Breakthrough Prize winners

NASA / WMAP SCIENCE TEAM The WMAP team from NASA, which mapped the sky using cosmic microwave background radiation, was one of the winnersNASA / WMAP SCIENCE TEAM

Created in 2012 by successful entrepreneurs such as the founders of Google and Facebook, the Breakthrough Prize announced its 2018 winners on December 3. The Fundamental Physics prize was awarded to the 27 members of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) team, a NASA mission that has been taking precise cosmology measurements since 2001. One of its major contributions involved producing the most detailed map of the sky based on cosmic microwave background radiation, a remnant of the cosmic light emitted shortly after the Big Bang. The team members will all share the US$3 million prize pool. The Mathematics prize was awarded to Christopher Hacon, from the University of Utah, and James McKernan, from the University of California, San Diego. Both mathematicians work in the field of ​​algebraic geometry, and received half of the prize money each. The Life Sciences prize honored five people, each winning US$3 million: Joanne Chory, from the Salk Institute (for her work on the molecular mechanisms involved in photosynthesis); Don W. Cleveland, from the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research at the University of California, San Diego (for detailing the pathogenesis of a type of inherited ALS); Kim Nasmyth, from the University of Oxford, UK (for studying the harmful separation of duplicated chromosomes during cell division); Kazutoshi Mori, from Kyoto University, Japan, and Peter Walter, from the University of California, San Francisco (both for elucidating the unfolded protein response mechanism, a kind of cellular quality-control system).