But providing vaccines throughout the developing world is no simple task. So Gates has set up his foundation to run like Microsoft. He insists on strict accounting and, when a problem arises, he pulls in the best people to find solutions. We saw a good example of that when it comes to vaccines. To be effective, they need to be kept cold.
Bill Gates: So this is using electricity?
But that's tough in hard to reach areas where refrigerators are rare and unreliable. So back in Seattle, Gates turned to scientists at a company called Intellectual Ventures, where he is both an investor and an inventor.
They created a "super thermos" using the same technology that protects spacecraft from extreme heat. Using only a single batch of ice, it can keep vaccines cold for 50 days.
Charlie Rose: So here is the thermos?
Bill Gates: That's right. This holds vaccines for over 200 children. And it doesn't require any battery, any energy. Its walls have been designed to be such a good thermos that even in very, very hot days, inside it will stay cold enough to make the vaccines work. And when you want to take them out, you just go in here, and there's a whole tray of the vaccines--
Charlie Rose: Yeah.
Bill Gates: You take them out, it records everything you've done with it, the temperature. So it's a replacement for all those refrigerators that have been so unreliable.
Bill Gates: I mean, just look at this thing. When we take it out in the field, people go, "Oh, that's amazing. You can't do that."
Charlie Rose: No matter how perfect the vaccine, if you can't get it to the people who need it, it ain't doing no good.
Bill Gates: That's right. And now, you know, we need to get it to every child in the world.
Gates is betting technology will solve other age old problems like sanitation. Two and a half billion people around the world do not have adequate toilets. That means streams and rivers get clogged with debris and human waste -- becoming breeding grounds for disease.
Bill Gates: The toilet is one of those things that's like a vaccine, where it really would change the situation.
So Gates launched a global competition: design a toilet that works without plumbing.
Bill Gates: We had over 20 entrants. We gave four top prizes. Some of them used burning. Some of them used a laser approach. There were quite a few novel ideas of how you reinvent the toilet. And so this was one of the prototype designs of what a good-looking new toilet would look like. It actually processes everything down in here, and then recycles water. Over the next four or five years, we think we can have a toilet that's every bit as good as the flush toilet.
You can learn a lot about what motivates Bill Gates by visiting his private office.
He showed us why he draws inspiration from the Italian genius Leonardo da Vinci. In 1994, Gates bought da Vinci's 500-year-old notebook.
Bill Gates: He had an understanding of science that was more advanced than anybody of the time. The notebook we have here is one where he's thinking about water. And he's looking at how it flows when it hits barriers, and it goes around, comes back together. He's actually trying to understand turbulence. How should you build a dam, how does it erode away?
It cost $30 million at auction - making it the most valuable manuscript in the world. For Gates, it is priceless.