Scientists and celebrities gathered in California on Sunday night for the Breakthrough Awards – also known as the Oscars of Science.
In total, $22million in prizes was awarded to scientists in life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics, with each award worth $3million – the largest in science.
A touching tribute was also paid to Stephen Hawking with speeches by daughter Lucy and actor Eddie Redmayne, who played the physicist in 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything.
Tech entrepreneur Sergey Brin attended the event with pregnant girlfriend Nicole Shanahan (left), while sponsor Mark Zuckerberg arrived with wife Priscilla Chan (right)
Orlando Bloom and Breakthrough Prize co-founder Anne Wojcicki speak at the event
Eddie Redmayne delivers a tribute to Stephen Hawking alongside his daughter Lucy and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner at the Breakthrough Awards in California
Hawking’s inspirational life was also honored in the theme of the evening, Look Up, based on a quote from his final book, published posthumously this year.
He wrote: ‘Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.’
Speaking to the prize-winners, Milner said: ‘Stephen Hawking urged us to “look up,” – to open our eyes and our minds to the wonder of the Universe. At the heart of all science is that spirit of curiosity.’
Anne Wojcicki, who co-founded the prize, added: ‘Every year I am inspired by the laureates and the deep insights that are made possible by pure curiosity-driven research.
‘This year is particularly special with the special recognition of Jocelyn Bell Burnell’s groundbreaking contributions at a time when women were underrepresented and unrecognized.’
Professor Hawking was awarded the Special Breakthrough Prize himself in 2013 for contributions to fundamental physics, and supported the organisation
Redmayne, who played Professor Hawking in 2014 biopic The Theory of Everything, led tributes to the late astrophysicist at the evening
Redmayne, Milner and Lucy Hawking are pictured at the event which was themed ‘Look Up’, after a quote by Hawking urging people to ‘be curious’
There was also a tribute to 2017 Breakthrough Prize laureate Joseph Polchinski, one of the most influential physicists of his generation, who passed away this year.
Pierce Brosnan hosted the evening which also featured presentations from Orlando Bloom, Ron Howard, Rachel McAdams, Julianne Moore, Thandie Newton, Lupita Nyong’o, Eddie Redmayne and Chinese musicians G.E.M.
Mark Zuckerberg and Russian entrepreneur Yuri Milner, who sponsor the event, were also present, alongside fellow tech entrepreneur Sergey Brin and pregnant girlfriend Nicole Shanahan.
This year, a total of seven $3 million prizes were awarded to nine researchers.
The 2018 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics presented to Jocelyn Bell Burnell for her role in the discovery of the pulsar star around 50 years ago.
Rachel McAdams (left) and Lupita Nyong’o also attended the event, which is known as the Oscars of Science
Wendi Deng Murdoch (left) and Julianne Moore were among attendees on Sunday
Singer Lana Del Rey also spoke at the event, about the importance of ‘believing in a little bit of magic, and that thoughts can become things’
In addition, three $100,000 New Horizons in Physics Prizes totaling $300,000 were awarded to seven early-career physicists, and three New Horizons in Mathematics Prizes totaling $300,000 were awarded to five early-career mathematicians.
The Breakthrough Junior Challenge – a global, science competition – recognized Samay Godika, with a $250,000 scholarship and an additional $150,000 in educational prizes for his science teacher and school.
The prize in Life Sciences was awarded to C. Frank Bennett and Adrian R. Krainer, Angelika Amon, Xiaowei Zhuang, and Zhijian ‘James’ Chen.
The prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to Charles Kane and Eugene Mele, while for Mathematics, the prize was awarded to Vincent Lafforgue.
In addition, six New Horizons Prizes – an annual prize of $100,000, recognizing the achievements of early-career physicists and mathematicians – were awarded.
Lionel Richie performed during the award ceremony, during which $22million in prizes were given out in the fields of life sciences, fundamental physics and mathematics