The Oscars of Science: The Yuri Milner-Established Breakthrough Prize


The Yuri Milner-founded Breakthrough Prize is widely known as the Oscars of Science. Specifically, the prize recognizes world-class scientists who have made breakthrough contributions within their respective fields. The next group of winners will be announced this fall and presented with their prizes at a live broadcast award ceremony.

What is the Breakthrough Prize?

The Breakthrough Prize was established in 2012 to recognize researchers who have made monumental contributions to scientific knowledge. The prize is available to scientists and mathematicians who are asking and advancing some of the most fundamental questions. 

The prize is called the “Oscars of Science” because it’s similar to the actors’ awards in terms of glamour and prestige. But unlike the Oscars, the Breakthrough Prize comes with a handsome financial reward.

In addition to the Breakthrough Prize itself, there is also a Special Breakthrough Prize and a New Horizons Prize:

  • The Special Breakthrough Prize can be awarded any time of year and without nomination, as opposed to in the fall after a nomination process.
  • The Maryam Mirzakhani New Horizons Prize recognizes new and promising scientists who are making profound advances.

The prizes are supported by the foundations Yuri and Julia Milner, Sergey Brin, Priscilla Chan, Anne Wojcicki, and Mark Zuckerberg. Julia and Yuri Milner set up their foundation after committing to give a large part of their fortune to scientific causes with the Giving Pledge

What does the Breakthrough Prize include?

The Breakthrough Prize is represented by a trophy. It also comes with a $3 million monetary reward, which may go to a single scientist or be split among several.

The Special Breakthrough Prize comes with the same $3 million reward, as it can be won for achievements won at any time. Winners of the Special Prize include Stephen Hawking, Steven Weinberg and the leaders of the team that discovered the Higgs boson.

The New Horizons Prize comes with a smaller $100,000 reward, which again might be granted to a single scientist or a team.

What fields are recognized by the Breakthrough Prize?

The Breakthrough Prize and the New Horizons Prize are available to scientists studying the most fundamental fields. There are separate prizes for fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics.

Why did Yuri Milner establish the Breakthrough Prize?

Yuri Milner established the Breakthrough Prize in 2012 to recognize individuals who have made profound contributions to human knowledge. The contributions are profound in terms of both field advancement and general significance, which is partly why the prize is restricted to the scientific fields that ask deep questions.

The New Horizons Prize was created to recognize up-and-coming scientists in these fields.

When is the Breakthrough Prize given?

The Breakthrough Prize will be awarded during a globally broadcast ceremony this fall. The ceremony concludes with a program of lectures and discussions given by the recipients.

Who won the Breakthrough Prize last year?

The winners of the prize are chosen by previous winners in each field.

Laureates for the 2021 Breakthrough Prize were Eric Adelberger, Jens H. Gundlach, and Blayne Heckel (fundamental physics); Richard J. Youle, David Baker, Catherine Dulac, and Yuk Ming Dennis Lo (life sciences); and Martin Hairer (mathematics).

The 2021 New Horizons Prize recipients were Tracy Slatyer, Rouven Essig, Javier Tiffenberg, Timer Volansky, Tien-Tien Yu, Ahmed Almheiri, Netta Engelhardt, Henry Maxfield, and Geoff Penington (fundamental physics) and Bhargav Bhatt, Aleksandr Logunov and Song Sun (mathematics).

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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