Inside the Breakthrough Prize Awards Ceremony

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Lucy Page and Larry Page
Lucy Page and Larry Page

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

From the Oscars to the CDFAs to the James Beards, every industry—film, fashion, and food—has its own set of highly acclaimed awards. Even Silicon Valley. Earlier this month, the tech world came together for the 5th annual Breakthrough Prize Awards Ceremony. The Breakthrough Prize was founded by three of the most powerful couples in tech: Sergey Brin and Anne Wojcicki, Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan, and Yuri and Julia Milner. The prizes honor recipients in life science, mathematics, and physics with each winner receiving $3 million and an Olafur Eliasson-designed doughnut-shaped trophy. At the ceremony, which was televised live on the National Geographic Channel on Sunday, December 4, a combined total of $25 million was awarded to 24 individuals. Morgan Freeman hosted the gala that featured a performance by Alicia Keys and included celebrity presenters Jeremy Irons, Sienna Miller, Bryce Dallas Howard, Vin Diesel, Kevin Durant, and Dev Patel. The theme was “the universal reach of ideas.”

Sienna Miller
Sienna Miller

Photo Credit: Drew Altizer Photography

“There has never been a more important time to support science,” Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement about the event. “The 2017 Breakthrough Prize laureates represent the leaders in scientific research in physics, math and life sciences. Their breakthroughs will unlock new possibilities and help make the world a better place for everyone.” The importance of science was on everyone’s mind. “Science is universal,” Yuri Milner chimed in. “Tonight it brought together some of the world’s greatest actors, sportsmen, musicians, academics, entrepreneurs, astronauts and, last but not least, scientists, to celebrate what the human mind can achieve. And it brought in a live audience from across the planet.” The top three prizes, the 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences, in Fundamental Physics, and in Mathematics went to Stephen J. Elledge, Harry F. Noller, Roeland Nusse, Yoshinori Ohsumi, and Huda Yahya Zoghbi; Joseph Polchinski, Andrew Strominger, and Cumrun Vafa; and Jean Bourgain respectively. Notable Bay Area luminaries who attended the gala? Larry Page, Jeremy Stoppelman, Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, and Gavin and Jennifer Newsom.

 

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