Brian Schmidt

  • Australian scientist
  • Born February 24, 1967

Brian Paul Schmidt (born 24 February 1967) is the Vice-Chancellor of the Australian National University (ANU). He was previously a Distinguished Professor, Australian Research Council Laureate Fellow and astrophysicist at the University's Mount Stromlo Observatory and Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics. He is known for his research in using supernovae as cosmological probes. He currently holds an Australia Research Council Federation Fellowship and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2012.

Australians have a free spirit and an ability to think outside the box, and that is why I like Australia so much.

I have been described by one of my colleagues as a 'militant agnostic' with my tagline, 'I don't know, and neither do you!' I take this hard-line, fence-sitting position because it is the only position consistent with both my scientific ethos and my conscience.

I don't even really know what the big bang is, and so when people want to go through and say, 'Well, I believe that the universe started by God starting it,' that's fine by me.

I think a scientist's job is to explore the Universe, to explore the cosmos around us. People always want to know - why is that useful? Well, on just pure fundamental grounds, on some level it's like art, it's like umm, music, it's aesthetics, it's like philosophy. You want to know where you are in the Universe.

I'm actually surprised how technical a lot of commercial wine production is. Things are done very much from an industrial chemistry point of view at certain price points, but that's not the impression you get with wine.

Even if I stumble on to the absolute truth of any aspect of the universe, I will not realise my luck and instead will spend my life trying to find flaws in this understanding - such is the role of a scientist.

The reality is that I'm making better wine than I thought I would. The whole process is simple but beautiful.

I am an astronomer, and my job is to look to the heavens to better understand the universe and our place in it.

There can be theory but, you know, the problem is you've got to be able to test it. So theories are one thing, testing is another.

Science is not, despite how it is often portrayed, about absolute truths. It is about developing an understanding of the world, making predictions, and then testing these predictions.