86. Han Han
for channeling rising China's restlessness.
Blogger and novelist | China
At 28, Han Han may well be the world's most popular living writer, perhaps the most-read blogger in a country of some 400 million Internet users. Also a novelist and a professional race-car driver, he has become the inflammatory voice of the provocative, status-obsessed cohort called the "post-80s generation" in China. Han Han has gleefully taken on state TV's self-censorship, China's flawed educational system (he dropped out of high school), and particularly wayward officials. And his withering pen is mighty indeed. In May, following news of a schoolhouse stabbing, Han Han wrote on his blog: "Wretched children, it is you who are poisoned by milk powder, harmed by vaccines, crushed by earthquakes, and burned in fires.… I hope that when you grow up, you will not only protect your own children but build a society that protects everyone's children."
87. Mozah bint Nasser al-Missned
for championing education in the Arab world.
First lady | Qatar
If the Middle East ever sheds its reputation as an education backwater more reliant on hydrocarbons than human capital, Sheikha Mozah -- or simply "The Sheikha," as she's known in Doha -- will have had much to do with it. The second and savviest of the three wives of the emir of the tiny, gas-rich Persian Gulf state of Qatar, her highness is on a mission to transform learning in a region that suffers from one of the world's highest rates of adult illiteracy. For the last decade, the sheikha and her foundation have been building Doha's ambitious, $8.25 billion "Education City." She recruited six U.S. universities to set up satellite campuses there, including Georgetown and Carnegie Mellon, and brought in the Rand Corp. to revamp the country's K-12 education system from top to bottom. Meanwhile, investors have poured $100 million into a science park meant to boost Qatar's engineer class. "Ignorance," the sheikha told the United Nations in 2009, "is by far the biggest danger and threat to humankind."
JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images
88. Daron Acemoglu
for showing that freedom is about more than markets.
Economist, MIT | Cambridge, Mass.
Some Nobel Prize selections are a genuine surprise. The same won't be true if Daron Acemoglu, already at age 43 one of the world's 20 most cited economists, eventually takes the award. Born in Turkey and educated at the London School of Economics, Acemoglu quickly made a name for himself with papers and monographs that examined how economic incentives align with political life. His specialty is the analysis of the political conditions under which markets thrive -- namely, democracy. It's a theme Acemoglu has explored in a steady stream of academic papers, textbooks, and op-eds -- work that so impressed his peers that he won the John Bates Clark medal in 2005, given annually to an outstanding economist under age 40. Acemoglu's next book, co-authored with Harvard University's James Robinson, Why Do Nations Fail?, argues that a real "freedom agenda" will start with democratic rules rather than free markets. "You would not need armies to implement such a scheme," Acemoglu said, "just a functioning bureaucracy."