Infoworld has an article on a talk by Google CEO Eric Schmidt about NASA's 50th anniversary:
Schmidt praised programs such as NASA's Centennial Challenge, which awards cash prizes to inventors that come up with solutions to the agency's needs. Last year, NASA awarded $200,000 to Peter Horner, an unemployed engineer from Maine, who created a new space glove using a common rubber glove.
Google has sponsored the X Prize Foundation, an organization that runs similar competitions, with an award of up to $30 million for a group that can design and launch a lunar lander with a robotic explorer on board. In many cases, the teams competing for the prize in these types of competitions spend more than the total prize money, but the public awards spur competition, Schmidt said.
"Why would we do this?" Schmidt said. "Because it's fun."
"The best way to be lucky is to create more luck," he said. "And the best way to create more luck is to create more at-bats."