A Russian physics student turned social media billionaire just made theoretical physics the most lucrative thing in science, heaping $3 million apiece on nine researchers. The new Fundamental Physics Prize is worth more than double the Nobel, at least monetarily speaking.
Yuri Milner, whose investments are reportedly worth $12 billion, studied theoretical physics as a student in Russia in the 1980s and 1990s and founded the prize for his love of the field. He told the New York Times that the quest to understand the universe "really defines us as human beings." And he told Nature News yesterday that physics should get its day in the sun: "The intention was to say that science is as important as shares trading on Wall Street," he said.
There are no strings attached, according to him — the goal is to raise the stature of theoretical physics and the people who study it. Milner chose the winners, all of whom are male and all but one of whom are from Western countries, himself.
The physicists seemed as baffled by the news as anyone. MIT professor Alan Guth, who proposed the idea of cosmic inflation in the moments after the Big Bang, told the New York Times it knocked him off his feet. The money is already in his bank account, which previously carried a $200 balance. Nature News asked Andrei Linde, a cosmologist at Stanford University, how he would spend his money: "This is a problem that is much more complicated than the physics problems I'm trying to solve," he replied.
Milner wants past winners to choose the next crop of laureates — as part of accepting the honors, the winners agree to form a selection committee. He also wants to honor junior scientists in the field, chosen by laureates, who will win a $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prize. Along with a Nobel, physical scientists can also win the Kavli Prize and the Shaw Prize, both valued at $1 million.
Here is the list of winners, along with Guth and Linde: Nima Arkani-Hamed, Juan Maldacena, Nathan Seiberg and Edward Witten, all of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J.; Alexei Kitaev, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology; Maxim Kontsevich, a mathematician at the Institute of Advanced Scientific Studies outside Paris; and Ashoke Sen, a string theorist at Harish-Chandra Research Institute in India.
Thank you, Mr. Milner. There isn't a single part of this article that isn't amazing and inspiring. Your generosity will hopefully lead to amazing things.
Aside from "MIT professor Alan Guth, who proposed the idea of cosmic inflation in the moments after the Big Bang" the prize was apparently given away for no reason at all. Hey, PopSci, would it be so hard to spend an extra few minutes finding out what the other recipients contributed to the world of physics that made them worth $3 mil?
This is excepional. All of these people greatly deserved this. Profesional athleates are making crazy money why shouldn't people that actually help the world make the big money. Mr. Milner is great for doing this.
Thank you Yuri Milner. It's about time something like this has happened. Sports always gets the money. It's nice to see that Academics is finally getting their much deserved share.
Kudos to the recipients. Scientists in fundamental research have been getting the shaft... so it's good to know that someone is trying to support the people who are finding all the puzzle pieces that will be used to solve the world's problems.
Now, this is what I'm talking about! True R&D funding without red tape and B.S. Kudos to Mr. Milner and Congratulations to the recipients!
Personally, I would pay to attend athletic-style Science League competitions with a season, playoffs and championship competition. There's no reason why Science can not be as entertaining as sports (and I LOVE sports) with the right marketing and structure.
In the USA, entertainment = $$$$.
Love, Peace & Soul
This is great on so many different levels! And it comes at a time that will help keep the great forward momentum we have in scientific progress.
Almost makes me wish I'd become a University Academic Scientist instead of one that worked for the Military and Corporations...almost
Lets Remember the Hypothises of Anthropological Global Warming based on Aristotile Chemical balancing Theoory still thumped on in Physics class (often without "and now this is how Heat distribution works in the real world works Thermalhayline(Oceanography),evaporation/percipitation(Meterology)" clevet) is from these same Academics despite
1) Ice Aes are 12c Average Global Tempature average(AGT), Interglaciation peak Average is 18c..belief that doubling CO2 can raise AGT 3c-9c means 900ppm will give us a 18C to 24c AGT world but it's still 15c AGT as it's been for last 10,000 years despite "1c rise in Polar Regions" observed(regional warming, like mideval..Tropics are in "Mini-Ice Age" at -1c a "cancel out" causing whacky weather in the Temparate..now you know "why" 2012 is called the "Year of Storms" by the Mayans)
2)Doubling a gas in a composite gas does not increase a composite gas's maximum heat threashold (Zeroth law) so going from 390ppm to 900ppm CO2 will not allow air to asorb "more heat" from the Earth Surface emmiting the same amount of heat..especially since the main conveyer of heat in air is that up to 1% water vapor carrying heat as "humidity" that turns to clouds as the heat disapates in the constant 32f upper tropposhpere and the water vapor dews..not a trace gas like co2
3) most interesting is the CO2ppm AVERAGE,and it is a average based on a taking readings over a length of time and under certain conditions as CO2 rides evaporation/percipitation thus changes by humidity,time of day,wind speed contantly, seems to be magically? getting higher ("395ppm" AVERAGE by conviently including Summer CO2 percipitation trends) even though EPA has cracked down on Coal Plants since 70's and EPA has cracked down on car emmisions since 70's and a Vehicle emmisions testing device will measure 65miligrams Co2 a gallon from CO2 contamination of Etyonol blended gas(from 2007 "biofuelIniative to "reduce CO2 from gas...Ironic) on a small car(166milligrams a gallon on SUV) and a emmisions testing device on a coal plant stack will measure just nitrogen and water vapor...odd isn't it? Why doesn't a physical measure of "Co2 pollution" match the backward math of "3 billion tons of CO2 a year and Growing" or "20 gallons of CO2 from 1 gallon of gas"(+14,000btu of heat and 400HP of kenetic force and 5lb of water..ooh "\spontanious creation or overunity?) or "20 tons of co2 from 1 ton coal"(plus all that heat and all that material to build filler for cement,wall board,and anti skid road material in 100% recycling enviroment...not to mention a closed injection furnace that exhausts into a water/chemical slurry that catches 99.9999999999999999999999999999% of the ash turned to gypsum and such so...how does all that supposedly spontaniously created CO2 excape to air?
4) CO2 is either made from chemically forcing that extra Oxygen molocule on Carbon monoxide like how living creatures do it or Catalyst converters that USED TO BE IN CARS BEFORE 1994 did or it needs primary or Secondary fusion level heat to smash that extra O on CO..neither which happens in exothermic reactions car engines or furnaces use.
While there is up to 1.5 trillion ton of CO2 in the 5000 trillion tons of "air" making up that up to "395ppm" there is thousands of trillions of tons of CO2 in the 300 million trillion tons of OCean water that rides up in the evaporation/percipitation cycle to make that up to "395ppm" depending on tempature which effects evaporation/percipitation and wind..with thousands of trilions of tons more of "CO2 hydrate" in deep sea that can dislodge from earthquakes,volcanic activity and increased heat release from accelerated plate tectonics from Core plubimg/waning that causes regional warming/cooling in inter-glacition and overall Warming(18c average peak) or Ice Ages(12c average low) depending on Earth core relative tempature/pressure
5) Black smoking "straight run" gas is more valuable being further refined into Butane,Propane,Natural Gas,Propoline,tar,sulfur etc. What is put in the modern EPA regulated car with it's Emmisions control box,filters,aircleaners is a clean burning "cracked gas" specifically made to burn Clean (EPA) with anti-smoking agents(EPA), detergents(EPA) and now a Ethynol blend(hello Co2 contamination from fermentaion..heres our government at work 65milligrams CO2 a gallon to 166 milligrams a gallon worth). I've seen the Enviromentalist movement either use stock footage from before 70's or use CGI to add "Black smoke" to thier "dirty fossil fuels" campaigns..very funny(Blueman Group) to just Desperate
But all in all it's nice to know young minds wanting to specialize in Physics has options other then teaching it or working at McDonalds/Starbucks...lol
The simple fact is that our scientists live their lives around ever increasing demands for due diligence. Many in our world society are informal scientists whose due diligence stops when we've related control concepts for a given task, and are never even written down. My own life in this manner has given me far more chance to interact with the world than many of the traditional science set get. I've been able to use multimillion dollar machines, fix them, improve their efficiencies, and move on to whole new trades where I'd perform that trade's version of the same thing. While I'd never trade the experience I have in life for only money, it sure is good to know that those who came before me as well as our current solvers that give the diligence I learn from so voraciously their just due.