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Dr. Bordogna's Remarks


Dr. Joseph Bordogna
Deputy Director
Chief Operating Officer
NSF/DOW Site Visit
Afternoon Sessions
Freeport Intermediate School
1:00 - 3:00 p.m.
Freeport, TX

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, Texas.

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 Science Foundation.

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 otherwise undertake.

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 using it.

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 know that?

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 and/or

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 Orlando.

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 independent careers.

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.



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