10 Kens That Have Made Your Life Better

kenneththompsonTo count the people throughout history who have changed your life for the better would be impossible. Every discovery and every innovation sends ripples across the tides of time, inspiring others to build on those discoveries and make life on Earth a little bit easier. Some people create vaccines that save millions of lives, others are innovators and inventors of labor saving devices, and others still discover the mechanisms that drive life and give humankind a better understanding of itself. These people have all made your life better, whether you know it or not, and at least ten of them share the name Ken.

  • Ken Ishii – In the world of vaccines, Ken Ishii’s name is synonymous with a dedication to research and development of life saving medicine. He spent seven years as a Visiting Scientist and IND reviewer at the Office of Vaccine Research and Review before returning to his home of Japan. Ken is currently serving at the Laboratory of Adjuvant Innovation at the National Institute for Biomedical Innovation.
  • Kenneth Lane Thompson – This pioneer of the Unix operating system was instrumental in designing and creating many of the computer operations you use today. He is also credited with creating regular expressions, text editors QED and ed, and defining UTF-8 encoding.  Without these innovations, computer science as we know it would not have advanced as rapidly as it did. Lane was well ahead of his time, and is still regarded as one of the most ingenious pioneers in computer science to this day.
  • Dr. Ken Hsu, MD – As the co-inventor of the X-STOP device, Dr. Hsu has brought hope to sufferers of symptomatic lumbar spinal stenosis all over the world. X-STOP is the least invasive surgery used to treat the condition, and is the first Interspinous Decompression Device in the world. With Dr. Hsu’s expertise in the field, it is certain that the X-STOP is only the first of future innovations.
  • Kenneth Clark – Kenneth and Mamie Clark, while most known for their work involving the psychological behaviors of children, changed the world with their expert testimony in the civil rights case of Briggs v. Elliott. The testimony led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that de jure racial segregation in public education was unconstitutional. It was because of civil rights victories such as these that American attitudes began to change.
  • Kenneth Arnold – Although the Roswell, New Mexico incident in 1947 is credited with creating the modern fascination with UFOs, it was preceded by the account of a sighting by Kenneth Arnold. The pilot claimed he witnessed nine flying objects in the vicinity of Mount Rainier. He gave detailed descriptions of the crafts, stating they were shiny and moving at supersonic speeds. After Arnold reported the sighting, the media ran with it and the public was hungry for more. Next came Roswell and the rest, as they say, is history.
  • Kenneth W. Rendell – As an expert in detecting forged documents, Rendell is rewriting history in a good way. Much of what is known of the past is dependent on the accuracy of the available written documents. Kenneth Rendell’s sophisticated methodology and scientific techniques, along with his extensive knowledge of history, are helping ensure that what you are told happened actually did happen.
  • Elliot “Ken” Volkin – Cited as the most vital find in molecular biology, the categorization of Messenger RNA won François Jacob and Jacques Monod the Noble Prize. However, it is important to note that in 1956 Elliot “Ken” Volkin and Lazarus Astrachan had already discovered the form of RNA, although they had not accurately identified its mechanisms. Without the pair’s initial discovery, Jacob and Monod would not have gone on to complete their own important work in the field.
  • Dr. Kenneth Blum – Mapping genes is how Dr. Kenneth Blum spends his time, which for everyone else means new understanding of both physical and neurological illnesses and treatments. Blum is most noted for the discovery of the alcoholic and happiness genes, as well as the effects of dopamine and the DRD2 gene on social interactions and political affiliations.
  • Ken Street – If you’ve ever had to memorize the periodic table, you can thank Ken Street for adding Berkelium, one of the transuranic radioactive chemical elements, to the list. BK for short, this element was discovered in 1949 and has an atomic number of 97. Street co-discovered the element along with Glenn T. Seaborg, Albert Ghiorso and Stanley G. Thompson.
  • Ken Kennedy – If you’re a fan of the Internet, Ken Kennedy is one of the people who helped to shape it. His work with domain languages, software systems and parallel computer programming earned him a place with the National Academy of Engineering and several honors along the way. Sadly, he passed away in 2007 of pancreatic cancer.