CmdrTaco from the big-piles-of-cash-often-motivate-people dept.
Bruce G Charlton writes "A new paper in Medical Hypotheses suggests that very big cash prizes could specifically be targeted to stimulate 'revolutionary' science.
Usually, prizes tend to stimulate 'applied' science — as in the most famous example of Harrison's improved clock solving the 'longitude' problem. But for prizes successfully to stimulate revolutionary science the prizes need to be:
1. Very large (and we are talking seven figure 'pop star' earnings, here) to compensate for the high risk of failure when tackling major scientific problems,
2. Awarded to scientists at a young enough age that it influences their behavior in (about) their mid-late twenties — when they are deciding on their career path, and:
3. Include objective and transparent scientometric criteria, to prevent the prize award process being corrupted by 'political' incentives.
Such mega-cash prizes, in sufficient numbers, might incentivize some of the very best young scientists to make more ambitious, long-term — but high-risk — career choices.
The real winner of this would be society as a whole; since ordinary science can successfully be done by second-raters — but only first-rate scientists can tackle the toughest scientific problems."
"The trouble with doing something right the first time is that nobody
appreciates how difficult it was."
-- Walt West