by Kate Bannan on Wed, Oct 5, 2011
"For the Discovery of the Accelerating Expansion of the Universe through Observations of Distant Supernovae"
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics to Saul Perlmutter, an astrophysicist at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics at the University of California at Berkeley. Perlmutter heads the International Supernova Cosmology Project, which pioneered the methods used to discover the accelerating expansion of the universe. Dr. Perlmutter has been a leader in studies to determine the nature of dark energy.
Perlmutter shares the prize with Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess, leader of the High-z Supernova Search Team and first author of that team’s analysis, respectively, which led to their almost simultaneous announcement of accelerating expansion, which implies the existence of so-called dark energy, a mysterious force that acts to oppose gravity and increase the distance among galaxies. The nature of dark energy is unknown and has been termed the most important problem facing 21st century physics. It will continue to be studied by cosmologists, astrophysicists and particle physicists.
On learning of the award, Perlmutter said, “I am delighted, excited, and deeply honored. It’s wonderful that the Nobel Prize is being awarded for results which reflect humanity’s long quest to understand our world and how we got here. The ideas and discoveries that led to our ability to measure the expansion history of the universe have a truly international heritage, with key contributions from almost every continent and culture. And quite appropriately, our result – the acceleration of the universe – was the product of two teams of scientists from around the world. These are the kinds of discoveries that the whole world can feel a part of and celebrate, as humanity advances its knowledge of our universe.”
The Department of Energy has sponsored 69 Nobel Laureates since DOE’s inception in 1977 and a total of 112 Nobel Laureatesassociated with DOE and its predecessor agencies since 1934.
To learn more about Dr. Perlmutter’s work, dark energy or other DOE-funded work, go to Science Accelerator, a gateway to science, including R&D results, project descriptions, accomplishments and more, available at no cost to the public from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI), U.S. Department of Energy. For international results, go to WorldWideScience.