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Norman, Jon and Kate
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If you had asked me a couple weeks ago who Norman Borlaug was, I probably would have said, "Wasn't he some sort of scientist dude?" But I could have told you with certainty that Jon and Kate are no longer Jon AND Kate plus eight. For this, I am ashamed (although I must report that I have never actually watched the show).

I would guess that over 95% of people in the US could say who Jon and Kate are, and even after Borlaug's recent death, I bet less than 3% of us know anything substantive about him. Before Borlaug's death, I would have put the number at less than 1%. (Aside: the foreging guesses are subject to my brother pulling legit polling data out of the blue and pointing out I am dead wrong.) Borlaug won the Nobel Peace Prize in the year of my birth, 1970. I should have known that before he died.

As Gregg Easterbrook wrote in the WSJ today, Borlaug is "arguably the greatest American of the 20th century."

After reading Easterbrook's piece (which also decisively destroys the arguments of Borlaug's critics) and the Wikipedia entry on Borlaug, I see that he is credited with saving somewhere between 250 million and a billion people from starvation, through his pioneering work on crop efficiency. So, what if the LOW estimate is off by a factor of 250? He still would have saved a million people...not bad for a life's work.

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