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MacArthur awards: Do we know how to spot genius, or what?

Two of the newly minted MacArthur award winners — recipients of the so-called "genius grant" — are scientists whose work, we might note, has been touted in the pages of Scientific American. The winners each receive a cool $500,000.

 

 

Johns Hopkins University astronomer Adam Reiss, 38, studies the geometry of the universe, which has taught him, among other things, about "the repulsive side of gravity," he explained in a magazine piece for us four years ago.

Marin Soljacic, 34, is an MIT optical physicist who showed that power can be transmitted wirelessly, raising the prospect of computers that could one day re-charge by receiving energy from a magnetic field.

Urban farmer Will Allen, 59, of Milwaukee, Wisc., won a MacArthur for developing low-cost growing techniques. You can read more about no-till farming here

Doctors in the house: Infectious disease specialist Wafaa El-Sadr, 58, and geriatrician Diane Meier, 56, are New York-based physicians who focus on improving care for HIV/AIDS patients and the elderly; small-town doctor Regina Benjamin, 51, sets up health clinics in rural Alabama and other remote areas of the United States. Critical care physician Peter Pronovost, 43, of Johns Hopkins is working on improving patient safety in hospitals.

A fifth grantee, Nancy Siraisi, 76, of Brooklyn, N.Y., is a medical historian.

Among other scientists awarded grants: experimental biologist Rachel Wilson, 34, of Harvard; neuroscientist Sally Temple, 49, of the New York Neural Stem Cell Institute in Albany; plant evolutionary geneticist Kirsten Bomblies, 34, of the Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology in Germany; developmental biologist Susan Mango, 47, of the University of Utah; geomorphologist David Montgomery, 46, of the University of Washington/Seattle; and two Californians, astrophysicist Andrea Ghez, 43, of U.C.L.A. and computer scientist Alexei Kitaev, 45, of CalTech.

(Video of awardee Will Allen by MacArthur Foundation, via YouTube)

 

 

 

 

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