Kary Mullis won the NobelPrize in Chemistry for developing the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), an "algorithm" for efficiently making an enormous number of copies of a small amount of DNA. His winning the prize was controversial, because many thought it was not worthy, being simply an algorithm or technique, but it did change the world. His NobelPrize was also controversial because, by some accounts, Kary Mullis had the "flash of insight" that led to PCR, then he dropped it and let others do the work that was necessary to make it practical to use. See ISBN 0226701476 for documentation of this issue.
He also has stirred up a lot of controversy by questioning whether HIV causes AIDS. He wrote an interesting autobiography called Dancing Naked in the Mind Field, ISBN 0679774009 . Most interesting are his descriptions of childhood chemistry and the moments of discovery. Less so are his fascination with beach babes and UFOs. Read RichardFeynman first.