If the Franklin Institute Science Museum has its way, the prestige of its new Bower Award for Achievement in Science will someday rival that of the coveted Nobel Prize.

The award, which carries with it an unrestricted minimum grant of $250,000, commemorates Benjamin Franklin, who viewed science and technology as a means to solve almost any societal problem. The grant accompanying the award is funded by the late Henry Bower (1896-1988), a Philadelphia chemical manufacturer and philanthropist who bequeathed $7.4 million to the Philadelphia science museum to establish a fund in his name. In his will, Bower stipulated that the money was to be used to endow both the science award and a second prize for business leadership.

To perpetuate Franklin's ideals, the Bower Award seeks to honor a scientist who best emulates its namesake. The idea of science and technology for the betterment of humanity rests at the heart...

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