Princeton’s Polyakov: Finalist for Milner Money

Alexander Polyakov, left, a 67-year old physicist at Princeton University, is in the running for the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize, donated by Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner. Polyakov, who works with quantum field theory and string theory, used to live in Moscow and work at the Landau Institute. He is now the Joseph Henry Professor of Physics.

 (You remember Joseph Henry.  His yellow house sits on the front lawn of the university, and he contributed to the invention of the telegraph, the telephone, and the electric motor. He was also the first director of the Smithsonian Institution.)

Yuri Milner (photo from Crunch base)

Milner, 51, who by the way is a Wharton school graduate, made his $1 billion on such internet investments as Groupon and Facebook. Just announced: his investment in 23andme, the consumer genetics startup that Esther Dyson talked about three years ago at a chamber lunch,. Milner calls himself a failed physicist, according to today’s New York Times article, and this is the second year he has given out lots of prizes.

The winners will be announced on March 20, and since the previous winners select the next winners — if you are a physicist, it wouldn’t hurt to be extra nice to Professor Polyakov. Milner’s prize is more than double the Nobel Prize, and you don’t have to travel to Stockholm.

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