We patrolled the halls of academe. We eavesdropped on the research grapevine. We asked scientists: Whose work is just plain brilliant?
Next time you sit with a stranger at a dinner party, pray for someone as interesting as any of the scientists in the ranks of the second annual PopSci Brilliant 10. Someone who is well into an exciting career but still picking up speed. Someone in the grip of an obsessive inquiry into the nature of the world-brainy, resourceful, gutsy-and not afraid to talk about it. This year, we again sought researchers whose work, while watched and admired (and certainly envied) by colleagues, is largely unknown to a public that admits few scientists into the spotlight of fame.