The Breakthrough Prize ceremony is an awards show honoring not the brightest stars in Hollywood but the brightest minds in the fields of physics, mathematics and life sciences. Hosted by Seth MacFarlane, the 2015 Breakthrough Prize presentation will premiere on the Discovery Channel Saturday at 6 p.m. EST.
Backed by the founders of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Facebook Inc., Google Inc. and Mail.Ru Group, the second annual Breakthrough Prize ceremony is meant to “celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.”
Mixing celebrity with science, the ceremony was conducted at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, Calif., Nov. 9. It featured a performance by Christina Aguilera, while Kate Beckinsale, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cameron Diaz, Jon Hamm and Eddie Redmayne served as presenters. Overall, $36 million was awarded to 14 scientists, CNBC reported.
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“The world faces many fundamental challenges today, and there are many amazing scientists, researchers and engineers helping us solve them. This year's Breakthrough Prize winners have made discoveries that will help cure disease and move the world forward. They deserve to be recognized as heroes,” Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.
For the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in life sciences, six scientists were each awarded $3 million for their work, ranging from developments in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease to genome editing.
Among the winners were Alim-Louis Benabid of Joseph Fourier University for his work on high-frequency deep-brain stimulation used to treat Parkinson’s disease, as well as the duo of Jennifer Doudna of the University of California at Berkeley, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Emmanuelle Charpentier of the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research and Umea University for their work on the so-called CRISPR system, which can be used to modify genomes.
For the 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in mathematics, five mathematicians will each receive $3 million for their work in their respective fields. Richard Taylor of the Institute of Advanced Study is among the winners and is most famous for his work in aiding Andrew Wiles in his proof of Fermat’s Last Theorem, as covered by the New York Times. Presented in 1637, the proof remained elusive until 1993 when Wiles presented his work on the equation. The original proof had a flaw that was solved in 1995 by Taylor and Wiles.
The 2015 Breakthrough Prize in fundamental physics was shared by three researchers and their international teams, which discovered the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. This discovery by Saul Perlmutter, Adam Riess and Brian P. Schmidt also led to the discovery of dark energy: The trio shared the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work, as National Geographic reported.
The 2015 Breakthrough Prize ceremony will include a special message by Stephen Hawking and will be shown on the Discovery and Science channels Saturday at 6 p.m. EST.