String theory may not be doing so well in the popular press or among physicists, but at least a fabulously wealthy Russian investor is a fan. Yuri Milner recently deposited $3 million each in the bank accounts of 5 string theorists (basically the theorists at the IAS and Ashoke Sen) and four others, choosing them himself as recipients of the “Fundamental Physics Prize”. It seems he intends to keep doing this in the future, making “Fundamental Physics” a very lucrative business to be in.
Update: Now that I’m awake, I noticed what is odd about this prize, after realizing that the winners are kind of a list of the most prominent people in the field who haven’t won a Nobel Prize. What this does is turn the Nobel Prize on its head; you get it for doing work that is untestable or wrong, but that has a high profile …
If so, it is part of a general cultural trend, surely – away from time-tested methods and toward glitzy stuff that fails (but no one cares because the whiff of glamour is enough).
See also: Multiverse: String theorists are not getting the key positions any more?