Origin of Life Prize
    By Gunnar De Winter | June 28th 2011 09:31 AM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    Harry Lonsdale, a 79 year old millionaire scientist, has launched a $50,000 prize to promote research in the origin of life. The prize could potentially be complemented by $2,000,000 (!) of research funding.
    Harry Lonsdale is a chemist in Bend, Oregon, who made a fortune when he sold his drug development and research company to Pfizer more than 25 years ago. Since then, he has leveraged his wealth for social, civic, and political causes, including a series of unsuccessful bids to become a U.S. senator. The 79-year-old Lonsdale is an avowed atheist who has advocated for gay rights, campaign finance reform, and environmental protections. Now, he's on a mission to accelerate the quest to understand how life originated. Over the past 2 weeks, Lonsdale has taken out ads in ScienceNature, and Chemical and Engineering News announcing an Origin of Life Research Award that includes $50,000 for the best proposal to study the origin of life and up to $2 million in potential funding to carry out the work.

    According to Lonsdale, he has assembled a panel of scientists to examine to proposals, including Harvard Medical School Nobelist Jack Szostak and NASA astrobiologist Chris McKay. Unconventional submissions are encouraged and there is one important caveat: 

    ...submissions involving the supernatural or that violate physical laws will not be considered.

    One of the main reasons for the installment of the award is the atheism of its founder. In his own words:

    "Over the centuries, we've attributed so many things to God's will that have later turned out to have a scientific explanation. I believe that the creation of life was probably not an act of God. It was just nature running its course. I believe an answer will show up to this question ... and the answer will be: God didn't do it, nature did it."

    Lonsdale hopes that other philantropists will be encouraged by his contribution to support further research into the origin of life.


    For those that are interested, more information can be gathered from the website


    ...submissions involving the supernatural or that violate physical laws will not be considered.
    ha ha...well, it is science he is funding.  I don't see why he has to invoke his theism (of any kind) but if Hitler jumps out of the ground and offers $2 million for science, okay!
    Aha, an anti-Creationist (consistent with the Standard Muddle, of course.)
    If he and one of his opposite variety were to meet in the Large Head-on Collider, what a shower of particles we might see!


    @ Erinaceus Europaeus:

    Opposite? Depends on if you mean science muddle or atheism muddle.

    - Generally a biologist has no anti-particle, only positive "charges" of knowledge.
    - Generally an atheist is neutral (no gods), fundamentalists are "charged" with their gods, and constitute their own "anti-charges" (one religion consider the other gods "anti-gods").

    The problem seems to be the assumption of "Standard" muddle. Theophysics is confused! =D

    @ Campbell:

    I suspect there are at least two reasons:

    - He expects "unconventional" submissions, so wants to keep the trash at bay.
    - It is a poke @ "Tons-of-temples" Foundation, which tries to interject science with religion.