Sunday, 8 November 2015


Seth MacFarlane is set to host the annual Breakthrough Prize awards gala, scheduled to be held at 10 p.m. ET at the University of California, Berkeley. MacFarlane is reportedly going to be joined by Russell Crowe and Hilary Swank for the awarding of the prizes. Admission to the gala is by invitation only, according to U.C. Berkeley.

The Breakthrough Prize was first awarded in 2012 and was conceived by Yuri Milner, who was reported to have made millions investing in the stock market after dropping out of a Russian graduate physics programs.

“This intellectual quest to understand the universe really defines us as human beings,” Milner was quoted, “because it expands our understanding of at least what is possible.

Milner wanted to create an award that was different than the Nobel Prize. The Nobel Prize is said to tend to honor major breakthroughs made by scientists who are near the end of their careers. The goal of The Breakthrough Prize award is said to be to reward younger scientists’ work that hasn’t necessarily been verified with empirical evidence. Also, The Breakthrough Prize carries a $3 million cash award, while the Nobel Prize pays just less than $1 million.

Along with Milner, Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and co-founder of Facebook; Priscilla Chan; Yuri and Julia Milner; Google co-founder Sergey Brin; CEO and founder of 23andMe, Anne Wojcicki; Jack Ma of Alibaba; and Cathy Zhang helped to found and fund the Breakthrough Prize, according to The Breakthrough Prize website.

Prizes are awarded in “Fundamental Physics, Life Sciences and Mathematics.”

“Scientists are not making anywhere near what they should be making given the significance of what they’re doing,” Yuri Milner stated in 2013. “In the last 50 years, we have evolved from a world where Einstein was the biggest celebrity to a world where the most famous scientist is not in the top few hundred celebrities in the world.”

Though The Breakthrough Prize attempts to award newer breakthroughs, in 2014, Brian Schmidt, Saul Perlmutter, and Adam Reiss were awarded the prize in fundamental physics for the same work that had won the group a Nobel Prize previously. Their work was reported to show that the universe was expanding at an accelerating rate, according to National Geographic.

Milner is reported to have hand-picked the initial Breakthrough Prize winners in 2012. Since then, laureates from previous years have been tasked with choosing the award winners for subsequent years. The Mathematics award was added in 2014.

Past winners of the award included “the Mozart of Math,” UCLA mathematician Terence Tao; Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for their work fighting infections and cancer; Dr. Alim Louis Benabid, a French neurosurgeon, for his work with Deep Brain Stimulation; and John Schwartz and Michael Green, for their work in fundamental physics with string theory, reports National Geographic.

Seth MacFarlane, who has hosted the Academy Awards, and is known for his animated shows, such as Family Guy and American Dad, is reported to hold a fascination with science. MacFarlane is said to be a fan of Carl Sagan’s show, Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. As an adult with the resources to do so, he produced a revamped version of the series, Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, with Neil deGrasse Tyson taking over for the late Carl Sagan, according to the Guardian.

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