For the first time, the “Oscars of Science” has traded San Francisco for Hollywood: The 2023 Breakthrough Prize ceremony took place at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Hosted by Emmy-winner James Corden, the night celebrated top scientists and their achievements. Celebrities presenting the awards included Robert Downey Jr., Danny DeVito, and Gal Gadot.
Breakthrough Prize co-founder Yuri Milner says celebrating scientists as heroes can help us advance our understanding of the Universe. The Giving Pledge signatory has written about humanity’s shared mission of Universe exploration in his short book Eureka Manifesto. Yuri Milner is also a co-founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives and Tech For Refugees.
Stars Dazzle at the “Oscars of Science”
Hollywood stars mingled with science celebrities at the 2023 Breakthrough Prize ceremony. The ceremonies are often called the “Oscars of Science” for their glamour and famous attendees.
Actors attending this year’s “Oscars of Science” included Ashton Kutcher, Mila Kunis, Chris Pine, and Brie Larson. Meanwhile, Grammy-winning artist John Legend performed live at the open-air event.
The Breakthrough Prize honours the world’s greatest minds, whose work fuels today’s scientific achievements. Each year, the Prize awards more than $15 million to laureates. The prizes recognise contributions to the fields of Life Sciences, Maths, and Fundamental Physics.
The ninth Breakthrough Prize ceremony (and the first staged since 2019) welcomed winners from 2021, 2022, and 2023. Amongst the laureates were Drew Weissman and Katalin Karikó, who completed fundamental work for the development of mRNA vaccines against Covid-19.
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and the Giving Pledge
Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner and his wife Julia helped found the Breakthrough Prize in 2012. The Prize receives support from the Milners’ Breakthrough Prize Foundation , a charitable organisation that invests in scientists and scientific research.
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation also funds Tech For Refugees. The Milners launched Tech For Refugees in spring 2022 to address the global refugee crisis. The non-profit initiative supports refugee relief efforts through technology. Tech For Refugees’ partners include Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, and Spotify.
The Milners created the Breakthrough Prize Foundation to follow through on their Giving Pledge. Signatories of the Giving Pledge commit to donating most of their wealth to charitable causes. Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge letter calls scientific brilliance “under-capitalised.” The billionaire has vowed to invest in the world’s leading minds and humanity’s shared future.
Yuri Milner: The Mission to Explore and Understand Our Universe
Yuri Milner started his career as a theoretical physicist, and he is still passionate about science. His passion led him to found the Breakthrough Initiatives in 2015. The research and engineering programmes seek answers to the fundamental questions of life in the Universe.
Statistically speaking, life in the Universe should be common. But if there are extraterrestrials out there, where is everybody? One of the Breakthrough Initiatives, Breakthrough Listen, hopes to find an answer. Launched in 2015, the $100 million programme uses advanced telescopes to search for alien signals.
Another Breakthrough Initiative, Breakthrough Watch, is helping Listen’s search. This programme is working to identify potentially habitable planets near Earth.
If we did discover an intelligent alien civilisation, what should we say to them? Breakthrough Message encourages discussions about the ethics of extraterrestrial communication.
And could we join other civilisations amongst the stars? Breakthrough Starshot hopes to develop proof of concept for interstellar technology.
The fifth Breakthrough Initiative, Breakthrough Discuss, is an annual academic conference focused on novel ideas for space exploration and life in the Universe.
Learn more about Eureka Manifesto author Yuri Milner.