From: California Institute of Technology
Posted: Saturday, March 9, 2013
March 16 marks the 50th anniversary of the first-ever discovery of a quasar by Caltech Professor Emeritus Dr. Maarten Schmidt -- and he is available for interviews -- lively, colorful, on-point, and sometimes reminiscent interviews about discovering a quasar!
Born in 1929 in Groningen, Holland, Dr. Schmidt, at 84 years old, still continues to come to his office at Caltech almost every day to study ever-more-distant quasars and to peer farther into the universe's past.
In 1963, Schmidt's discovery gave us an unprecedented look at how the universe behaved at a much younger period in its history -- billions of years before the birth of the Sun and its planets. Later, Schmidt, along with his colleague Donald Lynden-Bell, discovered that quasars are galaxies harboring supermassive black holes billions of light-years away -- not stars in our own galaxy, as was once believed. His seminal work dramatically increased the scale of the observable universe and advanced our present view on the violent nature of the universe in which massive black holes play a dominant role.
Professor Schmidt has held major administrative positions at Caltech through the years including division chair of the Physics, Math and Astronomy Division; he served as director of the Hale Observatories; and president of the American Astronomical Society. In 2008, he was one of the first recipients of the prestigious $1 million Kavli Prize for his contributions in astrophysics (which he shared with his co-recipient and former Caltech post-doctoral student, Donald Lynden-Bell).
If you would like to arrange for an intriguing interview with Dr. Schmidt, please let us know. And if you would like to contrast the latest discoveries in quasars, Dr. Fiona Harrison, principal investigator of the NuSTAR mission that -- for the first time -- recently measured the actual spin rate of a black hole with a mass two million times that of our Sun, is available for comment. Please contact Deborah Williams-Hedges to arrange your conversations with Dr. Schmidt and Dr. Harrison.
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