Hollywood welcomed some of science’s brightest minds to the “Oscars of Science” on April 15, 2023. The ceremony for Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize took place on the open-air roof of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures. Celebrities mingled with world-leading scientists as they gathered to celebrate research achievements in science and mathematics.
Giving Pledge signatory Yuri Milner co-founded the Breakthrough Prize to honor scientists at the forefront of innovation. He has helped found other philanthropic enterprises, including the Breakthrough Initiatives and Tech For Refugees. He is also the author of the short book Eureka Manifesto.
The Breakthrough Prize
Co-founded by philanthropist Yuri Milner, the Breakthrough Prize provides approximately $15 million in prizes each year. Prizes for top researchers in Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics are $3 million each.
Early-career researchers also receive recognition. The Breakthrough Prize awards up to three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes ($100,000), up to three New Horizons in Physics Prizes ($100,000), and up to three Maryam Mirzakhani New Frontiers Prizes ($50,000).
A Distinguished Ceremony for the “Oscars of Science”
Stage, screen, and sport celebrities attended the 2023 Breakthrough Prize ceremony. James Corden hosted the event, and a high-profile lineup of presenters handed out awards. These presenters included Danny DeVito, Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, Lily Collins, Magnus Carlsen, and Lauren Ridloff.
Grammy-winning artist John Legend performed at the open-air event, and singer-songwriter Chris Isaak performed at the official after-party. The ceremony also featured appearances by Chris Pine, Leslie Odom Jr., and Kristen Bell.
This year’s ceremony was the first staged since the Covid-19 pandemic and welcomed Breakthrough Prize winners from 2021, 2022, and 2023. It was also the first Breakthrough Prize event hosted in Hollywood instead of San Francisco.
Charlie Haykel and Juliane Hare produced the ceremony, which Don Mischer Productions directed. The company has produced other notable events, including several Super Bowl halftime shows and the Academy Awards.
Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize Foundation
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation helps sponsor the Breakthrough Prize. Technology investor and science philanthropist Yuri Milner set up the Breakthrough Prize Foundation as part of his Giving Pledge commitment.
Julia and Yuri Milner signed the Giving Pledge in 2012. In joining the Giving Pledge, the couple made a promise to donate at least half of their lifetime wealth to charitable scientific causes.
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation advances scientific knowledge, celebrates scientific achievement, and inspires future generations in the scientific fields through enterprises like the Breakthrough Initiatives.
The Breakthrough Initiatives: Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking launched the first Breakthrough Initiative in 2015. The $100 million program, Breakthrough Listen, uses advanced telescopes to scan the skies for intelligent alien civilizations.
The other Breakthrough Initiatives are Message, Starshot, Watch, and Discuss. The suite of space science programs investigates fundamental questions about life in the Universe. For instance, Breakthrough Message is a $1 million competition calling for messages that another civilization could understand.
Tech For Refugees
Yuri Milner also co-founded Tech For Refugees, a non-profit initiative that uses technology to provide critical assistance to refugees. Tech For Refugees partners with Airbnb.org, Flexport.org, Spotify, Welcome.US, and other technology-based organizations to give refugees key information and resources.
Eureka Manifesto by Yuri Milner
Yuri Milner published a short book, Eureka Manifesto, in 2021, exploring humanity’s role in the cosmos. He argues that humanity needs a shared mission of astronomical exploration to thrive.
Eureka Manifesto also advocates for recognizing the work of great scientists and raising their profile. Awards like the Breakthrough Prize celebrate the world’s scientists as heroes.
Learn more about Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize.