17th Annual Kaczmarczik Lecture

April 4, 2012 — Over 900 people packed into the Main Auditorium on March 1, 2012 for the 17th Annual Kaczmarczik Lecture, “The Accelerating Universe.” Astronomer Dr. Brian P. Schmidt, 2011 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics, lectured to a standing-room-only audience of Drexel faculty, students and alumni, as well as high school students from across the Philadelphia area.

Dr. Brian P. SchmidtAfter taking the crowd on a gripping tour of the Universe, Schmidt, a Distinguished Professor and Laureate Fellow at the Australian National University, succinctly stated:

“The Universe seems to be speeding up by some unknown force.”

This neatly packaged declaration is the outcome of a research project that began in 1994, when Schmidt and a team of 20 astronomers set out to trace the expansion of the Universe back more than 13 billion years.

Using distant exploding stars, the High-Z SN Search Team, as they were called, worked for 4 years across 5 continents to ultimately discover that the Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. The unexpected conclusion was a shock to the team, for up until then it was believed that the Universe was slowing down. Their findings also suggested that more than 70% of the cosmos is contained in a previously unknown form of matter called Dark Energy.

The High-Z SN Search Team’s discovery was named Science Magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year in 1998. Schmidt went on to receive numerous prestigious awards including the Australian Government's inaugural Malcolm McIntosh Prize for Achievement in the Physical Sciences, the Shaw Prize for Astronomy, the Gruber Prize for Cosmology, and eventually the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.

To view Schmidt’s presentation at the 2012 Kaczmarczik Lecture, please visit:

The Kaczmarczik Lecture Series, established in honor of late Drexel physics professor Paul Kaczmarczik, brings outstanding scientists to the University to present on topics at the cutting edge of physics research.

In opening this year’s lecture, Dean Murasko remarked:

“We ask prominent people like our speaker today to recognize that there are many people in this auditorium who appreciate physics, but don’t feel particularly comfortable with all the nuances of it. We want them to understand the beauty of physics, as well as the other sciences. And that’s the essence of what Dr. Kaczmarczik did for our students at Drexel.”

Photos from the 17th Annual Kaczmarczik Lecture. Please click on the images to enlarge.

All photos taken by Sean Corbett, copywriter and photographer for Drexel's Office of Institutional Advancement.