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But besides the handsome awards, scientists also benefited from the exact celebrity treatment people in the show-biz industry usually get.
On Sunday, the $21 million worth of prizes were given by Yuri Milner, a Russian billionaire and venture capitalist who established the prizes in 2012.
Breakthrough Prize was designed to award $3 million to each of seven scientists who made outstanding scientific accomplishments in the fields of life sciences, mathematics, and fundamental physics.
Breakthrough Prizes are currently the largest scientific awards on the planet. The Nobel Prize is about $1.5 million or 10 million Swedish kronor.
Yet, for some scientists this year Breakthrough Prize was more about world fame than money since 1,370 physicists had to split a $3 million prize awarded for their work in the field of quantum mechanics. Seven lead-researchers will split $2 million while the rest will have to split the remaining $1 million.
Milner was saddened that he couldn’t award each physicist with $3 million, yet he said that the prizes were ‘not there yet.’ Moreover, nowadays scientific breakthroughs are made by large groups that work under vast consortia rather than solitary scientists. This is why, we should expect next years’ awards to be also split between many researchers.
Five of the $3 million prizes were awarded to scientists for their advances in optogenetics, a method to manipulate light into controlling cells in living tissue, and mapping of millennia-old genomes. One prize was awarded to a Berkeley researcher for his contribution to low dimensional topology.
Scientists at the start of their careers were also awarded. Eight of them were given $100,000 each. Milner planned since the beginning to make science as notorious as sports or entertainment, but on Sunday he told reporters that it was too early to say whether that plan was achieved or not.
Yet the fact that the Breakthrough Prize award ceremony was broadcast on Fox means that the awards are moving into the right direction, Milner added. The businessman was also once interested in science and pursued a PhD degree in physics in the 1990s. Yet, he had to drop out to move to the U.S.
In the meantime, he sponsored other initiatives including top technology companies such as Facebook and announced a plan to invest $100 million in the search for extraterrestrial life.
Image Source: Pixabay
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