Breakthrough Prize winners give symposium on discoveries

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-05 21:05:00|Editor: xuxin
Video PlayerClose

SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- Winners of Breakthrough Prize gave a full-day symposium on their award-winning discoveries in physics, life sciences and mathematics, as well as their future researches here Monday following a star-studded grand gala celebrations overnight.

The recipients of the 2020 Breakthrough Prize were joined by the prize's winners from previous years to further explain their ground-breaking discoveries in fundamental physics, mathematics and life sciences, such as the question about supersymmetry and supergravity in nature, the first image of a supermassive black hole, and new biotechnology to treat diseases like Alzheimer.

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation Sunday awarded the 2020 Breakthrough Prize and 2019 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, worth a total of 21.6 million U.S. dollars, to the world's top scientists and researchers in physics, mathematics and life sciences.

Sergio Ferrara, who won the 2019 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, told Xinhua that his next goal is to unify particle physics in the framework of super gravity with the cosmological implication, so that particle physics and cosmology are unified in a unique theory to predict the evolution of the universe.

Ferrara, who is from the European Organization for Nuclear Research, one of the world's largest scientific research centers, shared the 3-million-dollar Special Breakthrough Prize with two other scientists for the invention of supergravity, in which quantum variables are part of the description of the geometry of spacetime.

Pedro Vieira, from the ICTP South American Institute for Fundamental Research (ICTP-SAIFR), a new regional center for theoretical physics in Brazil, won the 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize for profound contributions to the understanding of quantum field theory.

He told Xinhua that the symposium is "great with an extremely high level of academic standard" where people can learn amazing new knowledge from one field to another.

"It's absolutely fantastic to see the first picture of a black hole, which would be viewed as a science fiction a few years ago," he said. "It's even more exciting that scientists are planning to make a movie-version of the black hole in the future."

Derek Muller, who created Veritasium, a channel of science and engineering videos on YouTube, hosted a panel discussion on black holes and their secrets to science by winners of the 2020 and 2017 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics and a recipient of the 2020 New Horizons in Physics Prize.

He said the Breakthrough Prize elevated the status of scientists in people's minds and presented them as role models.

"It shows scientists in a light that I think can be aspirational, particularly for young people, and it inspired them to try out these careers which is so important for the future of humanity and the world," he said.

It's also amazing to learn about stories of many of these scientists that have been so impactful in people's lives, Muller added.

Xinwen Zhu, a young Chinese scientist at California Institute of Technology, was honored with the 2020 New Horizons in Mathematics Prize for his work in arithmetic algebraic geometry including applications to the theory of Shimura varieties and the Riemann-Hilbert problem for p-adic varieties.

He said the Breakthrough Prize can inspire young people to seek their careers by developing their own areas of interest and do what they like most.

"Fundamental research sometimes requires an extremely long period of time, and any breakthrough is a result of accumulations from many small steps. This is where creativity lies," he said.

Like the Breakthrough Prize, he said, there are also a lot of similar science prizes or awards established in China, which can encourage young people including university students to engage in scientific research.

"Being a scientist can be a good profession," he added.