Scientists fantasizing about a phone call out of the blue saying that the MacArthur Foundation wants to give them several hundred thousand dollars they haven't even asked for may have to start reworking their daydreams. For when John Corbally retires as president of the $2.5 billion John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in May after 10 years on the job, there may well be some changes in the foundation's science funding.

Corbally says that the Chicago-based foundation's so-called "genius awards" - about a quarter of a million dollars for the recipient to do with pretty much as he or she wants - could be coming to an end in science. MacArthur has been giving out these awards since 1981, and last year nine of the 31 awards went to scientists.

Charles Archambeau, a theoretical geophysicist at the University of Colorado whose work on seismic source theory has had implications...

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