The ten finalists for the 2002 Descartes Prize have been selected from a record 108 entries. The winner of the EU prize for scientific excellence, sponsored by the Research DG, will be announced at an event in Munich on 5 December. The one million euro competition is designed to reward scientific projects that contribute to Europe's competitiveness, and address the concerns of citizens. The Commissioner for Research, Philippe Busquin, said of the record number of hopefuls who took part: 'I welcome the growing interest in the Descartes Prize.' Of the event itself he said that 'in Europe we need more research with our best scientists from different countries working together. Through the Descartes Prize, we want to nurture and reward teams of scientists that become excellent through European collaboration.' Indeed, collaboration is a key theme of the prize, with only those teams made up of partners from at least two Member States or Associated States being eligible. With the average numbers of national partners per team this year reaching nine, the event seems to have succeeded in its stated aim of encouraging cooperation and the exchange of knowledge. The subjects covered by this year's finalists include medicine, engineering, chemistry, and social sciences, represented by a study on gender differences among the political and business elite. Details of one of the finalists have yet to be confirmed, the nine other projects that have been selected for the finals are: - Earth sciences: 'Structure and composition of Earth's deep interior' new discoveries of the Earth's interior provide answers to the origins of natural disasters. - Information sciences: 'Micromachined circuits for microwave and millimetre wave applications' pan-European collaboration leads to the development of new communication technologies. - Life sciences: 'Autocreativity in multiple sclerosis: structural, functional and pathological studies' towards new drugs to help multiple sclerosis patients. - Socio-economic sciences: 'Gender differences in political and business elites of industrial countries' male monopoly of public life is opening up to women. - Basic sciences: 'Solving the gamma ray burst riddle: the universe's biggest explosions' the universe's largest explosions since the Big Bang. - Engineering: 'Rational production and improved working environment through self compacting concrete' new concrete improves workers' health and safety. - Basic sciences: 'Chemical morphogenesis' chemical reactions responsible for the stripes on zebras and the motifs of shells. - Information sciences; 'AQUIRE: Advanced quantum information research' scientists overcome the quantum noise for improved optical communications. - Engineering: 'Petrify: methodology and tool for logic synthesis of asynchronous circuits' new asynchronous circuits: towards cost-effective and less complicated designs.