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Schmidt said he was just sitting down to have dinner with his family in Canberra, Australia, when the phone call came from the academy.

“I was somewhat suspicious when the Swedish voice came on,” Schmidt told The Associated Press. “My knees sort of went weak and I had to walk around and sort my senses out.”

Riess said his “jaw dropped” when he received an early-morning call at his home in Baltimore from a bunch of Swedish men and realized “it wasn’t Ikea,” the Swedish furniture retailer. “I’m dazed,” he told AP.

The discovery was “the biggest shakeup in physics, in my opinion, in the last 30 years,” said Phillip Schewe, a physicist and spokesman at the Joint Quantum Institute, which is operated by the University of Maryland and the federal government.

“I remember everyone thinking at the time (that) there was some mistake,” Schewe said. But there was no mistake, and in fact the basic finding was confirmed later by other measurements. For example, other scientists found evidence for it when they analyzed the microwave radiation left over from the big bang that still bathes the universe, he said.

Perlmutter told AP his team made the discovery in steps, analyzing the data and assuming it was wrong.

“And after months, you finally believe it,” he said. “It’s not quite a surprise anymore. I tell people it’s the longest “aha!” experience that you’ve ever had.”

Fred Dylla, executive director of the American Institute of Physics, said the prize confirmed an idea from Albert Einstein, called the cosmological constant, that Einstein inserted in his general theory of relativity, a cornerstone of modern physics.

Einstein later repudiated that idea as his “biggest blunder,” but it did lead to a lot of theoretical and experimental studies, Dylla said.

The physics prize was the second Nobel to be announced this year. On Monday the medicine prize went to American Bruce Beutler and French scientist Jules Hoffmann who shared it with Canadian-born Ralph Steinman for their discoveries about the immune system. Steinman died three days before the announcement but since his death was not known to the committee, they decided he should keep the Nobel. Since 1974, Nobels have been awarded only to living scientists.

The Nobel Prizes were established in the will of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, and have been handed out since 1901.

Last year’s physics award went to Russian-born scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for groundbreaking experiments with graphene, the strongest and thinnest material known to mankind.

The prizes are handed out every year on Dec. 10, on the anniversary of Nobel’s death in 1896.

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Malin Rising in Stockholm, Malcolm Ritter in New York, Kristen Gelineau in Sydney, Jessica Gresko in Washington and Greg Moore in Phoenix, Arizona, contributed.