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.
I tell the kids, that if they want to be rich: figure out what gravity is made out of. We all know what it does, how it works but how does it get from point A to point B? Is there a way to turn it off without resorting to our standard oldtime method of brute force? It is one of the things in our world that if we could control it viva a gate of some sort, it could generate a pile of money for the person or persons who figured it out.