51. Ahmed Rashid
for his prophetic writing about the global perils of South Asia.
Journalist | Pakistan
Rashid knows the people and conflicts of Afghanistan and Pakistan better than perhaps any living journalist. He should: After graduating from Cambridge University in the late 1960s, he spent the next decade as a leftist guerrilla fighter in the hills of Pakistan's western province of Baluchistan. No longer a participant in the region's struggles, he continues to cover events as a writer, publishing a number of works that have become required reading. Rashid's most recent book, last year's Descent into Chaos, accuses George W. Bush's administration of "arrogance and ignorance" for neglecting to provide the necessary troops and development funds to rebuild Afghanistan following the 2001 U.S. invasion, but also offers a damning portrait of his old friend, Afghan President Hamid Karzai. He advocates "a Western-led Marshall Plan" to revitalize the region's economy and undercut al Qaeda's ideological appeal -- in short, a nation-building effort whose success could be measured in GDP growth and the expansion of political freedoms, rather than bombing runs and body counts.
Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images
52. Helene Gayle
for putting HIV/AIDS in its big-picture context.
Physician | CARE | Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS | Atlanta, GA
Gayle has spent her career at the forefront of public health, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and CARE to, this year, the chairmanship of the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. Gayle brings to her work a strong sense of how health is intertwined with the rest of society. At CARE, Gayle has focused the organization on broader categories of development, like microfinance, while advocating for smarter U.S. policies on foreign aid. She has pushed for contraception as a powerful way for women to take control not just of their reproductive lives, but also their economic well-being. "I've seen how poverty has a woman's face," she writes. "I've seen it in the faces of her children, like a torn hand-me-down passed from generation to generation when the cycle isn't stopped."
Wants to visit: Egypt
Best idea: The use of cell phone technology to connect poor people to banking systems.
Worst idea: The bailout of corporations without accountability.
Gadget: Facebook and BlackBerry.
53. Linus Torvalds
for his visionary work on open-source software.
Software engineer | Portland, Ore.
Torvalds, self-proclaimed "benevolent dictator" of one of the most impressive group projects in history, is important not only for what he has done, but for what he has allowed others to do. An unassuming software engineer from Finland, Torvalds is the architect of the Linux kernel, a computer operating system built with free and open-source software. Although Torvalds got the ball rolling with the first few lines of code, written at age 21 in his mother's Helsinki basement, Linux's development has since been fueled by thousands of programmers from across the world, each offering their contributions for free. Today, Linux has been installed on tens of millions of computing devices and is used to run everything from university network servers to traffic lights. And open-source culture is now a signature of the modern world, apparent everywhere from blogs and Twitter to Intellipedia, the CIA's internal wiki.
54. Tim Berners-Lee
for remaining the patron saint of the Web he created.
computer scientist | World Wide Web consortium | Cambridge, Mass.
In March 1989, Berners-Lee, then a computer scientist at the European particle physics laboratory CERN, found a way to connect html, a markup language that he had created, with the Internet. The fusion of these two technologies, which Berners-Lee intended as a way for scientists to share information, produced the world's first websites. Twenty years later, the Web is used by at least a fifth of the world, and Berners-Lee is trying to protect his creation. He heads the World Wide Web Consortium, which develops the international standards used on the Web. His new project is net neutrality -- the principle that Internet service providers should not be allowed to discriminate between the content that users access online. Berners-Lee contends that freedom has been the key ingredient spurring the Web's growth and innovation. "Anyone that tries to chop [the Web] into two will find that their piece looks very boring," he predicts.
55. Henry Kissinger
for a half-century ruling the U.S. foreign-policy community.
Former secretary of state | Kissinger Associates | New York
Kissinger, whose very name is now synonymous with an explicitly realpolitik foreign policy that focuses on national interests rather than idealistic aims, has devoted his life to perfecting the application and expansion of U.S. power. More than 30 years after leaving office, Kissinger has largely shed his Vietnam-era status as a bête noire of the left and emerged as one of Washington's foremost political counselors. His influence has sometimes been a boon to Obama's agenda, such as when he praised the U.S. president's handling of negotiations with Iran. But he is just as liable to be a thorn in the administration's side, intervening in the public debate at key moments. Even now, Kissinger's intellectual legacy shapes and defines the views of the U.S. foreign-policy establishment. As another former U.S. secretary of state, George Shultz, has said, "There's only one Henry Kissinger. They broke the mold after they made him."
56. Niall Ferguson
for his intelligent, incessant questioning of dogma.
Historian | Harvard University | Cambridge, Mass.
Ferguson has made a career out of challenging sacred cows, both within academia and the popular imagination. A Financial Times columnist and author of the recent The Ascent of Money, among other books, he has worried that the United States' massive fiscal stimulus plan will cause an inexorable rise in long-term interest rates, crushing the hoped-for economic recovery. He has also been skeptical about the ability of government regulation to fix the economic mess, noting that the crisis began in the banking sector, the most heavily regulated area of the economy. As he said in June, "It took decades to get from the highly regulated economies of the 1970s to the free-wheeling, highly globalized economies of 2007. It takes a lot less time to destroy globalization.… We are already moving very rapidly away from globalization."
Wants to visit: Brazil
Best idea: Paul Romer's idea for a new generation of Hong Kong-style, free market entrepôts on the coasts of poor countries.
Worst idea: British Foreign Secretary David Miliband's idea of negotiating with "moderate" elements in the Taliban.
Gadget: Facebook, Twitter, and BlackBerry.
Read more: "Dead Men Walking," By Niall Ferguson
57. Baltasar Garzón
for proving that no dictator is safe.
Judge | National Court of Spain | Spain
Since indicting Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998 during the ex-president's trip to London, Garzón has acquired a reputation as a legal crusader, the scourge of drug traffickers, terrorists, and corrupt government officials. Garzón believes that laws extend beyond national boundaries -- making him a hero to the human rights world, a pain to politicians, and a major intellectual force for a jurisprudence that crosses borders in a world increasingly without them. This spring, he announced he was investigating former U.S. officials for their involvement in Bush-era detention and interrogation policies. An embarrassed Spanish government recommended against prosecution. Before long, Garzón had found another controversial target: abuses committed during his country's autocratic era under Francisco Franco. Not for the first time, resurrecting the past has landed Garzón in political peril: He is being sued by a right-wing group for wanting to dig up the graves (literally in some cases) of countless dead officials.
58. Amartya Sen
for showing how democracy prevents famine.
Economist | Harvard University | Cambridge, Mass.
Sen is that rarest of hybrids -- "the only recent or living economist who takes philosophy seriously," in the words of Martha Nussbaum (No. 93). Taking his cue from such diverse figures as Karl Marx and Adam Smith (whom he hails as an underappreciated moral philosopher), Sen earned a Nobel Prize in economics in 1998 for his groundbreaking insight: Food scarcity doesn't kill people; bad governments do. Central to his thinking is the concept of "capabilities" -- the idea that it is not just the distribution of resources in a society that matters, but the ability of its members to make informed choices about the use of those resources and to punish leaders who fail them. A decade later, Sen remains a prominent political voice. In September he partnered with Joseph Stiglitz (No. 25) to release a study urging governments to incorporate noneconomic variables into assessments of well-being, and in October his new book The Idea of Justice topped the best-seller list in his native India.
Best idea: That global politics demands uncompromising multilateralism.
Worst idea: That the present Afghan problems are similar to those in Vietnam.
59. Barbara Ehrenreich
for her relentless efforts to understand the root causes of poverty and inequality.
Social commentator | Key West, Fla.
Shortly before the 2001 publication of her award-winning book Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer. The experience inspired another nonfiction work, this year's Bright-Sided, her broadside about the myopia of American optimism. Ehrenreich argues that Americans are plagued by their own delusions, whether it's the idea that cancer presents an opportunity for self-improvement, that stocks will always rise, or that the poor, sick, and socially marginalized need only to repair their own attitudes. American Pollyannaism "reached a manic zenith in the early years of this millennium," she wrote in Time. "Iraq would be a cakewalk! The Dow would reach 36,000! Housing prices could never decline!" Her chronicles of hard lives too often ignored in the mainstream press -- journeying from car factories in Detroit to empty trailers in the American heartland -- make her the James Agee of our time.
60. Bruce Bueno de Mesquita
for hitting the bull's-eye more often than anyone.
Political scientist | New York University | San Francisco
Bueno de Mesquita should have been a professional gambler. The New York University political scientist has devoted his uniquely creative analytical mind to, in essence, reading tea leaves -- though in a very sophisticated way, drawing on interviews with specialists and complex computer models. His algorithms are usually dead-on accurate -- 90 percent correct in his hundreds of studies for the CIA, the agency says. He called in advance, for instance, the rise of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the 1994 Mexican peso crisis, and the second Palestinian intifada of 2000. This year, he peeled back the curtain and offered some new forecasts in The Predictioneer's Game. For one, he suggests that the best way to contain the North Korean nuclear threat would be to provide money and security guarantees in exchange for Kim Jong Il's stopping the program -- but not asking him to dismantle anything already created. Who would bet against him?
Wants to visit: Tanzania
Best idea: Stimulating the economy and keeping interest rates low will help speed up economic recovery.
Worst idea: Global warming can only be corrected through global, universal agreement.
Gadget: Twitter and iPhone.