Richard Alan “Rick” Mastracchio is an American engineer and a NASA astronaut. He has flown on three NASA Space Shuttle missions as a mission specialist. Mastracchio is currently assigned as the Flight Engineer on the Soyuz TMA-11M/Expedition 38/Expedition 39 long duration spaceflight scheduled for 2013-2014. Richard Mastracchio was born in Waterbury, Connecticut and graduated from Crosby High School in 1978. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering/computer science from the University of Connecticut in 1982, a Master of Science degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1987, and a Master of Science degree in physical science from the University of Houston–Clear Lake in 1991. He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Mastracchio worked for Hamilton Standard in Connecticut as an engineer in the system design group from 1982 until 1987. During that time, he participated in the development of high performance, inertial measurement units and flight control computers.
Kevin Warwick is a British scientist and professor of cybernetics at the University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, United Kingdom. He is known for his studies on direct interfaces between computer systems and the human nervous system, and has also done research in the field of robotics. Warwick carries out research in artificial intelligence, biomedical engineering, control systems and robotics. Much of Warwick’s early research was in the area of discrete time adaptive control. He introduced the first state space based self-tuning controller and unified discrete time state space representations of ARMA models. However he has also contributed in mathematics, power engineering, and manufacturing production machinery.
Matthew White Ridley is an English journalist, author, biologist, and businessman. He has written several science books including the The Red Queen (1994), Genome (2000) and The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves (2010). Ridley has been short-listed twice for the Samuel Johnson prize for non-fiction. In 2011, he won the Hayek Prize, which “honors the book published within the past two years that best reflects Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty.” Ridley also gave the Angus Millar Lecture on “scientific heresy” at the RSA in 2011 and his TED.com talk on “when ideas have sex” has been viewed 1.3m times. Ridley was educated at Eton College from 1970–1975 and then went on to Magdalen College of the University of Oxford and completed a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours in zoology and then a Doctor of Philosophy in zoology in 1983. Ridley worked as the science editor of The Economist from 1984 to 1987 and was then its Washington correspondent from 1987 to 1989 and American editor from 1990 to 1992.
Gerard Kitchen O’Neill was an American physicist and space activist. As a faculty member of Princeton University, he invented a device called the particle storage ring for high-energy physics experiments. Later, he invented a magnetic launcher called the mass driver. In the 1970s, he developed a plan to build human settlements in outer space, including a space habitat design known as the O’Neill cylinder. He founded the Space Studies Institute, an organization devoted to funding research into space manufacturing and colonization. O’Neill began researching high-energy particle physics at Princeton in 1954 after he received his doctorate from Cornell University. Two years later, he published his theory for a particle storage ring. This invention allowed particle physics experiments at much higher energies than had previously been possible. In 1965 at Stanford University, he performed the first colliding beam physics experiment. While teaching physics at Princeton, O’Neill became interested in the possibility that humans could live in outer space. He researched and proposed a futuristic idea for human settlement in space, the O’Neill cylinder, in “The Colonization of Space”, his first paper on the subject. He held a conference on space manufacturing at Princeton in 1975. Many who became post-Apollo-era space activists attended. O’Neill built his first mass driver prototype with professor Henry Kolm in 1976. He considered mass drivers critical for extracting the mineral resources of the Moon and asteroids. His award-winning book The High Frontier: Human Colonies in Space inspired a generation of space exploration advocates.
Gregory Benford is an American science fiction author and astrophysicist who is on the faculty of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine. He is also a contributing editor of Reason magazine. As a science fiction author, Benford is perhaps best known for the Galactic Center Saga novels, beginning with In the Ocean of Night (1977). This series postulates a galaxy in which sentient organic life is in constant warfare with sentient mechanical life. Benford tends to write hard science fiction which incorporates the research he is doing as a practical scientist. He has worked on several collaborations with authors including William Rotsler, David Brin and Gordon Eklund. His time-travel novel Timescape (1980) won both the Nebula Award and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award. A scientific procedural, the novel eventually loaned its title to a line of science fiction published by Pocket Books. In the late 1990s, he wrote Foundation’s Fear, one of an authorized sequel trilogy to Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series. Other novels published in that period include several near-future science thrillers: Cosm (1998), The Martian Race (1999) and Eater (2000).
Michio Kaku is an American theoretical physicist, the Henry Semat Professor of Theoretical Physics in the City College of New York of City University of New York, the co-founder of string field theory, and a “communicator” and “popularizer” of science. He has written several books about physics and related topics; he has made frequent appearances on radio, television, and film; and he writes extensive online blogs and articles. Kaku was born in San Jose, California to Japanese immigrant parents. His grandfather came to the United States to take part in the clean-up operation after the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. His father was born in California but was educated in Japan and spoke little English. Both his parents were put in the Tule Lake War Relocation Center, where they met and where his two brothers were born. At Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, Kaku assembled an atom smasher in his parent’s garage for a science fair project. At the National Science Fair in Albuquerque, New Mexico, he attracted the attention of physicist Edward Teller, who took Kaku as a protégé, awarding him the Hertz Engineering Scholarship. Kaku graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1968 and was first in his physics class. He attended the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley and received a Ph.D. in 1972, and in 1972 he held a lectureship at Princeton University.
Gertrude Belle Elion was an American biochemist and pharmacologist, and a 1988 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Working alone as well as with George H. Hitchings, Elion developed a multitude of new drugs, using innovative research methods that would later lead to the development of the AIDS drug AZT. Born in New York City to immigrant parents, she graduated from Hunter College in 1937 and New York University (M.Sc.) in 1941. Unable to obtain a graduate research position due to her gender, she worked as a lab assistant and a high school teacher. Later, she left to work as an assistant to George H. Hitchings at the Burroughs-Wellcome pharmaceutical company (now GlaxoSmithKline). She never obtained a formal Ph.D., but was later awarded an honorary Ph.D from Polytechnic University of New York in 1989 and honorary SD degree from Harvard university in 1998. Rather than relying on trial-and-error, Elion and Hitchings used the differences in biochemistry between normal human cells and pathogens (disease-causing agents) to design drugs that could kill or inhibit the reproduction of particular pathogens without harming the host cells.