The Scientific American 50; December 2003; Scientific American Magazine; by Staff Editors; 20 Page(s)
A MICROSCOPE THAT CAN SEE objects smaller than an atom. The first field test of a fleet of electric vehicles powered by fuel cells. A tariff to limit vehicular traffic in central London. These are but a few of the pathbreaking developments that have taken place in recent months in laboratories, corporate suites and the halls of government. For the second year, the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN 50 recognizes the singular accomplishments of those who have contributed to the advancement of technology in the realms of science, engineering, commerce and public policy. This year's selections by the Board of Editors pay tribute to individuals, teams and companies that have stood out in a wide variety of technological disciplines. It also honors Leaders of the Year for achievements in research, business and policy. Their work again demonstrates the ingenuity and resourcefulness that generate the ever more sophisticated tools and solutions for meeting society's needs.
THAT ELECTRICITY MIGHT ANIMATE mere flesh goes all the way back to Frankenstein, yet the mechanisms remained vague until Roderick MacKinnon, a physician, worked out the structure of the potassium channel. Then, this past spring, he deduced the mechanism by which a potassium channel senses electricity-its voltmeter, as it were. These achievements won him the 2003 Nobel chemistry prize.