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Intel Museum December 24, 2016

Posted by flashbuzzer in History, Science.
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I recently visited the Intel Museum in Santa Clara. This museum showcases the history of Intel.

Here are five nuggets that I gleaned from my time at the museum.

1. Robert Noyce and Gordon Moore were two of the Traitorous Eight employees who resigned from the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory to form Fairchild Semiconductor. Each of the founders of Fairchild made an initial contribution of $500 to the company; Noyce solicited the assistance of his grandmother in that regard. Later, Noyce became so frustrated with the onerous bureaucracy of Fairchild’s parent company, Fairchild Camera and Instrument Corporation, that he and Moore resigned to form NM Electronics; later, they changed its name to Intel.

2. When Noyce and Moore founded NM Electronics, they targeted the memory market. At that time, the dominant technology was magnetic core memory – which was unreliable and expensive, as it had to be made by hand. In light of this, Noyce and Moore decided to unlock the potential of semiconductor-based memory. Their first product was the i3101 64-bit RAM. Later, they achieved great success with the introduction of the Intel 1103 which utilized metal oxide semiconductor technology.

3. In 1969, the Nippon Calculating Machine Corporation contracted Intel to design twelve custom chips for their Busicom 141-PF calculator. During the ensuing research and development phase, Intel produced a design that only required four chips. The 4004 microprocessor was a critical component of that novel approach.

4. Silicon wafers originate from a solution of liquid silicon with a purity of 99.9999999 percent. A seed crystal is dipped into that solution and then withdrawn. That seed crystal is later tapered at both ends and then sliced into a set of thin wafers. Photoresist is applied to those thin wafers as a critical step in photolithography.

5. A Front Opening Unified Pod is typically found in clean labs; it weighs about 25 pounds and contains a stack of 25 silicon wafers that are ready to be processed. A set of FOUPs is conveyed about the lab by an Automated Material Handling System, which is a network of conveyor belts that move at about 1.5 meters per second. The typical clean lab at Intel has at most 1 particle – with a size of 0.5 microns – per cubic foot of air.

The museum had several interesting exhibits that showcased Intel’s pioneering products. I also enjoyed the anecdotes that I encountered; for example, Intel requested that the city of Santa Clara change the name of Coffin Road to Bowers Avenue.

In terms of drawbacks, the accompanying text for some of the exhibits was so small that it was difficult to read. I also happened to visit the museum when several school groups were touring it – making it difficult for me to concentrate on the exhibits.

Overall I would recommend that tourists bypass this museum for the Computer History Museum – as its scope is more narrow than that of the Computer History Museum.


Paul Sails for Rome December 23, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 27:1-12.

Summary: In this passage, Paul was transferred to the custody of a centurion, Julius. He and his companions boarded a ship at Caesarea; after a brief stop at Sidon where his friends met his needs, they sailed to Myra. There, they boarded another ship; they then sailed – with great difficulty – to Fair Havens near Lasaea. At that point, Paul advised his fellow travelers to winter there – warning them of great calamities if they proceeded on their journey to Rome. Yet the pilot and the owner of the ship advised Julius to winter in Phoenix in Crete. Julius did not heed Paul’s warnings, and they sailed toward Phoenix.

Thoughts: In verses 11 and 12, we see that Paul’s advice regarding wintering in Fair Havens was disregarded. Calvin offers some insights on this point:

The centurion is not to be blamed for listening to the pilot and owner rather than Paul. He deferred to Paul’s advice in other matters but knew that Paul was not an experienced sailor. And the owner did not advise him to commit the ship to the high seas but to go to the next haven, which was almost within sight. Thus they could reach a suitable place for the winter with little effort.

Before I encountered Calvin’s thoughts, I was rather critical of the pilot and the owner of the ship for ignoring Paul’s advice. Now I wonder: what was the status of their finances? What cargo were they carrying, and where did they need to deliver it? Was at least some of it intended for Phoenix in Crete (if so, then they could assuage the loss stemming from a late delivery of the rest of it)? What were the other benefits of sailing from Fair Havens to Phoenix? Did they secretly believe that they could sail to Rome before the onset of winter?

Paul Before Agrippa December 21, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 25:23-26:32.

Summary: In this passage, Festus brought Paul before Agrippa, Bernice and several dignitaries. He solicited the assistance of Agrippa in presenting the case against Paul in the requisite letter to Caesar. Agrippa then called on Paul to present his defense; he responded by asserting that:

  • he was entirely zealous for God before his conversion experience
  • he demonstrated that zeal by persecuting Christians
  • Jesus of Nazareth appeared to him on the road to Damascus
  • Jesus then commissioned him as His apostle to the Gentiles
  • he fulfilled that commission by preaching the Gospel message
  • the salient point of the Gospel message is the truth of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

At that point, Festus interjected and asserted that Paul was insane. Yet Paul deflected that comment and attempted to persuade Agrippa that the story of Jesus of Nazareth was the logical conclusion of the Old Testament. While Agrippa did not concur with Paul’s argument, he – and the other dignitaries – concluded that Paul had not broken any Roman laws.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus completely reshaped his worldview. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 10 of chapter 26:

The facts themselves proved how zealously he fought against Christ, until a greater force stopped him and made him go in the opposite direction. Furthermore, his adversaries were witnesses of his vehemence; so it was quite certain that he had changed suddenly, for the priests would never have commissioned him as they did if he had not been vigorous in inflicting cruelty. He had to be very bold to satisfy their fury.

We know from Acts 9:19b-31 that the Jews completely rejected Paul’s initial presentation of the Gospel message after his conversion experience. Did any of them make a genuine effort to comprehend his conversion experience – or did they immediately dismiss it as the hallucination of a madman? Did the Pharisees – who did believe in the resurrection of the dead – nevertheless dismiss his account because they viewed Jesus of Nazareth as a criminal and a heretic? Did they believe that Paul had been afflicted by a lying spirit? Did they question any of Paul’s companions from his journey to Damascus – and if so, what did they learn from them?

In verses 24 and 25 of chapter 26, we see that Paul and Festus had a brief exchange regarding the rationality of the Gospel message. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 24:

Although the things Paul was quoting from the Law and the Prophets had no trace of madness but were thoroughly rational, Festus called it all madness, because he rejected what he did not understand…That was why he could not bear to pay attention to what Paul said, lest he make him mad too.

It is evident that Festus’ main concern with the Gospel message centered on the assertion that Jesus of Nazareth had risen from the dead. It is important to stress the incredible nature of that event; indeed, one cannot minimize how difficult it is for an unbeliever to accept it – especially since it contradicts the laws of science. In light of this difficulty, I am reminded of John Lennox’s discussion of miracles – especially his assertion that the universe is not a closed system. If we can accept the possibility of God supernaturally intervening in the world at certain points in time, then we can accept the possibility of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is evident that Festus believed that the universe is a closed system, while Paul believed that it is not. The Holy Spirit works in mysterious ways to help us believe in the possibility of miracles…

In verses 27 and 28 of chapter 26, we see that Paul and Agrippa also had a brief exchange regarding the rationality of the Gospel message. Calvin offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 28:

Commentators explain the Greek in different ways. Valla thought it should be translated, “You almost make me a Christian.” Erasmus translates it, “to a small extent.” The translation “in such a short time” is perfectly appropriate, as if Agrippa had said, “You will make me a Christian in a moment.”

What were Agrippa’s thoughts and emotions as he listened to Paul’s presentation of the Gospel message? Did he see the connection between 1) the teachings concerning the Messiah in the Old Testament and 2) the words and deeds of Jesus of Nazareth? Did he have a nagging sense that Paul was correct – or did his love of worldly things blind him to the truth? Did Agrippa ever come to believe the Gospel message? Did Paul’s eloquent presentation of the Gospel message eventually lead to the conversion of the other dignitaries in attendance?

Festus Consults King Agrippa December 17, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 25:13-22.

Summary: In this passage, Festus met with King Agrippa and acquainted him with the details of Paul’s case. He summarized Paul’s recent court appearance where Paul appealed to Caesar – overriding his attempt to have him transferred to Jerusalem. Festus admitted his inadequacy as a judge in this case; Agrippa then expressed his desire to hear Paul’s defense, and Festus obliged him.

Thoughts: Here, we see that Agrippa requested that Paul present his defense against the charges of the Jews. Calvin offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 13:

This Agrippa was the son of Agrippa the Elder, whose horrible death was recounted in chapter 12. This man was made king of Chalcis in place of his uncle, after his father’s death; but later he obtained a larger tetrarchy. Bernice was his sister…Presumably, therefore, they were so hardened in their wickedness that they lived together, not caring what people thought; but they did not get married, in case their incestuous marriage might betray and also increase their crime.

If Calvin’s claim regarding the relationship between Agrippa and Bernice is correct, then I wonder if God enlightened Paul on that point before he made his defense before him. Did Paul need to stifle any repugnant thoughts as he addressed Agrippa? Also, since Paul’s appeal to Caesar could not be rescinded at that point, how would his testimony before Agrippa impact God’s sovereign plan? Did Paul struggle with God over the necessity of testifying before Agrippa?

The Trial Before Festus December 13, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 25:1-12.

Summary: In this passage, Festus met with the chief priests and Jewish elders in Jerusalem. He declined their nefarious request for Paul to defend himself before them in Jerusalem. He then convened his court in Caesarea, where:

  • the Jews repeated the accusations that they had leveled against Paul before Felix
  • Paul repeated his defense from his hearing with Felix.

Festus did not render a verdict in Paul’s case – as he wished to do the Jews a favor. Paul, though, seized the initiative by appealing to Caesar; Festus granted his request.

Thoughts: In verse 3, we see that the Jews planned to kill Paul if Festus allowed him to be tried in Jerusalem. Had they forgotten how Claudius Lysias foiled their previous attempt to ambush Paul? Did they recall that failure and assemble a large band of men who could overwhelm 470 well-trained Roman soldiers? Did they assume that Festus would be less scrupulous when it came to Paul’s safety? Was Claudius Lysias still the commander of the Roman troops in Jerusalem when Festus assumed his position as governor of Judea? If so, did he warn Festus of the Jews’ murderous intent concerning Paul?

This passage reinforces the theme of the sovereignty of God that pervades the book of Acts. Here, we see that He is sovereign over the nefarious plans of the Jews, as they fail to kill Paul on the road between Caesarea and Jerusalem. He also displays His sovereignty over the desire of Festus to do the Jews a favor – thereby easing his transition to the role of governor of Judea. Indeed, Festus could have denied Paul’s appeal to have his case heard in Rome – yet God determined that Festus would consult with his council and adhere to the law in this case. Clearly God had determined that His sovereign plan would not be affected by corrupt government officials. As modern-day believers, we should meditate on God’s sovereignty and draw strength from it.

The Trial Before Felix December 9, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 24.

Summary: In this passage, the high priest Ananias and some of the Jewish elders went to Caesarea to appear before the governor Felix. At that time, the lawyer Tertullus asserted that Paul had:

  • incited Jews throughout the Roman Empire
  • desecrated the temple in Jerusalem.

Paul then defended himself, asserting that he had not:

  • incited the Jews in Jerusalem
  • desecrated the temple in Jerusalem.

Felix considered those competing claims – and did not render a verdict. Instead, he ordered that Paul be kept under guard. During Paul’s confinement, Felix regularly summoned him to discuss the Gospel message.

Thoughts: When I meet Paul in the next life, I hope to ask him about his trial before Felix. What were his thoughts and emotions as he stood before the governor of Judea? How did he maintain his composure as he was surrounded by a host of bloodthirsty Jews? Did the eloquent arguments of Tertullus rattle his confidence concerning his innocence? Did he sense the Holy Spirit working powerfully in him as he responded to the serious charges that the Jews had raised? Did the Holy Spirit grant him a sense of peace in that setting by reminding him of His sovereignty?

In verses 24-26, we see that Felix regularly conversed with Paul regarding the Gospel message. Calvin offers some thoughts on this point in his commentary on verse 25:

Felix was hoping to be pleased by Paul’s sermon, as people who are eager for new things willingly listen to wordy arguments…Now he was forced to feel how powerful the Word of God is, which he had never realized and which drove away all his pleasure. Paul, though in chains, spoke about God’s judgment. The man who had power of life and death over him was afraid and trembling as if he were standing before his own judge…

Did Paul battle any feelings of exasperation during his confinement? Did he sense that Felix sought a bribe – and lacked a genuine desire to be saved? Did God grant him the wisdom and strength to overcome his anxiety and hold to his calling as His apostle? Did he actually plant seeds in the heart of Felix that were later watered by another believer? On that note, had Felix actually heard of Jesus of Nazareth before he met Paul? If so, what was his understanding of His person and work?

This passage is yet another example of the sovereignty of God. Here, God proved Himself to be sovereign over:

  • the arguments of the bloodthirsty Jews
  • the practiced arguments of Tertullus
  • Felix – in that he did not do the Jews a favor by handing Paul over to them.

On this last point, God worked in the mind of Felix, enabling him to discern the fatal flaws in the Jews’ arguments. It should also be noted that Paul’s message concerning the judgment of God only frightened Felix – instead of compelling him to order that Paul be executed. As modern-day believers, we should continue to rest on the sovereignty of God – especially in light of current events.

Paul Transferred to Caesarea December 7, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 23:23-35.

Summary: In this passage, the commander of the Roman troops in Jerusalem, Claudius Lysias, ordered two of his centurions to form a detachment that would escort Paul to Caesarea. He then composed a letter to Governor Felix that explained Paul’s legal situation. The detachment completed its mission; Felix then ordered that Paul be kept under guard in the palace of Herod until his trial.

Thoughts: In verse 23, we see that a detachment of 470 soldiers escorted Paul from Jerusalem to Caesarea. I am curious as to how the Jews responded when they learned of the existence of that detachment. Were they lying in wait outside the barracks when they saw Paul’s armed escort? Did they only hear about it after Paul had reached Caesarea? Had they mistakenly assumed that Claudius Lysias would grant their request for Paul to appear before the Sanhedrin and only assign several soldiers to escort him? In any case, I am certain that 470 well-trained Roman soldiers would have decimated a band of 40 Jews if they had attempted to ambush Paul.

In verses 25-30, we see that Claudius Lysias wrote a letter to Governor Felix concerning Paul. Calvin offers some insights on this point in his commentary on verse 23:

Here we see God’s providence even more clearly; although the commander’s aim was to stop any riot that he would have to account for before the governor, he was carrying out God’s plan in rescuing Paul. God was guiding this worldly man by hidden influences on his heart.

I consider this passage to be yet another display of the sovereignty of God. We already know that God had determined that Paul would preach the Gospel message in Rome. God then displayed His sovereignty over the Jews by enabling Paul’s nephew to learn of their plot against him. Now God displays His sovereignty over Claudius Lysias – who could have simply allowed Paul to fall at the hands of the Jews. Yet God enabled him to protect Paul by sending him to Caesarea. As modern-day believers, this passage should encourage us (since God is immutable); He is still sovereign over those who wield great influence – even heads of state.

The Plot to Kill Paul December 3, 2016

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Here are my thoughts on Acts 23:12-22.

Summary: In this passage, several Jews hatched a plot to kill Paul. They advised the Sanhedrin to petition the commander of the Roman troops in Jerusalem for another meeting with Paul; they planned to ambush him while he was being transported to that meeting. Yet Paul’s nephew learned of their plot, and he relayed that information to the commander.

Thoughts: Here, we learn that Paul had a nephew. I would like to learn more about him (and meet him in the next life). Where was he born and raised? How did he – and his relatives – react to the news that his uncle had become a Christian? Did he accompany his uncle on any of his missionary journeys – and if so, how did he react to the attacks on his uncle by a plethora of unbelievers? What were his thoughts and emotions as he learned of the Jewish plot to kill his uncle? What were his thoughts and emotions as he met the commander? How did he live after the events of this passage?