On Sunday, December 3, 2017, the Breakthrough Foundation held "The Oscars of Science" in Silicon Valley. Launched in 2012 by Yuri Milner, a Silicon Valley tech investor, the Breakthrough Prize is also backed by Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and his wife Priscilla Chan, Anne Wojcicki from the DNA testing company 23andMe, and Google’s Sergey Brin.
Since its inception six years ago, the Breakthrough Prize has awarded close to $200 million to honor paradigm-shifting research in the fields of fundamental physics, life sciences, and mathematics. This year, $22 million was awarded.
“The Breakthrough Prize was created to celebrate the achievements of scientists, physicists, and mathematicians, whose genius help us understand our world, and whose advances shape our future,” said Breakthrough Prize co-founder, Mark Zuckerberg. “The world needs their inspiration, and their reminder that even though it doesn’t always feel that way, we are making steady progress toward building a better future for everyone. Priscilla and I want to congratulate all of tonight’s laureates and give our deepest thanks for all that they do.”
The 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics was awarded to a team of researchers who helped shape our understanding of the origin, evolution, and nature of the cosmos. NASA's WMAP space mission was led by Charles L. Bennett (Johns Hopkins University), Gary Hinshaw (University of British Columbia), Norman Jarosik (Princeton University), Lyman Page Jr. (Princeton University), David N. Spergel (Princeton University). There are 22 other members of the mission's team, including Brown Physics Professor, Greg Tucker.
From 2001 to 2009, WMAP mapped the cosmic microwave background(CMB) — the light left over from the Big Bang — with unprecedented precision. This work allowed scientists to nail down the age of the universe (about 13.8 billion years), its rate of accelerating expansion (roughly 70 kilometers per second per megaparsec) and its basic composition (about 5 percent "normal" matter, 24 percent dark matter and 71 percent dark energy).
This article includes content from space.com