TECH

Breakthrough Prize Awards: Like A Celeb Bash, Except These People Do Useful Things

11/11/2014 10:32 GMT | Updated 11/11/2014 10:59 GMT

More than $36 million in prizes has been awarded at a glitzy bash in California, except that unlike celebrities, actors and musicians the people receiving the prizes actually do stuff.

The Breakthrough Prize was set up specifically to honour scientists who make dramatic contributions to the world.

Set up by tech entrepreneurs including Google co-founder Sergey Brin and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, the $3 million awards are given to innovators (individuals or groups) in physics, maths and life sciences.

Some celebrities were on hand to present the awards including Cameron Diaz and Eddie Redmayne, who plays Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Jon Hamm was there. Rupert Murdoch was there.

The media largely picked on Christina Aguilera (who sang at the event) and her post-baby weight loss.

But also present were the people who actually do things that are useful to the world.

Here are some of them, occasionally standing next to pointless celebs, followed by a full list of the winners.

The 2015 Breakthrough Prizes in Mathematics

  • Simon Donaldson, Stony Brook University and Imperial College London, for the new revolutionary invariants of 4-dimensional manifolds and for the study of the relation between stability in algebraic geometry and in global differential geometry, both for bundles and for Fano varieties.
  • Maxim Kontsevich, Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques, for work making a deep impact in a vast variety of mathematical disciplines, including algebraic geometry, deformation theory, symplectic topology, homological algebra and dynamical systems.
  • Jacob Lurie, Harvard University, for his work on the foundations of higher category theory and derived algebraic geometry; for the classification of fully extended topological quantum field theories; and for providing a moduli-theoretic interpretation of elliptic cohomology.
  • Terence Tao, University of California, Los Angeles, for numerous breakthrough contributions to harmonic analysis, combinatorics, partial differential equations and analytic number theory.
  • Richard Taylor, Institute for Advanced Study, for numerous breakthrough results in the theory of automorphic forms, including the Taniyama-Weil conjecture, the local Langlands conjecture for general linear groups, and the Sato-Tate conjecture.

The 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

  • Saul Perlmutter, University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and members of the Supernova Cosmology Project; Brian P. Schmidt, Australian National University, Adam Riess, Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute, and members of the High-Z Supernova Team.
  • Supernova Cosmology Project Team Breakthrough Prize winners: Greg Aldering, Brian J. Boyle, Patricia G. Castro, Warrick J. Couch, Susana Deustua, Richard S. Ellis, Sebastien Fabbro, Alexei V. Filippenko, Andrew S. Fruchter, Ariel Goobar, Donald E. Groom, Isobel M. Hook, Mike Irwin, Alex G. Kim, Matthew Y. Kim, Robert A. Knop, Julia C. Lee, Chris Lidman, Thomas Matheson, Richard G. McMahon, Richard Muller, Heidi J. M. Newberg, Peter Nugent, Nelson J. Nunes, Reynald Pain, Nino Panagia, Carl R. Pennypacker, Robert Quimby, Pilar Ruiz-Lapuente, Bradley E. Schaefer and Nicholas Walton.
  • High-Z Supernova Search Team Breakthrough Prize winners: Peter Challis, Alejandro Clocchiatti, Alan Diercks, Alexei V. Filippenko, Peter M. Garnavich, Ron L. Gilliland, Craig J. Hogan, Saurabh Jha, Robert P. Kirshner, Bruno Leibundgut, Mark M. Phillips, David Reiss, R. Chris Smith, Jason Spyromilio, Christopher Stubbs, Nicholas B. Suntzeff and John Tonry.

The 2015 New Horizons in Physics Prizes

  • Sean Hartnoll, Stanford University, for applying holographic methods to obtain remarkable new insights into strongly interacting quantum matter.
  • Philip C. Schuster and Natalia Toro, Perimeter Institute, for pioneering the “simplified models” framework for new physics searches at the Large Hadron Collider, as well as spearheading new experimental searches for dark sectors using high-intensity electron beams.
  • Horacio Casini and Marina Huerta, CONICET and Instituto Balseiro, Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Shinsei Ryu, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Tadashi Takayanagi, Kyoto University, for fundamental ideas about entropy in quantum field theory and quantum gravity.