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Breakthrough Prize program awards $25 million

Black hole merger
An artist’s conception shows the merger of two black holes, which gives off a burst of gravitational waves. The detection of such waves won researchers one of this year’s Breakthrough Prizes. (SXS Graphic)

A program that’s richer than the Nobels rewarded more than a dozen researchers tonight with Breakthrough Prize awards amounting to $25.4 million in all.

The Breakthrough Prize program was founded in 2012 with support from such tech luminaries as Google co-founder Sergei Brin and his wife, Anne Wojcicki (23andMe); Russian entrepreneur-investor Yuri Milner and his wife, Julia Milner, and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan (also known for her part in the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative).

Since then, more than $200 million has been handed out.

The backers of the Breakthrough Prizes are allied with several science-boosting Breakthrough Initiatives, including efforts to detect signals from extraterrestrial civilizations and send nanoprobes to the Alpha Centauri star system.

Most of tonight’s winners were revealed during a ceremony at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley – with Morgan Freeman, star of the “Through the Wormhole” science documentary series, serving as host.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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