August 2, 2016

On 13 October 2014 at 9:32 A.M. my ninety-two (92) year old mother died of Alzheimer’s.   It was a very peaceful passing but as her only son it was very painful to witness her gradual memory loss and the demise of all cognitive skills.  Even though there is no cure, there are certain medications that can arrest progression to a point.  None were effective in her case.

Her condition once again piqued my interest in intelligence (I.Q.), smarts, intellect.  Are we born with an I. Q. we cannot improve? How do cultural and family environment affect intelligence? What activities diminish I.Q., if any?  Just how much of our brain’s abilities does the average working-class person need and use each day? Obviously, some professions require greater intellect than others. How is I.Q. distributed over our species in general?

IQ tests are the most reliable (e.g. consistent) and valid (e.g. accurate and meaningful) type of psychometric test that psychologists make use of. They are well-established as a good measure of a general intelligence or G.  IQ tests are widely used in many contexts – educational, professional and for leisure. Universities use IQ tests (e.g. SAT entrance exams) to select students, companies use IQ tests (job aptitude tests) to screen applicants, and high IQ societies such as Mensa use IQ test scores as membership criteria.

The following bell-shaped curve will demonstrate approximate distribution of intellect for our species.

Bell Shaped Curve

The area under the curve between scores corresponds to the percentage (%) in the population. The scores on this IQ bell curve are color-coded in ‘standard deviation units’. A standard deviation is a measure of the spread of the distribution with fifteen (15) points representing one standard deviation for most IQ tests. Nearly seventy percent (70%) of the population score between eighty-five (85) and one hundred and fifteen (115) – i.e. plus and minus one standard deviation. A very small percentage of the population (about 0.1% or 1 in 1000) have scores less than fifty-five (55) or greater than one hundred and forty-five (145) – that is, more than three (3 )standard deviations out!

As you can see, the mean I.Q. is approximately one hundred, with ninety-five percent (95%) of the general population lying between seventy (70) and one hundred and fifteen percent (115%). Only two percent (2%) of the population score greater than one hundred and thirty (130) and a tremendously small 0.01% score in the genius range, greater than one hundred forty-five percent (145%).

OK, who’s smart?  Let’s look.


  • Gary Kasparov—190.  Born in 1963 in Baku, in what is now Azerbaijan, Garry Kasparov is arguably the most famous chess player of all time. When he was seven, Kasparov enrolled at Baku’s Young Pioneer Palace; then at ten he started to train at the school of legendary Soviet chess player Mikhail Botvinnik. In 1980 Kasparov qualified as a grandmaster, and five years later he became the then youngest-ever outright world champion. He retained the championship title until 1993, and has held the position of world number one-ranked player for three times longer than anyone else. In 1996 he famously took on IBM computer Deep Blue, winning with a score of 4–2 – although he lost to a much upgraded version of the machine the following year. In 2005 Kasparov retired from chess to focus on politics and writing. He has a reported IQ of 190.
  • Philip Emeagwali-190. Dr. Philip Emeagwali, who has been called the “Bill Gates of Africa,” was born in Nigeria in 1954. Like many African schoolchildren, he dropped out of school at age 14 because his father could not continue paying Emeagwali’s school fees. However, his father continued teaching him at home, and everyday Emeagwali performed mental exercises such as solving 100 math problems in one hour. His father taught him until Philip “knew more than he did.”
  • Marlyn vos Savant—228. Marilyn vos Savant’s intelligence quotient (I.Q.) score of 228, is certainly one of the highest ever recorded.  This very high I.Q. gave the St. Louis-born writer instant celebrity and earned her the sobriquet “the smartest person in the world.” Although vos Savant’s family was aware of her exceptionally high I.Q. scores on the Stanford-Benet test when she was ten (10) years old (she is also recognized as having the highest I.Q. score ever recorded by a child), her parents decided to withhold the information from the public in order to avoid commercial exploitation and assure her a normal childhood.
  • Mislav Predavec—192.  Mislav Predavec is a Croatian mathematics professor with a reported IQ of 190. “I always felt I was a step ahead of others. As material in school increased, I just solved the problems faster and better,” he has explained. Predavec was born in Zagreb in 1967, and his unique abilities were obvious from a young age. As for his adult achievements, since 2009 Predavec has taught at Zagreb’s Schola Medica Zagrabiensis. In addition, he runs trading company Preminis, having done so since 1989. And in 2002 Predavec founded exclusive IQ society GenerIQ, which forms part of his wider IQ society network. “Very difficult intelligence tests are my favorite hobby,” he has said. In 2012 the World Genius Directory ranked Predavec as the third smartest person in the world.
  • Rick Rosner—191.  U.S. television writer and pseudo-celebrity Richard Rosner is an unusual case. Born in 1960, he has led a somewhat checkered professional life: as well as writing for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and other TV shows, Rosner has, he says, been employed as a stripper, doorman, male model and waiter. In 2000 he infamously appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? answering a question about the altitude of capital cities incorrectly and reacting by suing the show, albeit unsuccessfully. Rosner placed second in the World Genius Directory’s 2013 Genius of the Year Awards; the site lists his IQ at 192, which places him just behind Greek psychiatrist Evangelos Katsioulis. Rosner reportedly hit the books for 20 hours a day to try and outdo Katsioulis, but to no avail.
  • Christopher Langan—210.  Born in San Francisco in 1952, self-educated Christopher Langan is a special kind of genius. By the time he turned four, he’d already taught himself how to read.  At high school, according to Langan, he tutored himself in “advanced math, physics, philosophy, Latin and Greek, all that.” What’s more, he allegedly got 100 percent on his SAT test, even though he slept through some of it. Langan attended Montana State University but dropped out. Rather like the titular character in 1997 movie Good Will Hunting, Langan didn’t choose an academic career; instead, he worked as a doorman and developed his Cognitive-Theoretic Model of the Universe during his downtime. In 1999, on TV newsmagazine 20/20, neuropsychologist Robert Novelly stated that Langan’s IQ – said to be between 195 and 210 – was the highest he’d ever measured. Langan has been dubbed “the smartest man in America.”
  • Evangelos Katsioulis—198. Katsioulis is known for his high intelligence test scores.  There are several reports that he has achieved the highest scores ever recorded on IQ tests designed to measure exceptional intelligence.   Katsioulis has a reported IQ 205 on the Stanford-Binet scale with standard deviation of 16, which is equivalent to an IQ 198.4.
  • Kim Ung-Young—210.   Before The Guinness Book of World Records withdrew its Highest IQ category in 1990, South Korean former child prodigy Kim Ung-Yong made the list with a score of 210. Kim was born in Seoul in 1963, and by the time he turned three, he could already read Korean, Japanese, English and German. When he was just eight years old, Kim moved to America to work at NASA. “At that time, I led my life like a machine. I woke up, solved the daily assigned equation, ate, slept, and so forth,” he has explained. “I was lonely and had no friends.” While he was in the States, Kim allegedly obtained a doctorate degree in physics, although this is unconfirmed. In any case, in 1978 he moved back to South Korea and went on to earn a Ph.D. in civil engineering.
  • Christopher Hirata—225.   Astrophysicist Chris Hirata was born in Michigan in 1982, and at the age of 13 he became the youngest U.S. citizen to receive an International Physics Olympiad gold medal. When he turned 14, Hirata apparently began studying at the California Institute of Technology, and he would go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics from the school in 2001. At 16 – with a reported IQ of 225 – he started doing work for NASA, investigating whether it would be feasible for humans to settle on Mars. Then in 2005 he went on to obtain a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton. Hirata is currently a physics and astronomy professor at The Ohio State University. His specialist fields include dark energy, gravitational lensing, the cosmic microwave background, galaxy clustering, and general relativity. “If I were to say Chris Hirata is one in a million, that would understate his intellectual ability,” said a member of staff at his high school in 1997.
  • Terrance Tao—230.  Born in Adelaide in 1975, Australian former child prodigy Terence Tao didn’t waste any time flexing his educational muscles. When he was two years old, he was able to perform simple arithmetic. By the time he was nine, he was studying college-level math courses. And in 1988, aged just 13, he became the youngest gold medal recipient in International Mathematical Olympiad history – a record that still stands today. In 1992 Tao achieved a master’s degree in mathematics from Flinders University in Adelaide, the institution from which he’d attained his B.Sc. the year before. Then in 1996, aged 20, he earned a Ph.D. from Princeton, turning in a thesis entitled “Three Regularity Results in Harmonic Analysis.” Tao’s long list of awards includes a 2006 Fields Medal, and he is currently a mathematics professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
  • Stephen Hawkin—235. Guest appearances on TV shows such as The SimpsonsFuturama and Star Trek: The Next Generation have helped cement English astrophysicist Stephen Hawking’s place in the pop cultural domain. Hawking was born in 1942; and in 1959, when he was 17 years old; he received a scholarship to read physics and chemistry at Oxford University. He earned a bachelor’s degree in 1962 and then moved on to Cambridge to study cosmology. Diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21, Hawking became depressed and almost gave up on his studies. However, inspired by his relationship with his fiancé – and soon to be first wife – Jane Wilde, he returned to his academic pursuits and obtained his Ph.D. in 1965. Hawking is perhaps best known for his pioneering theories on black holes and his bestselling 1988 book A Brief History of Time.


The individuals above are living.  Let’s take a very quick look at several past geniuses.  I’m sure you know the names.

  • Johann Goethe—210-225
  • Albert Einstein—205-225
  • Leonardo da vinci-180-220
  • Isaac Newton-190-200
  • James Maxwell-190-205
  • Copernicus—160-200
  • Gottfried Leibniz—182-205
  • William Sidis—200-300
  • Carl Gauss—250-300
  • Voltaire—190-200

As you can see, these guys are heavy hitters.   I strongly suspect there are many that we have not mentioned.  Individuals, who have achieved but never gotten the opportunity to, let’s just say, shine.  OK, where does that leave the rest of us? There is GOOD news.  Calvin Coolidge said it best with the following quote:

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. “

President Calvin Coolidge.

I think this says it all.  As always, I welcome your comments.



July 21, 2016

The following information was taken from the NASA web site and the Machine Design Magazine.


After an almost five-year journey to the solar system’s largest planet, NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered Jupiter’s orbit during a thirty-five (35) minute engine burn. Confirmation the burn was successful was received on Earth at 8:53 p.m. PDT (11:53 p.m. EDT) Monday, July 4. A message from NASA is as follows:

“Independence Day always is something to celebrate, but today we can add to America’s birthday another reason to cheer — Juno is at Jupiter,” said NASA administrator Charlie Bolden. “And what is more American than a NASA mission going boldly where no spacecraft has gone before? With Juno, we will investigate the unknowns of Jupiter’s massive radiation belts to delve deep into not only the planet’s interior, but into how Jupiter was born and how our entire solar system evolved.”

Confirmation of a successful orbit insertion was received from Juno tracking data monitored at the navigation facility at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, as well as at the Lockheed Martin Juno operations center in Littleton, Colorado. The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA’s Deep Space Network antennas in Goldstone, California, and Canberra, Australia.

“This is the one time I don’t mind being stuck in a windowless room on the night of the 4th of July,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “The mission team did great. The spacecraft did great. We are looking great. It’s a great day.”

Preplanned events leading up to the orbital insertion engine burn included changing the spacecraft’s attitude to point the main engine in the desired direction and then increasing the spacecraft’s rotation rate from 2 to 5 revolutions per minute (RPM) to help stabilize it..

The burn of Juno’s 645-Newton Leros-1b main engine began on time at 8:18 p.m. PDT (11:18 p.m. EDT), decreasing the spacecraft’s velocity by 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second) and allowing Juno to be captured in orbit around Jupiter. Soon after the burn was completed, Juno turned so that the sun’s rays could once again reach the 18,698 individual solar cells that give Juno its energy.

“The spacecraft worked perfectly, which is always nice when you’re driving a vehicle with 1.7 billion miles on the odometer,” said Rick Nybakken, Juno project manager from JPL. “Jupiter orbit insertion was a big step and the most challenging remaining in our mission plan, but there are others that have to occur before we can give the science team the mission they are looking for.”

Can you imagine a 1.7 billion (yes that’s with a “B”) mile journey AND the ability to monitor the process?  This is truly an engineering feat that should make history.   (Too bad our politicians are busy getting themselves elected and reelected.)

Over the next few months, Juno’s mission and science teams will perform final testing on the spacecraft’s subsystems, final calibration of science instruments and some science collection.

“Our official science collection phase begins in October, but we’ve figured out a way to collect data a lot earlier than that,” said Bolton. “Which when you’re talking about the single biggest planetary body in the solar system is a really good thing. There is a lot to see and do here.”

Juno’s principal goal is to understand the origin and evolution of Jupiter. With its suite of nine science instruments, Juno will investigate the existence of a solid planetary core, map Jupiter’s intense magnetic field, measure the amount of water and ammonia in the deep atmosphere, and observe the planet’s auroras. The mission also will let us take a giant step forward in our understanding of how giant planets form and the role these titans played in putting together the rest of the solar system. As our primary example of a giant planet, Jupiter also can provide critical knowledge for understanding the planetary systems being discovered around other stars.

The Juno spacecraft launched on Aug. 5, 2011 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. JPL manages the Juno mission for NASA. Juno is part of NASA’s New Frontiers Program, managed at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver built the spacecraft. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.


Before we list the systems, let’s take a look at the physical “machine”.

Juno Configuration

As you can see, the design is truly remarkable and includes the following modules:

  • SOLAR PANELS—Juno requires 18,000 solar cells to gather enough energy for it’s journey, 508 million miles from our sun.  In January, Juno broke the record as the first solar-powered spacecraft to fly further than 493 million miles from the sun.
  • RADIATION VAULT—During its polar orbit, Juno will repeatedly pass through the intense radiation belt that surrounds Jupiter’s equator, charged by ions and particles from Jupiter’s atmosphere and moons suspended in Juno’s colossal magnetic field. The magnetic belt, which measures 1,000 times the human toxicity level, has a radio frequency that can be detected from Earth and extends into earth’s orbit.
  • GRAVITY SCIENCE EXPERIMENT—Using advanced gravity science tools; Juno will create a detailed map of Jupiter’s gravitational field to infer Jupiter’s mass distribution and internal structure.
  • VECTOR MAGNETOMETER (MAG)—Juno’s next mission is to map Jupiter’s massive magnetic field, which extends approximately two (2) million miles toward the sun, shielding Jupiter from solar flares.  It also tails out for more than six hundred (600) million miles in solar orbit.  The dynamo is more than 20,000 times greater than that of the Earth.
  • MICROWAVE RADIOMETERS–Microwave radiomometers (MWR) will detect six (6) microwave and radio frequencies generated by the atmosphere’s thermal emissions.  This will aid in determining the depths of various cloud forms.
  • DETAILED MAPPING OF AURORA BOREALIS AND PLASMA CONTENT—As Juno passes Jupiter’s poles, cameral will capture high-resolution images of aurora borealis, and particle detectors will analyze the plasmas responsible for them.  Not only are Jupiter’s auroras much larger than those of Earth, they are also much more frequent because they are created by atmospheric plasma rather than solar flares.
  • JEDI MEASURES HIGH-ENERGY PARTICLES–Three Jupiter energetic particle detector instruments (JEDIs) will measure the angular distribution of high-energy particles as they interact with Jupiter’s upper atmospheres and inner magnetospheres to contribute to Jupiter’s northern and southern lights.
  • JADE MEASURE OF LOW-ENERGY PARTICLES—JADE, the Jovian Aurora Distributions Experiment, works in conjunction with DEDI to measure the angular distribution of lower-energy electrons and ions ranging from zero (0) to thirty (30) electron volts.
  • WAVES MEASURES PLASMA MOVEMENT—The radio/plasma wave experiment, called WAVES, will be used to measure radio frequencies  (50 Hz to 40 MHz) generated by the plasma in the magnetospheres.
  • UVS,JIRAM CAPTURE NORTHERN/SOUTHERN LIGHTS—By capturing wavelength of seventy (70) to two hundred and five (205) nm, an ultraviolet imager/spectrometer (UVS) will generate images of the auroras UV spectrum to view the auroras during the Jovian day.
  • HIGH-RESOLUTION CAMERA—JunoCam, a high-resolution color camera, will capture red, green and blue wavelengths photos of Jupiter’s atmosphere and aurora.  The NASA team expects the camera to last about seven orbits before being destroyed by radiation.


This technology is truly amazing to me.  Think of the planning, the engineering design, the testing, the computer programming needed to bring this program to fruition.  Amazing!



June 10, 2016

There is absolutely no doubt the invention and development of chip technology has changed the world and made possible a remarkable number of devices we seemingly cannot live without.  It has also made possible miniaturization of electronics considered impossible thirty years ago.  This post is about the rapid improvement that technology and those of you who read my posts are probably very familiar with Moor’s Law.  Let us restate and refresh our memories.

“Moore’s law” is the observation that, over the history of computing hardware, the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years.”

Chart of Moore's Law

You can see from the digital above, that law is represented in graph form with the actual “chip” designation given.  Most people will be familiar with Moore’s Law, which was not so much a law, but a prediction given by Intel’s Gordon Moore.   His theory was stated in 1965.  Currently, the density of components on a silicon wafer is close to reaching its physical limit but there are promising technologies that should supersede transistors to overcome this “shaky” fact.  Just who is Dr. Gordon Moore?


Gordon Earle Moore was born January 3, 1929.  He is an American businessman, co-founder and Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation, and the author of Moore’s law.  Moore was born in San Francisco, California, and grew up in nearby Pescadero. He attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City and initially went to San Jose State University.  After two years he transferred to the University of California, Berkeley, from which he received a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1950.

In September, 1950 Moore matriculated at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where he received a PhD in chemistry and a minor in physics, all awarded in 1954. Moore conducted postdoctoral research at the Applied Physics Laboratory at Johns Hopkins University from 1953 to 1956.      

Moore joined MIT and Caltech alumnus William Shockley at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory division of Beckman Instruments, but left with the “traitorous eight“, when Sherman Fairchild agreed to fund their efforts to created the influential Fairchild Semiconductor corporation.

In July 1968, Robert Noyce and Moore founded NM Electronics which later became Intel Corporation where he served as Executive Vice President until 1975.   He then became President.  In April 1979, Moore became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer, holding that position until April 1987, when he became Chairman of the Board. He was named Chairman Emeritus of Intel Corporation in 1997.  Under Noyce, Moore, and later Andrew Grove, Intel has pioneered new technologies in the areas of computer memoryintegrated circuits and microprocessor design.  A picture of Dr. Moore is given as follows:

Gordon Moore


We are going to use Intel as our example although there are several “chip” manufacturers in the world.  The top ten (10) are as follows:

  • INTEL = $48.7 billion in sales
  • Samsung = $28.6 billion in sales
  • Texas Instruments = $14 billion in sales.
  • Toshiba = $12.7 billion in sales
  • Renesas = $ 10.6 billion in sales
  • Qualcomm =  $10.2 billion in sales
  • ST Microelectronics = $ 9.7 billion in sales
  • Hynix = $9.3 billion in sales
  • Micron = $7.4 billion in sales
  • Broadcom = $7.2 billion in sales

As you can see, INTEL is by far the biggest, producing the greatest number of computer chips.

The deserts of Arizona are home to Intel’s Fab 32, a $3 billion factory that is performing one of the most complicated electrical engineering feats of our time.  It’s here that processors with components measuring just forty-five (45) millionths of a millimeter across are manufactured, ready to be shipped to motherboard manufacturers all over the world.  Creating these complicated miniature systems is impressive enough, but it’s not the processors’ diminutive size that’s the most startling or impressive part of the process. It may seem an impossible transformation, but these fiendishly complex components are made from nothing more glamorous than sand. Such a transformative feat isn’t simple. The production process requires more than three hundred (300) individual steps.


Sand is composed of silica (also known as silicon dioxide), and is the starting point for making a processor. Sand used in the building industry is often yellow, orange or red due to impurities, but the type chosen in the manufacture of silicon is a much purer form known as silica sand, which is usually recovered by quarrying. To extract the element silicon from the silica, it must be reduced (in other words, have the oxygen removed from it). This is accomplished by heating a mixture of silica and carbon in an electric arc furnace to a temperature in excess of 2,000°C.  The carbon reacts with the oxygen in the molten silica to produce carbon dioxide (a by-product) and silicon, which settles in the bottom of the furnace. The remaining silicon is then treated with oxygen to reduce any calcium and aluminum impurities. The end result of this process is a substance referred to as metallurgical-grade silicon, which is up to ninety-nine percent (99 %) pure.

This is not nearly pure enough for semiconductor manufacture, however, so the next job is to refine the metallurgical-grade silicon further. The silicon is ground to a fine powder and reacted with gaseous hydrogen chloride in a fluidized bed reactor at 300°C giving a liquid compound of silicon called trichlorosilane.

Impurities such as iron, aluminum, boron and phosphorous also react to give their chlorides, which are then removed by fractional distillation. The purified trichlorosilane is vaporized and reacted with hydrogen gas at 1,100°C so that the elemental silicon is retrieved.

During the reaction, silicon is deposited on the surface of an electrically heated ultra-pure silicon rod to produce a silicon ingot. The end result is referred to as electronic-grade silicon, and has a purity of 99.999999 per cent. (Incredible purity.)


Although pure to a very high degree, raw electronic-grade silicon has a polycrystalline structure. In other words, it’s made of many small silicon crystals, with defects called grain boundaries. Because these anomalies affect local electronic behavior, polycrystalline silicon is unsuitable for semiconductor manufacturing. To turn it into a usable material, the silicon must be transformed into single crystals that have a regular atomic structure. This transformation is achieved through the Czochralski Process. Electronic-grade silicon is melted in a rotating quartz crucible and held at just above its melting point of 1,414°C. A tiny crystal of silicon is then dipped into the molten silicon and slowly withdrawn while being continuously rotated in the opposite direction to the rotation of the crucible. The crystal acts as a seed, causing silicon from the crucible to crystallize around it. This builds up a rod – called a boule – that comprises a single silicon crystal. The diameter of the boule depends on the temperature in the crucible, the rate at which the crystal is ‘pulled’ (which is measured in millimeters per hour) and the speed of rotation. A typical boule measures 300mm in diameter.


Integrated circuits are approximately linear, which is to say that they’re formed on the surface of the silicon. To maximize the surface area of silicon available for making chips, the boule is sliced up into discs called wafers. The wafers are just thick enough to allow them to be handled safely during semiconductor fabrication. 300mm wafers are typically 0.775mm thick. Sawing is carried out using a wire saw that cuts multiple slices simultaneously, in the same way that some kitchen gadgets cut an egg into several slices in a single operation.

Silicon saws differ from kitchen tools in that the wire is constantly moving and carries with it a slurry of silicon carbide, the same abrasive material that forms the surface of ‘wet-dry’ sandpaper. The sharp edges of each wafer are then smoothed to prevent the wafers from chipping during later processes.

Next, in a procedure called ‘lapping’, the surfaces are polished using an abrasive slurry until the wafers are flat to within an astonishing 2μm (two thousandths of a millimeter). The wafer is then etched in a mixture of nitric, hydrofluoric and acetic acids. The nitric acid oxides the surfaces to give a thin layer of silicon dioxide – which the hydrofluoric acid immediately dissolves away to leave a clean silicon surface – and the acetic acid controls the reaction rate. The result of all this refining and treating is an even smoother and cleaner surface.


In many of the subsequent steps, the electrical properties of the wafer will be modified through exposure to ion beams, hot gasses and chemicals. But this needs to be done selectively to specific areas of the wafer in order to build up the circuit.  A multistage process is used to create an oxide layer in the shape of the required circuit features. In some cases, this procedure can be achieved using ‘photoresist’, a photosensitive chemical not dissimilar to that used in making photographic film (just as described in steps B, C and D, below).

Where hot gasses are involved, however, the photoresist would be destroyed, making another, more complicated method of masking the wafer necessary. To overcome the problem, a patterned oxide layer is applied to the wafer so that the hot gasses only reach the silicon in those areas where the oxide layer is missing. Applying the oxide layer mask to the wafer is a multistage process, as illustrated as follows.

(A) The wafer is heated to a high temperature in a furnace. The surface layer of silicon reacts with the oxygen present to create a layer of silicon dioxide.

(B) A layer of photoresist is applied. The wafer is spun in a vacuum so that the photoresist spreads out evenly over the surface before being baked dry.

(C) The wafer is exposed to ultraviolet light through a photographic mask or film. This mask defines the required pattern of circuit features. This process has to be carried out many times, once for each chip or rectangular cluster of chips on the wafer. The film is moved between each exposure using a machine called a ‘stepper’.

(D) The next stage is to develop the latent circuit image. This process is carried out using an alkaline solution. During this process, those parts of the photoresist that were exposed to the ultraviolet soften in the solution and are washed away.

(E) The photoresist isn’t sufficiently durable to withstand the hot gasses used in some steps, but it is able to withstand hydrofluoric acid, which is now used to dissolve those parts of the silicon oxide layer where the photoresist has been washed away.

(F) Finally, a solvent is used to remove the remaining photoresist, leaving a patterned oxide layer in the shape of the required circuit features.


The fundamental building block of a processor is a type of transistor called a MOSFET.  There are “P” channels and “N” channels. The first step in creating a circuit is to create n-type and p-type regions. Below is given the method Intel uses for its 90nm process and beyond:

(A) The wafer is exposed to a beam of boron ions. These implant themselves into the silicon through the gaps in a layer of photoresist to create areas called ‘p-wells’. These are, confusingly enough, used in the n-channel MOSFETs.

A boron ion is a boron atom that has had an electron removed, thereby giving it a positive charge. This charge allows the ions to be accelerated electrostatically in much the same way that electrons are accelerated towards the front of a CRT television, giving them enough energy to become implanted into the silicon.

(B) A different photoresist pattern is now applied, and a beam of phosphorous ions is used in the same way to create ‘n-wells’ for the p-channel MOSFETs.

(C) In the final ion implantation stage, following the application of yet another photoresist, another beam of phosphorous ions is used to create the n-type regions in the p-wells that will act as the source and drain of the n-channel MOSFETs. This has to be carried out separately from the creation of the n-wells because it needs a greater concentration of phosphorous ions to create n-type regions in p-type silicon than it takes to create n-type regions in pure, un-doped silicon.

(D) Next, following the deposition of a patterned oxide layer (because, once again, the photoresist would be destroyed by the hot gas used here), a layer of silicon-germanium doped with boron (which is a p-type material) is applied.

That’s just about it.  I know this is long and torturous but we did say there were approximately three hundred steps in producing a chip.


The way a chip works is the result of how a chip’s transistors and gates are designed and the ultimate use of the chip. Design specifications that include chip size, number of transistors, testing, and production factors are used to create schematics—symbolic representations of the transistors and interconnections that control the flow of electricity though a chip.

Designers then make stencil-like patterns, called masks, of each layer. Designers use computer-aided design (CAD) workstations to perform comprehensive simulations and tests of the chip functions. To design, test, and fine-tune a chip and make it ready for fabrication takes hundreds of people.

The “recipe” for making a chip varies depending on the chip’s proposed use. Making chips is a complex process requiring hundreds of precisely controlled steps that result in patterned layers of various materials built one on top of another.

A photolithographic “printing” process is used to form a chip’s multilayered transistors and interconnects (electrical circuits) on a wafer. Hundreds of identical processors are created in batches on a single silicon wafer.  A JPEG of an INTEL wafer is given as follows:

Chip Wafer

Once all the layers are completed, a computer performs a process called wafer sort test. The testing ensures that the chips perform to design specifications.

After fabrication, it’s time for packaging. The wafer is cut into individual pieces called die. The die is packaged between a substrate and a heat spreader to form a completed processor. The package protects the die and delivers critical power and electrical connections when placed directly into a computer circuit board or mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet.  The chip below is an INTEL Pentium 4 version.

INTEL Pentium Chip

Intel makes chips that have many different applications and use a variety of packaging technologies. Intel packages undergo final testing for functionality, performance, and power. Chips are electrically coded, visually inspected, and packaged in protective shipping material for shipment to Intel customers and retail.


Genius is a wonderful thing and Dr. Gordon E. Moore was certainly a genius.  I think their celebrity is never celebrated enough.  We know the entertainment “stars”, sports “stars”, political “want-to-bees” get their press coverage but nine out of ten individuals do not know those who have contributed significantly to better lives for us. People such as Dr. Moore.   Today is the funeral of Caius Clay; AKA Muhammad Ali.  A great boxer and we are told a really kind man.  I have no doubt both are true.  His funeral has been televised and on-going for about four (4) hours now.  Do you think Dr. Moore will get the recognition Mr. Ali is getting when he dies?  Just a thought.


March 12, 2016

Last week I posted an article on WordPress entitled “Global Funding”.  The post was a prognostication relative to total global funding in 2016 through 2020 for research and development in all disciplines.  I certainly hope there are no arguments as to benefits of R & D.  R & D is the backbone of technology.  The manner in which science pushes the technological envelope is research and development.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has provided a great number of spinoffs that greatly affect everyday lives remove drudgery from activities that otherwise would consume a great deal of time and just plain sweat.  The magazine “NASA Tech Briefs”, March 2016, presented forty such spinoffs demonstrating the great benefits of NASA programs over the years.  I’m not going to resent all forty but let’s take a look at a few to get a flavor of how NASA R & D has influenced consumers the world over.  Here we go.

  • DIGITAL IMAGE SENSORS—The CMOS active pixel sensor in most digital image-capturing devices was invented when NASA needed to miniaturize cameras for interplanety missions.  It is also widely used in medical imaging and dental X-ray devices.
  • Aeronautical Winglets—Key aerodynamic advances made by NASA researchers led to the up-turned tips of wings known as “winglets.”  Winglets are used by nearly all modern aircraft and have saved literally billions of dollars in fuel costs.
  • Precision GPS—Beginning in the early 1990s, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) developed software capable of correcting for GPS errors.  NASA monitors the integrity of global GPS data in real time for the U.S. Air Force, which administers the positioning service world-wide.
  • Memory Foam—Memory foam was invented by NASA-funded researchers looking for ways to keep test pilots cushioned during flights.  Today, memory foam makes for more comfortable beds, couches, and chairs, as well as better shoes, movie theater seats, and even football helmets.
  • Truck Aerodynamics—Nearly all trucks on the road have been shaped by NASA.  Agency research in aerodynamic design led to the curves and contours that help modern big rigs cut through the air with less drag. Perhaps, as much as 6,800 gallons of diesel per year per truck has been saved.
  • Invisible Braces for Teeth—A company working with NASA invented the translucent ceramic that became the critical component for the first “invisible” dental braces, which went on to become one of the best-selling orthodontic products of all time.
  • Tensile Fabric for Architecture—A material originally developed for spacesuits can be seen all over the world in stadiums, arenas, airports, pavilions, malls, and museums. BirdAir Inc. developed the fabric from fiberglass and Teflon composite that once protected Apollo astronauhts as they roamed the lunar surface.  Today, that same fabric shades and protects people in public places.
  • Supercritical Wing—NASA engineers at Langley Research Center improved wing designs resulting in remarkable performance of an aircraft approaching the speed of sound.
  • Phase-change Materials—Research on next-generation spacesuits included the development of phase-change materials, which can absorb, hold, and release heat to keep people comfortable.  This technology is now found in blankets, bed sheets, dress shirts, T-shirts, undergarments, and other products.
  • Cardiac Pump—Hundreds of people in need of a heart transplant have been kept alive thanks to a cardiac pump designed with the help of NASA expertise in simulating fluid-flow through rocket engines.  This technology served as a “bridge” to the transplant methodology.
  • Flexible Aeorgel—Aeorgel is a porous material in which the liquid component of the gel has been carefully dried out and replaced by gas, leaving a solid almost entirely of air.  It long held the record as the world’s lightest solid, and is one of the most effective insulator in existence.
  • Digital Fly-By-Wire—For the first seventy (70) years of human flight, pilots used controls that connected directly to aircraft components through cables and pushrods. A partnership between NASA and Draper Laboratory in the 1970 resulted in the first plane flown digitally, where a computer collected all of the input from the pilot’s controls and used that information to command aerodynamic surfaces.
  • Cochlear Implants—One of the pioneers in early cochlear implant technology was Adam Kissiah, an engineer at Kennedy Space Center.  Mr. Kissiah was hearing-impaired and used NASA technology to greatly improve hearing devices by developing implants that worked by electric impulses rather than sound amplification.
  • Radiant Barrier—To keep people and spacecraft safe from harmful radiation, NASA developed a method for depositing a thin metal coating on a material to make it highly reflective. On Earth, it has become known as radiant barrier technology.
  • Gigapan Photography—Since 2004, new generations of Mars rovers have been stunning the world with high-resolution imagery.  Though equipped with only one megapixel cameras, the Spirit and Opportunity rovers have a robotic platform and software that allows them to combine dozens of shots into a single photograph.
  • Anti-icing Technology—NASA has spent many years solving problems related to ice accumulation in flight surfaces.  These breakthroughs have been applied to commercial aircraft flight.
  • Emergency Blanket—So-called space blankets, also known as emergency blankets, were first developed by NASA in 1964.  The highly reflective insulators are often included in emergency kits, and are used by long-distance runners and fire-team personnel.
  • Firefighter Protection—NASA helped develop a line of polymer textiles for use in spacesuits and vehicles.  Dubbed, PBI, the heat and flame-resistant fiber is now used in numerous firefighting, military, motor sports, and other applications.

These are just a few of the many NASA spinoffs that have solved down-to-earth problems for people over the world.  Let’s continue funding NASA to ensure future wonderful and usable technology.


January 30, 2016


It is very difficult to believe that the Hubble Telescope is twenty-five (25) years in orbit. The launch date for Hubble was April 24, 1990 and remains in operation. Hubble’s orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere allows it to take extremely high-resolution images with negligible background light.  It rotates approximately 345 miles above our Earth.   It has recorded some of the most detailed visible-light images ever, allowing a deep view into space and time. Many Hubble observations have led to breakthroughs in astrophysics, such as accurately determining the rate of expansion of the universe. A digital photograph of the Hubble Telescope is given as follows:


Every 97 minutes, Hubble completes a spin around Earth, moving at the speed of about five miles per second (8 km per second) — fast enough to travel across the United States in about 10 minutes. As it travels, Hubble’s mirror captures light and directs it into its several scientific instruments.

Hubble is a type of telescope known as a Cassegrain reflector. Light hits the telescope’s main mirror, or primary mirror. It bounces off the primary mirror and encounters a secondary mirror. The secondary mirror focuses the light through a hole in the center of the primary mirror that leads to the telescope’s science instruments.

People often mistakenly believe that a telescope’s power lies in its ability to magnify objects. Telescopes actually work by collecting more light than the human eye can capture on its own. The larger a telescope’s mirror, the more light it can collect, and the better its vision. Hubble’s primary mirror is 94.5 inches (2.4 m) in diameter. This mirror is small compared with those of current ground-based telescopes, which can be 400 inches (1,000 cm) and up, but Hubble’s location beyond the atmosphere gives it remarkable clarity.

As you might suspect, the marvelous Hubble Telescope is using technology that is considered outdated relative to what is available today.  Still working and still providing remarkable photographs and data, the scientists and engineers at NASA recognized a newer device would ultimately be needed to push the boundaries of astronomy. Hence the James Webb Telescope.  OK, just who is James Webb?


The man whose name NASA has chosen to bestow upon the successor to the Hubble Space Telescope is most commonly linked to the Apollo moon program, not to science.

Yet, many believe that James E. Webb, who ran the fledgling space agency from February 1961 to October 1968, did more for science than perhaps any other government official, and that it is only fitting that the Next Generation Space Telescope would be named after him.

Webb’s record of support for space science would support those views. Although President John Kennedy had committed the nation to landing a man on the moon before the end of the decade, Webb believed that the space program was more than a political race. He believed that NASA had to strike a balance between human space flight and science because such a combination would serve as a catalyst for strengthening the nation’s universities and aerospace industry.

By the time Webb retired just a few months before the first moon landing in July 1969, NASA had launched more than 75 space science missions to study the stars and galaxies, our own Sun and the as-yet-unknown environment of space above the Earth’s atmosphere. Missions such as the Orbiting Solar Observatory and the Explorer series of astronomical satellites built the foundation for the most successful period of astronomical discovery in history, which continues today.  It is absolutely fitting that the next generation telescope be named after Mr. Webb.


The graphic below shows an excellent comparison between Hubble and James Webb relative capabilities.

Hubble vs James Webb


JWST is an international collaboration between NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA), and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). The NASA Goddard Space Flight Center is managing the development effort. The main industrial partner is Northrop Grumman; the Space Telescope Science Institute will operate JWST after launch.

Several innovative technologies have been developed for JWST. These include a primary mirror made of 18 separate segments that unfold and adjust to shape after launch. The mirrors are made of ultra-lightweight beryllium. JWST’s biggest feature is a tennis court-sized five-layer sunshield that attenuates heat from the Sun more than a million times. The telescope’s four instruments – cameras and spectrometers – have detectors that are able to record extremely faint signals. One instrument (NIRSpec) has programmable micro-shutters, which enable observation up to 100 objects simultaneously. JWST also has a cryo-cooler for cooling the mid-infrared detectors of another instrument (MIRI) to a very cold 7 K so they can work.  The JPEG below will show the instrumentation assembled into the platform and give a very brief summary of purpose.


The telescope will be “parked” 932,000 miles above Earth into space; obviously, beyond our moon.  With the ability to collect much more light than Hubble, the Webb Telescope will be able to see distant objects as they existed much earlier in time, specifically 13.5 billion years earlier.  This number is only 200,000 years after the “big bang”.

Other JPEGs of the telescope are given as follows:

James Webb in Orbit

(ABOVE) The Webb Telescope in Orbit.

Given below:  The James Webb Telescope Team.


On 6 July 2011, the United States House of Representatives’ appropriations committee on Commerce, Justice, and Science moved to cancel the James Webb project by proposing an FY2012 budget that removed $1.9bn from NASA’s overall budget, of which roughly one quarter was for JWST.  This budget proposal was approved by subcommittee vote the following day; however, in November 2011, Congress reversed plans to cancel the JWST and instead capped additional funding to complete the project at $8 billion.

The committee charged that the project was “billions of dollars over budget and plagued by poor management”. The telescope was originally estimated to cost $1.6bn but the cost estimate grew throughout the early development reaching about $5bn by the time the mission was formally confirmed for construction start in 2008. In summer 2010, the mission passed its Critical Design Review with excellent grades on all technical matters, but schedule and cost slips at that time prompted US Senator Barbara Mikulski to call for an independent review of the project. The Independent Comprehensive Review Panel (ICRP) chaired by J. Casani (JPL) found that the earliest launch date was in late 2015 at an extra cost of $1.5bn (for a total of $6.5bn). They also pointed out that this would have required extra funding in FY2011 and FY2012 and that any later launch date would lead to a higher total cost. Because the runaway budget diverted funding from other research, the science journal Nature described the James Webb as “the telescope that ate astronomy”. However, termination of the project as proposed by the House appropriation committee would not have provided funding to other missions, as the JWST line would have been terminated with the funding leaving astrophysics (and the NASA budget) entirely. You can see from the following digital, Congress was certainly within their right to cancel the program.


It is not an inexpensive program.  The House of Representatives, as mentioned above, did not kill the program. Launch is still scheduled for 20 October, 2018. I personally believe this was the proper move for them to make.

As always, I welcome your comments.



October 3, 2015

Data for each university was taken from Wikipedia.  I checked information for each school relative to authenticity and found Wikipedia to be correct in every case.

USA Today recently published an article from the London-based “Times Higher Education World University Rankings”.  This organization was founded in 2004 for the sole purpose of evaluating universities across the world.  Evaluations are accomplished using the following areas of university life:

  • Teaching ability and qualification of individual teachers
  • International outlook
  • Reputation of university
  • Research initiatives
  • Student-staff ratios
  • Income from industries
  • Female-male ratios
  • Quality of student body
  • Citations

There were thirteen (13) performance criteria in the total evaluation.  The nine (9) above give an indication as to the depth of the investigation. Eight hundred (800) universities from seventy (70) countries were evaluated.  This year, there were only sixty-three (63) out of two hundred (200) schools that made the “best in the world” list. Let’s take a look at the top fifteen (15).  These are in order.

  1. California Institute of Technology–The California Institute of Technologyor Caltech is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States.   The school was founded as a preparatory and vocational institution by Amos G. Throop in 1891.  Even from the early years, the college attracted influential scientists such as George Ellery HaleArthur Amos Noyes, and Robert Andrews Millikan. The vocational and preparatory schools were disbanded and spun off in 1910, and the college assumed its present name in 1921. In 1934, Caltech was elected to the Association, and the antecedents of NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which Caltech continues to manage and operate, were established between 1936 and 1943 under Theodore von Kármán. The university is one among a small group of Institutes of Technology in the United States which tends to be primarily devoted to the instruction of technical arts and applied sciences.
  2. Oxford University–The University of Oxford(informally Oxford University or simply Oxford) is a collegiate research university located in Oxford, England. While having no known date of foundation, there is evidence of teaching as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest surviving university.  It grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris.  After disputes between students and Oxford townsfolk in 1209, some academics fled northeast to Cambridge where they established what became the University of Cambridge. The two “ancient universities” are frequently jointly referred to as “Oxbridge“.
  3. Stanford University–Stanford University(officially Leland Stanford Junior University) is a private research university in StanfordCalifornia.  It is definitely one of the world’s most prestigious institutions, with the top position in numerous rankings and measures in the United States. Stanford was founded in 1885 by Leland Stanford, former Governor and S. Senator from California.  Mr. Stanford was a railroad tycoon.  He and his wife, Jane Lathrop Stanford, started the school in memory of their only child, Leland Stanford, Jr., who had died of typhoid fever at age 15 the previous year. Stanford was opened on October 1, 1891 as a coeducational and non-denominational institution. Tuition was free until 1920. The university struggled financially after Leland Stanford’s 1893 death and after much of the campus was damaged by the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Following World War II, Provost Frederick Terman supported faculty and graduates’ entrepreneurialism to build self-sufficient local industry in what would later be known as Silicon Valley. By 1970, Stanford was home to a linear accelerator, and was one of the original four ARPANET nodes (precursor to the Internet).
  4. Cambridge University–The University of Cambridge (abbreviated as Cantabin post-nominal letters, sometimes referred to as Cambridge University) is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, England. Founded in 1209, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s fourth-oldest surviving university.   It grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with townsfolk. The two ancient universities share many common features and are often jointly referred to as “Oxbridge“.
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology–The Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) is a private research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic  university model and stressed laboratory instruction in applied science and engineering. Researchers worked on computersradar, and inertial guidance during World War II and the Cold War. Post-war defense research contributed to the rapid expansion of the faculty and campus.  The current 168-acre campus opened in 1916 and now covers over one (1) mile along the northern bank of the Charles River basin.
  6. Harvard University–Harvard Universityis a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts and was established in 1636. Its history, influence and wealth have made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Established originally by the Massachusetts legislature and soon thereafter named for John Harvard, its first benefactor.  Harvard is the  oldest institution of higher learning in the United States.  The Harvard Corporation (formally, the President and Fellows of Harvard College) is its first chartered corporation. Although never formally affiliated with any denomination, the early College primarily trained Congregation­alist and Unitarian Its curriculum and student body were gradually secularized during the 18th century, and by the 19th century Harvard had emerged as the central cultural establishment among Boston elites.  Following the American Civil War, President Charles W. Eliot‘s long tenure (1869–1909) transformed the college and affiliated professional schools into a modern research university; Harvard was a founding member of the Association of American Universities in 1900.   James Bryant Conant led the university through the Great Depression and World War II and began to reform the curriculum and liberalize admissions after the war. The undergraduate college became coeducational after its 1977 merger with Radcliffe College.
  7. Princeton University–Princeton Universityis a private Ivy League research university in Princeton, New Jersey.  It was founded in 1746 as the College of New Jersey. Princeton was the fourth chartered institution of higher education in the Thirteen Colonies and thus one of the nine Colleges established before the American Revolution. The institution moved to Newark in 1747, then to the current site nine years later, where it was renamed Princeton University in 1896.
  8. Imperial College of London— Imperial College Londonis a public research university, located in London, United Kingdom. The Imperial College of Science and Technology was founded in 1907, as a constituent college of the federal University of London, by merging the City and Guilds College, the Royal School of Mines and the Royal College of Science. The college grew through mergers including with St Mary’s Hospital Medical SchoolCharing Cross and Westminster Medical School, the Royal Postgraduate Medical School and the National Heart and Lung Institute to be known as The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine. The college established the Imperial College Business School in 2005, thus covering subjects in science, engineering, medicine and business. Imperial College London became an independent university in 2007 during its centennial celebration.
  9. ETH Zurich— ETH Zürich(Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, German:Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich) is an engineering, science, technology, mathematics and management university in the city of Zürich, Switzerland. Like its sister institution EPFL, it is an integral part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain (ETH Domain) that is directly subordinate to Switzerland’s Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.
  10. University of Chicago— The University of Chicago(U of C, Chicago, or U Chicago) is a private research university in ChicagoIllinois. Established in 1890, the University of Chicago consists of The College, various graduate programs, interdisciplinary committees organized into four academic research divisions and seven professional schools. Beyond the arts and sciences, Chicago is also well known for its professional schools, which include the Pritzker  School of Medicine, the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the Law School, the School of Social Service Administration, the Harris School of Public Policy Studies, the Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies and the Divinity School. The university currently enrolls approximately 5,000 students in the College and around 15,000 students overall.
  11. Johns Hopkins— The Johns Hopkins University(commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins) is a private research university in Baltimore, Maryland. Founded in 1876, the university was named after its first benefactor, the American entrepreneur, abolitionist, and philanthropist Johns Hopkins.   His $7 million bequest—of which half financed the establishment of The Johns Hopkins Hospital—was the largest philanthropic gift in the history of the United States at the time.   Daniel Coit Gilman, who was inaugurated as the institution’s first president on February 22, 1876,led the university to revolutionize higher education in the U.S. by integrating teaching and research.
  12. Yale University Yale Universityis a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701 in Saybrook Colony as the Collegiate School, the University is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States. In 1718, the school was renamed Yale College in recognition of a gift from Elihu Yale, a governor of the British East India Company and in 1731 received a further gift of land and slaves from Bishop Berkeley.   Established to train Congregationalist ministers in theology and sacred languages, by 1777 the school’s curriculum began to incorporate humanities and sciences and in the 19th century gradually incorporated graduate and professional instruction, awarding the first D. in the United States in 1861 and organizing as a university in 1887.
  13. University of California Berkeley— The University of California, Berkeley(also referred to as Berkeley, UC Berkeley, California or simply Cal) is a public research university located in BerkeleyCalifornia. It is the flagship campus of the University of California system, one of three parts in the state’s public higher education plan, which also includes the California State University system and the California Community Colleges System.
  14. University College of London— University College London(UCL) is a public research university in London, England and a constituent college of the federal University of London. Recognized as one of the leading multidisciplinary research universities in the world, UCL is the largest higher education institution in London and the largest postgraduate institution in the UK by enrollment.  Founded in 1826 as London University, UCL was the first university institution established in London and the earliest in England to be entirely secular, to admit students regardless of their religion and to admit women on equal terms with men. The philosopher Jeremy Bentham is commonly regarded as the spiritual father of UCL, as his radical ideas on education and society were the inspiration to its founders, although his direct involvement in its foundation was limited. UCL became one of the two founding colleges of the University of London in 1836. It has grown through mergers, including with the Institute of Neurology (in 1997), the Eastman Dental Institute (in 1999), the School of Slavonic and East European Studies (in 1999), the School of Pharmacy (in 2012) and the Institute of Education (in 2014).
  15. Columbia University— Columbia University(officially Columbia University in the City of New York) is a private Ivy League research university in Upper ManhattanNew York City. Originally established in 1754 as King’s College by royal charter of George II of Great Britain, it is the oldest institution of higher learning in New York State, as well as one of the country’s nine colonial colleges.   After the revolutionary war, King’s College briefly became a state entity, and was renamed Columbia College in 1784. A 1787 charter placed the institution under a private board of trustees before it was further renamed Columbia University in 1896 when the campus was moved from Madison Avenue to its current location in Morningside Heights occupying land of 32 acres (13 ha). Columbia is one of the fourteen founding members of the Association of American Universities, and was the first school in the United States to grant the D. degree.


As you can see, individuals in leadership positions across the world consider formal education as being one the great assets to an individual, a country and our species in general.  Higher education can, but not always, drives us to discover, invent, and commercialize technology that advances our way of life and promotes health.  The entire university experience is remarkably beneficial to an individual’s understanding of the world and world events.

It is very safe to assume the faculty of each school is top-notch and attending students are serious over-achievers. (Then again, maybe not.)  I would invite your attention to the web site listing the two hundred schools considered—the top two hundred.  Maybe your school is on the list.  As always, I invite your comments.


September 16, 2015

Do you ever wonder how smart is smart and what intellect qualifies as super smart?  How does one get there?  What does it take?  Are we born with intellect or do we develop intellect as we mature and grow?  Is there a “limitless” pill that can boost mental capacity?  Medical research tells us that maintaining good health is dependent upon: 1.) No smoking, 2.) No excessive drinking, 3.) Daily exercise, 4.) Proper low-fat diet and 5.) Continuous stimulation of our cerebral cortex can provide a long and healthy life.  Good physical condition produces good and lasting mental condition, certainly when mental stimulation is included in the mix.  If we look at I.Q. distribution on our planet, we find the following:

IQ Score Distribution

As you can see, this is a typical bell-shaped curve with the following basic delineations:

  • 140 and above—Genius or near genius
  • 130 to 139—Gifted
  • 120 to 129—Superior intelligence
  • 90 to 109—Average
  • 80 to 89—Dullness
  • 70 to 79—Borderline deficiency
  • 50 to 69—Mild mental retardation
  • 35 to 50—Moderate mental retardation
  • 20 to 35—Severe mental retardation
  • < 20—Profound mental retardation

Please note the percentage of each category.  By far, the average I.Q. lies between 85 and 115.  Let’s face it; we’ve done a lot with a normal I.Q.

It is very interesting to see a list of individuals considered to be the most intelligent people on the planet.  These people have been tested or their works have indicated significant I.Q.  Let me first state this list of ten (10) is subjective but evidence indicates they are definitely worthy of mention.  Let’s look.

  • Stephen Hawking—I.Q = 160. Stephen Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, in Oxford, England. At an early age, Hawking showed a passion for science and astronomy. At age twenty-one (21), while studying cosmology at the University of Cambridge, he was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Despite his debilitating illness, he has performed groundbreaking work in physics and cosmology.  He has written several books that have helped to make science accessible to everyone. To my great surprise, Dr. Hawking has penned nineteen books with most being translated into other languages.  Part of his life story was depicted in the 2014 film The Theory of Everything.
  • Albert Einstein—I.Q. = 160 to 190. Albert Einstein was born at Ulm, in Württemberg, Germany, on March 14, 1879. Six weeks later the family moved to Munich, where he began his schooling at the Luitpold Gymnasium.  Sometime later, his family moved to Italy while Albert continued his education at Aarau, Switzerland.   In 1896 he entered the Swiss Federal Polytechnic School in Zurich to be trained as a teacher in physics and mathematics. In 1901, the year he gained his diploma, he acquired Swiss citizenship.   He was unable to find a teaching post so he accepted a position as technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office. In 1905 he obtained his doctor’s degree.  He spent his entire life working on the great mysteries of creation.
  • Judit Polgar—I.Q. = 170. Judit Polgár was born 23 July 1976 is a Hungarian chess grandmaster and is generally considered to be the strongest female chess player in history.   In 1991, Polgár achieved the title of Grandmaster at the age of fifteen (15) years and four (4) months, at the time the youngest to have done so, breaking the record previously held by former World Champion Bobby Fischer. She is the youngest ever player, to date, to break into the FIDE (Federation International des Echecs ) top 100 players rating list, being ranked number fifty-five in the January 1989 rating list, at the age of twelve.  She is the only woman to qualify for a World Championship tournament, having done so in 2005. She is the first, and to date, only woman to have surpassed the 2700 Elo rating barrier, reaching a career peak rating of 2735 and peak world ranking of number eight, both achieved in 2005. She was the number one rated woman in the world from January 1989 up until the March 2015 rating list, when she was overtaken by Chinese player Hou Yifan; she was the No. 1 again in the August 2015 women’s rating list, in her last appearance in the FIDE World Rankings.
  • Leonardo de Vinci—I.Q. = 180 to 190 (estimated).  Born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci was concerned with the laws of science and nature, which greatly informed his work as a painter, sculptor, inventor and draftsman. His ideas and body of work—which includes “Virgin of the Rocks,” “The Last Supper,” “Leda and the Swan” and “Mona Lisa”—have influenced countless artists and made da Vinci a leading light of the Italian Renaissance.
  • Marilyn vos Savant—I.Q. = 190. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1946, the young savant quickly developed an aptitude for math and science. At age ten (10), she was given two intelligence tests — the Stanford-Binet, and the Mega Test — both of which placed her mental capacity at that of a twenty-three year-old. She went on to be listed in the Guinness Book of World Records for having the “World’s Highest IQ,” and, as a result, gained international fame.  Despite her status as the “world’s smartest woman,” vos Savant maintained that attempts to measure intelligence were “useless,” and she rejected IQ tests as unreliable. In the mid-1980s, with free rein to choose a career path, she packed her bags and moved to New York City to be a writer.
  • Garry Kasparov—I.Q. = 194. Garry Kimovich Kasparov born Garik Kimovich Weinstein, 13 April 1963).  He is a Russian chess Grandmaster, former World Chess Champion, writer, and political activist, considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time.  From 1986 until his retirement in 2005, Kasparov was ranked world number one for 225 out of 228 months. His peak rating of 2851, achieved in 1999, was the highest recorded until being passed by Magnus Carlsen in 2013. Kasparov also holds records for consecutive professional tournament victories (fifteen) and Chess Oscars.
  • Kim Ung-Young—I.Q. = 210.  Kim Ung-yong was born March 7, 1963.  He is a South Korean civil engineer and former child prodigy. Kim was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records under “Highest IQ“; the book gave the boy’s score as about 210.  Guinness retired the “Highest IQ” category in 1990 after concluding IQ tests were too unreliable to designate a single record holder. Kim Ung-Yong was born in Hongje-dongSeoulSouth Korea. His father is Kim Soo-Sun, a professor.  He started speaking at the age of 6 months and was able to read Japanese, Korean, German, English and many other languages by his third birthday.   By the time he was four years old, his father claimed Ung-Yong had memorized about 2000 words in both English and German. He was writing poetry in Korean and Chinese, and wrote two very short books of essays both poems less than twenty pages in length.
  • Christopher Hirata—I.Q. = 225. Hirata was noticed to have an accelerated mind at an early age. At age three, he entertained himself at the grocery store,by calculating the total bill of items in his parent’s shopping cart, item-by-item, by weight, quantity, discounts, and sales tax. He was also reading the Dr. Seuss series to himself, able to recite the alphabet backwards, and had coded the alphabet sequence numerically, e.g. that the letter ‘O’ was fifteenth in the sequence. In the first grade, he was performing algebraic calculations.  Regarding his elementary and middle school years, by age twelve, he was talking college-level courses in physics and multivariable calculus. Hirata, at age thirteen, gained fame by winning gold medal at the 1996 International Physics Olympiad  (IPhO), an international competition among the world’s smartest math and science students (up to age nineteen), becoming the youngest medalist ever. Hirata’s showing at the IPhO was considered so record-breaking that IPhO organizers announced a special award for “Youngest Medalist”, awarded that year to Hirata, an award that has since become one of the most-coveted awards.  During meetings at the local McDonald’s, during this period, he and his friend Ben Newman, from the Physics Olympiad camp, “sat around writing general relativity equations out on the napkins,” recalls Newman. That year Hirata was ranked fifth in the world in physics, math, and science.
  • Terrance Tao—I.Q. 225 to 230.  Terence “Terry” Chi-Shen Tao was born 17 July 1975 in Adelaide. He is an Australian-American mathematician working in various areas of mathematics, but currently focusing on harmonic analysispartial differential equationsalgebraic combinatoricsarithmetic combinatorics, geometric  combinatoricscompressed sensing and analytic number theory. He currently holds the James and Carol Collins chair in mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles. Tao was a co-recipient of the 2006 Fields Medal and the 2014 Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics.  Tao exhibited extraordinary mathematical abilities from an early age, attending university level mathematics courses at the age of nine. He and Lenhard  Ngare the only two children in the history of the Johns Hopkins’ Study of Exceptional Talent program to have achieved a score of 700 or greater on the SAT math section while just nine years old. Tao scored a 760.  In 1986, 1987, and 1988, Tao was the youngest participant to date in the International Mathematical Olympiad, first competing at the age of ten, winning a bronze, silver, and gold medal respectively.
  • William James Sidis—I.Q. = 250 to 300.  A human calculator and linguistic genius, Sidis was born to Russian immigrant parents in America in 1898, and is estimated to have had an astounding IQ estimated between 250 and 300.  He went to grammar school at six and graduated within seven months.  By eight years of age he finished high school. He petitioned Harvard University for admittance but, being too young, he was advised to wait two years and finally at age eleven, he became the youngest student to have ever enrolled at Harvard. He graduated at the age of sixteen and entered Harvard Law School at age eighteen.  During his course work at Harvard Law he became sick and tired of being considered remarkable and he dropped out before completing his degree. He taught math on the university level for sometime but left try something ordinary.   He tried to become anonymous by being a bookkeeper, a clerk and doing other jobs that were incommensurate with his talents. All the attention he got due to his remarkable mind made him almost a recluse and he died lonely and poor at the young age of forty-six.

These are remarkable individuals and most used and are using their great talents to make the world a better place to live.  Even with this being the case, I would like to close this post with my favorite quote.  It’s from “silent Cal”—President Calvin Coolidge.

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

Great quote and so true.  Think of all the things individuals with average intellect have accomplished over the past decades and centuries.  Average intelligence coupled with work ethic and resourcefulness can win the day.  You do not have to be a genius to reach your potential and do marvelous things.  As always, I welcome your comments.

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