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Scientists Lavished with Praise and Money in Breakthrough Prizes

Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg arrive at the 2nd Annual Breakthrough Prize Award Ceremony at the NASA Ames Research Center on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014.

Researchers across the globe in mathematics, physics and astronomy were among the winners of the second annual Breakthrough Prizes, awarded Sunday in San Francisco.

Twelve Breakthrough Prizes were announced at a formal awards gala held in the unofficial capital of the U.S. technology industry, commonly known as Silicon Valley. Among the winners were two teams of astronomers that discovered that expansion of the universe is accelerating, as opposed to slowing down.

Five mathematicians shared the first-ever Breakthrough Prizes in their field, while six scientists shared the Life Sciences Prizes for work on such topics as the regulation of genes and bacterial immunity.

Each of the 12 prizes is worth $3 million.

Sunday's event was hosted by Hollywood comic director-actor Seth McFarlane, with such noted actors as Benedict Cumberbatch, Kate Beckinsale and Cameron Diaz on hand as presenters.

The Breakthrough Prizes were co-founded by Russian billionaire investor Yuri Milner, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Jack Ma and Cathy Zang of China's online retailer Alibaba, and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. According to its website, the prizes "aim to celebrate scientists and generate excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.”