Seeking universe’s secrets

Premier’s Science Award finalist Steven Tingay.
Premier’s Science Award finalist Steven Tingay.

The Curtin Institute of Radio Astronomy director is an internationally renowned astrophysicist who played a key part in Australia successfully biding to host the Square Kilometre Away (SKA).

Professor Tingay said it would be the largest radio telescope ever built and one of the biggest, most complex scientific facilities.

‘It will be built in WA and South Africa and will seek to explore the evolution of the universe, from the big bang almost 14 billion years ago to the universe we live in today,’ he said.

‘We hope to uncover the answer to fundamental questions in physics, like what are the 95 per cent of the contents of the universe that we currently do not understand?’

Mr Tingay was awarded a Premier’s Fellowship in 2007 and established the $51 million Murchison Widefield Array about 12 months ago ” one of his biggest highlights.

‘Approximately 400 astronomers around the world are using the telescope to undertake approximately 10 large projects that span from studies of our sun, to an attempt to detect the birth of the first stars and galaxies 1 billion years after the big bang,’ he said.

‘This has been one of the biggest developments in radio astronomy over the past decade and places WA at the forefront of SKA developments.’

Mr Tingay said the power of science could be used to build a better society.

‘Our advances in physics, medical science, engineering, agriculture and many other areas can lead to a richer, happier and more equitable world for everyone,’ he said.

Winners and the 2014 inductee into the Science Hall of Fame will be announced on Thursday.