Sep 5, 2019

$21.6 million awarded to scientists for Breakthrough Prizes

The team behind the first photo of a black hole received a $3 million Breakthrough Prize. Photo: EHT Collaboration

The $3 million Breakthrough Prizes were awarded to researchers working at the forefront of math, physics and life sciences — including the scientists behind the first-ever photo taken of a black hole.

Why it matters: Scientists often work on the fringes of popular consciousness, but prizes like these are designed to help bring their discoveries to the public by celebrating their accomplishments.

Winners: More than 300 members of the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration will share the $3 million fundamental physics prize for their image of a black hole released earlier this year.

  • Alex Eskin, of the University of Chicago, received the $3 million mathematics prize for his work, including the proof of the magic wand theorem with Fields Medal winner Maryam Mirzakhani, who died in 2017. The theorem can be applied to a wide variety of problems in math, including how light bounces around a mirrored room.
  • Virginia Man-Yee Lee of the University of Pennsylvania was awarded a life sciences prize for her work developing a "protein roadmap" that shows how neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson's work in the brain.
  • F. Ulrich Hartl (Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry) and Arthur Horwich (Yale University) will share another life sciences prize for their research into how proteins fold in precise ways in order to do their jobs within a cell.
  • Jeffrey Friedman of Rockefeller University and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute was awarded a life sciences prize for his research into the science of obesity.
  • David Julius, of the University of California, San Francisco, received a life sciences prize for his work investigating how pain is processed by the body.

Plus: A special prize in fundamental physics announced in August went to Sergio Ferrara, Daniel Freedman and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen for their development of "supergravity," which combines elements of particle physics and gravity.

  • 6 early career scientists were also awarded $100,000 prizes for their work in physics and math.

Background: The Breakthrough Prizes are in their 8th year. Its sponsors include investor Yuri Milner, Google's Sergey Brin, 23andMe co-founder Anne Wojcicki and Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg.

Go deeper

Trump slams Dems as GOP sues California over mail-out ballot plan

California Gov. Gavin Newsom during a February news conference in Sacramento, California. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President Trump accused Democrats of trying "Rig" November's general election as Republican groups filed a lawsuit against California Sunday in an attempt to stop Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from mailing ballots to all registered voters.

Driving the news: Newsom signed an executive order this month in response to the coronavirus pandemic ensuring that all registered voters in the state receive a mail-in ballot.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 5,383,582 — Total deaths: 344,077 — Total recoveries — 2,158,031Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 1,640,972 — Total deaths: 97,679 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,195Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Federal judge strikes down Florida law requiring felons to pay fines before voting

Gov. Ron DeSantis. Photo: oe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Sunday ruled that a Florida law requiring convicted felons to pay all court fines and fees before registering to vote is unconstitutional.

Why it matters: The ruling, which will likely be appealed by state Republicans, would clear the way for hundreds of thousands of ex-felons in Florida to register to vote ahead of November's election.