The Wired smart list 2013

Welcome to the second wired Smart List. To discover who will shape our future, we asked the people who shape our present. Fifty of the world’s brightest minds — from Peter Gabriel to Jane Goodall — tell us about one…

Welcome to the second wired Smart List. To discover who will
shape our future, we asked the people who shape our present. Fifty
of the world’s brightest minds — from Peter Gabriel to Jane
Goodall — tell us about one emerging talent whose ideas or
influence they think will soon be part of our lives.

1. Bill Gates chairman, Microsoft,
selects: Margarida Matsinhe — field officer,

After a century of brutal colonial rule and decades of civil
war, Mozambique in 1992 was a country in need of good news. That’s
when Margarida Matsinhe chose to dedicate her life’s work to saving
children’s lives by restarting her country’s immunisation
programme. Her team at an organisation called VillageReach trains workers who
make sure vaccines travel “the last mile” through remote areas with
treacherous roads and little infrastructure, and end up at health
centres where children can get them. Before the improved
distribution system, nobody knew how many people lived in the
communities and what the demand was for vaccines. Now, her team
tracks demographic information. These figures are then used to
forecast the number of vaccines needed in each health centre,
ensuring that the correct ones arrive where and when they’re
needed. The alternative would be sending away children and pregnant
mothers who walked up to 15 kilometres to get there. As a result of
her work, the percentage of children receiving vaccines has risen
from 68 to 95, getting ever closer to her goal of 100 percent.

Martha Lane Fox selects Leila Janah, founder of SamasourceJosh Bryan
2. Martha Lane Fox, entrepreneur
and philanthropist, selects: Leila Janah
— founder, Samasource

Leila is defying poverty by deploying technology in one
of the most powerful ways that I have
ever seen. She is turning the developed-developing
world relationship upside-down by investing in local people
(mainly women) to learn digital skills that can be sold to their
own or other markets. The applications are many: after the
Haitian disaster, young Haitians were paid to translate
texts from Creole into English, and in Kenya
virtual assistants were set up for CEOs in Silicon Valley. I
love the imagination with which she has approached complex
problems, using technology for what I find most inspiring:
eroding the geographical and structural barriers between

3. Iris van Herpen, fashion designer, selects:
Martin Hanczyc — chemist

Martin is a chemist exploring the line between life and
non-life. He says: “Over the last 150 years or so, science has kind
of blurred the distinction between non-living and living systems,
and now we consider that there may be a kind of continuum.” His
research inspires a future where biology and technology will merge
into “living technology”. He inspires architects for “living
architecture”, and even for fashion it can mean an important next
step towards self-repairing, metabolic, size-fit-changing
materials. In a TED talk in 2011 he made the point that we can’t
discover life beyond Earth if we don’t recognise other forms of
life than the forms of “life” we know today on Earth. Martin shows
us the future of creation: where people are able to create forms of
life, technology comes alive and new forms of biology are created.
As a designer I find the concept of life and creation
coming closer and closer together both hugely exciting and

4. Elaine Mardis codirector, the Genome
Institute, selects: Malachi and Obi Griffith
— researchers, Washington University

Malachi and Obi Griffith are identical twins who lost their
mother to cancer just as they were graduating high school. They’re
set to change the world of cancer genomics. The powerful
combination of commitment, incredible intellect and a sharp focus
is shared by this duo as they decode the secrets of individual
cancer cases and try to identify the best-targeted therapies to
treat advanced-stage disease. The vision of these two young
bioinformatics wizards has helped build a pipeline for data
analysis and interpretation that is set to change our approach to
cancer into an “N of 1” [an individualised] focus that will deliver
precision diagnoses to each patient.

5. Siddhartha Mukherjee author and
physician, Columbia University, selects: John Dick
— senior scientist, Ontario Cancer Institute

It would be unfair to call John Dick an “emerging” talent, since
he’s emerged already: his
laboratory sits at the cutting edge of cancer biology. Dick
discovered that cancers can co-opt the properties of stem cells.
Like stem cells, cancers can renew without exhaustion; they acquire
self-renewal — but without self-control. And he and others have
hypothesised that this property might be the reason that some
cancers cannot be cured by chemotherapy or surgery. Now,
laboratories around the world are exploring these parallels between
normal stem cells and cancer stem cells in the hope of creating new
medicines that attack these cells. It is a parallel that has both
medical and philosophical consequences: could cancer — a disease
often described as “degenerative” — actually instead be a
disease of uncontrolled regeneration?

6. Eric Topol, cardiologist and
geneticist, selects: Stephen Quake — professor
of bioengineering at Stanford

Stephen is the founder of a technology to sequence the whole
genome of a foetus. He also invented a biological equivalent of an
integrated circuit, as well as the first single-molecule
DNA-sequencing tech. Much of his work has already changed

7. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome
Trust, selects: Cameron Simmons — professor of
infectious diseases

Based in Vietnam, Cam is leading important research on dengue
fever, which infects 400 million people a year and is one of the
few infectious diseases for which there’s no vaccine or treatment.
Cam’s work encompasses epidemiology, genomics, bioinformatics,
trials, entomology, immunology and virology.

8. Natalie Jeremijenko, artist and engineer;
director, Environmental Health Clinic, selects: Caroline
Woolard cofounder, and trade school

Caroline has set up two successful web companies, OurGoods and Trade School, that have
transformed the lives of creatives. Trade School creates
educational experiences and operates in 47 cities internationally.
In addition to the classes, it creates the professional communities
and social relationships required to use new knowledge
meaningfully. I now only look at a CV that has at least one Trade
School course (preferably 20). OurGoods is a formal barter network
for the creative community, formalising with contracts and making
explicit and accountable the activity that drives new urban
economies. Small, real exchanges build innovative communities, and
Caroline understands the social nature of exchange — that things
worth doing are not done for the money; that the formal economy is
an impoverished representation of what we actually do and why.

9. David Southwood, president, British Astronomical
Society, selects: Helen Jane Fraser, physicist

Helen is a dynamo. She and I spar on the council of the Royal
Astronomical Society. She epitomises everything astronomy and space
science wasn’t when my career started 40 years ago. Then, no one
talked about life elsewhere in the cosmos and not too much about
how life came to our planet. Astronomy has moved on and now these
are central issues. Helen, who has moved from chemistry to
astrochemistry and then to astrobiology, is part of that change and
is always moving on. Recently, she’s been active in getting Britain
into using the science that can now be conducted on the
International Space Station and in tying that to Tim Peake’s
selection as the first British European Space Agency astronaut.
Everything she does she communicates — and she communicates to
anyone who will listen. One day, humans will move off into the
galaxy. My guess is something that Helen has done, or will do,
will help that happen.

Martin Sorrell selects Lei Jun, founder of Xiaomi TechTadaomi Shibuya
10. Martin Sorrell CEO, WPP, selects: Lei Jun
— founder, Xiaomi TechLei Jun is the founder of Xiaomi, the
crowdsourced Chinese smartphone, and he also has an —internet-TV
box currently in test. He’s a serial entrepreneur on his third
creation, and is taking on Apple and Samsung. Arguably, you could
call him the Steve Jobs of China. He proves that the Chinese are
extremely innovative, brand-conscious and internationally

Chris Hadfield selects Darlene Lim, research scientist at SETIMelvin Galapon
11. Chris Hadfield, Canadian Space Agency and Nasa
colonel, selects: Darlene Lim — research scientist, Seti
InstituteDeep under a Canadian lake,
microbialites (whose fossil remains date from more than 3.5 billion
years ago) still form. Darlene Lim is the geobiologist, submarine
pilot and exploration — activist leading the team to understand
them, and help to explain the history of life on Earth.

12. Jacob Appelbaum, computer-security
researcher, selects: Osman Kibar
— journalist

In the past few years Osman has become one of the best in-depth
investigative journalists specialising on the topic of
surveillance. His work is often ground-breaking and very lengthy.
The infographics in his publications create a general understanding
that is unmatched when explaining complex topics relating to

13. Scott Belsky founder and CEO,
Behance, selects: Ben Blumenfeld and Enrique Allen —
codirectors, Designer Fund

Apple and other companies have proved design is a competitive
advantage. However, the VC/finance world still doesn’t fully value
the advantage. Ben (formerly at Facebook) and Enrique created the
Designer Fund to support
design-founded business. They’re making waves.

14. Cynthia Breazeal Director, MIT Media
Lab’s Personal Robots Group, selects: Rana el Kaliouby —
research scientist, MIT Media LabRana is a brilliant scientist and entrepreneur who’s doing
incredibly exciting work in enabling computers to measure emotions.
The ability for computers to sense and respond to people in a
socially and emotionally intelligent manner is transformative.

15. Martin Varsavsky, Entrepreneur, selects:
Hans-Christian Boos — CEO, Arago

The amount of data we produce has increased exponentially —
I think Chris and his company Arago are doing great things in
big data with knowledge-based automation, through the
implementation of complex machine learning and AI techniques. Chris
could be the creator of the next European startup worth over a

16. Peter Molyneux, video-game designer, selects:
Demis Hassabis — research fellow, UCL

Demis is an extraordinary polymath, able to find unexpected and
profound connections between very disparate subjects. He combines
these interdisciplinary skills with an exceptional ability to
assemble and inspire talented teams to tackle innovative ideas. His
prolific and diverse accomplishments range from — when he was just
17 — programming the artificial intelligence for the
multimillion-selling simulation game Theme Park, to winning the
world games championship a record five times, to pioneering
neuroscience research connecting memory and imagination, which was
listed by Science as one of the top ten scientific breakthroughs of
2007. Uniting his eclectic interests is a lifelong passion for
advancing AI. His new work fusing the latest progress in systems
neuroscience with cutting-edge machine learning looks set to
revolutionise the field.

17. Thor Halvorssen President, Human Rights
Foundation, selects: Jan Tore Sanner —
Norwegian parliamentarian

For 20 years Jan Tore has used his position as an elected
representative to focus Norway on global human-rights issues.
Quietly and implacably, he has taken on governments across the
world for human-rights violations. When the Norwegian government
baulked at criticising Cuba, he revealed solidarity with persecuted
dissidents by nominating them for the Nobel Peace Prize — a
privilege of Norwegian parliamentarians. His recent targets include
Belarus and Vietnam. Norway’s potential to support liberal
democracy and strengthen civil-society movements around the world
is unique given its reputation for even-handedness, the world’s
largest sovereign wealth fund, and a commitment to dialogue and
fairness. The phrase “human-rights superpower” is used in Oslo as
an aspirational description for this nation.

18. Juan Enriquez Author, life
scientist, selects: Alex Fattalb —

Alex does not yet have his PhD in anthropology and critical
media practices. But his thesis, Guerrilla Marketing, Information
War and Demobilisation of FARC Rebels, is already making waves. By
bringing together big data, Facebook, YouTube, public relations,
military strategy, PTSD, national and international politics, he
has already changed minds and strategies in many fields. His work
ranges fearlessly across disciplines, continents and cultures,
covering the innards of Facebook — where he did a separate
ethnographic study of that odd tribe — through Colombian exiles
using YouTube in Sweden to influence Colombian politics. He spent
two years in some of the more “interesting” parts of Colombia,
interviewing rebels on their dreams, fears, traumas. Many were
filmed inside a truck that functioned as a giant camera obscura,
projecting the rebels’ villages as a backdrop. In the middle of his
PhD he experienced a forced two-year sabbatical: hikers, including
his brother, were arrested and held hostage by Iran. Alex organised
a campaign, mobilised and pressured the White House and 40
countries to free them. His understanding of social media and
partnerships with figures such as Muhammad Ali, Desmond Tutu and
many others resulted in a release of all the hostages
and established new parameters for diplomacy. Who knows
where he will end up after collecting his doctorate.

19. Stefan Sagmeister, Graphic designer and
typographer, selects: David Rinman — graphic

David has a lot of joy and merriment mixed in with his clearly
rigorous work ethic, and it shows: his graduation project in
Stockholm lights up a ping-pong table in wonderfully diverse and
gorgeous ways. His poster for the Swedish Screen & Special
Printers Association lets the viewers display their perspectives on
the future. He is equally comfortably at home in analogue and
digital worlds.

20. Peter Gabriel, musician and

activist; founder, Real World Records, selects: J Philipp
Schmidt — cofounder and executive director, Peer 2 Peer

The old model of further education belongs to a time when
universities were essentially for the wealthy. In terms of access
and cost, our universities can never hope to satisfy people’s
needs, either in traditional economies or those of the booming
young populations in transitional economies. Philipp’s team is well
on the way to providing a model that might be the basis of the next
generation of university education. P2PU is a wonderful idea that not
only ensures a lot of education is available online free (or
freemium), but emphasises the power of group learning and
mentoring. The goal is also to transform the accreditation system,
and to make further education incremental and flexible.

21. Jack Horner, curator of paleontology, Museum of
the Rockies, Montana State University, selects: Tyler
Lyson — postdoctoral fellow, Smithsonian

Tyler Lyson studies the origin and evolution of turtles, and he
has made some very significant recent discoveries. But, because
dinosaurs get so much more press than any of the other reptile
groups, Tyler’s innovative research on turtles is somewhat
overshadowed. Tyler also has some interest in dinosaurs, as he
excavates them (and turtles) in the badlands of his home state of
North Dakota. He seems to have a keen interest in the evolution of
North American Mesozoic terrestrial ecosystems, and is utilising
turtles to understand better the K-T extinction events.
Tyler is a dynamic young man who thinks out of the box and
doesn’t mind responding to challenges to his theories. With such a
mindset he is likely to be a driving force in paleontology over the
next few decades.

22. Steven Pinker Johnstone family professor
of psychology, Harvard University selects: Joshua Greene
— associate professor of the social sciences, Harvard
UniversityIt’s rare to come across a genuinely new idea on the nature of
morality, but Josh, a philosopher who uses the methods of cognitive
neuroscience and social psychology, has come up with several. He
took the old chestnut — why is it OK to divert a runaway trolley
from a track where it will kill five workers to a track where it
will kill one, but not OK to slow it down by pushing a fat man in
front of it? And he put people in a brain scanner as they pondered
it. Ancient circuits for emotion lit up when people pondered
killing a man with their hands, perhaps explaining the feeling
behind the difference. Although his synthesis of philosophy and
biology has made some philosophers hopping mad, it has excited
others, grateful for the infusion of new ideas and the cross-talk
between the sciences and the humanities.

23. Julie Hanna, chair of the board,
Kiva, selects: Ben Rattray — founder & CEO,

Be the change you want to see in the world, we’re told. Ben
enables us to do that:
lets anyone start a petition. In a few short years, the least
empowered people in the world have quietly become the largest
collection of unlikely heroes: 45 million people in 196 countries,
growing at a rate of three million a month.

24. Paul Jacobs, CEO, Qualcomm selects: Raj
Krishnan — cofounder and CEO, biological

Raj Krishnan has discovered a new, low-cost, easy way to detect
cancer in its earliest stages. He became the CEO of Biological
Dynamics (BD), a startup that creates the patents for this
groundbreaking technology, while in his twenties. I’ve
been so impressed with Raj and his work that I’ve invested in

25. Lesley Yellowlees president, Royal Society
of Chemistry, selects: Kylie Vincent — research fellow,
University of Oxford

Kylie is an inspirational chemist whose drive and passion have
led her to achieve great things early in her career. Her research
focuses on enzyme-based technologies that could provide solutions
to energy storage and sustainable fuels. Working at the
chemistry-biology interface, her research group studies how nature
handles these challenges, and how they can apply this knowledge to
technologies that can benefit humankind. By studying the enzymes
that allow bacteria to live off hydrogen gas and make useful
chemicals from carbon dioxide, she has developed and patented a new
technology called HydRegen — a system of graphite beads coated
with enzymes that allows chemists to capitalise on nature’s methods
for producing complex chemicals. She was overall winner of the
Royal Society of Chemistry’s Emerging Technologies competition in

26. Bre Pettis cofounder and CEO,
MakerBot selects: James Turrell — artist

I’d like to meet James Turrell, a land and installation artist
who creates amazing experiences. He’s terraforming a giant piece
called The Roden Crater outside Flagstaff, Arizona, that will act
as a modern Stonehenge. For his interior work, I particularly like
his “cloud rooms”, where you enter a room and there is a seamless
hole to observe the sky. I’m always inspired to examine the
way I see the world when I encounter his art.

27. Nathan Blecharczyk, cofounder and CTO,

Airbnb, selects: Satoshi Nakamoto — founder,
BitcoinI’d love to have dinner with the founder of bitcoin, even if he
or she remains unknown. The —distributed nature of bitcoin could
make it possible to exchange value between individuals, completely
agnostic of country, at near-zero cost. At Airbnb, I was the first
engineer and built our first payments platform. Now we have a
robust platform to make payments between countries easy, but on the
back-end this is very complex and our capabilities vary by country.
The idea of simplifying the process across the globe is really

28. Alex Hawkinson founder and CEO,
SmartThings, selects: Valentin Heun — PhD student, MIT
Media LabI’m inspired by Valentin Heun’s work on the Smarter Objects
project. As the everyday objects in the world around us become
connected as part of the internet of things, it presents an
incredible opportunity to bring more intelligence to the everyday

29. Chris Anderson curator, TED, selects:
Taylor Wilson — nuclear scientist

At TED, we’ve had our eye on physics wunderkind Taylor Wilson,
who made headlines at 14 by building a nuclear-fusion reactor in
his garage. Now 19, he’s focused on nuclear fission. He believes he
has a winning design for a type of microreactor that is safe and
capable of rapid roll-out.

30. Penelope Curtis, director, Tate
Britain, selects: Giorgio Sadotti — artistI find Giorgio Sadotti and his work amusing, confusing, crystal
clear, beautiful and romantic — by turns or all together. He
makes little gestures mean a lot, he packs big
themes into small means, he is never heavy or portentous, but
neither is he flippant nor cynical.

31. Muhammad Yunus, founder, Grameen Bank and the
Yunus Centre; Nobel Peace Prize laureate, selects: Saskia
Bruysten cofounder and CEO, Yunus Social Business

Saskia is an amazing young entrepreneur who’s pioneering a new
way to turn charity money — as well as business money — into
investment capital and creating and empowering entrepreneurs to
address social problems. Within the last three years, she and her
team of 30 have built a small empire of social-business incubator
funds in Haiti, Albania, Colombia, Brazil, Tunisia and Uganda. She
was instrumental in changing policies and opening doors for social
businesses at unlikely places — the traditional multilateral and
bilateral donors such as the African Development Bank and USAID.
Saskia has an indomitable energy, inspiring vision and ambitious
plans for the next three years. I predict that they won’t
remain only plans for long. These social businesses will soon be
sprouting all over the world. I’m confident about her

32. Ben Goldacre, author and Wellcome research
fellow in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and
Tropical Medicine, selects: Peter Doshi
— postdoctoral fellow, Johns Hopkins

There’s a huge problem in medicine: about half of all clinical
trials for the treatments we use today haven’t been published.
Peter has been at the forefront of solutions to this problem,
documenting the details and helping to devise a project that might
at least restore some missing trials to the public record. I know
from my own work that many people in medicine don’t want to discuss
these kinds of problems, even though the impact on patient care is
significant. So the fact that Peter is doing this as an
early-career researcher — apparently without fear, but also
without melodrama — is inspiring. If he doesn’t go far, something
has gone very wrong in medicine.

33. David Attenborough, broadcaster, selects: Xu Xing —

I met Xu Xing in China this year while filming a BBC series. He
is a professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and
Paleoanthropology in Beijing, and he instantly struck me as a
highly engaging and energetic character (he plays badminton with
his colleagues in the institute’s entrance hall at lunchtime). He
is also an expert decoder of dinosaur fossils and already has a
long list of remarkable discoveries to his name. I had the good
fortune to get a guided tour around some exquisite specimens that
have shed new light on the evolutionary links between dinosaurs and
birds. China is the new frontier of fossil discoveries — finds
made there have filled some of the most intriguing gaps in our
evolutionary past — and Xu Xing is a key player in that. So
far he is relatively unknown in the west outside
paleontology, but I think his name and work will reach a
wider audience soon.

34. David Karp, founder and CEO, Tumblr, selects:
Brandon Stanton — photographer, Humans of New York

Tumblr’s mission is to empower people to create something
extraordinary, and Brandon is one of the most innovative creators
in our community. After losing his job in 2010, he relocated to New
York with a vision for creating his art project, Humans of New York:
daily portraits of people he’d see on his walks.

35. J Craig Venter, founder, chairman and
CEO, J Craig Venter Institute, selects: Daniel Gibson —
associate professor, J Craig Venter Institute

He’s a scientist who’s made major contributions to DNA
synthesis that have resulted in the creation of the first synthetic
bacterial cell, and the development of an enabling suite of DNA
synthesis and assembly methods, including Gibson Assembly, which is
used in laboratories around the world.

36. Rachel Botsman, social innovator, selects:
Won-Soon Park, Mayor of SeoulMayor Park and his team are turning Seoul into a “shareable
city” by applying technology to unlock the value of existing assets
and reimagine the way everything — from transportation to elderly
care — could work. His office has a greenhouse of rare plants and
walls covered with Post-it suggestions from citizens.

37. Andrew Zolli, executive director and chief
creative officer, PopTech, selects: Claudia Perlich — chief
scientist, Media6degrees

In an age not just of big data, but of big algorithms, the
future will belong to people such as machine-learning expert Claudia Perlich. She has pioneered the
development of breakthrough algorithms for everything from pricing
advertising to detecting breast cancer and rating movies.

38. Paul Davies, director, Beyond Center
for Fundamental Concepts in Science, AZ State University,
selects: Sara Walker — assistant professor, School of Earth and
Space Exploration and Beyond Centre

Sara is a 29-year-old astrobiologist who trained as a physicist
and cosmologist, and now works mainly on the puzzle of how life
began. Much hinges on the answer — for example, whether or not we
are alone in the universe. The mystery requires technical
proficiency across a range of disciplines, including chemistry,
physics, biology, mathematics and computing. The pathway from
non-life to life involves a transition from the realm of molecules
and forces to the conceptually completely different realm of
information processing, coding, instructions and signals. Sara is
one of the few scientists I know who can grasp the problem from
both ends and glimpse how to join them in the middle.

39. Marc Andreessen cofounder, Andreessen Horowitz,
selects: Balaji Srinivasan — cofounder and Chief Technology
Officer, Counsyl; lecturer, Stanford UniversityWith a voracious mind in an environment that often favours
narrow specialists, Balaji is something of a unicorn. He’s that
rare computer scientist who combines coding prowess with a
wide—ranging —knowledge of how the world actually works, whether
it’s regulation, politics or global markets. That’s led him to
software that’s eating the world in fantastically different
domains, from developing cheap genetic testing for pregnant women,
to working on the technical underpinnings and policies required for
crypto-currencies (such as bitcoin) to become real alternatives to
fiat currencies.At Stanford, he’s training the next generation of hackers to
take on some of the thorniest problems, but always with an eye on
the human aspects that need to be addressed alongside the
technical. With him leading the way, technology’s relationship with
our lives will only get more intimate.

40. Rachel

Armstrong, Sustainability innovator, selects: William
Harries Graham — ecologist and writer

Fourteen-year-old William is one of our next—generation
visionaries in sustainable design. He believes that the modern
ecological movement has created a dystopian vision of environmental
issues. William’s pioneering project, the “Luxa-sphere”, proposes
that we can live in harmony with the natural world without adopting
austere lifestyles. He suggests that emerging new materials and
technologies will enable us to use our natural reserves differently
by functioning as metabolically active “organs” within our
buildings. These -systems will help us to use our natural reserves
differently and to transform resources into biologically compatible
substances that do not kill the planet. He is building support for
his idea by enthusiastically raising awareness about the impact of
our current generation by establishing think-tank pods as
innovation hubs that develop Luxasphere-style solutions.

41. Ken Levine, cofounder and
creative director, Irrational Games, selects: Gabe Newell —
cofounder and managing director, Valve CorporationGabe has not only led the creation of half a dozen or more
top-flight PC games, such as Half-Life and
Counter-Strike, he’s forced us to rethink the nature of
game development, distribution and retail. With the introduction of
the Steam service a decade ago, the Valve crew were widely
mocked for their software: it was buggy, with only a smattering of
product and, worst of all, they were doubling down on PC gaming
when everyone knew PC gaming was dead. But they became the
number-one way people purchased and played PC games, and they
introduced concepts such as user-generated (and monetised) content,
deep-discount sales and sticky community features — and most
importantly put PC games at the forefront of the technical pack.
Gabe understands one thing very clearly: you can’t tell the
consumer what he wants: you have to build something he wants.

42. Jane Goodall, primatologist; UN Messenger
of Peace, selects: Itai Rothman — anthropologistI am recommending Itai because I really like the way his mind
works. He has an unusual way of thinking about things,
extraordinary persistence in finding ways to attain his goals, and
deep commitment and passion. I met him when he was fighting to save
an endangered toad — he created a whole new protected area in
Israel as a result. His current research is learning about the
unknown and intriguing life of cave-dwelling chimpanzees in Mali.
With his usual quick grasp of possibilities, he also began
interviews with the local Maninka tribespeople to discover their
relationship with the chimps. Already, he has made fascinating
discoveries. And, despite lack of funds, he’s developed a
partnership with the zoo for the betterment of the three chimps
there. I think that he will go far in anthropology.

43. Philippe Starck, Product designer, selects:
Thibault Damour, physicistA few years ago, Thibault was kind enough to try to educate me.
We had a wonderful time, even though I understood very little.
Thanks to him, I heard the sound of real human intelligence, of
science, the relationship between mathematics, astrophysics and the
laws that govern us — I heard the poetry that we are living every
day. Thibault is my reference point for absolute beauty. He’s one
of the most advanced thinkers of our age. He’s an astrophysicist
whose ideas extend to philosophy, and it’s through philosophy that
we find real poetry. I would have liked just to talk about this
poetry, which is the only way to understand these subjects. We
weren’t raised to understand it and we don’t have the necessary
education, or perhaps even the intelligence level to do so. The
sound of such intelligence is extraordinary. Thibault Damour is my
role model. He’s a kind of Professor Calculus with the elegance of
absolute thought.

44. Zach Sims, cofounder, Codecademy, selects: Sam
Chaudhary and Liam Don — founders, ClassDojoI find the founders of ClassDojo to be an inspiration
in education technology — they’ve built a tool that’s truly useful
for teachers. Doing so has helped them find traction among 15
million teachers. It’s notoriously hard for an education company to
get adopted in school systems, but building a great product has
helped ClassDojo to do so.

45. Peter Diamandis, founder, X Prize; cofounder,
Singularity University, selects: Jack Andraka — scientist and
inventorAt 16, Jack is the youngest adjunct faculty member to teach at
Singularity. His insightful, persistent and innovative work — at
age 15 — in cancer research and detection, and his entrepreneurial
approach, demonstrate he has the passion, intellect and resources
to change the world. He has done so already.

46. Jim Al-Khalili, professor of
physics, University of Surrey, selects: Molly Stevens —
professor of biomedical materials and regenerative medicine,
Imperial College London

Molly was one of the very early guests on my Radio 4 programme
The Life Scientific and she was quite fascinating. What struck me
most is her ability to bring so many different people from diverse
disciplines together under one roof.

47. Danah Boyd, senior researcher, Microsoft
Research, selects: Janet Vertesi — sociologist of science and
technology, Princeton UniversityJanet has embedded herself at Nasa to understand how social,
cultural and organisational dynamics shape the science and
engineering efforts surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover and
Cassini Saturn missions. Her brain makes me drool.

48. Martin Rees, cosmologist,
astrophysicist and Astronomer Royal, selects: Didier Queloz
professor of astrophysics, University of Cambridge and University
of Geneva

While still a student, Didier and his adviser were the first to
discover a planet orbiting a star similar to the Sun. Now at
Cambridge, he’s developing special instruments to study Earth-like
planets. He may be able to tell us if there’s life on them.

49. John Brockman, president, the Edge Foundation,
selects: David Moinina Sengeh — PhD candidate, MIT Media Lab
(biomechatronics); cofounder and president, Global Minimum
IncDavid Sengeh, from Sierra Leone, established Innovate Salone, a
youth-mentorship programme that gives people the opportunity to
innovate, to learn from making, and to solve very tangible problems
in their communities.

50. Ben Silbermann, cofounder and CEO,

Pinterest, selects: Karl Deisseroth — professor of
bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioural sciences, Stanford

Karl Deisserith has made some really tremendous
breakthroughs in the development of optogenetic methods for
studying the function of neuronal networks’ underlying
behaviour. He takes risks and encourages others to do the same. He
gives people on his team great opportunities and always makes sure
to share the credit.