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Breakthrough Prize, The 'Oscars Of Science,' Pairs Hollywood Stars With Silicon Valley Elite

MOFFETT FIELD (KPIX 5) -- It was a meeting among earthlings from the worlds of science, entertainment and tech that doesn't often happen. The 8th annual Breakthrough Prize, dubbed the "Oscars of Science," was at the NASA Ames Research Center Sunday.

Silicon Valley's powerful, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, Google Co-Founder Sergey Brin and YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki ran into the likes of CBS' Late Late Night Show host James Corden.

"I feel out of place here, I feel inadequate," said Breakthrough Presenter and Actress Taraji P. Henson. "I'm not mathematically or scientifically wired at all."

The annual Breakthrough Prize recognizes the world's top scientists in the fields of life sciences, physics and math. The awards were founded by Israeli-Russian billionaire and philanthropist philanthropist Yuri Milner, who's based in Silicon Valley. At $3 million each, it is considered the most generous science prize in the world.

UCSF's David Julius is a Breakthrough Prize winner. He identified molecules and cells that produce pain sensation while studying chili peppers.

When asked what he'll do with his prize, he said, "Some of it, we're generating a little trust or a foundation and what we're going to use some of that money for--I think a really important thing these days is education," said Julius.

17-year-old Jeffery Chen of Burlingame High School beat out thousands in a video competition to win a $250,000 scholarship. He wants to attend Stanford University.

"It's really cool to focus on what's out there, what's beyond our earth, I think it's important that we also protect what we have. So I think in college, I will be focusing on environmental science," said Breakthrough Junior Challenge Winner Chen.

Sunday night was also chance for Hollywood A-listers to find themselves a bit star struck.

"I'm presenting an award to Jeffrey Friedman, who did incredible groundbreaking work in medical sciences, endocrine sciences," said actor Edward Norton. "I haven't met him, so I'm excited to meet him."

Entrepreneur, model and TV personality Tyra Banks was also a presenter.

"I have a four-year-old...and he's like, 'Why, why is that mommy, why?' and most of his answers to his 'Why?' have to do with science," said Banks.

Model and presenter Adriana Lima said it was her first time attending the Breakthrough Prize.

"I am really honored to be here and looking forward to learn so much about whatever is the new technology," said Lima.

Rock star Lenny Kravitz helped close out the crowd with a performance. He told KPIX 5 more young people should be encouraged to pursue their interests in math and science.

"We need as much help as we can, we live in a world where we need great solutions for great problems," said Kravitz.

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