50 Things That Will Make You Say "Wow!"

Welcome to our rousing roundup of awe-inspiring people, places and things that bowled us over, choked us up and lifted our spirits high.

15. The Most Riveting TED Talk Ever

In which Hyeonseo Lee recounts escaping from North Korea at age 14, sneaking back over the border to smuggle her family out, the Chinese police boarding their bus, and—oh, just go watch the whole amazing video yourself! (

16. Meet the World's Smallest Robot

RoboBee, developed by researchers at Harvard University and the Wyss Institute, is an insect-size robot about a 30th the weight of a penny. In the future, he may pollinate crops, provide military intelligence, search for survivors in a disaster zone, and even rouse your partner from the couch to help do the dishes.
—Emma Haak

17. The New Director of the Secret Service

Julia Pierson, 54, a former police officer and 30-plus-year veteran of the agency, is its first female head. Said President Obama, "I couldn't be placing our lives in better hands."

18. One Step at a Time

In a hotel in rural Idaho, Joe Bell nurses his aching, blistered feet. He walked 30 miles today along a green stretch of Interstate 84, turning in for the night only when he "couldn't take another step." Exhausted but determined, Bell plans to keep walking for as long as it takes—two years, he estimates—to travel a winding route from his Oregon home to New York City, where his 15-year-old son, Jadin, had always wanted to live. Jadin committed suicide earlier this year after being harassed in school for being gay. Bell, distraught and restless, quit his job at a plywood plant and hit the road in April, carrying little more than a sleeping bag and a tent. (His wife and younger son will visit him along the way.) As he walks, Bell is stopping at schools and community centers to offer support to struggling teens and convey to bullies that "the pain they cause is long-term." One day, while trekking through Boise, he shared dessert at a local diner with a gay teen who had recently switched schools after being bullied. Bashful at first, the boy was smiling by the end of the conversation. "He said he wanted to move to New York City, too," reports Bell. "I talked to him about how once you're out of high school, there's so much more to live for."
—Sarah Beauchamp

19. With Instant Prescription Eyeglasses, Imagine All the People Seeing 20/20.

These colorful retro glasses—styled in homage to John Lennon—use fluid-injection technology to let wearers instantly adjust the prescription with the twist of a removable dial, no doctor required. And for each pair purchased, another is donated to Rwanda, a country with more than 12 million citizens and fewer than 20 eyecare specialists. ($123 to $163;
—Abbe Wright

20. Good on Paper

When Kavita Shukla visited her grandmother in India while still in middle school, she accidentally brushed her teeth with tap water. Her grandmother concocted a "murky brown spiced tea" for her to drink—and Shukla never got sick. Back home in Maryland, Shukla discovered that the spices in the tea inhibited bacterial growth. "I dipped some strawberries in the mixture," she recalls, "and they stayed fresh for days."

Shukla, now 28, turned her grandma's home remedy into FreshPaper, a small biodegradable sheet that, when placed in a crisper or fruit bowl, keeps produce fresh two to four times longer than normal. Over the next year, she's partnering with nonprofits in developing countries to ship FreshPaper to some of the roughly 1.2 billion people in the world who lack refrigeration, including small-scale farmers in India and Africa who sometimes can't sell their crop before it spoils. ($25 for 40 sheets; Whole Foods Market locations)
—Lindsay Funston

The Answer to Your 8,356 Unread E-Mails

A young techie explains: "Recently, I signed up for Mailbox, and my in-box has never been cleaner. I love the 'delay' option, which lets me schedule messages to be redelivered, say, in the evening—when I can more fully focus on my mom's computer problems."
—Bryan Farevaag, O deputy art director, digital