Breakthrough Prize Winners Receive Rock Star Treatment & Cash Awards

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In summary, the Breakthrough Prize organization presented a total of $21.9 million to physicists, mathematicians, life scientists and one talented high school student. The awards take the form of seven $3 million awards, one of which was split among roughly 1,300 physicists; $500,000 split among eight early-career researchers; and $400,000 to a high school student for creating a video communicating a scientific concept. The $3,000,000 won by some of the pros was probably appreciated, also.
  • #1
OmCheeto
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This is kind of neat.

Breakthrough Prizes Give Top Scientists the Rock Star Treatment [nytimes.com]
Nov 8, 2015

The richest awards in science were handed out Sunday night when the Breakthrough Prize organization presented a total of $21.9 million to physicists, mathematicians, life scientists and one talented high school student. The awards take the form of seven $3 million awards, one of which was split among roughly 1,300 physicists; $500,000 split among eight early-career researchers; and $400,000 to a high school student for creating a video communicating a scientific concept.
...

I watched the video by the student, and although it was very good, I still don't understand relativity. :redface:
There are a bunch of https://www.breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/finalists#winner by other students. I got 1/3 of the way through one of the other 4 finalist's video, and decided it was also over my head. Good god these kids are smart! :oldsmile:

I thought that was very nice that the winning student got $250,000 for university, and his high school received a $100,000 lab, and one of his instructors received $50,000.

And the $3,000,000 won by some of the pros was probably appreciated, also.

It all began when Mr. Milner announced in 2012 that he would hand out $3 million apiece to nine theoretical physicists, in the belief that physicists are equal to rock stars and deserve to be paid and celebrated like them. Over the years, as more sponsors have joined, the prizes have spread to life sciences and mathematics. The winners each year are chosen by a committee of previous winners.

"belief"?
pfft!
google: Brian May
:oldbiggrin:
 
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  • #2
Thanks OM. I'll have to check out the student's video and see if I can learn anything new. :oldsmile:
 
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  • #3
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...eins-theory-of-relativity/?tid=pm_local_pop_b

I thought this was pretty well done, for a pop-sci presentation. He has an interesting argument for time dilation based on Einstein's 1905 postulates of SR. As presented it's pretty hand-wavy, but it's an interesting idea, is different from anything I've seen before, and could conceivably be made more rigorous.

He was awarded a pile of prize money for himself, his school, and his teacher.
 
  • #4
bcrowell said:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...eins-theory-of-relativity/?tid=pm_local_pop_b

I thought this was pretty well done, for a pop-sci presentation. He has an interesting argument for time dilation based on Einstein's 1905 postulates of SR. As presented it's pretty hand-wavy, but it's an interesting idea, is different from anything I've seen before, and could conceivably be made more rigorous.

He was awarded a pile of prize money for himself, his school, and his teacher.

I also thought it was pretty well done, for someone in high school. I was still perfecting "picking my nose" at that age.
Have you watched any of the 15 other videos in https://www.breakthroughjuniorchallenge.org/finalists#winner ?
 
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  • #5
I did actually learn something. At the 5 minute mark - "The speed of light is constant as long as you are measuring it from a reference frame moving at a constant velocity". However, I'm not sure how it changes if your reference frame is accelerating. This is probably why I can't explain the twin paradox very well.
 
  • #6
250K for a non-mathematical presentation of introductory special relativity?! Wth!
 
  • #7
Borg said:
I did actually learn something. At the 5 minute mark - "The speed of light is constant as long as you are measuring it from a reference frame moving at a constant velocity". However, I'm not sure how it changes if your reference frame is accelerating. This is probably why I can't explain the twin paradox very well.
It becomes unclear how to measure "speed" while accelerating.
You don't need accelerated reference frames for the twin paradox. You just have to accept that spacecraft s can switch reference frames.
 
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  • #8
mfb said:
It becomes unclear how to measure "speed" while accelerating..
Interesting. I would have thought that something like that would be understood and was just beyond my mathematical abilities. I will have to think on that one.
mfb said:
You don't need accelerated reference frames for the twin paradox. You just have to accept that spacecraft s can switch reference frames.
I will keep that in mind the next time I review an explanation of the twin paradox.
 
  • #9
mfb said:
You don't need accelerated reference frames for the twin paradox. You just have to accept that spacecraft s can switch reference frames.

It's possible to explain the twin paradox without reference to any frame of reference whatsoever.

If you do want to use frames of reference, then there is nothing compelling you to switch frames. A frame of reference is not a physical object like a spaceship. The traveling twin's motion is noninertial. Similarly, if I throw a ball, the ball's motion is noninertial, but that doesn't compel me to adopt the noninertial frame tied to the ball.
 
  • #10
Borg said:
Interesting. I would have thought that something like that would be understood and was just beyond my mathematical abilities. I will have to think on that one.
...
Way beyond my mathematical abilities.
There are about 70,000 threads devoted to the subject at PF alone.
I skimmed through 6, and couldn't understand a single one of them.

From an uber-layman standpoint, I doodle pictures in my head, as to what is going on.
I really have no idea if they are correct or not.

In the following image, Einstein and Euclid, sitting where you and I are, get messages from George and Fred, positioned at points A and B, regarding the time stamp that it took photons to get from points A and B.
Euclid sees the blue line between A and B, and determines that the time stamps indicate light didn't move fast enough.
Einstein, with all his "woo woo" mathy stuff, sees that light still traveled at "c".
relativity.light.star.jpg
 
  • #11
OmCheeto said:
Way beyond my mathematical abilities.
There are about 70,000 threads devoted to the subject at PF alone.
I skimmed through 6, and couldn't understand a single one of them.

From an uber-layman standpoint, I doodle pictures in my head, as to what is going on.
I really have no idea if they are correct or not.

In the following image, Einstein and Euclid, sitting where you and I are, get messages from George and Fred, positioned at points A and B, regarding the time stamp that it took photons to get from points A and B.
Euclid sees the blue line between A and B, and determines that the time stamps indicate light didn't move fast enough.
Einstein, with all his "woo woo" mathy stuff, sees that light still traveled at "c".
View attachment 91699
Well light is just moving along a geodesic, and locally, the 2nd postulate of SR holds. It's just that Euclid would think a "straight line" is a geodesic, but Einstein would think otherwise.

That's the shortest way I could put it.
 
  • #12
PWiz said:
Well light is just moving along a geodesic, and locally, the 2nd postulate of SR holds. It's just that Euclid would think a "straight line" is a geodesic, but Einstein would think otherwise.

That's the shortest way I could put it.
This is probably why the kid won. You've used terms grandmama would have not known, or would have misinterpreted.

Geodesic? That's that Fullerian dome thing. I didn't know that Buckminster and Albert were even friends.
Locally? Like my next door neighbor?
2nd Postulate? Was that Peter or Paul?

Sometimes, the shortest way, is not the best way.

ps. Please don't try and explain the terms to me. I know how to google. I was just trying to make a point, that not all people know what the "Sagnac effect", nor "Born rigid spaceships", are. And the terms, are endless... I hope next year's kid gets a million dollar scholarship.
 
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  • #13
bcrowell said:
It's possible to explain the twin paradox without reference to any frame of reference whatsoever.

If you do want to use frames of reference, then there is nothing compelling you to switch frames. A frame of reference is not a physical object like a spaceship. The traveling twin's motion is noninertial. Similarly, if I throw a ball, the ball's motion is noninertial, but that doesn't compel me to adopt the noninertial frame tied to the ball.
You cannot even introduce the paradox without using a reference frame in some way.
You do not have to switch reference frames, but then some questions (mainly related to the view of the traveling twin) stay without an answer.
 
  • #14
mfb said:
You cannot even introduce the paradox without using a reference frame in some way.

"The" paradox actually has many formulations. Here is an example of a formulation and a resolution that never deal with a frame of reference.

Formulation: Twin A stays on Earth while twin B goes to another solar system and returns. Since motion is relative, either twin can be said to have remained at rest the whole time. The situation is totally symmetrical. How, then, can they have unequal ages when reunited?

Resolution: The situation is not symmetrical. Relativity distinguishes between inertial and noninertial motion. Twin B's world-line is noninertial.

mfb said:
You do not have to switch reference frames, but then some questions (mainly related to the view of the traveling twin) stay without an answer.

If a student introduced the "view" of the traveling twin, the first thing I would address would be that we shouldn't naively imagine that people get an instantaneous visual snapshot of all of space at a particular time.

If the student instead phrased this in terms of frames of reference, then there are multiple ways of going with this. Some would involve discussing multiple frames for the traveling twin. Another approach would involve discussing accelerated frames of reference -- which SR can handle just fine. Or one could point out that a frame of reference is defined operationally as the end result of a sophisticated process of surveying and signaling, and explore the result of exchanges of signals between the twins.

There are many different possible pedagogies for SR, and many ways of formulating and resolving questions such as these. In less mathematical treatments, a common method, which I don't like much, is to focus a lot on the ##\gamma## factor and time dilation and length contraction. This is a poor approach, because ultimately SR is not reducible to time dilation and length contraction -- if it were, then the Lorentz transformation would reduce to a change of units, with no observable consequences. If one does use this pedagogy, then frames of reference take on an important role, and the twin paradox is apt to be particularly confusing for students. Laurent's Introduction to Spacetime is an example of an approach in which frames of reference are barely mentioned, and the issues involved in the twin paradox basically never even arise.
 
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  • #15
bcrowell said:
Formulation: Twin A stays on earth
In other words, its velocity in the reference frame of Earth is 0. You used a reference frame.
bcrowell said:
while twin B goes to another solar system and returns
So its velocity in the reference frame of Earth is non-zero, and changes its sign at some point. Again, the description uses a reference frame.
bcrowell said:
If a student introduced the "view" of the traveling twin, the first thing I would address would be that we shouldn't naively imagine that people get an instantaneous visual snapshot of all of space at a particular time.
While that is right, you can certainly calculate where each object is at every point in time. The sudden change of this calculation result if you change your velocity can be surprising.
 
  • #16
Borg said:
...
I will keep that in mind the next time I review an explanation of the twin paradox.

Ah ha!

After about 16 perusals of different expertplainations, I think I've discovered, at least for me, why I never "got" any of the explanations.
Too Many Analyses: a Meta Objection [John Baez]
...
Why so many different analyses? Are the relativists just trying to bamboozle their opponents, like the defence attorney who just has to stir up doubt about the plaintiff's case without giving his own theory of events? Not at all; the physical theory should and does tell a single coherent story here.

Relativity pays the price of permissiveness. It says to us, "Pick whichever frame you like to describe your results. They're all equivalent." No wonder that one analysis ends up looking like three or four.
...

There are too many correct explanations.

I recall a thread where Drakkith, Bandersnatch, and I, were all trying to explain something to a newb, but were all using different models. I'm quite sure that we all thought the other person mansplaining was quite daft.

pfoogle, pfoogle, pfoogle

Energy conversion in a hydroelectric damI think we'll just have to work this out for ourselves.

hmmmm...

John and I may be on to something...

Baez.and.OmCheeto.drew.the.same.conclusive.pictue.jpg


:smile: :-p
In all seriousness, I have no idea why John's image looks so much like mine.
But I suspect that it would help if you and I would work out the problem one day.
Do you want to be Stella, or Terence?
 
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  • #17
ps. In retrospect, I now hate John...

Pop-science treatments sometimes ask us to imagine an army of observers, all equipped with clocks and rulers, and all at rest with respect to the given reference frame. With their clocks and rulers...

It sounds like he was describing my "Euclid and Einstein" observational post.

I thought it was brilliant!
grrrrrrr...

But, anyways, back to the chalkboard. :smile:
 
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  • #18
pps.

Never give up, trying to understand, the un-understandable:

Om said:
Thank you. While I was waiting for Java to download, I checked out the link to the Leyden jar referenced by your link. They said a Leyden Jar could be used to store the energy from the Kelvin Water Dropper. It reminded me of an experiment my university professor once did for the class. It was of a dissectible capacitor. He said; "If you don't understand what is going on here, you will never understand electricity". Well, needless to say, I've never understood his experiment. But the Leyden jar link explained it. So now, after 23 years, I finally understand what was going on.

[ref: The water battery [pf]]
 
  • #19
mfb said:
In other words, its velocity in the reference frame of Earth is 0. You used a reference frame.
Not true. The fact that twin A stayed on Earth is simply a statement that twin A's world-line coincides with the world-line of the earth. This is a geometrical primitive, and I can state it even if spacetime is a plain manifold and doesn't have a metric defined on it. It's what's known geometrically as an incidence relation. Incidence relations are things like statements that a line intersects another line, a plane doesn't intersect another plane, and so on.

mfb said:
So its velocity in the reference frame of Earth is non-zero, and changes its sign at some point. Again, the description uses a reference frame.
Not true. In geometrical terms, the distinction between an inertial world-line and a noninertial one is that one is a geodesic and the other is not. This has nothing to do with frames of reference.

In general, you seem to have convinced yourself that all of relativity is defined in terms of frames of reference, and that frames of reference are indispensable to it. That's just completely false. We recently had a long discussion of this: https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/are-frames-in-physics-necessary.825744/ . Although we had a lot of back and forth about how important and useful frames were (and I changed my mind myself on some points), nobody tried to argue that relativity *required* frames of reference. That would be an untenable position.
 
  • #20
If my twin brother who went into space and lived in a condition like that on Earth is alive to get back down here, there is no way why I can confirm that he is younger than me; because he e.g -born in 1980 - went into space in 1995 and lived there for 20 years, now he comes back here in 2015, his age is still the same as mine (35).
 
  • #21
Silicon Waffle said:
and lived there for 20 years,
A big red flag right here - 20 years according to whom? You on Earth?

You can always say who's younger biologically - appearances are usually enough for the twin case.

P.S. The posts on this thread are beginning to go off-track. This thread is about a boy who was awarded for explaining the basics of SR, not relativity itself. IMO if anyone wants to have a GR/SR discussion, they should start a new thread in the relativity subforum.
 
  • #22
PWiz said:
A big red flag right here - 20 years according to whom? You on Earth?

You can always say who's younger biologically - appearances are usually enough for the twin case.

P.S. The posts on this thread are beginning to go off-track. This thread is about a boy who was awarded for explaining the basics of SR, not relativity itself. IMO if anyone wants to have a GR/SR discussion, they should start a new thread in the relativity subforum.

Actually, this thread is about the "Breakthrough" prize. I only chose to share the kids story, as reading through all the press releases was kind of overwhelming. I've a simple mind.

Short videos of some of the prize winner's discussions on their work, are available.
Here are two of my favorites. Not because the topics are interests of mine, but these two scientists say something that I can relate to:

Helen Hobbs; "I love my work. I am a scientist. Any scientist will tell you, and it's really true, it's absolutely thrilling to discover something new. And, every discovery generates a whole series of new questions, and I really enjoy that process.
...
"

Ten thumbs up!


Ian Agol; "The first thing that a topologist does with a space, is cut it up into pieces, and think about how those pieces fit together. Playing with Legos, is a good metaphor for that. You can encode complex ideas into something you can visualize, bypassing the need for equations.
...
"

I like Legos.
 
  • #23
@bcrowell: Okay, I don't want to argue about semantics. I consider "A follows the same geodesics as Earth" and "in the reference frame of Earth, A is at Earth and not moving" as completely equivalent (as Earth is not light-like). "I didn't use grey, I used gray".
 

Related to Breakthrough Prize Winners Receive Rock Star Treatment & Cash Awards

1. Who are the Breakthrough Prize winners?

The Breakthrough Prize winners are scientists, mathematicians, and researchers who have made significant contributions to their respective fields.

2. How are Breakthrough Prize winners chosen?

Breakthrough Prize winners are chosen through a rigorous selection process that involves nominations from previous winners, a committee of experts, and a final decision by the Board of Directors.

3. What is the Rock Star Treatment that Breakthrough Prize winners receive?

The Rock Star Treatment includes a red-carpet ceremony, a star-studded award ceremony, and a gala dinner attended by high-profile guests and celebrities.

4. How much is the cash award for Breakthrough Prize winners?

The cash award for Breakthrough Prize winners is $3 million, making it one of the largest science prizes in the world.

5. What is the significance of the Breakthrough Prize?

The Breakthrough Prize aims to recognize and celebrate the achievements of scientists and encourage further advancements in science and technology. It also helps to raise public awareness of the importance of scientific research and its impact on society.

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