The Innovators Project

A series of profiles on people who are transforming their fields by creating, educating, provoking, and delighting

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Alan Guth: Waiting for the Big Bang

Three decades ago, the innovative physicist had a eureka moment that explained the universe.

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Life After Death: Bruno Frohlich

This archaeologist has pieced together murders from as far back as the Bronze Age to the present. "I get excited about something and I forget about everything else."  

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Great Innovators in Archaeology

Meet some of science's most important movers and shakers—from past and present.

Taylor Wilson, a nuclear physicist built a nuclear reactor at age 14.

Teen Wonder: Taylor Wilson

After achieving nuclear fusion at age 14, Taylor, now 19, is working with subatomic particles for solutions to nuclear terrorism and cancer.

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7 Great Innovators in Physics

We take a look at some of history's greatest innovators in physics.

Abdel Kader Haidara - An Islamic scholar sorts through trunks of ancient manuscripts.

Brave Sage of Timbuktu: Abdel Kader Haidara

He made it his life's work to document Mali's illustrious past and led the rescue operation to save 350,000 manuscripts.

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9 Great African Innovators in the Arts and Sciences

We take a look at some of Africa's top intellectual and creative innovators.

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Shakespeare in Shackles: Laura Bates

Laura Bates teaches Shakespeare's "criminal tragedies" to Supermax prisoners in Indiana, with remarkable results.

Jeff Jonas is an IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist, Context Computing. Photographed at National Geographic For the Innovators portrait Series.

Decoding Jeff Jonas, Wizard of Big Data

Jonas invents new ways to sift and sort data to smoke out wrongdoing, reunite families, and solve other problems.

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Nick Watson: Bringing the Wilderness Solution to Vets

Nick Watson takes hundreds of veterans into the wilderness as a way to help them readjust to civilian life.  

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Daniel Nocera: Maverick Inventor of the Artificial Leaf

Nocera's invention turns the energy of sunlight into a chemical fuel. But making it cheap and practical is a hurdle.

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Lori Marino: Leader of a Revolution in How We Perceive Animals

Find out what led to Marino's transformation from hard-core researcher to animal rights champion, and if others can follow.

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George Church: The Future Without Limit

Church manipulates microbes and tinkers with DNA to fight disease, create new biofuels, and perhaps even resurrect extinct species.

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Using Adversity to Unleash Innovation

The blind social worker Sabriye Tenberken is training a new generation of social reformers.

Shubhranshu Choudhary

Shubhranshu Choudhary: Giving a Voice to a Ravaged, Neglected Region

Shubhranshu Choudhary created a community news service using cell phones as the media platform in the area where he grew up.

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Making a Home on the Range for Bison

Sean Gerrity is using Silicon Valley tactics to make the largest wildlife preserve in the continental U.S. a reality.

From Our Archives

A photo of a school of fish around the research vessel, Aquarius.

Record-Breaking Underwater Mission

Timed for 50 years after a historic Jacques Cousteau effort, Mission 31 advances ocean science and exploration.  

A photo of Mars.

Messaging Mars

A college student has an ambitious plan to send millions of digital messages to the red planet.  

In this March 28, 2014 photo, visitors look Caryatids as the operation, inside a white fabric box, is relayed on a monitor at the Acropolis museum in Athens. It takes about seven months to clean each of the larger than life-sized statues, which were carved around 420 B.C.

Greek Beauties Get Facelift

Stripping decades of grime from five marble statues in Athens has restored their beauty.  

A photo of a Whitetip Reef Shark swimming over coral in the Phoenix Islands.

Fishing Banned in Vast Park

Pacific Nation Bans Fishing in One of World's Largest Marine Parks

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Virtual Dolphin on a Mission

A novel video game featuring a lifelike virtual dolphin may soon help stroke victims—and, eventually, real dolphins too.  

Sunrise over one of the ponds at Banteay Chhmar.

Blood Antiquities

In Cambodia and beyond, archaeologists and criminologists are fighting the underground trade in cultural treasures.  

In this May 3, 2014 photo, narrow roads run between Al Montna's rice farm showing the rice fields flooded with water and some fields left idle due to lacking legal rights to water in Yuba City, Calif.

Conservation and California Drought

With worsening shortages, the Golden State turns to water conservation. Will it work?  

Looters dig through the sand, sifting and unearthing Roman and Pharaonic antiquities to sell on June 26, 2013 in Sheikh Ibada, Egypt.

New Rules for Egypt’s Antiquities?

Archaeologists Warn of Pillaged Egypt

Photo of an elderly woman.

What Speeds Up Aging?

A new study urges more work on "gerontogens," which speed up the aging process.  

A photo of a worker at a slaughterhouse arranging slaughtered cattle.

Test-Tube Meat for Locavores

Don't kill the pig, say Dutch researchers—just grow its cells in the village meat factory.  

Kawasaki disease. Coloured angiogram (X-ray) of abnormal coronary arteries in a child suffering from Kawasaki disease.

Wind-Borne Heart Disease

Clues to the cause of Kawasaki disease are found in winds from China.  

A satellite photo of Tell Rif'at in north west Syria in 1961.

Lost Cities Spotted From Space

Archaeologists have used Cold War spy-satellite photos to uncover thousands of unsuspected archaeological sites.  

An illustration of multiple universes.

Welcome to the Multiverse

Gravitational waves that rippled through the first moments of the Big Bang point to the birth of multiple universes, not just ours.  

A photo of a reconstruction of a Neanderthal female.

Neanderthal Groups Were Scattered

Comparisons with Neanderthal DNA may point to genes that make us uniquely human and uncover the origins of genetic ailments.  

A photo of an atlantic longfin squid

Squid and the Value of Pain

Pain can sometimes be a good thing: It may help injured squid survive encounters with predators, says a new study.