These Breakthrough Initiatives aim to provide a platform on which experts share and discuss ideas related to life beyond our planet. Yuri Milner’s Breakthrough Prize Foundation funds the Breakthrough Initiatives, including the Breakthrough Discuss conferences.
What Is the Breakthrough Discuss?
The Breakthrough Discuss is an academic conference held annually and funded by Julia and Yuri Milner’s non-profit foundation. The conference is centered on ideas and theories about the universe, including alien life and space exploration. Some of the best experts in the field of astronomy participate in the conference to discuss ideas related to the cosmos.
The 2022 conference was held online via Zoom on June 22 and June 23. This year’s Breakthrough Discuss was hosted by S. Pete Worden at University Center, UC Santa Cruz, California.
The main focus of this year’s conference was the impact a new generation of small-scale and low-cost spacecraft has on space science.
Before Discuss, there was no major platform for academic discussion of life in the universe, but this Yuri Milner initiative allowed researchers and experts to brainstorm on three main topics:
- Searching for habitable exoplanets and other potential homes for primitive cellular life.
- Searching for intelligent life/civilizations beyond Earth (SETI).
- How advanced space-flight technologies gave our civilization the potential to explore the galaxy.
Components of the Breakthrough Discuss
A Bigger Bang for Your Buck ‒ Affordable & Innovative Concepts for Cosmological Measure
This session aimed to discuss and analyze cosmic microwave background measurements (CMB). The session also reviewed developing new technologies for experimental cosmology and discussed using CMB to analyze the creation of the universe.
Low Mass Transit ‒ Light, Fast & Cheap Ways to Explore the Solar System & Beyond
Session two was conducted to discuss the science crafts for outer planet exploration, discovering faster and cheaper ways to explore the galaxy and reach different planets. The discussion about research for Planet Nine was also carried out in this session.
New Outlooks on Life ‒ Novel Approaches to Detecting Life & Intelligence Beyond Earth
Session three, conducted on day two of the conference, centered on using meter wavelengths in outer space to detect life except for life on Earth as well as the use of biosignatures and techno signatures in the process.
Notable Guest Speakers at Breakthrough Discuss
Speakers and attendees of Discuss 2022 include astronomers, astrophysicists, planetary scientists, astrobiologists, biologists, chemists, astronauts, computer scientists, and more.
"Recording the Evolution of the Universe With the Cosmic Microwave Background" topic was covered by Suzanne Staggs, who holds the position of co-chair in the conference along with Phil Mauskopf of Arizona State University.
"Are We There Yet?” Can We Biomap the Solar System With Low-Cost Solar Sail Missions?’ The topic was covered by Penny Boston.
Chenoa Tremblay spoke about "Hunting for Life with Meter Wavelengths." Cherry Ng, the co-chair of Session two, spoke about "A New Digitized Age of Interferometric SETI," and Raymond Pierrehumbert explained, "How not to waste half your star's main sequence lifetime."
The Breakthrough Initiatives are about exploring the universe, and funding programs that allow and inspire scientists and the younger generation to pursue science and discover other forms of life in our universe. The Initiatives are funded by Yuri Milner's Breakthrough Prize Foundation, which he founded after he and his wife Julia signed the Giving Pledge.
About Yuri Milner
Yuri Milner is a science philanthropist and technology investor. Along with the Breakthrough Initiatives, he and his wife Julia founded the Breakthrough Prize in 2012, honoring advances in fundamental science, and the Breakthrough Junior Challenge in 2015 to allow children from all over the world a chance to bring their scientific ideas into the global spotlight. Yuri is also the founder of DST Global, which has an impressive investment portfolio including some of the world’s most prominent internet companies. He is also the author of the book “Eureka Manifesto ‒ The Mission for Our Civilization,'' in which he talks about humanity’s place in the universe and our role in its future.