Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Chief Operating Officer
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
NSF/DOW Site Visit
Freeport Intermediate School
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Feb. 28 - Mar. 1, 2001
Good afternoon. My name is Joe Bordogna, and I am the
Deputy Director of the National Science Foundation.
We are delighted to be guests of the Dow Chemical Company
and Brazosport Independent School District, and I
thank you, Ms. Clare Davis for inviting us here to
Freeport Intermediate School today.
On behalf of the NSF, I want to tell you how very excited
we are to be here at Freeport Intermediate this afternoon.
And I would like to say thank you to Leigh Anderson
and the Dow Chemical Company, which we have partnered
with to make this visit possible.
We are delighted to be in "Rowdy Redskins" country
and celebrating NSF's 50th anniversary
with you, and to bring the nationwide, yearlong program,
"Scientists and Engineers in the Schools" to Freeport,
We have a full program lined up for you this afternoon.
Before we get to our special guests, I'd like to tell
you a little bit about why NSF is special and introduce
you to some of the work the Foundation has supported
over the last 50 years.
Things that people do everyday are "brought to you"
(in part) by NSF....
- A student in Chicago logs on to the Internet.
- In the sky above Dallas, Doppler Radar warns an
airline pilot about potentially
dangerous weather conditions up ahead.
Where does it all come from and what do these events
have in common? Every day, people use these devices
all over the United States.
And what else do they have in common? Just a few years
ago, none of them even existed.
Anything else? These discoveries - and many more like
them, are the fruits of the work funded by one of
our nation's leading government agencies - The National
When I mention the National Science Foundation, some
people, maybe some of you here, aren't sure what I'm
talking about. Others think maybe they've heard of
it, but they're not sure what it does.
We like to say that the National Science Foundation
is where discoveries begin. Everything I just mentioned
- the Internet, MRI, Bar Codes - were invented by
scientists and engineers who were working with the
support of the NSF.
NSF does not take credit for any of these individual
discoveries. Rather, NSF assumes credit for providing
the funds needed so talented researchers across the
country may explore avenues of research they wouldn't
The NSF was established in 1950, when President Harry
S. Truman signed a bill creating it.
As I mentioned just a few minutes ago, part of the
reason we're here today is to celebrate the 50th
anniversary of the NSF.
The United State Congress established the NSF in 1950,
giving it the mandate to promote research and education
in science and engineering, and to uncover new knowledge
that could be used in the service of the country.
Prior to this, no single federal agency had been charged
with these responsibilities.
And the NSF has done exactly that. During the past
50 years, we have funded research that has created
many of the things you use or see every day, even
some things you probably take for granted.
In fact, NSF-funded discoveries have produced important
advances in fields from astronomy to zoology, and
have totally changed the way Americans live and work.
I'm talking about things like…the Internet.
The Internet -
Many of you use the Internet at home or maybe you use
it here in your school. You probably know that the
Internet is really just a big computer network - computers
all over the world trading information with one another.
The Internet is based, to a large degree, on older
networks that were used by the government. One of
these, one of the largest, was one called NSFNET,
owned by, you guessed it, the NSF.
NSFNET was started in 1985, long before most people
had personal computers, and in 1991, the NSF opened
up the network so people and businesses could start
Even before NSFNET, as early as the 1950s, NSF-supported
scientists and engineers were doing research on computers
and computer networking. All of this led to the Internet
that we know today.
CD Players -
Let's take another example - how many of you have CD
players? Who doesn't nowadays!
Well, CD players, as well as digital audiotape, digital
TV, DVD players, CD Rom, and computer hard drives
- all use a technology called "data compression" that
was discovered by scientists and engineers working
for the NSF.
This discovery was actually made in the early 1960s,
and the NSF originally thought the technology would
be used just for satellite transmissions. More than
30 years later, CD technology is everywhere.
Planetary Knowledge -
Do you know, that as of today, we know that there are
49 planets outside of our solar system. How do we
Since 1991, NSF-funded and supported observatories
and their telescopes have helped to discover over
two dozen new planets outside our solar system.
Between 1991 and 1995, NSF-funded researchers from
Penn State discovered three new planets orbiting a
pulsar - the collapsed remnant of a supernova explosion.
In 1995, other researchers began a streak of discovery,
finding planets outside the solar system more and
more quickly. Most of these discoveries were made
at four NSF-funded telescope observatories in Puerto
Rico, New Mexico, California, and Hawaii.
So, that's just a little bit of what NSF is all about.
If you're interested in learning more about the Foundation,
log on to http://www.nsf.gov
Now I know you are all eager to meet our special guests,
Drs. Curl and Delfyett. So, let me tell you a bit
about each of them.
First, Robert F. Curl, a native son of Texas himself,
is a Professor of Natural Sciences at Rice University
in Houston. In 1996, Dr. Curl received the Nobel Prize
in Chemistry, along with his colleagues Richard Smalley
and Harold Kroto, for their discovery of the carbon
cage compounds called fullerenes.
Dr. Curl will show you more about why this molecule
looks so much like a soccer ball. Dr. Curl has won
many awards for his research and teaching in chemistry
and carbon science and is a member of the Texas Science
Hall of Fame.
Dr. Peter Delfyett is a Professor of Optics, Electrical
and Computer Engineering, and Physics, in the School
of Optics and Center for Research and Education in
Optics and Lasers at the University of Central Florida
In 1996, in a ceremony at the White House, Dr. Delfyett
was awarded the PECASE award. The PECASE - that stands
for Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists
and Engineers - is our nation's highest honor given
to scientists and engineers at the beginning of their
In addition to many awards for teaching and research,
Dr. Delfyett has been awarded patents for 10 of his
inventions, and is awaiting approval for two more,
and he has received national attention for his work
using lasers to boost computer speed. Dr. Delfyett
will demonstrate some of this work for us in just
a short while.
On behalf of the NSF, I hope you enjoy your time with
these esteemed scientists and engineers. Dr. Curl.