Popular Science announces Third Annual 'Brilliant 10'

or a marble slab--he learned how light makes something happen beneath the surface of everything. His ability to translate the play of light on surfaces into digital code has not only secured his status as an academic computer scientist, it has taken him on a red carpet ride, earning him credits on films such as Terminator 3 and Shrek 2. In February, he earned an Academy Award for Technical Achievement.

  • David Liu, 31, Harvard University (Boston, MA) for his work in the field of DNA-based chemistry. Within two years of becoming a Harvard professor, Liu developed a brand-new way to create man made chemical molecules, relying on the natural tendency of DNA strands to pair together like a zipper. Capitalizing on this, Liu is able to program the outcome of chemical reactions--before combining his raw materials, he attached each to a strand of DNA, attaching the ingredients he wants to react to complementary bits of DNA. For now, the process lets chemists produce known molecules with greater control. Down the line, it could be used to search for new medicines.

  • Sheila Patek, 31, University of California, Berkeley for her work in the field of biomechanics. Why would a biologist spend her days battling crustaceans? Because from them she gets insight into the physics of animal movement. Patek has parsed the mechanics of the odd antenna twitches that lobsters use to make noise and is helping develop a physiology-based method to predict what each lobster species would sound like. Recently, she proved that the peacock mantis shrimp has the fastest kick in the animal kingdom.

  • Karel Svoboda, 38, Cold Spring Harbor Lab (Cold Spring Harbor, NY) for his work in the field of neuroscience. When we make a new memory, where is it stored in our brains? The question consumed Svoboda for years, until he pioneered a method for observing a single brain cell in a living creature over time. By creating a microscope powerful enough

  • Contact: Hallie Deaktor
    Popular Science

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