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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
Since arriving on the island of Guam in the 1940s, the brown tree snake ( Boiga irregularis ) has extirpated native...
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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China Honors Science Pioneers
26 February 2001 7:00 pm
FONT SIZE=-1>BEIJING--China's newest--and by far richest--prize for lifetime scientific achievement was awarded last week to a mathematician and an agronomist. But the gala state celebration on 19 February was dampened by evidence of how far the country's research community still must go to compete globally: First place in two other major categories of scientific achievement went unclaimed after officials decided that no researchers were worthy of the honor.
The winners of the new State Supreme Science and Technology Award, which comes with a 5 million yuan ($600,000) prize, are Wu Wenjun and Yuan Longping. Wu, 82, is a topologist who developed a computer algorithm for solving a collection of polynomials, the equivalent of proving a geometric hypothesis. It is useful in pattern recognition and other computer tasks. Yuan, 72, is considered the father of hybrid-rice technology in China and is credited with helping China achieve a three-fold boost in rice production over the past 4 decades. He has also amassed a personal fortune by lending his name to a high-tech seed company formed last year, in exchange for equity in the new company.
The awards, conferred by Chinese President Jiang Zemin, were created to highlight outstanding achievement and demonstrate the importance of science in the nation's economic development. Some 90% of the prize money will be plowed back into research at their former work sites--in Wu's case, the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Institute of Mathematics and System Science in Beijing; for Yuan, the Hunan Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The remainder is for their personal use, or as Wu told reporters: "I think that is my own business."
Wu and Yuan were chosen from among 14 finalists to receive what is expected to be an annual prize. But the central government declined for the third straight year to pick a first-place winner in two other categories--natural science and technological innovation--because none of the nominees met the criteria for having achieved "at the world level." Members of the selection committee said their decision reflects the fact that China's basic research enterprise still trails the rest of the world and that most projects lack the creative spark needed to achieve fundamental advances in science.