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Tech Leaders Create Most Lucrative Science Prize In History 147

redletterdave writes "Mark Zuckerberg, Sergey Brin and Yuri Milner have teamed up to create The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences Foundation, which now offers the most lucrative annual prize in the history of science: A $33 million pot to be split among 11 people, with individual rewards worth $3 million apiece. Comparatively, the monetary value of the Nobel prize is just $1.1 million. 'Our society needs more heroes who are scientists, researchers and engineers,' Zuckerberg said. 'We need to celebrate and reward the people who cure diseases, expand our understanding of humanity and work to improve people's lives.'"
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Tech Leaders Create Most Lucrative Science Prize In History

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  • Immortality. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr_Barnowl ( 709838 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:35AM (#42964919)

    It's a bid for immortality. Young rich guys sponsoring biotech research? They want to live forever.

  • by arbiter1 ( 1204146 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:52AM (#42964991)
    noble prize don't mean anything anymore since they awarded to Obama for doing NOTHING!
  • Yeah right. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KublaCant ( 2847303 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:54AM (#42965001)
    A moron who once had business cards with "I'm CEO, bitch !" thinks scientists are going to take him serious because of... what ? Money ? Dontlemmelaugh.
  • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:04AM (#42965041) Homepage

    First thought when I read the names Zuckerberg and Brin was; There must be a clause in there which states that to claim the prices means handing over any and all patents.

    I do agree with the sentiment that a "hero" is somebody who saves lives rather than somebody who is really good at sports, making money or generally getting themselves in front of a camera. People seem to admire the wrong people nowadays.

  • by complex_pi ( 2030154 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:25AM (#42965105)
    If we want to have actual heroes doing the research that will lead to such prizes, why not give reasonable career path to scientists? Right now, heroes are first selected by "who is willing to stay in academia despite the working condition", which is not a very interesting criterion in my opinion.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:52AM (#42965229)

    You can probably consider it an award for the American people for NOT electing McCain. Most countries, especially the Muslim majority, had a borderline to negative perception of the US after Bush tenure. Obama raised a significant amount of goodwill for the US from the world. The effect is probably hard to measure, but I do believe that his huge popularity in Indonesia and Kenya helped to reduce a lot of animosity towards the US and the western world in general.

    Maybe it's like the deux ex machina in Futurama. To paraphrase, sometimes when you do the right thing, it would appear as if you weren't doing anything at all.

  • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @07:53AM (#42965233) Journal
    Obama made a few rousing speeches after his election, which at the time was enough of a promise for this Prize to be awarded. He also got it for "not being Bush". If the Nobel committee knew then what they know now, I doubt they'd consider Obama for a Prize. That's the problem with giving accolades like these, even the political ones, on the strength of hope and promises rather than actual effort and results. Oh well, the latest Peace Prize was given to the "EU"... at a time when some of us Europeans feel that EU measures are actually a destabilizing factor.
  • Re:Yeah right. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:10AM (#42965343) Journal
    So just because he once had those cards made, probably as a joke, when he started the company, should he now be forever ignored? Come on...

    Scientists will take this prize as seriously as the selection process is going to be. If they award this to deserving scientists, then the scientific community will, over time, take them seriously. Silly business cards of one of the founders notwithstanding.
  • by Charliemopps ( 1157495 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:42AM (#42965549)

    People have always admired the wrong people. They admire what they desire... do most people secretly dream about winning the lottery or saving babies from fires?

  • Re:Immortality. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by tibit ( 1762298 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:59AM (#42966145)

    Oh give me a break, that's the second post here saying the same fantasy. They are not stupid, they know that there's no immortality on the table, just as they know that normal pace of medical progress can and does extend lives without them having to do anything special about it. They just want to support what's dear to them, in a way. Crossing the chasm between supporting life sciences and offering a "bid for immortality" requires a bit more support than a one liner post. Insightful, my ass. It's a troll post, that's all.

  • by Pigeon451 ( 958201 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:10AM (#42966309)

    These massive awards go to researchers who have made truly novel discoveries. They tend to be older researchers past their prime who have already reaped rewards of their research (fame and likely money).

    Funding for general research in life sciences has dipped to an all time low, with success rates less than 10% (it was much higher before the economic crisis a few years ago). The top amazing research by big groups still gets funded, but there is still some excellent work that goes unfunded, particularly by young up and coming talented researchers. These young investigators don't yet have a name for themselves, and unfortunately that impedes their ability to get grants and thus do their research.

    The Gates foundation is an excellent example of how this can be done -- In today's economy, I would prefer to see something similar than a massive pot going to a few amazing but well established researchers. Of course this wouldn't have made the news if it wasn't over the top...

  • Re:that's nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:01AM (#42966919)

    We live in a world where we have beaten most diseases and already live longer than we should

    Oh yeah... beaten most disease? Give me a fucking break. We certainly nailed some big viruses, but those aren't diseases.

    Let me know when you figure out how to cure something as simple as Migraine headaches. How about depression, we have 'treatments' but certainly no cures, and those treatments are a crapshoot. Maybe this drug works... oh no, well lets try this one... Yeah it works, but your heartrate doubled...

    The simple fact of the matter is that the current state of 'medicine' is that your options for actually beating a disease are:
    1. Take a vaccine for the cause before you actually get the disease (if a vaccine exists)
    2. Take antibiotics if it is bacterial in nature. Hope that the infection hasn't caused irreversable damage
    3. Take a knife and cut it out.
    4. Sew it back up.

    Everything else is basically palliative care. We are just now beginning to se the barest glimpse of genetic treatments, and you are considering most diseases beaten and that people live too long?

    I know misanthropy is hip on slashdot, but that doesn't make you right.

  • by the gnat ( 153162 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:09AM (#42967023)

    And besides, isn't it better that we let the righteous distribute their earnings as they see fit, and not let those socialist tax collectors get in the way?

    One of the stranger complaints I've read about the philanthropy of Bill Gates was that it unfairly allows Bill Gates to decide which causes are worthy, instead of the people of the United States. This is rather perverse if you consider what he's spending the money on - how many Americans do you think die from malaria each year? Any guesses how many Americans would vote to continue funding research into malaria versus, say, obesity or Alzheimer's or other 1st-world afflictions? Basically, people are upset that his charity is directed at impoverished equatorial nations instead of the American middle class.

    I'm no fan of how Bill Gates made his money - I still wince every time I have to use Microsoft products, with the lone exception of their optical mice - nor am I a particular fan of Facebook. But I think in this case I'll trust their judgement over that of the people who elected Bush twice.

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.