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Blog

So, do you fancy winning $3m?

Money talks – $3m is the proze. (Courtesy: iStockphoto/solvod)

Money talks – $3m is up for grabs in the Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation’s  Breakthrough Prize. (Courtesy: iStockphoto/solvod)

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“.

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3 comments

  1. john Duffield

    I could do with $3m. $100k would be nice. Somebody nominate me! But sheesh, I looked at the committee. It’s like Quacks-Я-Us. I am reminded of what Unzicker said in Bankrupting Physics: “Milner’s decision to let the nine theorists who won the first awards select the future winners was a real masterpiece”. I had a laugh at that. A fool and his money are soon parted, that sort of thing. Only it isn’t good for physics. So it isn’t funny.

  2. Yusuf Datti

    I would love to know more about this,and how I could participate.

  3. Trackback: Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics | Not Even Wrong

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