize for Cosmology. In an interview recently on ABC Radio National’s The Science Show, Dr Schmidt epitomised the sceptical spirit of science:

Robyn Williams: Is it right that when you looked at the universe and found it zooming away from us, expanding at this fantastic speed, at first you and other researchers didn’t believe it?

Brian Schmidt: I would say we didn’t want to believe it and we just assumed we must have made a mistake somewhere along the ways because it just did not make sense, and so we had to beaver through our work and find what we did wrong and that beavering actually didn’t turn up anything.

Robyn Williams: You were right.

Brian Schmidt: It appeared that we hadn’t made a mistake, yes.


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