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(From Guardian Unlimited)
A Russian internet investor who quit his PhD in physics and made a billion dollars from social networking and other investments has established the most lucrative annual prize in the history of science.
Yuri Milner , who made his fortune from investments in Facebook, Twitter, Zynga and Groupon, has launched a clutch of awards to recognise advances in the obscure field of fundamental physics, which aims to understand the basic laws of nature.
With each award worth $3m (GBP1.9m), the monetary value dwarfs that of the prestigious Nobel prize, which last year stood at $1.1m.
Milner, who has homes in Silicon Valley and Moscow, announced nine immediate winners of the prize, which is worth a combined total of $27m. The nine will now form a committee to select a winner, or winners, for next year. The prize will be given in the first quarter of each year, unlike the Nobels, which are awarded in October.
In an interview with the Guardian, Milner said the prize was for the "greatest minds working in the field of fundamental physics", and specifically for recent advances. In emphasising fresh achievements, Milner hopes the prize will help physicists who are still highly active in research and capable of major contributions in the future.
When the Nobel prize is awarded for fundamental physics, the recipients are often at the end …