Wharton School commencement speech

“You are part of this astonishing journey: the progress of civilization in the Universe.”

In 1990, Yuri was the first student from the Soviet Union to be admitted to a US business school – Wharton School, at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2016, he was invited back to give the commencement speech. He told his story, focusing on the importance, for both individuals and humanity at large, of “looking beyond the horizon.”

Presenting Breakthrough Starshot at Code 2016

“Our generation is the first one ever to have the opportunity to achieve interstellar travel”.

At the annual Code conference on technology in 2016, Yuri presented Breakthrough Starshot, the first practical program to reach another star, using a gram-scale robotic space probe.

Breakthrough Initiatives launch

“It is time to open our eyes, our ears, and our minds to the cosmos.”

On July 20, 2015, Yuri was joined by Steven Hawking, Lord Martin Rees, Frank Drake and other luminaries at London’s historic Royal Society to launch the Breakthrough Initiatives, a major new set of programs in astronomy and space science, including Breakthrough Listen, a $100m search for evidence of civilizations beyond Earth.

Breakthrough Starshot launch

“For the first time in human history, we can do more than just gaze at the stars. We can actually reach them.”

On 12 April, 2016, Yuri was joined by Stephen Hawking, Freeman Dyson, Mae Jemison, Avi Loeb and Pete Worden at the One World Center in New York City, where they announced Breakthrough Starshot, a $100m research and development program to build the first ever space probe capable of reaching another star within a generation. Mark Zuckerberg joined Yuri and Professor Hawking on the program’s Board.

Breakthrough Prize ceremony speeches

“Stephen Hawking’s passion for science is indestructible.”

Yuri presented Stephen Hawking with the inaugural Special Prize in Fundamental Physics at a ceremony in Geneva in 2013.

“The quest for knowledge is what fires our laureates... and when they find it, it elevates us all.”

At the 2014 ceremony, Yuri and Mark Zuckerberg announced their sponsorship of a new Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics.

“A few billion years ago, someone released the brakes and stepped on the gas pedal.”

Yuri and Eddie Redmayne announced the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, awarded to two teams of astronomers who discovered that the expansion of the Universe is accelerating.

‘Migration and exodus – struggle and survival – love and war.“

At the 2016 ceremony, Yuri and Christina Aguilera presented the Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences to Swedish scientist Svante Pääbo, a pioneer of paleogenetics, which de-codes the genomes of fossilized organisms – including our own ancestors – and reveals their stories.

“The detection of two black holes colliding a billion years ago belongs to all humanity.”

Yuri and Sienna Miller announced the 2017 Special Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for the LIGO team, which had succeeded in detecting gravitational waves.