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.