The ethical and policy ramifications of deploying science and technology in the service of society hold the same importance as the act of invention itself. Getting antiretroviral treatments to HIV/AIDS patients in sub-Saharan Africa. Ensuring that the world’s largest chip manufacturer takes every possible step to reduce the company’s environmental footprint. Lending the currency of one’s celebrity (as well as cold, hard cash) to a global campaign to abolish smoking.
Leadership in these realms requires vision and imagination that transcends mere engineering ingenuity. This year’s Scientific American 10 pays tribute to the exceptional foresight and accomplishment of a select group whose achievements, particularly during the past year, stand out from those of their peers. The 10 winners have demonstrated that establishing a public health program or running a green business requires more than administrative efficiency and good public relations. Bringing creativity to bear in overcoming institutional and bureaucratic impediments to adoption of not just new technology but innovative procedural methods is crucial for improving health care and the environment.