British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell attends the awarding ceremony of the 2019 Breakthrough Prize in San Francisco, the United States, on Nov. 4, 2018. The Breakthrough Prize Foundation held a grand gala Sunday night in northern California to award a total of 21 million U.S. dollars worth of prizes to the world's top scientists for their remarkable achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics. (Xinhua/Wu Xiaoling)
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- The Breakthrough Prize Foundation held a grand gala Sunday night in northern California to award a total of 21 million U.S. dollars worth of prizes to the world's top scientists for their remarkable achievements in fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics.
The star-studded ceremony, hosted by acclaimed U.S. actor, producer and philanthropist Pierce Brosnan at the NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, brought together the stars of science with leading figures from the worlds of technology, business and entertainment to celebrate scientific achievements created by the world's greatest minds.
The celebrations of the Breakthrough Prize, known as the "Oscars of Science," paid tribute to the late Stephen Hawking, who was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, author and also director of research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge until he died on March 4 this year.
British actor Eddie Redmayne, who portrayed Hawking in the 2014 film, "The Theory of Everything," presented the tribute to the great British scientist and was joined onstage by Hawking's daughter, Lucy.
Other celebrity guests for this year's event included musical performers Lionel Richie and G.E.M., and presenters Orlando Bloom, Ron Howard, Rachel McAdams, Julianne Moore, Thandie Newton, and Lupita Nyong'o.
Sunday's ceremony was themed with "Look Up," which was inspired by quotes from Hawking's final Popular book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions.
The quotes read: 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.
The Breakthrough Prize Foundation awarded the 21 million dollars to the winners, with each bearing 3 million dollars, which is considered the most generous science prize in the world.
Five scientists, including two Chinese American professors from Harvard University and University of Texas, won the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences for their contributions to finding significant solutions to curing human diseases.
The Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics went to Charles Kane and Eugene Mele from University of Pennsylvania for their new ideas about topology and symmetry in physics, leading to the prediction of a new class of materials that conduct electricity only on their surface.
British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell Burnell from University of Dundee and University of Oxford had already received the Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in September for her role in the surprise discovery of pulsars -- an exotic new type of star -- first announced in February 1968, and for her inspiring scientific leadership over the last five decades.
Along with the seven main-stage prizes, a total of six New Horizons Prizes, worth 100,000 dollars each, were awarded to seven physicists and five mathematicians for early-career achievements in their respective fields.
The Breakthrough Prize, which is now in its seventh year, is sponsored by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, Ma Huateng, founder of China's internet giant Tencent, Israeli-Russian entrepreneur and venture capitalist Yuri Milner and his wife Julia Milner, as well as Anne Wojcicki, an American entrepreneur and the co-founder of the personal genomics company 23andMe.