When the Chicago-based John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced the names of the 36 new MacArthur Fellows this past summer, there were eight scientists included on the list. But according to Kenneth Hope, director of the MacArthur Fellows Program, it makes no difference to foundation officials whether this year's recipients are physicists, painters, or poets. "We never make distinctions by field," Hope says. Rather, "individuals who show creativity and promise and who have the potential to make a difference"--in any field--are the types of people who have been winning the prize since the fellowship program began in 1981.

Fellowship awards range from $150,000 to $375,000, over five years, plus health insurance. Specific fellowship amounts are determined by the recipient's age, from 21 up to 60. For instance, a 21-year-old MacArthur fellow receives $30,000 a year. The amount increases by $1,000 a year up to age 60. And each...

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