By Matin Durrani
An e-mail arrived in my inbox this morning from Rob Meyer, who names himself “administrator” of the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation, seeking nominations for the Breakthrough Prize, which is worth a tasty $3m, and for the $100,000 New Horizons Prize, which is aimed at “young researchers”.
In case you’ve forgotten, the foundation was funded by the Russian investor Yuri Milner, who did a degree in physics at Moscow State University before making squillions investing in start-up companies such as Facebook and Twitter.
The prize has come under fire from the likes of Peter Woit, who last year complained that it is too focused on string theorists and that it keeps being awarded to the same small number of people.
Be that as it may, there are few physicists, I would argue, who would turn their noses up at the prospect of $3m and – as if to prove the point – Meyer’s e-mail contains links to the rules governing the prize.
I have to admit I was expecting to see – for prizes this big – an enormously long page littered with terms and conditions, criteria, nominations guidelines, blah, blah, blah. In fact, the rules are spectacularly short and sound almost as if they have been drawn up for your local charity cake sale. The nominations process also seems fairly painless and the selection committee you’ll need to convince can be seen here.
I’m not endorsing the prize in any way but as they say, “You’ve got to be in it to win it”.
For more on how receiving awards can help – and sometimes hinder – a recipient’s career, don’t miss my colleague Margaret Harris’s article “Gongs away“.