A new trend s emerging in British science, placing bets on the likelihood of discoveries.
The book on the detection of gravity waves has now been closed, with odd being slashed from an initial 500/1 to 2/1. Other bets available to scientific punters (developed in association with New Scientist in case you were wondering what the average bookie knows about Higgs bosons) are:
Possibility of life on Titan – 10,000/1
Building a fusion power plant – 50/1
Finding the Higgs boson – 6/1
Understanding cosmic rays – 4/1
It would be nice to see a few nanotech related bets available. A demonstration of Drexlerian molecular manufacturing within five years would perhaps attract some long odds but would provide a significant windfall for CRN, the Foresight Institute and other MNT fans and allows a mechanism for molecular manufacturing to be both stimulated and funded, rather than endlessly debated.
Given that a contribution to the nanotech X Prize costs $25,000, a similar amount invested at 500/1 should generate in excess of $12 million. If Foresight could find 100 people willing to bet $25,000 (although this would significantly shorten the odds) the resulting pay out should be more than enough to fund any necessary research, and significantky more than the $10 million X Prize pay out.
The only catch would be finding someone wiling to underwrite the cost of the feasibility project until the payout, say a million or two?
Small change for many a silicon valley entrepreneur we would have thought.