4 August 2012

A $3 Million Prize for Fundamental Physics

Posted by John Freeland

Let’s face it: if scientists aim to get rich, they picked the wrong profession. However, if you can hit a ball with a stick and be really good at it, you can earn tens of millions of dollars a year.

Chrystia Freeland (no relation) has a nice article at Reuters about the latest $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize, which was created by Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner. An excerpt:

Milner, who studied physics for a decade before making his fortune in prescient Internet investments, said he decided to create such a rich prize because he thinks the compensation of top scientists is out of whack in 21st-century society.

“I wanted this amount to be meaningful,” Milner said by telephone from Moscow. “I think top scientists need to be compensated at a different scale in society. Somebody with experience will tell you that true scientists are not motivated by money – they are motivated by the quest itself. That is true. But I think an additional recognition will not hurt.”

The Fundamental Physics Prize is bigger than the Nobel and Templeton prizes combined. Nine theoretical physicists received $3 million each, and, no, I don’t suppose it hurts a bit.

Still, it’s a long way to go to catch Tiger Woods.