15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  
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15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD



Published On: June 17, 2014, by Neat Buzz, Donald Moore, West Virginia
Tag: People, World , Rating: 4.5

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In the 1970s, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger asked Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai his opinion on the chief consequences of the French Revolution. “It’s too early to tell,” Zhou is said to have replied.

The comment captures the essential problem of determining which historical moments really matter. None of us can see what directions the world will take in the future, and events that seem monumental today might turn out to be mere pebbles on the road of history.

Take inventor Dean Kamen’s gyroscopic Segway scooter. Just a few years ago, it was heralded as the answer to the world’s transportation woes, a device that would lead to a redesign of entire cities. It flopped. Conversely, 2,000 years ago few could have predicted the success of a small religious group following the teachings of a Nazarean carpenter. Today Christianity is the biggest religion in the world.

But there are some achievements so notable, so ground-shaking, that even within the short space of a few decades we can feel their impact. We’ve chosen a few examples of this revolutionary spirit: 15 people who changed the world since 1950.

Of course, not everyone changes the world for the better. Clearly, we could do with fewer Osama bin Ladens and more Mikhail Gorbachevs, who, when given great power, directed it toward goals that benefited mankind. Our list is made up exclusively of the latter.

In any case, when it comes to accomplishments that truly alter the way we live day today, political figures prove to be less influential than scientists.

Creators of technology–ideas in physical form-–dominate our list. Take Paul Lauterbur and Peter Mansfield’s invention, magnetic resonance imaging, which has transformed almost every area of surgery, allowing doctors to see inside a patient’s body without cutting it open first.

“MRI has totally changed neurosurgery,” says Nirit Weiss, assistant professor of neurosurgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “If you open the skull and look at the brain, it looks like a blob–you can’t just look at it and see the different cell groups. But MRI has allowed us to visualize the brain’s structures so we have a map in our head of where to go and where to avoid.”

Sometimes the most influential breakthroughs don’t require incredible advances in science and take years to be appreciated. Equipping the trailer of a truck with a large, standardized, removable box required nothing more than a stroke of imaginative brilliance. And yet the current global economy is unimaginable without it.

American entrepreneur Malcolm McLean invented the shipping container in 1956, but it took a decade for its stunning effectiveness to be revealed as it went to use supplying the military during the Vietnam War. Containerized shipping is still growing–by 11% a year–which is something that McLean, who began his business in North Carolina in 1934, using a single truck he bought for $120, would surely marvel at if alive today.

Some revolutionaries were slighted by the scientific establishments of their time–like Rosalind Franklin’s exclusion from sharing in the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the structure of DNA. Described by her peers as a “genius,” she exposed herself to massive amounts of radiation to try to get the best possible X-ray photograph of a strand of DNA, dying of cancer at 37. Her image of a double helix provided the crucial evidence James Watson and Francis Crick needed to complete their model, but neither scientist acknowledged her work when they received the Nobel Prize in 1962.

The history of influence is the history of imagination, passion, hard work and belief. These 15 people who have changed the world show what belief can accomplish.



1

 

TIM BERNERS-LEE THE WORLD WIDE WEB

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

Tim Berners-Lee kick-started the World Wide Web in 1989, designing and building the first Web browser, editor and server. The widely adopted technologies transformed the way information is created and consumed.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

2

 

FRANCIS CRICK, JAMES WATSON, ROSALIND FRANKLIN STRUCTURE OF DNA

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

English-born Francis Crick and his American colleague James Watson made one of the most dazzling discoveries in the history of science in 1953 when they accurately decoded the structure of the DNA molecule. They would not, however, have been able to identify the twisted ladder shape of the DNA double helix without the help of English scientist Rosalind Franklin’s X-ray images, which Watson saw without her knowledge. Franklin, who exposed herself to dangerous levels of radiation to get her X-ray images, died of cancer in 1958 at the age of 37. And so it was her colleague, Maurice Wilkins, who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for medicine with Watson and Crick.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

3

 

MILTON FRIEDMAN FREE MARKETS

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

Economist Milton Friedman’s advocacy of low taxation, limited government and free markets went from the fringe of economic theory in the 1960s to the center of economic policy during the Reagan era. Friedman is best known for arguing that steady, moderate growth in the money supply would produce steady economic growth, and that inflation results when too much money chases too few goods. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics in 1976.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

4

 

MIKHAIL GORBACHEV ENDING COMMUNISM

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

After becoming premier of the Soviet Union in 1985, Gorbachev championed “Glasnost” (openness) and “Perestroika” (reform), which heralded the beginning of the end of communism and the Cold War. But his first attempt at radical reform as premier was an utter failure: he tried to stamp out alcoholism.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

5

 

JACK KILBY AND ROBERT NOYCE THE MICROCHIP

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

Kilby and Noyce independently invented the single integrated circuit in 1959, clearing one of the greatest obstacles to faster and more powerful computers. The microchip heralded a revolution in technological miniaturization. Though Kilby got there first and won the Nobel Prize, it was Noyce’s silicon-based chips that caught on. Noyce co-founded Intel in 1968, and it is today the world’s largest manufacturer of semiconductors. That same year, Kilby built the world’s first personal calculator.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

6

 

PAUL LAUTERBUR AND PETER MANSFIELD MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

Lauterbur and Mansfield won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 2003 for the invention of magnetic resonance imaging. MRI enable s surgeons to see inside the body’s soft organs without conducting invasive surgery or subjecting the patient to X-rays.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

7

 

GEORGE LUCAS STAR WARS

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

Filmmaker George Lucas founded Industrial Light and Magic in 1975 to bring his vision of Star Wars to life. ILM went on to revolutionize special effects in the movies, pioneering motion control camera techniques and spearheading the computer-generated imaging revolution in the 1980s. Perhaps more important, Lucas’ original trilogy of movies redefined the economics of the movie industry.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

8

 

MALCOLM MCLEAN THE SHIPPING CONTAINER

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

Shipping entrepreneur McLean had a great idea: It would be much more efficient if dock cranes were able to pick up the entire trailer part of a truck and place it onto a ship, rather than continue with the hugely expensive and time-consuming method of loading (and unloading) a ship crate by crate. His invention, the standardized shipping container, transformed the global economy.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  

9

 

GREGORY PINCUS, M.C. CHANG, AND JOHN ROCK THE BIRTH CONTROL PILL

 
15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD  | NEATBUZZ.COM | people,  world

In 1953 Pincus and his colleague Min-Chueh Chang proved that hormones could prevent ovulation in animals. Similar work was being undertaken by Dr. John Rock at Harvard, and he and Pincus joined efforts to conduct human trials in 1956. In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Enovid, the first contraceptive pill.

15 PEOPLE WHO CHANGED THE WORLD
  


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