Have you heard of the Breakthrough Prize? Probably not. I hadn’t until I came across the article “Breakthrough Prize awards scientists $22 million and star status” about it last fall.
What is the Breakthrough Prize? The Breakthrough Prizes honor important, primarily recent, achievements in the categories of Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences, and Mathematics. Recipients of the award receive $3 million each in prize money. They are also recognized in an “Acadamy Awards like” televised award ceremony. The ceremony is intended both to celebrate their achievements and inspire the next generation of scientists.
The Breakthrough Prizes have been awarded every year since 2013. More than $200 million have been awarded over the life of the Breakthrough Prizes. As they say on their website:
Knowledge is humanity’s greatest asset. It defines our nature, and it will shape our future. The body of knowledge is assembled over centuries. Yet a single mind can extend it immensely. Einstein reimagined space and time. Darwin distilled the chaos of life to a single idea. Turing figured out what it means to think. Great scientists enrich us all. They enable technologies that ease our lives, but they also show us what’s beyond our horizons.
We have all seen those in entertainment or sports fields recognized in lavish ceremonies. The Breakthrough Prize attempts to give similar recognition to the scientists and mathematicians that are shaping our future.