Breakthrough Prize Ceremony Celebrating Scientists to Air on National Geographic Channel this Sunday and on FOX Nov. 29

Nov 5, 2015 7:00 AM ET

On Sunday, Nov. 8, at 10/9c, 21st Century Fox's National Geographic Channel will host a live broadcast of the 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony, an annual awards show honoring the work of today's leading scientists and mathematicians. Seth MacFarlane, executive producer of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and creator of Family Guy, will return as host for the second consecutive year, and the ceremony will include appearances by presenters Russell Crowe, Hilary Swank, Lily Collins, Thomas Middleditch, and Martin Starr, as well as a performance by ten-time Grammy Award winner Pharrell Williams. An abridged one-hour version of the ceremony will air on the FOX network on Sunday, Nov. 29.

"We are proud to join forces with Don [Mischer, producer] and the Breakthrough Prize team not only to honor the best and brightest in science shaping the world of today and tomorrow, but also to bring this important event to the broadest global audience possible," said Courteney Monroe, CEO of National Geographic Channels U.S. "National Geographic was founded on the spirit of mavericks, and this partnership affords us the opportunity to continue this great tradition by recognizing those who are breaking barriers and expanding the limits of possibility."

Tech industry leaders Sergey Brin (Google), Anne Wojcicki (23andMe), Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan (Facebook), Yuri Milner and Julia Milner (DST Global), and Jack Ma and Cathy Zhang (Alibaba) launched the prize in 2012 in order to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career. As Yuri Milner explained in 2013, part of the goal is to make the pursuit of knowledge seem both exciting and profitable.

"Scientists are not making anywhere near what they should be making given the significance of what they're doing," he said. "In the last 50 years, we have evolved from a world where Einstein was the biggest celebrity to a world where the most famous scientist is not in the top few hundred celebrities in the world."

In contrast to the Nobel Prize, which tends to honor researchers near the end of their careers for their most influential achievements, the Breakthrough awards often go to younger scientists who have already made important discoveries but still have long careers ahead of them. To that end, the prize's founders have made the award one of the most lucrative honors in the world of science. Laureates receive $3 million in prize money, more than three times the Nobel stipend of roughly $940,000.

This year, for the first time, the ceremony will also feature the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for students, which will award $400,000 in educational prizes to a student whose original video brings to life a scientific or mathematical idea or principle.

"It is an honor to partner with the Breakthrough Prize team to celebrate the incredible men and women who are driving the world's most significant scientific advances," said Gary Newman and Dana Walden, chairmen and CEOs, Fox Television Group. "We hope that by showcasing these great minds and their important work to millions of viewers, we can help them inspire the next generation of scientists."

The 2016 Breakthrough Prize Ceremony will air on Sunday, Nov. 8, at 10/9 c, following an all-new episode of the science documentary series Breakthrough from producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. The series brings to life the stories, people, and technology behind the world's most cutting-edge scientific innovations through six documentary films each directed by a prominent Hollywood star.

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