8th Annual Breakthrough prize - "The Oscars of science"

The Breakthrough Prize celebrated recipients of its 2020 Breakthrough Prize at a glittering awards ceremony at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, broadcast live on National Geographic. Renowned as the “Oscars of Science,” the awards brought together luminaries in the science and tech communities alongside celebrities, athletes, musicians and dozens of current and prior Breakthrough Prize laureates for a festive celebration of science.

8th Annual Breakthrough prize -
will.i.am attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Kimberly White/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

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Sheperd S. Doeleman speaks onstage during the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

A combined total of over $21 million was awarded this evening, in recognition of groundbreaking research achievements in Life Sciences, Fundamental Physics and Mathematics. Each Breakthrough Prize is $3 million, the largest monetary prize in science.

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Mark Zuckerberg and LeVar Burton attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Steve Jennings/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

After receiving a red-carpet welcome, scientists were lauded by celebrity presenters and hundreds of leaders in the tech community. Hosted by James Corden, presenters included Tyra Banks, Drew Barrymore, LeVar Burton, Taraji P. Henson, Allison Janney, Karlie Kloss, Adriana Lima, and Edward Norton.

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Max Metlitski attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Red Carpet at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

The evening also featured performances by Lenny Kravitz, will.i.am, who was introduced by Adriana Lima, and Rachel Zhang.

The theme of the evening was Seeing the Invisible, inspired by the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration, the winners of the Fundamental Physics Prize, who first imaged a light-engulfing supermassive black hole in April, 2019.

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Kendrick Smith attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Red Carpet at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

This year, a total of seven $3 million prizes were awarded to nine researchers, including the 2019 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics presented to Sergio Ferrara, Daniel Z. Freedman and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen for their invention of the theory of supergravity. In addition, three $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prizes totaling $300,000 were awarded to nine early-career physicists, and three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes totaling $300,000 were awarded to three early-career mathematicians. Ferrara, Freedman and van Nieuwenhuizen received their Prize from Drew Barrymore and Robinhood co-founder Vlad Tenev.

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Chris Hadfield attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Red Carpet at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Miikka Skaffari/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

The 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences was awarded to Jeffrey M. Friedman (Rockefeller University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute); F. Ulrich Hartl (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry), Arthur L. Horwich (Yale School of Medicine and Howard Hughes Medical Institute); David Julius (University of California, San Francisco); Virginia Man-Yee Lee (University of Pennsylvania).

8th Annual Breakthrough prize -
will.i.am attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

Onstage, Friedman received the Prize from Edward Norton and Anne Wojcicki, Hartl and Horwich from Tyra Banks and Sergey Brin, Julius from Allison Janney and Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, and Lee from Karlie Kloss and Priscilla Chan.

The 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to all 347 members of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration representing 60 institutions in 20 countries. The award was presented by LeVar Burton and Mark Zuckerberg.

The 2020 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics was awarded to Alex Eskin (University of Chicago). The award was presented by Adriana Lima and Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

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Alex Eskin, Adriana Lim and Bobby Kotick attend the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

In addition, six New Horizons Prizes – an annual $100,000 prize recognizing the achievements of early-career physicists and mathematicians – were awarded.

The New Horizons in Physics Prize was awarded to: Xie Chen (California Institute of Technology), Lukasz Fidkowski (University of Washington), Michael Levin (University of Chicago) and Max A. Metlitski (Massachusetts Institute of Technology); to Jo Dunkley (Princeton University), Samaya Nissanke (University of Amsterdam) and Kendrick Smith (Perimeter Institute); and to Simon Caron-Huot (McGill University) and Pedro Vieira (Perimeter Institute and ICTP-SAIFR).

The New Horizons in Mathematics Prize was awarded to: Tim Austin (University of California, Los Angeles); Emmy Murphy (Northwestern University); Xinwen Zhu (California Institute of Technology).

8th Annual Breakthrough prize -
Vlad Tenev, Peter van Nieuwenhuizen, Daniel Freedman, Sergio Ferrara and Drew Barrymore attend the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Kelly Sullivan/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize)

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge -- a global, science-video competition -- recognized Jeffery Chen of Burlingame, California, with a $250,000 scholarship and an additional $150,000 in educational prizes for his science teacher and school. Chen’s award was presented to him by Taraji P. Henson and Julia Milner.

The Breakthrough Junior Challenge is a global science video competition, which this year attracted more than 11,000 registrants. The contest is designed to inspire creative thinking about fundamental concepts in the life sciences, physics, and mathematics. In recognition of his winning submission, 17-year-old Jeffery Chen received up to $400,000 in educational prizes, including a scholarship worth up to $250,000, another $50,000 for his science teacher who inspired him, and a state-of-the-art science lab valued at $100,000 for his school, Burlingame High School, which will be designed by and built in partnership with Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

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LeVar Burton attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize )

Since its inception in 2012, the Breakthrough Prize has awarded $239 million to honor paradigm-shifting research in the fields of fundamental physics, life sciences and mathematics.

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James Corden attends the 2020 Breakthrough Prize Red Carpet at NASA Ames Research Center on November 03, 2019 in Mountain View, California. (Photo by Ian Tuttle/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize )

For the seventh time, the ceremony was directed and produced by Don Mischer, alongside executive producers Charlie Haykel and Juliane Hare of Don Mischer Productions.


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