Yuri Milner is a 61-year-old technology CEO and investor. After earning an advanced theoretical physics degree, his long career investing in technology investment has brought him significant financial success and worldwide recognition.
Personal Success was Not Enough
Yuri Milner knew that he wanted to give back to the community in some way, and his first opportunity came in 2012 when he joined Bill Gates, Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffet in the Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge is a promise by some of the wealthiest people in the world to donate most of their money to philanthropic causes. Yuri Milner, along with Mark Zuckerberg, Priscilla Chan, and Sergey Brin, launched the Breakthrough Prize later that same year.
What is the Breakthrough Prize, and Why Did Yuri Milner Create It?
Now in its 11th year, the Breakthrough Prize consists of a trophy and an award of $3 million to the person or team presenting the most innovative scientific developments. One of the reasons Milner created the Breakthrough Prize, along with his wife Julia, was that he views scientific discovery as the key to a rewarding future.
Yuri Milner is especially interested in medical breakthroughs in the areas of genetics and molecular biology. He feels that the world does not tap into the brilliance of scientific researchers nearly enough. His goal with the Breakthrough Prize was to inspire a new generation of scientists and provide them with the same level of support that professional athletes, artists, and actors and actresses receive.
Even though the world has seen more scientific inventions since the Industrial Revolution than at any other time in history, Milner feels that greater things are yet to come. He argues that we are at the beginning of human history and marvels at what up-and-coming researchers and inventors can accomplish if they are willing to crack the codes of nature.
What Are the Fields of Study Eligible to Receive a Breakthrough Prize?
To participate in the contest sponsored by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, students must have submitted their entries by April 1, 2022, in one of the three categories described below.
People made wrong assumptions about the world for centuries because they did not know better. Since the scientific revolution, and especially in the last century or so, scientists in the field of fundamental physics have discovered deep laws of nature like general relativity and quantum mechanics. Often these discoveries also lead to new technologies that improve our lives. The Breakthrough Prize is open to experimental, mathematical, and theoretical physicists who have made deep and lasting contributions to expanding human knowledge.
In the middle of the last century scientific researchers discovered that the human genome is encoded in the DNA double helix. The discovery has been the backdrop of rapid progress in the fields of neurology, oncology, genetics, and molecular biology. Knowing how organs and cells function has enabled medical professionals to diagnose and treat some of humankind’s most disabling and deadly diseases. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation awards prizes to entrants who make big. Contributions to understanding living systems, including discoveries that could lead to new treatments for neuro-degenerative disorders and other diseases.
Yuri Milner will award prizes on behalf of his organization to the entrants who present substantial discoveries in multiple areas of mathematics. He understands the important connection between mathematics, physics, and life sciences, realizing that one cannot exist without the other. He holds firm to the belief that mathematics is more than numbers alone but instead acts as nature’s universal language.
Judging for the 2023 Breakthrough Prize contests will be underway soon. Early-career mathematicians and scientists can also be nominated for the New Horizons Prize of $100,000 each, which is also dispensed by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation in accordance with Yuri Milner’s Giving Pledge.
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