Stephen Hawking gets $3m physics prize from Mail.ru tycoon
'Failed physicist' Russian tech baron throws millions at CERN boffins too
Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has won a Russian entrepreneur's $3m special Fundamentals Physics Prize for his lifetime of achievements.
Seven scientists who led the effort to find the Higgs boson at CERN's Large Hadron Collider also won, bagging another of the special prizes from Yuri Milner.
Milner, who describes himself as a "failed physicist", started handing out the biggest prizes in physics history in August, when nine boffins got $3m each after they were chosen by the billionaire.
The entrepreneur, who made his money from internet web firm Mail.ru and investing in Twitter, Spotify and Facebook, picked the first winners himself and he's now using them as the committee to pick Hawking and the other winners and to select winner/s next year as well.
CERN director general Rolf Heuer said it was a "great honour" for the LHC scientists to be recognised by the committee.
"This prize recognises the work of everyone who has contributed to the project over many years. The Fundamental Physics Prize underlines the value of fundamental physics to society," he said.
Milner hopes that his prizes will "bring further recognition to some of the most brilliant minds in the world". Since his awards don't have to be backed up by supporting data for theories, the field of contenders is a lot larger than for other prizes.
The 2013 Fundamental Physics Prize will be handed out at a ceremony at CERN on 20 March next year. ®
Re: @AJ Macleod
Nope, he's saying what Stephen Hawking is a Philosopher rather than a Scientist.
By my understanding though there's a lot more maths involved in what Stephen Hawking does than what's involved in traditional Philosophy.
Some of that maths even proves or disproves things, apparently, it's beyond my ken.
Just because I don't understand it doesn't make it unscientific though, possibly it is in fact the distillation of science to it's purest form, depending on who you ask.
The physicist frowns at the chemist who in turn frowns at the biologist, which of them is the most "science-y"
Perhaps in the same way that Technology can appear as magic to the uninitiated, Theoretical physics can appear as philosophy to the uninitiated (which is quite a large percentage of the population, myself included)
Cynical much? :)
I'm sure he's not displeased at receiving a big ol' pile of cash, but I still applaud Milner for rewarding people who actually deserve it - unlike, say, the BILLIONS OF DOLLARS* the 'mericuns throw at their athletes just for running fast.
* Some big number. Not precisely 1E9
Given that these awards have previously been given to string theorists
who have made even fewer concrete predictions than Hawking, I don't think the aim is "truly useful", "practical" achievements -- which would, by the by, rule out almost the entirity of science. Do you think that Bohr, Heisenberg, Schroedinger, Dirac, Einstein et. al should have their Nobel prizes revoked simply because, at the time they developed quantum theory, there were absolutely zero practical consequences of any type, useful or not? They weren't to know that within half a century the laser and the transistor would come from quantum theory, and that within a century the world would be pushed in an entirely new direction. I'm not saying that there will be consequences on the level of the transistor or the laser from string theory or from Hawking's work - that would be silly - but let's be fair, Nobel prizes were given for things with zero "truly useful", "practical" achievements.
In a quick answer, the main things Hawking has developed are the singularity theorems, covariant fluid mechanics, and the existence and nature of Hawking radiation. While I would probably agree that he's somewhat overrated by the general public, that's more a comment that the likes of Roger Penrose and George Ellis are not given the credit they deserve than a comment against Hawking, who has had a profound impact on theoretical physics. Indeed, one could argue that there have been few great developments in theoretical physics in the latter half of this century, and that Hawking remains the man who has contributed the most tangible progress towards quantum gravity. Hawking radiation is the only main addition to general relativity that I can immediately think of, and is at least in principle observable, even if it's in laboratory analogues of black holes rather than literal gravitational black holes.