back to article Cambs prof scoops $3m Fundamental Physics prize

Stephen Hawking's successor at Cambridge University, Michael Green, and his fellow theorist John Schwarz at Caltech, have won the second Fundamental Physics Prize. String theory pioneers Green, who became Lucasian professor of mathematics when Hawking stepped down in 2009, and Schwarz won the $3m prize for their work on …


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  1. Pete 2 Silver badge

    An unlikely combination

    > work on quantum gravity and the unification of the fundamental physical forces ... organised with the help of Vanity Fair and attended by a bunch of celebs including ...

    It's a shame that mention of the camera-hungry will get this event more publicity than an explanation of what the research was about, ever could.

    “Scientists should be celebrated as heroes, and we are honored to be part of today’s celebration of the newest winners of the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences and the Fundamental Physics Prize,”said Anne Wojcicki and Sergey Brin.

    +1 to that.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah, yes, that Russian sense of humour

    "I failed to become a physicist, so had to settle for millionaire instead." :-)

    1. Turtle

      The Milner Prize For Physics Failure.

      "I failed to become a physicist, so had to settle for millionaire instead."

      And speaking of "fail", the "winners" of Milner's physics prize are also failed physicists, supporting a failed research program. So, "fails" all 'round!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Milner Prize For Physics Failure.

        > And speaking of "fail"

        The noun you want is "failure", not "fail", but regardless, says who please?

  3. bonkers

    error - don't publish

    I'v e hit the send corrections button a few times but the comment box still looks like it will be a comment not a correction...

    the failed physicist, Yuri Milner, is the one who set up the prize, not either of this years winners...


  4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    For those in the orbit of the current raging debates

    There was some discussion about this on Prof (not boffin) Peter Woit's blog

    2014 Milner Prizes

    Last March an Oscar-style ceremony hosted by Morgan Freeman was held in Geneva (see here) to award the 2013 $3 million Milner Prize to Princeton string theorist Alexander Polyakov. Tomorrow an even more lavish ceremony designed to turn “Oscars of Science” into instant multi-millionaires will be held in Mountain View, California (see here). It will feature Kevin Spacey, Conan O’Brien and Glenn Close, one of whom will presumably award the 2014 $3 million Milner string theory Prize to either Polchinski, Green/Schwarz, or Strominger/Vafa.

    Milner-Zuckerberg Prizes for Mathematics

    At the Hollywood-style awards ceremony last night for $3 million string theory and biomedical research prizes, it was announced that Yuri Milner and Mark Zuckerberg will now start funding something similar in mathematics, called the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. ... I’ve written extensively about the “Fundamental Physics Prize” and what I see as the worst problem with it (heavily rewarding and propping up a failed research program). While many physicists are privately unhappy about this prize and its effects, few prominent ones are willing to speak publicly with their name attached, since this kind of mouthing-off could turn out to be personally extremely expensive.

  5. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Universe, unite!

    How good and how pleasant it would be before God and man, yea-eah! -

    To see the unification of all forces of the Universe, yeah! -

    As it's been said a'ready, let it be done, yeah!

    Ziya-po ya-ya, pa-pa-ya-pa!

    Ti-da-lee, na po-po pu-du-loo!

    Ste-na-peh na-na po po-ro po!

    Forces of the Universe unite!

    1. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

      Re: Universe, unite!

      Yo, it's you again - Justin Bieber fan! You follow me much?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All this scientific genius around us and I still don't have my GODDAMN HOVERBOARD.

    1. Vic

      > I still don't have my GODDAMN HOVERBOARD.

      Screw your hoverboard - where's my flying car?


      1. Anonymous Coward

        Hoverboards are fine, but flying cars are a non-starter, for this reason...

        Picture the sleazest, litter-hurling, all-over-the-road, hound-dogs-in-the-back citizen, rattling on down the road.

        Now picture that same individual (and millions like him) owning flying pickup trucks, flying OVER YOUR HOUSE, any dang time they want.

        Fences will become a joke. Anti-aircraft missile launchers will be the new fences. >:-D

        1. Vic

          Now picture that same individual (and millions like him) owning flying pickup trucks, flying OVER YOUR HOUSE, any dang time they want.

          I didn't say "where are our flying cars?" I said "Where's my flying car".

          The difference is subtle, but essential :-)


  7. Trollslayer
    Thumb Up


    Good to see someone who is giving back, nice one Milner!

  8. Robinson


    Scientists are becoming worse than media luvvies, constantly handing out prizes to each other, whilst brushing the terrible state of many of their paradigms under the carpet.

    So many physicists working on String Theory for decades and not a single testable prediction. Deserves a prize, does it?

  9. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge


    Sorry .... wrong story posted to. Silly me :-) Text removed.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Apologies

      This is not the original amanfromMars I take it. Not writing a post that actually makes sense.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science needs media attention...

    Scientists like Briiiiiian Cox, and Elon Musk, and Sheldon Cooper :) are vital to keep the public engaged, both in terms of what is being investigated, what we understand (and what we don't) and to explain how the funding is being spent and why.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Science needs media attention...

      But this is vacuous media attention, driven by the existence of monetary prizes rather than anything to do with reporting actual science. The media can and do report on as much science as they want to, and that coverage is not restricted in any way by the lack of awards ceremonies. They could cover the IoP[1] annual awards if they wanted ... but do they?

      E.g. for just one prize of $3m you could buy at UK prices 18 postdoc-years of research (inc. overheads). Then you'd get more science, more breakthroughs, rather than some already-comfortable and successful scientists with a load of extra money.

      This $18m has bought some PR and an awards ceremony; it hasn't bought any science. That science was paid for already, by somebody else.

      [1] Or some other preferred scientific society.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Science needs media attention...

        > E.g. for just one prize of $3m you could buy at UK prices 18 postdoc-years of research (inc. overheads).

        Well, maybe. But it is his own money, not yours or mine, so he gets to spend it any way he likes.

        On the other hand, there is nothing stopping you or me from becoming billionaires so we can fund those 18 years of research. It's cheap and pointless to criticise others without being in a position to do better oneself.

        1. Moosh

          Are you pulling my fucking leg mate?

          Cheap and pointless?

          More like inherently essential to the critical nature of mankind. That's exactly the same as saying "well can YOU make a better song/film/painting/sculpture/play?". Its ridiculous and as you are no doubt well aware our inability to replicate someone elses achievements does not suddenly limit our capacity to percieve quality and usefulness.

  11. Turtle

    I'm a little surprised.

    Considering the people who got the physics money, I would have expected the same standards to have been applied to the life sciences money. And so I was somewhat surprised to see that there was nothing given to Ray Kurzweil. Or his father.

  12. BoldMan

    Nice to hear Mike Green, my old Prof from Queen Mary College is getting the recognition he deserves! I was always annoyed that his Quantum Mechanics course was the only one I didn't pass while at Uni, more to my inability to work out wtf you do with a Delta function and more importantly WHY do do things with a Detla function :D

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. flying cars

    Would be useful, not least because the hardware NASA and others left on the Moon and Mars is actually worth something.

    Oh, they only work up to 700 feet?! Blast. Back to the drawing board Einstein.

    (fx: Doc Brown voice)

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