Power 2009: The Year's Big Ideas

Joseph Stiglitz
No one foretold the current money meltdown like Stiglitz, who sketched it back in 2003. When enterprises become too big and interconnected, he wrote in his book "The Roaring Nineties," cockiness leads to risk taking—with dire results. He dubbed the problem "too big to fail." (Story continued below...)

Peter Barnes
Making producers of coal, oil and gas buy permits to offset the CO2 emitted from their products would raise energy prices. Barnes would avoid a backlash by paying the fees to every American. If you use less fossil fuel and consume fewer products made with it, you'll come out ahead.

Cass Sunstein
Americans don't always make the best choices for themselves. (Subprime loan, anyone?) That, Sunstein argues in his latest book, "Nudge," is why governments need to design policies—like automatic opt-ins for 401(k)s—that push people toward better conclusions. Obama is already a fan.

Dr. George Church
Taking a page from Wikipedia, Church, who launched the Personal Genome Project in 2006, is asking volunteers to disclose their DNA online, where scientists can correlate genes with diseases. The goal: personalized medicine—sooner than you think. More than 6,000 people have signed up.