Stem Cells vs Open Source: The 2012 Millennium Tech Award

Chris Burns - Apr 19, 2012
Stem Cells vs Open Source: The 2012 Millennium Tech Award

It's no secret that this year's candidates for the Millennium Technology Prize are set to be controversial outside scientific circles. On the other hand, the prize committee at the Technology Academy Finland are quite sure of themselves: Linus Torvalds and Dr Shinya Yamanaka are this year's laureates. The prize this year for this prestigious award will exceed a a lovely 1 million Euros - certainly a pot to be sought after.

The candidates are names you should recognize, both of them being pioneers in their fields for their discoveries and innovations. Linus Torvalds is being recognized this year for his creation of the open source operating system for computers, this leading to the most famous software of all: Linux. As the academy writes:

"The free availability of Linux on the Web swiftly caused a chain-reaction leading to further development and fine-tuning worth the equivalent of 73,000 man-years. Today millions use computers, smartphones and digital video recorders like Tivo run on Linux. Linus Torvald’s achievements have had a great impact on shared software development, networking and the openness of the web, making it accessible for millions, if not billions." - Technology Academy Finland on Linus Torvalds

The other candidate Dr. Shinya Yamanaka is known, on the other hand, for his discovery of a method of developing medical research-worthy induced pluripotent stem cells which in turn do not rely on the controversial use of embryonic stem cells. As the folks at the academy write:

"Using his method to create stem cells, scientists all over the world are making great strides in research in medical drug testing and biotechnology that should one day lead to the successful growth of implant tissues for clinical surgery and combating intractable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s. Dr. Yamanaka is specifically cited for his prominent work in ethically sustainable methodology." - Technology Academy Finland on Dr. Shinya Yamanaka

These two will be up for the prize this summer, the winner to be announced at "a festive ceremony" in Helsinki on the 13th of June, 2012. Dr Ainomaija Haarla, President of Technology Academy Finland, added the following:

“We had many worthy nominations that we deliberated over, but ultimately we narrowed it down to these two candidates who have made such a significant impact in the field of computing and stem cell research. I hope this announcement will lead to added recognition for these extraordinary scientists and the technologies that they have developed. These two men may well be talked about for centuries to come.” - Haarla

We'll let you know who wins when the time comes! Who do you expect will take the prize? Which of these two candidates would you choose?

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