Professor Brian Schmidt is Australia's latest Nobel Laureate, and he deserves our congratulations. His award in physics recognises his work in demonstrating that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. This is of course fundamental research which increases our understanding of the world but which cannot be immediately realised in monetary or political terms.

His award will support the case that such research should still be encouraged in our universities.

As is the custom in modern science, Professor Schmidt led a team and shares the award with his collaborators Professor Adam Riess, from Johns Hopkins University, and Professor Saul Perlmutter from Berkeley.

Professor Schmidt joins a distinguished band of Australian scientists who have been awarded the Nobel Prize, including Elizabeth Blackburn (2009), Barry Marshall and Robin Warren (2005), Peter Doherty (1996), Sir John Cornforth (1975), Sir Bernard Katz (1970), Sir Frank MacFarlane Burnet (1960), Sir Howard Florey (1945) and Sir William Lawrence Bragg (1915).

…a knighthood….

 Readers will notice that until 1975, all Australian Nobel Prize winners were offered and accepted a knighthood.

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 If Professor Schmidt had been awarded a Nobel Prize then, he would now no doubt have been offered a knighthood.It may well be that he would not wish to accept a knighthood, but that would be his decision.

If he were a New Zealander, he would be offered a knighthood now. 

As in Australia, republican politicians in New Zealand had once imposed an undemocratic policy of creeping republicanism on the nation, deciding unilaterally that their most eminent New Zealanders should never again be recognized by the bestowal of a knighthood.

When the present Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key reversed that policy and offered eminent New Zealand scientists, artists and sports men and women the opportunity of upgrading their award to a knighthood, the overwhelming majority immediately accepted the offer.

They knew, as republicans recognise, that a knighthood or being made a Dame, is internationally recognisable.

So we invite the Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon. Julia Gillard, to recommend to The Queen that the rank of Knight (and Dame) in the Order of Australia be restored and that Professor Schmidt be offered that rank.