Discoveries new and old get recognized in 2009 for improving society:

Swimmer Michael Phelps
Swimmer Michael Phelps earns gold medals and piles of cash for his physical prowess in the pool. But that’s not the only way to get awards. Every year, for example, scientists and engineers get medals and cash for their mental prowess in the lab.

Some get the prizes for recent innovations such as tiny gold particles that destroy cancer cells. Others are recognized for discoveries made decades ago that changed the course of humanity, such as how to grow antibiotics quickly and cheaply.

Click the “Next” arrow above to check out seven innovations so cool that they got awards in 2009.

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