Trickster Travels , in particular, focused on 16th century events that unabashedly paralleled 21st century challenges and patterns of violence. Born ; Kenya. Evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is world-renowned for his writing on the gene-centered theory of evolution. This book explored and popularized the kin selection hypothesis of George C. Dawkins's incisive yet easy-to-digest writing style gained the book a readership far beyond the confines of academia, as did his coining of the phrase "selfish gene," which has stuck as a label for the hard-line genocentric position within the units of selection controversy.
The Selfish Gene may be seen in retrospect as one of the opening salvos in the culture wars of the past several decades, and as such it has had an incalculable impact on Western society. Together with subsequent volumes like The Blind Watchmaker and Climbing Mount Improbable , Dawkins's book may be seen as lying at the root of the high-decibel public controversy over the teaching of evolutionary theory in the public schools.
Moreover, as an outspoken atheist and author of The God Delusion , Dawkins has been the acknowledged leader along with philosopher Daniel Dennett, writer Christopher Hitchens, and neuroscientist Sam Harris of the highly visible New Atheist crusade against religion. Apart from his great success as a populizer, Dawkins's own scientific work has been concentrated for the most part on developing his notion of the "extended phenotype"basically, the idea that behavior makes just as great a contribution to genic selection as "phenotype" in the standard morphological sense.
His semi-popular book on this topic, The Extended Phenotype , was a significant contribution to the "sociobiology" controversy raging at the time in the wake of E. Wilson's tome by that name. Today, these same ideas go by the name of "evolutionary psychology," and have become standard fodder for thousands of popular psychology and women's magazine features. Dawkins is the recipient of countless honorary doctorates and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. In , he ranked first on Prospect magazine's list of top British intellectuals and, in , he was identified by the same publication as the top thinker in the world.
Born ; Spain. More than any other living opera singer, Placido Domingo has helped attract popular affection for the high art. The Spanish tenor is known for the enormous and versatile power of his voice and his career-long prolificacy. Though he was born in Madrid, Domingo's family moved to Mexico when he was just eight years old. Domingo began his performing career singing supporting baritone in , but also proved receptive to various musical ventures, even lending backup vocals to a rock band called Los Black Jeans in This openness would serve him well as his fame grew.
The gifted young singer studied piano and conducting, eventually securing a spot with the Mexico National Opera. Across the s, Domingo earned his name as a singer of unparalleled drama and range, first in Mexico then in the United States. His debut at the Metropolitan Opera in would be his first of 21 season openers. Over the course of the next 40 years, Domingo would occupy the stage as both singer and conductor in far too many roles to list. Indeed, part of his brilliance is the remarkable preservation of his vocal power across so prolific a career.
Likewise, his commitment to the American stage would make him the foremost champion of his field in the U. There is no songwriter who has exerted greater influence on music or popular culture in the 20th Century than Bob Dylan. Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, the future songsmith would be raised in a small but close-knit Jewish community in the town of Hibbing, Minnesota, in the Mesabi Iron Range, whose bleak landscape littered with abandoned mines and broken lives would find a place in some of his earliest folk songs.
The singer, songwriter, guitarist, and future world-famous rock star first cut his teeth as a musician as a part of the Greenwich Village folk revival in the early s. Taking cues from his idol, Woody Guthrie, Dylan inserted himself into the heart of a burgeoning anti-war and Civil Rights movement, performing both both socially conscious standards and ingeniously literate original compositions.
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In the ensuing years, Dylan would prove mercurial and resistant to pigeonholing, though all the more innovative for his uncategorizability. Not only a brilliant songwriter, but also incredibly prolific, Dylanwho renamed himself in honor of the great Welsh poet Dylan Thomaswas known to compose entire songs in the back seat of a taxi in between his hotel and the auditorium where he was to perform.
As the Vietnam conflict boiled over into war, Dylan shocked his folkie supporters by departing the protest movement. It was during this contentious time that he also produce his very best and most important work in Bringing It All Back Home , Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde At the same time, Dylan managed to marry his literary gifts with crowd-pleasing hooks and an infectious beat, making him the most popular, as well as the most literate, singer-songwriter of his generation.
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Today, Dylan continues to defy expectation by asserting his unwavering relevance in a young man's game. From the careening force of nature that Dylan was in his youth to the wizened elder mystic that comes through his present-day albums, Bob Dylan is without a doubt the most important songwriter of his time.
Those who compete in the decathlon are often rightly regarded as the world's greatest athletes. If this is so, than Ashton James Eaton may hold the rights to the title of world's single greatest athlete. Originally from Portland, Oregon, Eaton owns the current world records in both the decathlon and the heptathlon. The decathlon is comprised of four running events, three jumping events, and three throwing events.
Over the course of two days, athletes compete in a series of heats that comprise a measure of unparalleled athletic excellence. Eaton has proven that there may not be another athlete in the world the can come close to his abilities today.
Eaton excelled in collegiate competition, becoming a five-time NCAA champion during his time at the University of Oregon. As a member of the Oregon Track Club Elite, he won silver in the World Championships, established a world decathlon record during that 's Olympic Trials, then coasted to a gold in that year's Summer Olympics in London. He has also broken the world record in indoor heptathlon during three consecutive competitions between and Born ; Italy. Physicist Federico Faggin may well be responsible for the single most important invention of the late 20th century.
It was and Faggin's arrival in Palo Alto, as much as any other factor, would help to forge the Silicon Valley. During his time there, Faggin created the MOS Silicon Gate, which is viewed as the basis of all modern computer technology. Faggin took this development to Intel in , where he continued to push the boundaries of his work. It wasn't long before Faggin had invented the first microprocessor for commercial production.
The engineer left Intel in to found Zilog, which ultimately became the first company solely driven by the production and sale of microprocessors. In , with the personal computer revolution raging around him, Faggin founded Synaptics, where he remains Chairman Emeritus today. Synaptics is the world leader in touchpad technology.
In , Faggin was recognized with the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the highest technology honor bestowed by the United States. Sean Fanning's greatest contribution to the world is one that most record executives wish had never happened. As the software engineer responsible for the Napster file trading program, Fanning's impact on the music business has been massive.
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The Massachusetts-born entrepreneur was still a student at Northeastern University when he noted the emergence of peer-to-peer P2P file-sharing. Still known to only a relatively small sphere of web enthusiasts at the time, Fanning creating a forum specifically for trading a relatively new compressed music file type called MP3. By being among the first to specifically facilitate the trade of popular music and by creating a P2P forum that was readily accessible and attractive to users, Fanning would initiate dramatic change in both the music business and the world of online file sharing.
The latter would see an absolutely massive proliferation, while the former would see a sharp decline in sales of physical media. Released to the world in , Napster is said to have had roughly 80 million users at its peak, all trading billions of music files a day from personal computer to personal computer. Musicians and record companies reacted negatively to the innovation, calling Napster a forum for digital piracy and theft of intellectual property. Napster would mark an inflection point where the spread of web technology had officially altered our collective perception of intellectual property and copyrights.
Though a court injunction would shut down the Napster operation, Pandora's Box had been opened. In spite of stiff resistance on the part of the music industry, Fanning's invention spawned countless imitators and, eventually, forced the business to embrace rather than resist the evolving technology. London-born Stephen Fry is perhaps best known for his work as a television actor and personality.
However, the scope of his accomplishments challenges easy categorization. From a troubled childhood which included several expulsions from school and a three-month jail term for a misunderstanding over a missing credit card , Fry would develop into a renaissance man of unparalleled esteem.
Fry is best-known for his work in television.
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The actor began honing his craft at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he joined the Cambridge Footlights theater group and met long-term future collaborator Hugh Laurie. The two actors also appeared together in another smash-hit BBC comedy series in the early '90s as P.
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Fry rose to increasing fame for his prolificacy, taking on a recurrent comedic role in the extremely successful Blackadder series, earning a Golden Globe nomination for his film portrayal of Oscar Wilde in 's Wilde, and establishing himself as one of the most distinctive film and television character actors of the last 30 years. As host of the British comedy game show QI since , Fry has earned a reputation as a witty and insightful humorist.
This honor is underscored by an incredible list of pursuits and accomplishments, including an Emmy win for directing a documentary about his own struggles with manic depression, receipt of numerous honorary doctorates and fellowships from universities throughout the U. K, and composition of four novels, as well as three volumes of his autobiography.
Today, when people talk about Bill Gates, it is his vast wealth that generates most of the attention. But of course, Gates would never have accumulated this wealth were it not for his unique genius. As a young student at Seattle's exclusive Lakeside School, Gates's aptitude for programming was readily apparent. He and fellow students Paul Allen and Rick Weiland first earned a ban, and subsequently a job, from Computer Center Corporation, for their collective skill in finding and exploiting system bugs. Gates and Allen would engage in numerous collaborations together over the early and mid s before even graduating from high school.
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However, while there he spent more time pursuing his own software programming whimsy than his studies. Around this innovation, both Microsoft and its philosophy of proprietary programming copyrights evolved within a nascent industry. In the early years, Gates was intimately involved in all aspects of Microsoft from business management to programming grunt work. This was followed in with the emergence of the Windows operating system and, thereafter, Microsoft's independence from its partnership with IBM.
With Gates overseeing product strategy and taking an aggressive some would even say anti-competitive approach to free market capitalism, Microsoft started the s as a singular powerhouse in software design, rendering Gates one of the single wealthiest and most influential men in the world.
Today, Gates dedicates most of his energy to his philanthropic pursuits through the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation. Born ; Canada. In a game marked by brute force, broken teeth, and incidental bloodletting, Gretzky controlled the competition with finesse, agility, and intelligence. Modestly sized for a professional athlete, it was Gretzky's game-time intuition that made him so successful.
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Gretzky would immediately excel above his competition, leading his team to four Stanley Cup championships before being traded to the L. Kings in Gretzky led the Kings to a Cup in and helped to raise the profile and popularity of his sport in the untapped California market. At the time of his retirement, Gretzky owned more than 60 NHL records and remains the league's all-time scorer and the only man to exceed points in a season, a feat he accomplished four times. After brief stints with the St. Louis Blues and the New York Rangers, Gretzky retired in and was honored with an unusual waiving of the waiting period for Hall of Fame induction.
Gretzky also earned an Olympic Gold Medal as executive director of the Canadian men's hockey team. Born ; China.
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