The Bionic Man
Hugh Herr
Ever since Hugh Herr lost both legs below the knee in a rock-climbing accident at 17, he's devoted himself to trying to create a prosthetic device that works as well as or better than biological limbs. Now 48 and the biomechatronics director at the MIT Media Lab, Herr has succeeded in developing the BiOM ankle, a revolutionary prosthesis that can move fluidly over any kind of terrain thanks to a microchip programmed to respond like the body's own tendons and muscles. "At my age, the bionic part of me is better than the biological part," Herr says of the BiOM, which he's worn since 2006. In the not-too-distant future, a slew of prosthetically enhanced octogenarians might even pass you in a 10K race. "It's the end of disability," Herr says of our coming bionic age. "And it's even better than immortality, because you get better with age."
Above: Hugh Herr in the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Power Ranger
Ric Kaner
There are happy accidents all the time, but few unexpected discoveries have the potential to influence history like Ric Kaner's. The 55-year-old UCLA chemistry professor had been trying to develop more efficient ways to produce a new carbon-based material called graphene, one of the strongest substances known to man, but he and his assistant, Maher El-Kady, found that when they exposed the material to light in the lab, it transformed into a super-capacitor—in other words, a highly efficient, biodegradable power source capable of charging 30 to 100 times faster than current lithium-ion batteries, juicing up smartphones and, potentially, electric cars in seconds. Although batteries are a few years from the market, the race to harness the full paradigm-shifting potential of Kaner's discovery is already on. "As people become more familiar with the technology, they'll find new applications for it," he says.
Above: Graphene being made in Kaner's UCLA lab

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The Makers

The Renaissance Man
+ His A-List Collaborators

The Electric-Car Man
+ The Body Builder
+ The Outsider Artist

The Spin Master
+ The Wrap Star
+ The Scent Scientist
+ The Fragrance Archivists

The Shape Shifter
+ The Musical Mad Man
+ The Food & Drink Innovators
+ The Life Preserver

The Running Men
+ The Disruptive Designers
+ The E-Commerce Curator

The Bionic Man
+ The Power Ranger

The Spice Alchemist
+ The Art World's New Naturalists
+ The Light Sculptor

The Pioneer of 3-D Printing
+ A Brief History of the Technology