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Internet Billionaire Ponies Up More Cash for Physics Prizes


Tech investor Yuri Milner, who shook the physics world two months ago by dishing out $27 million to the nine inaugural awardees of his Fundamental Physics Prize Foundation’s namesake award, has just sweetened the pot.

Milner’s organization today announced the addition of a new award, the Physics Frontiers Prize, which will place three individuals in the running for the $3-million Fundamental Physics Prize and bestow $300,000 on those who do not win it. This latest program, plus the $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prize for young researchers, makes three big-money awards that the Milner Foundation promises to bestow.

The prizes are meant to recognize major achievements in fundamental physics—primarily theoretical physics, if the first batch of Fundamental Physics Prize laureates is any indication—with a preference for recent advances.

In a prepared statement, the organization said that the first crop of three Physics Frontiers Prize laureates would be announced by the end of the year. They will automatically become nominees for the multimillion-dollar Fundamental Physics Prize, which will be awarded in the first three months of 2013. Milner’s foundation intends to announce up to three winners of the first New Horizons in Physics Prize by December as well.

The graphic below shows how Milner’s cash awards (starred) compare with the other big-money accolades in the field. Money isn’t everything—and no award may ever match the prestige attached to a Nobel Prize—but dollar figures at least allow a quantitative means of comparing different prizes.

Prizes for Nobel, Milner prizes

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.

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