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Not Quite the Mega-Millions, But It'll Do

Six life science researchers and two theoretical physicists have gone home with a total $21 million after winning a scientific prize backed by billionaire Yuri Milner, the Nature News blog reports. It adds that the ceremony was a "glitzy" affair featuring the actor Kevin Spacey and the singer Lana Del Ray.

This year's life science winners are University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center's James Allison, Emory University's Mahlon DeLong, Michael Hall from the University of Basel, MIT's Robert Langer, Yale University's Richard Lifton, and Alexander Varshavsky at Caltech. Each received a $3 million prize.

At the award ceremony, Milner announced that he has teamed up with Mark Zuckerberg from Facebook to expand these awards to include $3 million mathematics prizes in the future, the New York Times adds.

The Guardian notes that there is some ambivalence about such large prizes. "The great philanthropists of the 19th and 20th centuries, like the Rockefellers and the Carnegies, did not create prizes — they created universities and research institutes that have enabled thousands of scientists to make great breakthroughs over the succeeding decades," an unnamed physicist tells the paper.

Some past winners have set up funds to help students, the Guardian adds.