Fascinating people, advanced technology, Artificial Intelligence

Monthly Archives: September 2018

Claude E. Shannon: Another Contemporary Giant and the Father of Information Theory Lost to Eternity


The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Spectrum (IEEE) ran a Special Edition about Claude Shannon, which they called Tinkerer, Prankster, and Father of Information Theory in its April 1992 issue because he was so revered by the scientific community.

He was born in Petoskey, Michigan (April 30, 1916 – February 24, 2001) to Claude Senior and Mabel Wolf Shannon. Both were smart and well educated.

At the age of 16 years, Shannon graduated from Gaylord High School. He had an inclination toward mechanical and electrical things. That year he entered the University of Michigan where he took a course that introduced him to the mathematics of George Boole. In 1936, at the age of 20,  he graduated from UMich with bachelor’s degrees in engineering and mathematics. That same year he began his graduate studies in electrical engineering at MIT.

At MIT, he worked on Vannevar Bush’s Differential Analyzer an early analog computer. During this period Shannon designed circuits based upon George Boole’s concepts. In 1937, he wrote his master’s thesis, A Symbolic Analysis of Relay and Switching Circuits. But Shannon didn’t stop there.

Vannevar Bush suggested that Shannon should work on his doctoral dissertation at the Cold Springs Harbor Laboratory, a private nonprofit institution located in Cold Spring Harbor, New York in order to develop Mendelian genetics. This resulted in Shannon’s PhD thesis An Algebra for Theoretical Genetics. He received his PhD degree from MIT in 1940.

From his work and logic circuits, he simplified the relays that were used in call routing switches, and proved that his circuits could solve the same problems that Boolean algebra code solve.                                     

In 1940, he became a National Research Fellow with the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. This gave him the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with such people as Herman Weyl and John von Neumann. Occasionally he met with Kurt Godel and Albert Einstein.

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SpaceX to Announce the First Private Passenger Mission to the Moon tonight 9-17-2018

SpaceX will announce its new BFR Rocket to take private passengers to the Moon and back tonight at 9:30 EDT. When I worked at Sperry Univac in Eagan, Minnesota we had a huge rock buried in the ground called a BFR (which meant Big F’ing Rock). SpaceX says it means Big Falcon Rocket but I’m betting it’s more akin to our famous BFR.

You can watch the announcement on YouTube here’s the link at 9:30 pm EDT tonight.

Elon Musk thinks on a grand scale. Google talks about “Moon Shots”, Elon does them.