Kepler, the Telescope Not the Man
The spacecraft used in NASA's Kepler mission isn't a person, but since it's named after one of the great minds in the history of science -- Johannes Kepler -- it seemed fair to include it (him) in the list, especially considering the magnitude of the mission's discoveries.
First, the facts: Kepler is a space telescope launched by NASA in March 2009 with the goal of surveying 170,000 stars in a small patch of sky near the constellations Cygnus and Lyra. Its quarry aren't the stars themselves, but the exoplanets that might be orbiting them and that might have conditions capable of supporting life. Kepler finds these planets when they cross the face of their parent star.
Now, the amazing results: Kepler has found a spectacular array of planets. In just a few months, it has discovered more than twice the number of exoplanets spotted from Earth in the last 15 years. More than 400 of these worlds exist in solar systems containing a number of bodies revolving around strange, faraway stars. What are some of these worlds like? Kepler-16b is a Saturn-sized planet orbiting two stars, a la Luke Skywalker's home Tatooine. The Kepler-11 system consists of six planets -- some rocky and some gas giants -- orbiting a single, sunlike star. In all, Kepler had identified more than 1,200 candidate planets awaiting confirmation and further study, as of January 2012.
The Kepler mission is scheduled to make observations through the end of 2012, but its design will support an additional three years of investigation. NASA officials, faced with extreme budget cuts, are now trying to decide if the program should be granted an extension or terminated. Given its success, one can only hope that Kepler -- the telescope, not the man -- is allowed to live on.
- Anthony, Katey Walter. "Methane: A New Menace Surfaces." Scientific American. December 2009.
- Barth, Amy. "100 Top Stories of 2011: Scientist of the Arab Spring." Discover Magazine. January/February 2012.
- California Institute of Technology. "Ahmed Zewail." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.zewail.caltech.edu/
- Columbia University. "James Hansen." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/other.shtml
- Geim, Andre K. and Philip Kim. "Carbon Wonderland." Scientific American. April 2008.
- Greenwood, Veronique. "100 Top Stories of 2011: The Too-Sure Thing." Discover Magazine. January/February 2012.
- Hall, Stephen S. "Diseases in a Dish." Scientific American. March 2011.
- Hansen, James. "Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb." Scientific American. March 2004.
- Harvard Stem Cell Institute. "Kevin C. Eggan, PhD." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.hsci.harvard.edu/people/kevin-c-eggan-phd
- Harvard University, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. "Kevin Eggan Lab." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.mcb.harvard.edu/eggan/
- Herper, Matthew and Seline Jung. "Rising Stars Of Science: The Forbes 30 Under 30: Daniela Witten." Forbes Magazine. Dec. 19, 2011. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.forbes.com/special-report/2011/30-under30-12/30-under-30-12_science.html
- Hopkins, John-Mark and Wilson Sibbett. "Ultrashort-Pulse Lasers." Scientific American. September 2000.
- Livingston, Katharine. "Adventurers of the Year: Katey Walter Anthony." National Geographic. December 2009/January 2010. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://adventure.nationalgeographic.com/2009/12/best-of-adventure/katey-walter-anthony
- MacArthur Foundation. "Nicole King." September 2005. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.macfound.org/site/c.lkLXJ8MQKrH/b.1076861/apps/nl/content2.asp?content_id=%7B06D15B3E-5C9B-4A4E-A01B-0D1A0B68216A%7D¬oc=1
- Nobelprize.org. "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/chemistry/laureates/1999/
- Nobelprize.org. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2010." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2010/
- NASA Ames Research Center. "Kepler Mission." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://kepler.nasa.gov/
- NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "James Hansen." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.giss.nasa.gov/staff/jhansen.html
- Powell, Corey S. "The 50 Most Important, Influential, and Promising People in Science." Discover Magazine. Nov. 19, 2008. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://discovermagazine.com/2008/dec/19-the-50-most-important-influential-and-promising-people-in-science
- Raeburn, Paul. "100 Top Stories of 2011: New Planet Boom Faces a Budget Bust." Discover Magazine. January/February 2012.
- Taubes, Gary. "Konstantin Novoselov." ScienceWatch. February 2009. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://sciencewatch.com/ana/st/graphene/09febSTGraNovo/
- University of Alaska Fairbanks. "Katey Walter Anthony." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://ine.uaf.edu/werc/people/katey-walter-anthony/
- University of California, Berkeley. "The King Lab." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://kinglab.berkeley.edu/people/nicole-king/
- University of California, San Diego. "James Fowler." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://jhfowler.ucsd.edu/
- University of Manchester. "Professor Kostya Novoselov." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.condmat.physics.manchester.ac.uk/people/academic/novoselov/
- University of Washington School of Public Health. "Daniela Witten." (Dec. 27, 2011) http://sph.washington.edu/faculty/fac_bio.asp?url_ID=Witten_Daniela
- Ward, Logan. "10 Most Brilliant Innovators of 2009: Kepler Space Telescope." Popular Mechanics. Oct. 6, 2009. (Dec. 27, 2011) http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/space/telescopes/4332916
A drone with some petri dishes attached is making research easier on whales and scientists. HowStuffWorks takes a look.