The European Descartes prize for scientific advancement, named after the French philosopher who said “I think, therefore I am” has two winners this year, from Finland and Sweden. The one million euros goes half to quantum cryptography, and half towards mitochondrial DNA research into ageing, which is what Howy Jacobs and the team from MBAD are into:“The Descartes prize is very unusual because the prize money is not given for personal enrichment; it is given to actually fertilize further our research. We’re going to use it to develop a program of long term fellowships to bring into our network of labs more young scientists from all the European countries, and indeed from other continents, to try and enhance further our research efforts”. Motivating Europe’s scientists has moved up the agenda a notch or two with ambitions to make the EU the world’s foremost knowledge-based economy. A new Descartes prize of a quarter of a million euros has gone to five projects for their role in telling people about science. Vincent Lamy produces a French TV programme – whose name roughly translates as ‘It’s not witchcraft’: “It costs 10 or 20 times what a Japanese cartoon re-run does to air, and the cartoon is easier to sell Coca-Cola with, and other stuff. The EU can help overcome that.” At the ceremony in Prague Castle, new research commissioner Janez Potocnik said science must be available for the public. Pass the quantum cryptography, please.
Descartes science prize double-header