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Stephen Hawking gets $3m physics prize from Mail.ru tycoon

'Failed physicist' Russian tech baron throws millions at CERN boffins too

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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. ®

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