If I tell you their names, they won't sound familiar, but some these men have literally saved the world -- or at least hundreds of millions of lives. Others have shown courage in unusual situations.

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    Hiroshi Kiyono and Yoshikazu Yuki

    Inserting Vaccines into Grains of Rice

    These two University of Tokyo researchers have figured out a way to bioengineer rice to carry vaccines to diseases like cholera. This means the vaccines do not need to be refrigerated! That makes a huge difference in getting immunizations to people in impoverished areas. People eat the rice and their bodies absorb the vaccine!

  • Topical Press Agency, Getty Images
    Topical Press Agency, Getty Images

    Lt. John C. "Jack" Lee Jr. and Major Josef Gangl

    U.S. and German soldiers fought together to liberate a French prison from the SS

    Five days after Adolph Hitler shot himself Allied forces tried to free a prison camp in Austria full of French VIPs. Nazi SS forces tried to stop them. 14 American soldiers and 10 German soldiers (along with a few of the prisoners) fought together, side by side, to defeat the SS troop and defend the prisoners inside the Itter Castle.

  • Getty Images
    Getty Images

    Lt. Col. Stanislav Petrov

    He was told Americans had launched nuclear missiles but he did not retaliate

    While a commander in the Soviet Air Defense Forces in 1983 he was stationed at the Oko nuclear early-warning system. His computers told him 1-5 missiles were being launched from the United States at Russia. Instead of immediately reporting the attack to his superiors, which could have resulted in a full-scale nuclear war, he cross-checked the report and decided it was a false reading, thereby avoiding an international incident. He was never rewarded because it would have embarrassed his superiors and their scientists. But he was also never punished for not reporting the false attack. He has since earned international recognition for his heroism and keeping a cool head under pressure.

  • Christopher Furlong, Getty Images
    Christopher Furlong, Getty Images

    Norman Borlaug and Fritz Haber

    Fathers of the Green Revolution that has saved millions from starvation

    A food crisis was imminent during the middle of the 20th century. Then Norman Borlaug developed a high-yield seed that allowed farmers to produce more food with the same amount of land and water. This innovation is credited with saving millions from starvation. Fritz Haber invented the fertilizers most farmers use today.

  • Alex Wong, Getty Images
    Alex Wong, Getty Images

    Elon Musk

    Space Pioneer, Clean Transportation Advocate

    Elon Musk is solving problems everyone else has said are impossible. His company SpaceX is pioneering private, commercial space travel. Innovations in space exploration will no longer be tied to the funding whims of politicians. Also, Musk is a co-owner of Tesla Motors, which is making electric cars cool and affordable. He's also proposed a train that could travel from L.A. to San Francisco in 30 minutes run on solar power. If that's not cool enough, he's also co-owner of PayPal!

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