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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

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Updated 2 hours ago - Economy & Business

Our make-believe economy is here to stay

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The Federal Reserve and global central banks are remaking the world's economy in an effort to save it, but have created something of a monster.

Why it matters: The Fed-driven economy relies on the creation of trillions of dollars — literally out of thin air — that are used to purchase bonds and push money into a pandemic-ravaged economy that has long been dependent on free cash and is only growing more addicted.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Why Trump may still fire Barr

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Attorney General Barr may be fired or resign, as President Trump seethes about Barr's statement this week that no widespread voter fraud has been found.

Behind the scenes: A source familiar with the president's thinking tells Axios that Trump remains frustrated with what he sees as the lack of a vigorous investigation into his election conspiracy theories.

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Scoop: Trump's spy chief plans dire China warning

Xi Jinping reviews troops during a military parade in Beijing last year. Photo: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe on Thursday will publicly warn that China's threat to the U.S. is a defining issue of our time, a senior administration official tells Axios.

Why it matters: It's exceedingly rare for the head of the U.S. intelligence community to make public accusations about a rival power.