As news continues to come in about evidence of hack attacks from China, more companies and agencies are stepping forward to say they were targets of such snooping. Chinese authorities continue to say the state is not behind the attacks.
11 scientists are each $3 million richer than they were earlier this week thanks to the "Breakthrough Prize" that was launched Wednesday by a group of tech-lebrities including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and tech investor Yuri Milner. It’s the latest in a trend of business leaders offering big science prizes. But how do prizes like these actually impact research?
The theory behind the prize goes something like this: As Zuckerberg and friends know all too well, in the world of computer science and information technology, if you make a breakthrough, you can make a lot of money. But not so in other branches of science -- things like cancer research, neurology, or the genetics of disease.
“We think that's a market failure,” Zuckerberg told the BBC. And that’s where the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences comes in. Zuckerberg hopes the prize will be an incentive to pursue a career in what have long been "less lucrative" branches of science.
“If you're a young kid growing up, you're going to look to what the market says about where you can make money” Zuckerberg says, “to inform what you dream about being when you grow up.”
But prizes like this one and the Nobel, known as “recognition prizes” because they reward people after a long career of success, have limited impact, says Stian Westlake, head of research at Nesta, a non-profit Innovation Lab based in Britain.
“The reward is such a long way off that it makes it harder to mobilize other resources, and it makes it less motivational,” Westlake says.
David Shaywitz, Director of Strategic and Commercial Planning at pharmaceutical company Theravance, agrees.
“They're rewarding the folks who are already the superheros and rock stars of science. Within science, they're the ones everyone already, desperately wants to be,” he wrote in an email. “There's already a perception that science is pretty great at the top. The real challenge is funding limitations along the way, and how many highly talented young scientists scramble for traction.”
Shaywitz and Westlake say what’s more effective for stimulating innovation are prizes with precise goals that people can accomplish in order to win.
The Olympic and Paralympic sprinter is accused of murdering his girlfriend. In a court Thursday, it was revealed that the lead investigator himself had been accused of attempted murder in an unrelated case. That added to questions about the prosecution's case against Pistorius.
Republican Governor Rick Scott of Florida has been one of the fiercest critics of President Obama's Affordable Care Act. But yesterday, Scott reversed course on a big part of the new law, dropping his opposition to expanding health care for the poor in his state. Scott said he'll expand medicaid for three years -- that's when federal startup funding expires.
While the announcement is sure to make political ripples, it is also a big win for Florida hospitals – who currently absorb most of the costs that uninsured patients incur.
Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human services granted Florida a waiver to allow the state to expand its pilot Medicaid privatization program. Florida will seek a third-party vendor to manage the program. Governor Scott has argued privatization will help control Medicaid costs, which make up about a quarter of the state's budget.
To hear more about Florida's new health reforms, click on the audio player above.
The latest episode of Diary of an Internet Phenom involves a Boston-based company, Kickstarter, and a new invention the whole family can enjoy.
WobbleWorks, a Boston-area toy company that needed funding, went onto Kickstarter at the beginning of this week with a total goal of raising $30,000. As of last evening, people had pledged $900,000 and counting. What could be that compelling? How about a two foot, plastic Eiffel Tower drawn with what's called "3Doodler," a new pen that's a 3D printer.Video of 3Doodler Intro Video
Imagine a magic marker with an electric cord. Press the button and out comes, not ink, but a thin stream of melted plastic that solidifies. Ever see people build little models with toothpicks? It's like that, but no toothpicks, instead you doodle it free-hand in plastic.
"The same way that you use a pen, you can use a 3Doodler, except that when you lift the 3Doodler off the paper, the pen keeps spilling out ink, so you can write in the air," says Max Bogue, co-founder of the company that invented the 3Doodler.
The 3Doodler uses biodegradable plastic as ink, which instantly cools and hardens as you draw. That may sound neat, but Bogue thinks the real advantage of the 3Doodler is its simplicity.
"There is no software, there is nothing to learn, all you have to do is just draw with it," says Bogue.
Also: Bill O'Reilly has a new book; George Saunders g-chats The Paris Review; and Batwoman is getting married.