An event held last week in the Silicon Valley, was attended by billionaires and celebrities, but it wasn't the Oscar Awards. It was the 2014 Breakthrough Prize event where the winners were announced and handed over shiny trophies along with $3 million checks, which they can spend on anything of their wish.
On Thursday, December 12, the winners of the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and Life Sciences were announced at an inaugural ceremony at NASA's Ames Research Center, Mountain View, California. In total, $21 million in cash prizes were handed out. The event was sponsored by Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki of Google, Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang of Alibaba Group, Yuri and Julia Milner of 23andMe, and Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan of Facebook.
The event, dubbed as the Oscars of Science, was organized by Vanity Fair, hosted by Kevin Spacey, and attended by Rupert Murdoch, Glenn Close, Conan O'Brien, Michael C. Hall and Rob Lowe.
The prizes aim to celebrate scientists and also generate interest in students to pursue science as a career.
"The Breakthrough Prize is our effort to put the spotlight on these amazing heroes. Their work in physics and genetics, cosmology, neurology and mathematics will change lives for generations and we are excited to celebrate them," said Zuckerberg.
Michael Green of the University of Cambridge and John Schwarz of the California Institute of Technology shared the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics "for opening new perspectives on quantum gravity and the unification of forces."
The 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences winners are:
James Allison of the The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center received the award for his work on the discovery of a T cell checkpoint blockade as effective cancer therapy.
Mahlon DeLong of Emory University, for defining the interlocking circuits in the brain that malfunctions in Parkinson's disease.
Michael Hall of the University of Basel, for the discovery of Target of Rapamycin (TOR) and its role in cell growth control.
Robert Langer of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for discoveries that led to the development of controlled drug-release systems and new biomaterials.
Richard Lifton of Yale University received the award for the discovery of genes and biochemical mechanisms that cause hypertension.
Alexander Varshavsky of the California Institute of Technology, for discovering critical molecular determinants and biological functions of intracellular protein degradation.
It was also announced that a $3 million Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics will be awarded, along with the Fundamental Physics Prize and the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
"Einstein said, Pure mathematics is the poetry of logical ideas. It is in this spirit that Mark and myself are announcing a new Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. The work that the Prize recognizes could be the foundation for genetic engineering, quantum computing or Artificial Intelligence; but above all, for human knowledge itself," Yuri Milner said.