Yuri Milner can be called “The Breakthrough Man”! He is a very active individual dividing his time into 80% for business and finances, and 20% for science projects. Most recently Milner donated $100 million to sponsor a dramatic large new research project aiming to take close-up images and data from planets circling another star (see “Can Research Travel Out to the Stars? Yuri Milner says “Yes, Let’s Go!”). Today’s article presents Milner’s personal background, gives his many activities in the Breakthrough Group, and, discusses the important role Yuri Milner and other billionaire philanthropists have for making a big difference in modern science.
Some background about Yuri Milner! 
Yuri Milner was born in Russia and now is 54 years old. After early schooling in Russia, he went on to study theoretical physics at Moscow State University and graduated in 1985; after working as a doctoral candidate in particle physics, he decided that he was “disappointed in myself as a physicist” . In 1990, he enrolled in the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and graduated with a MBA degree. Returning to Russia, he was active in banking, international investing, and internet businesses; he founded Digital Sky Technologies (DST) in 2005. Successful early investments in internet companies led to his immense personal fortune.
Today, Yuri Milner is the CEO of DST Global, an international company headquartered in Russia. This entrepreneur is married, has 2 children, and resides both in Russia and California. He has received dozens of awards and is widely recognized for his several major philanthropic contributions to science . Milner’s personality features being very determined, dynamic, and focused. He always is a leader, but also works well with others. He delights in innovation and is not afraid to follow his ideas or to take chances. As an enthusiastic patron of science, he still utilizes his previous training in physics.
To see Yuri Milner in action as “The Breakthrough Man”, you can watch 2 internet videos. The first is an interview session conducted by a hostile questioner, which Milner handles nicely (see: “This Billionaire Wants to Build Spaceships to Look for Earth-like Planets” ). A longer video shows Milner recently announcing the latest Breakthrough project (see: “LIVE: Stephen Hawking and Yuri Milner to announce space exploration Starshot” ). Thirdly, an excellent new interview lets Milner explain his interests in space science, but this is published only in written form (see: “Shooting for the Stars” ).
Activities of the Breakthrough Group!
In 2012, Yuri Milner joined with several other billionaires to found the Breakthrough Prizes for significant accomplishments in science and research. These award several million dollars to each winner, thereby exceeding the Nobel Prizes; some of their features are designed to fill several well-known policy gaps in operation of the Nobel Prize. The annual awards ceremony for the Breakthrough Prizes includes a large gala celebration of science with full internet coverage for public viewing (see recent short video: “2016 Breakthrough Prize highlights” ).
Several other projects supported by Milner’s large philanthropies are parts of the Breakthrough Initiatives (see: “Breakthrough Initiatives” ). Breakthrough Listen is an intense research study looking much more widely for signal emissions indicating the existence of intelligent life on planets of other stars (see: “The hunt for extraterrestrial life just got a groundbreaking $100 million investment” ). Breakthrough Message is a competition aimed to identify a good digital depiction of Earth and humanity that is suitable for reception elsewhere in the universe (see: “Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking announce $100 million Breakthrough Initiative to Dramatically Accelerate Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe” ). Breakthrough Junior Challenge is an annual public competition for young researchers (see: “Breakthrough Junior Challenge” ). The latest Breakthrough Initiative is Breakthrough Starshot, a dramatic attempt to propel ultraminiature space probes out to our nearest star, Alpha Centauri, to see if its planets show signs of life (see: “Can research travel out to the stars? Yuri Milner says “Yes, let’s go!” ); he is working on this with the cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, engineers, and other scientists.
Without the notable financial sponsorship by Milner and his philanthropic colleagues, none of these initiatives and activities for scientific research would be possible in today’s world.
How is the Major Philanthropy by Yuri Milner and Other Billionaires Especially Significant for Science and Research?
The answer is that this philanthropy avoids the many restrictions and mistakes made by the standard system for supporting scientific research (see: “All About Today’s Hyper-Competition for Research Grants” , and, “Could Science and Research Now be Dying?” ). The end results of such philanthropy are that: (1) some important projects which would never get funded by research grants or by industries now will get conducted, (2) the door is opened for more freedom, creativity, and new ideas in science (i.e., they will be much less disfavored as subjects for research studies (e.g., basic science) or restricted by bureaucratic and commercial involvements (e.g., low-profit pharmaceuticals), and, (3) the usual detructive fighting for research grant awards or patents is bypassed. A significant secondary result is that the general public will become much more familiar with the importance of science for their daily life, instead of being totally estranged from research and scientists.
Several other billionaires besides Yuri Milner have made giant donations to push new efforts and new directions in scientific research. I already have highlighted the wonderful philanthropy supporting innovative research projects and new research sites by James E. Stowers (see: “A Jackpot for Scientific Research is Created by James E. and Virginia Stowers! Part I.” ), and, by Paul G. Allen (see: “A Dramatic Individualist, Paul G. Allen, is a Major Benefactor of Scientific Research!” ). It is interesting to note that all these individuals share certain characteristics (e.g., personal fascination with research, willingness to take chances instead of only seeking some guaranteed results, seeing their own life as an extensive exploration, enthusiasm for innovation and new ideas, working with organized teams of scientists and engineers, and, never taking ‘no’ for an answer!). I have no doubt that all 3 clearly understand exactly what is right and wrong in modern scientific research.
Yuri Milner and other major philanthropists are making revolutionary new scientific research studies possible. He and other large philanthropists see the beauty and value of research, and should be applauded by all people!
 Wikipedia, 2016. (Biography of) Yuri Milner. Available on the internet at: https://wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuri_Milner .
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