Franklin Patrick Herbert, Jr. was a critically acclaimed and commercially successful American science fiction author. Though also a short story author, he is best known for his novels, most notably Dune and its five sequels. The Dune saga, set in the distant future and taking place over millennia, deals with themes such as human survival and evolution, ecology, and the intersection of religion, politics and power. Dune itself is the “best-selling science fiction novel of all time,” and the series is widely considered to be among the classics in the genre. Dune and the Dune saga constitute one of the world’s best-selling science fiction series and novels; Dune in particular has received widespread critical acclaim, winning the Nebula Award in 1965 and sharing the Hugo Award in 1966, and is frequently considered one of the best science fiction novels ever, if not the best. According to contemporary Robert A. Heinlein, Herbert’s opus was “powerful, convincing, and most ingenious.”
Loek van Wely is a chess Grandmaster from the Netherlands. He won the Dutch Chess Championship six times straight from 2000 through 2005. He was rated among the world’s top ten in 2001. In 2002, in Maastricht, Netherlands, van Wely took on the computer program Rebel in a four-game match. The computer won two games and van Wely won two games. In 2005, he led the Dutch team to victory at the European Team Championships in Gothenburg. Van Wely is a frequent participant in the elite Corus chess tournament. As of 2010, he has participated in the tournament 19 years consecutively. In May 2010 he won the 14th Chicago Open. In 2011, came first at Berkeley. On 9 July 2012 Van Wely was denied access to the United States, because he lacked a work visa.
John Edward Warnock is an American computer scientist best known as the co-founder with Charles Geschke of Adobe Systems Inc., the graphics and publishing software company. Dr. Warnock was President of Adobe for his first two years and Chairman and CEO for his remaining sixteen years at the company. Although retired as CEO in 2001, he still co-chairs the board with Geschke. Warnock has pioneered the development of graphics, publishing, Web and electronic document technologies that have revolutionized the field of publishing and visual communications. Warnock has a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Philosophy, a Master of Science in Mathematics, a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering (Computer Science), and an honorary degree in Science, all from the University of Utah. At the University of Utah he was a member of the Gamma Beta Chapter of the Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. He also has an honorary degree from the American Film Institute.
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist and science communicator. He is currently the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space and a research associate in the department of astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. Since 2006 he has hosted the educational science television show NOVA scienceNOW on PBS and has been a frequent guest on The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Jeopardy!. It was announced on August 5, 2011, that Tyson will be hosting a new sequel to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage television series. Dr. Tyson’s research has focused on observations in cosmology, stellar evolution, galactic astronomy and stellar formation. He has held numerous positions at institutions including University of Maryland, Princeton University, the American Museum of Natural History, and Hayden Planetarium. Tyson has written a number of popular books on astronomy. In 1995, he began to write the “Universe” column for Natural History magazine. In a column he authored for the magazine in 2002, Tyson coined the term “Manhattanhenge” to describe the two days annually on which the evening sun aligns with the cross streets of the street grid in Manhattan, making the sunset visible along unobstructed side streets. Tyson’s column also influenced his work as a professor with The Great Courses.
The Free Software Foundation (FSF) is a non-profit corporation founded by Richard Stallman on October 4, 1985, to support the free software movement, a copyleft-based movement which aims to promote the universal freedom to create, distribute and modify computer software. The FSF is incorporated in Massachusetts, USA. From its founding until the mid-1990s, FSF’s funds were mostly used to employ software developers to write free software for the GNU Project. Since the mid-1990s, the FSF’s employees and volunteers have mostly worked on legal and structural issues for the free software movement and the free software community. Consistent with its goals, only free software is used on FSF’s computers. The FSF maintains a list of “high priority projects” to which the Foundation claims that “there is a vital need to draw the free software community’s attention”. The FSF considers these projects “important because computer users are continually being seduced into using non-free software, because there is no adequate free replacement.” Previous projects highlighted as needing work included the Free Java implementations, GNU Classpath, and GNU Compiler for Java, which ensure compatibility for the Java part of OpenOffice.org, and the GNOME desktop environment. The effort has been criticized for either not instigating active development or for there only being slow work being done, even after certain projects were added to the list.
Robert “Rob” Liefeld is an American comic book creator. A prominent writer/artist in the 1990s, he has since become a controversial figure in the medium. In the early 1990s, the self-taught artist became prominent due to his work on Marvel Comics’ The New Mutants and later X-Force. In 1992, he and several other popular Marvel illustrators left the company to found Image Comics, which started a wave of comic books owned by their creators rather than by publishers. The first book published by Image Comics was Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood #1. Liefeld’s love of comics began as a child, which led early on to his decision to be a professional artist, a practice that began with his tracing artwork from comic books. As a high school student, he took basic fundamental art courses, and attended comic book conventions at the nearby Disneyland Hotel, where he met creators such as George Pérez, John Romita Jr., Jim Shooter, Bob Layton, Mike Zeck and Marv Wolfman. Liefeld cites Pérez, along with John Byrne and Frank Miller, as major influences.
Warren Spector is a role-playing game designer and a video game designer. He is known for having worked to merge elements of role-playing games and first-person shooters. He currently resides in Austin, Texas with his wife, fantasy writer Caroline L. Spector. He is best known for the cyberpunk video games System Shock and Deus Ex, and also for the Disney adventure game Epic Mickey. Spector grew up in Manhattan, which he described as a sometimes hostile environment where “short, pudgy, Jewish kids didn’t fare well.” He showed an intense devotion to whatever topic became his obsession at any given time, from dinosaurs and airplanes as a small boy, to an interest in law by the sixth grade. At age 13, Spector had decided he wanted to be a film critic, and by high school, his obsessions expanded to include cars and basketball.