Today, Esquire dropped a great list of "15 Geniuses Who Give Us Hope," full of artists, directors, chefs and economists. But there are also a few legitimate tech nerds thrown on the list. Here's a quick look at those geeks.

Kwabena Boahen is a Ghanian neuromorphic engineer at Stanford, where he is currently obsessed with building a brain out of computer parts. With Moore's law screeching to a halt, Boahen is studying the neural circuits of the brain, which uses something called population coding to process data, which uses combined power of low-energy brain cells to generate intelligence. But here's the problem: even if Boahen is able to crack this mystery, it would currently require 60 million watts of power to replicate the process of the brain, which only uses 20 watts.

Danny Hillis is an inventor with over 150 patents. His company, Applied Minds, solves problems via invention on two levels. The firm will consult for companies in the public and private sectors, who bring their problem to Hillis and his eclectic team of problem solvers from a multitude of different disciplines. They then go and come up with solutions for those companies. With the money made from those projects, Hillis then goes and begins working on solutions for problems that he and his employees care about on a personal level. For the MIT educated, former Disney Imagineer, this might include searching for a cure to cancer, building a clock that runs perfectly for 10,000 years, or building a robotic dinosaur that is eerily lifelike.


Janette Sadek's job as NYC's urban planner is to make sure the city doesn't buckle under the added population heft. It's predicted NYC will have an extra million people living there by 2030. As such, she's responsible for shutting down parts of 34th Street to build new bus corridors, which span from river to river. She's mapping out a master bike plan for the entire city, which will have 1800 miles of dedicated bike routes. Sadek also plugged GPS devices in all 13,000 Yellow Cabs so that she and her team can track the effect that her planning has on the city traffic over time. That's no easy task.