Stephen Lawler and the Virtual Earth team have created an addictively interactive 3D world that is poised to reinvent our view of advertising, gaming, weather/traffic reporting, instant messaging and more.
Michael Merzenich studies neuroplasticity -- the brain's powerful ability to change itself and adapt -- and ways we might make use of that plasticity to heal injured brains and enhance the skills in healthy ones.
Alexis Ohanian is the co-founder an executive chairman of Reddit, a social-voting news website with geek allegiances, a small-town feel and a penchant for lighting up the memes your friends IM you about next week.
One of the true luminaries of personal computing, Alan Kay conceived of laptops and graphical interfaces years before they were realized. At XeroxPARC, Apple, HP and Disney, he has developed tools for improving the mind.
Jeff Hawkins pioneered the development of PDAs such as the Palm and Treo. Now he's trying to understand how the human brain really works, and adapt its method -- which he describes as a deep system for storing memory -- to create new kinds of computers and tools.
Ron Eglash is an ethno-mathematician: he studies the way math and cultures intersect. He has shown that many aspects of African design -- in architecture, art, even hair braiding -- are based on perfect fractal patterns.
When it comes to aging well, having “good genes” (or rather, mutant ones) is key, says Cynthia Kenyon. She unlocked the genetic secret of longevity in roundworms — and now she’s working to do the same for humans.
Photography is about creating images by recording light. At the MIT media lab, professor Ramesh Raskar and his team members have invented a camera that can photograph light itself as it moves at, well, the speed of light.
Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist, working mainly in the field of quantum gravity. He's a founding member of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Canada, and the author of The Trouble With Physics.