How do the Minds of Geniuses Work? – BillDoll.com
The Minds of Geniuses
We have all been in awe of a genius at one time or the other. Geniuses are rare, but there certainly have been geniuses in each and every generation of human existence.
Won’t it be fascinating to know what (little) understanding we have about the way the minds of these extra-ordinary human beings work? This section of Billion Dollar Questions tries to do that.
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Related Web References
List of All-time Geniuses
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe - Germany - Poet/Writer
Emanuel Swedenborg - Sweden - Religious writer
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz - Germany - Philosopher/Mathematician
John Stuart Mill - England - Philosopher/Economist/Political theorist
Blaise Pascal - France - Mathematician/Physicist/Religious thinker
Ludwig Wittgenstein - Austria – Philosopher
Bobby Fischer - U.S.A. - Chess player
Galileo Galilei - Italy - Physicist/Astronomer/Philosopher
René Descartes - France - Philosopher/Mathematician
Madame De Stael - France - Woman of letters/Novelist/Political Philosopher
Immanuel Kant - Germany – Philosopher
Linus Carl Pauling - U.S.A. - Chemist - Double Nobel Prize Winner
Sofia Kovalevskaya - Russia/Sweden - Mathematician/Writer
Thomas Chatterton - England - Poet/Writer
Charles Darwin - England – Naturalist
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - Austria – Composer
George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans) - England – Writer
Nicolaus Copernicus - Poland - Cleric/Astronomer
Olof Palme - Sweden - Politician
Rembrandt van Rijn - Holland - Painter/Etcher
Anna Lindh - Sweden – Politician
George Sand (Aurore Dupin) - France – Writer
Albert Einstein – Germany/USA – Scientist/Physicist
Stephen Hawking – United Kingdom – Scientist/Physicist
Thomas Alva Edison – USA – Scientist
Ben Franklin – USA – Scientist/Political Activist/Writer
Srinivas Ramanujan – India - Mathematician
Wernher Von Braun
The Wright Brothers
Joseph Whitworth 1804-1887, Engineer and inventor
Political, social and economic innovators and activists
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Biologists and medics
James Clerk Maxwell
Euclid of Alexandria
Carl Friedrich Gauss
Archimedes of Syracuse
Stephen Cook and Richard Karp
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
John Stuart Mill
Benedict De Spinoza
Augustine of Hippo
Ludwig Van Beethoven
Johann Sebastian Bach
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Edward Duke Ellington
People in more than one category
Leonardo Da Vinci (visual arts, engineering)
John Von Neumann
Tim Berners Lee
Whitfield Diffie and Martin Hellman (invented Public Key Cryptography)
Augusta Ada Byron
Noam Chomsky (philosophy, linguistics)
Frank Lloyd Wright
To do: Examples, case studies & characteristics of geniuses in various fields such as: Arts & Music, Science, Finance, Business, Medicine, Politics, Humor, Sports, Marketing, Computers, Programming, Math, Acting, Romance
Content Derived from Wikipedia article on Genius
A genius is a person with great intelligence. This can manifest either as a foremost intellect, or as an outstanding creative talent. The term also applies to one who is a polymath, or someone skilled in many mental areas. The term specifically applies to mental rather than athletic skills, although it is also colloquially used to denote the possession of a superior talent in any field; e.g., Pele may be said to have a genius for soccer, or Winston Churchill for statesmanship.
Artistic genius may show itself in early childhood or later in life; either way, geniuses eventually differentiate themselves from the rest through great originality. Intellectual geniuses usually have crisp, clear-eyed visions of given situations, in which interpretation is unnecessary—the facts just hit them, and they build or act on the basis of those facts, usually with tremendous energy. Here too, accomplished geniuses in intellectual fields start out in many cases as child prodigies, gifted with superior memory, or just understanding.
The classical skill of the musical genius is the capability of holding many different melodies in one's head at once and knowing how they interact together. It is said that the great classical composers (Bach, Mozart, etc.) could hold five, six or even seven different melodies in their minds at once. They could write complicated music with many different parts all at once without having to hear it played. In comparison, the average person can only hold one melody in memory.
An hypothesis put forth by Harvard professor Howard Gardner in his 1983 book Frames of Mind states there are many kinds of intelligences (at least seven, he argues), each with its own type of genius. See theory of multiple intelligences for more on this view.
Intelligence is exceptionally difficult to quantify. The standard measurement in the United States is by the I.Q. test. This is criticized by many as it only measures some aspects (some argue an ethnocentric and academic aspect) of intelligence. Many of these criticisms, however, fail to address the large corpus of statistical data gathered in favor of the I.Q. test. Still, genius cannot be determined by IQ alone and falls into many domains. It is generally recognized that those who are transcendent in one or more arenas (though again, this terms is difficult to measure) can be considered geniuses.
In Ancient Rome, the genius was the guiding or "tutelary" spirit of a person, or even of an entire gens. A related term is genius loci, the spirit of a specific locale. In contrast, the internal driving force within all living things is the animus. A specific spirit, or daemon, may inhabit an image or icon, giving it supernatural powers.
A comparable term from Arabic lore is a djinn, often Anglicized as "genie". Note, however, that this term is a false friend, not a cognate.
For more information on these etymological roots, see Genius (mythology).
Geniuses are often accused of lacking common sense, or emotional sensitivity. Stories of a genius in a given field being unable to grasp "everyday" concepts are abundant and of ancient vintage: Plato in the Theaetetus offers a picturesque anecdote of the absentmindness of Thales. Some individuals in this "Absent Minded Professor" or lacking social skills arena fall in the Autism Spectrum (such as Asperger Syndrome). Einstein reportedly sawed the rudder off his sailboat while at sea. A genius's intense focus on a given subject might appear obsessive-compulsive in nature, but it might also simply be a choice made by the individual. If one is performing groundbreaking work in one's field, maintaining other elements of life might logically be relegated to insignificance. While the absent-minded professor notion is not without merit, a genius is just as likely to encounter emotional problems as anyone else. Note the peculiarities of figures like Glenn Gould and Bobby Fischer. Such examples, however, are likely products of mental or emotional instability rather than genius per se, though there is a researched correlation between I.Q. and maladjustment.
Socio-emotional problems are more prevalent in geniuses with an IQ above 145 (on the Wechsler Scale). Asynchronous development is the primary cause of this. As most children do not share gifted children's interests, vocabulary, or desire to organize activities, the genius child may withdraw from society.
Some research shows that reasons other than maladjustment make companionship difficult to find for geniuses. As intelligence of a person increases, the number of those who he considers his peers tends to decrease. For example, at an IQ of 135 (on the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale) only every hundredth person would be of equal or greater IQ. This number shrinks significantly as IQ goes up.
Leta Hollingworth introduced the idea of an essential "communication limit" based on IQ. According to her theory, to be a good leader of one's contemporaries, he/she must be more intelligent but not too much more intelligent than the people who are being led. This implies that geniuses may not make good leaders of those substantially less gifted and that they could have disdain for authority. The theory also states that children and adults become intellectually ostracized from their contemporaries when an IQ difference of 30 points or more exists.
In the philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer, a genius is a person in whom intellect predominates over will much more than for the average person. In Schopenhauer's aesthetics, this predominance of intellect over will allows the genius to create artistic or academic works that are objects of pure, disinterested contemplation, the chief criterion of the aesthetic experience for Schopenhauer. Their remoteness from mundane concerns means that Schopenhauer's geniuses often display maladaptive traits in more mundane concerns; in Schopenhauer's words, they fall into the mire while gazing at the stars.
In the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, genius is the ability to independently arrive at and understand concepts that would normally have to be taught by another person. In the Kant Dictionary (ISBN 0-631-17535-0), Howard Caygill talks of the essential character of "genius" for Kant being originality. This genius is a talent for producing ideas which can be described as non-imitative. Kant's discussion of the characteristics of genius is largely contained within the Critique of Judgement and was well received by the romantics of the early 19th century.
In the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche, genius is collective since consciousness is collective in his view. Humans are dependent of eachother and need to communicate in order to satisfy their needs. Humans organize themselves in a commandstructure where masters give orders and followers have to obey. This didn't use to be the case. Animals and hunters can survive without having the need to communicate. Nietzsche insists that each human has its uniqueness, but consciousness forces us to serve the community, to discipline, to generalize, to order, to understand. Nietzsche uses the word genius as a guardian spirit. Genius is the guardian spirit of the species, Genius der Gattung.
In this context, the plural of "genius" is "geniuses." The form "genii," the plural of the word in Latin, is the plural of a different kind of genius: the aforementioned guardian spirit of Roman and Greek mythology.
List of Nobel laureates
MacArthur Fellows Program (the "genius grants")
Intelligence quotient (IQ)
Harold Bloom (November 2002). Genius: A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds. Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-52717-3.
Clifford A. Pickover (May 1, 1998). Strange Brains and Genius: The Secret Lives of Eccentric Scientists and Madmen. Plenum Publishing Corporation. ISBN 0-306-45784-9.
James Gleick (September 29, 1992). Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman. Pantheon. ISBN 0-679-40836-3.
Stephen Jay Gould (1991). The Mismeasure of Man, revised and expanded. W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-03972-2.
David W. Galenson (December 27, 2005). Old Masters and Young Geniuses : The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-12109-5.
End of Wikipedia content, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genius
Content Derived from Wikipedia article on Intellectual Giftedness
Intellectual giftedness is an intellectual ability significantly higher than average. Giftedness is a trait that starts at birth and continues throughout the life-span. Giftedness is not a marker of success, but rather of aptitude or the inherent ability to learn.
Some theorists in child development, including Linda Kreger Silverman and Dr. Fernidad Eide, have estimated that between 20-40% of gifted individuals have a learning disability, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or some other neurological disorder. Still other researchers, such as Stephanie Tolan, postulate that the attribution of controversial disorders such as "ADHD" - which has not been proven to exist by any means other than subjective behavioral analysis    - to gifted individuals arises from a misguided tendency to pathologize that which we don't understand.  It is generally agreed that giftedness may have a genetic component; research has shown that first-degree relatives of the intellectually gifted will often have IQs measuring within 10–15 points of each other.
Gifted children often develop asynchronously; their minds are often ahead of their physical growth, and specific cognitive and emotional functions are often at different stages of development. One frequently cited example of asynchronicity in early cognitive development is Albert Einstein, who did not speak until the age of three, but whose later fluency and accomplishments belied this initial delay. In regards to this fact, neuroscientist Steven Pinker theorized that, rather than viewing Einstein's (and other famously gifted late-talking individuals) adult accomplishments as existing distinct from, or in spite of, his early language deficits, and rather than viewing Einstein's language delay itself as a "disorder", it may be that Einstein's genius and his delay in speaking were developmentally intrinsic to one another.
It has been said that gifted children may move more quickly through stages established by post-Freudian developmentalists such as Jean Piaget. Gifted individuals also experience the world differently, resulting in unique social and emotional issues. The work of Kazimierz Dabrowski suggests that gifted children have greater psychomotor, sensual, imaginative, intellectual, and emotional "overexcitabilities".
The formal identification of giftedness first emerged as an important issue for schools, as the instruction of gifted students often presents special challenges. During the 20th century, gifted children were often classified by the use of IQ tests, but recent developments in theories of intelligence have raised serious questions about the appropriate uses and limits of such testing. The fact remains that there are children who are academically beyond their peers and may be unable to fulfill their academic potential within the standard schooling system. Many schools in North America and Europe have attempted to identify these students and offer additional or specialized education for them in the hope of nurturing their talents.
Because of the key role that gifted education plays in the identification of gifted people (children or adults), it is worthwhile to examine how that discipline uses the term "gifted".
Definitions of giftedness
In Identifying Gifted Children: A Practical Guide, Susan K. Johnsen explains that gifted children all exhibit the potential for high performance in the areas included in the United States federal definition of gifted and talented students:
“ The term "gifted and talented" when used in respect to students, children, or youth means students, children, or youth who give evidence of high performance capability in areas such as intellectual, creative, artistic, or leadership capacity, or in specific academic fields, and who require services or activities not ordinarily provided by the school in order to fully develop such capabilities." (P.L. 103–382, Title XIV, p. 388) ”
This definition has been adopted in part or completely by the majority of the states in the United States. Most have some definition similar to that used in the State of Texas, whose definition states
“ [The phrase] "gifted and talented student" means a child or youth who performs at or shows the potential for performing at a remarkably high level of accomplishment when compared to others of the same age, experience, or environment, and who
exhibits high performance capability in an intellectual, creative, or artistic area;
possesses an unusual capacity for leadership; or
excels in a specific academic field." (74th legislature of the State of Texas, Chapter 29, Subchapter D, Section 29.121)
The major characteristics of these definitions are (a) the diversity of areas in which performance may be exhibited (e.g., intellectual, creative, artistic, leadership, academic), (b) the comparison with other groups (e.g., those in general education classrooms or of the same age, experience, or environment), and (c) the use of terms that imply a need for development of the gift (e.g., capability and potential).
Many schools use a variety of measures of students' capability and potential when identifying gifted children. These may include portfolios of student work, classroom observations, achievement measures, and intelligence scores. Most educational professionals accept that no single measure can be used in isolation to accurately identify a gifted child.
One of the measures used in identification is the score derived from an intelligence measure. The general cutoff for many programs is often placed near the sigma 2 level on a standardized intelligence test, children above this level being labeled 'gifted'.
Some IQ testers use these classifications to describe differing levels of giftedness. The following bands apply with a standard deviation of σ = 15 on a standardized IQ test. Each band represents a difference of one standard deviation from the mean.
Bright: 115+, or one in six (84th percentile)
Moderately gifted: 130+, or 1 in 50 (97.9th percentile)
Highly gifted: 145+, or 1 in 1000 (99.9th percentile)
Exceptionally gifted: 160+, or 1 in 30,000 (99.997th percentile)
Profoundly gifted: 175+, or 1 in 3 million (99.99997th percentile)
Unfortunately, most IQ tests do not have the capacity to discriminate accurately at higher IQ levels, and are perhaps only effective at determining whether a student is gifted rather than distinguishing among levels of giftedness. Although the Wechsler tests have a ceiling of 167, their creator has admitted that they are intended to be used within the average range (between 70 and 130), and are not intended for use at the extreme ends of the population. The Stanford-Binet form L-M, currently outdated, was the only test that had a sufficient ceiling to identify the exceptionally and profoundly gifted. However, because the instrument is outdated, current results derived from the instrument generate inflated and inaccurate scores. The Stanford-Binet form V and the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children—Fourth Revision, both recently released, are currently being evaluated for this population. Mensa offers IQ testing but these are only suitable for persons over the age of ten and a half years. Younger children need to be assessed by an educational psychologist to find out their IQ score. Also, those who are more gifted in areas such as the arts and literature tend to do poorly on IQ tests, which are often more science- and mathematics-oriented.
While many people believe giftedness is a strictly quantitative difference, measurable by IQ tests, a number of people have described giftedness as a fundamentally different way of perceiving the world, which in turn affects every experience had by the gifted individual. These differences do not disappear when gifted children become adults or leave school.
Gifted adults are seldom recognized as a special population, but they still have unique psychological, social, and emotional needs related to their high intelligence.
Savants are people that perform exceptionally in one field of learning. 'Autistic savantism' refers to the exceptional abilities exhibited by autistics or people with developmental disorders. In a 1978 article in Psychology Today, Dr. Bernard Rimland introduced the term 'autistic savant' to describe this condition.
Characteristics of giftedness
Generally, gifted individuals learn more quickly, deeply, and broadly than their peers. Gifted children may learn to read early and operate at the same level as normal children who are significantly older. The gifted tend to demonstrate high reasoning ability, creativity, curiosity, a large vocabulary, and an excellent memory. They often can master concepts with few repetitions. They may also be physically and emotionally sensitive, perfectionistic, and may frequently question authority. They sometimes perceive teachers and authority figures as their peers or even as inferior to themselves. Some have trouble relating to or communicating with their peers because of disparities in vocabulary size (especially in the early years), personality, and interests. As children, they may prefer the company of older children or adults.
Giftedness is frequently not evenly distributed throughout all intellectual spheres: an individual may excel in solving logic problems and yet be a poor speller; another gifted individual may be able to read and write at a far above average level and yet have trouble with mathematics. It is possible there are different types of giftedness with their own unique features, just as there are different types of developmental delay.
Some gifted individuals experience heightened sensory awareness and may seem overly sensitive to sight, sound, smell and touch. For example, they may be extremely uncomfortable when they have a wrinkle in their sock, or unable to concentrate because of the sound of a clock ticking on the other side of the room. Gifted children are often bothered by the seams in socks and tags on clothes. Hypersensitivity to external stimuli can be said to resemble a proneness to "sensory overload", which can cause persons to avoid chaotic and crowded environments. Others, however, are able to tune out any unwanted distractions as they focus on a task or on their own thoughts, and seem to seek and thrive on being in the midst of lots of activity and stimulation. In many cases, awareness may fluctuate between conditions of hyperstimulation and of withdrawal. These conditions may appear to be similar to symptoms of hyperactivity, bipolar disorder, autism-spectrum conditions, and other psychological disorders, but are often explained by gifted education professionals by reference to Kazimierz Dabrowski's theory of Positive Disintegration.
Social and emotional issues
Isolation is one of the main challenges faced by gifted individuals, especially those with no social network of gifted peers. Hoping to gain popularity, gifted children will often try to hide their abilities to win social approval. Strategies include underachievement (discussed below) and the use of less sophisticated vocabulary when among same-age peers than when among family members or other trusted individuals. This is often more common in gifted girls.
The isolation experienced by gifted individuals may not be caused by giftedness itself, but by society's response to giftedness. "In this culture, there appears to be a great pressure for people to be 'normal' with a considerable stigma associated with giftedness or talent." To counteract this problem, gifted education professionals recommend creating a peer group based on common interests and abilities. The earlier this occurs, the more effective it is likely to be in preventing isolation.
"When perfectionism refers to having high standards, a desire to achieve, conscientiousness, or high levels of responsibility, it is likely to be a virtue rather than a problem. Perfectionism becomes a problem as it frustrates and inhibits achievements. Perfectionism becomes desirable when it stimulates the healthy pursuit of excellence."
Perfectionism is another common emotional issue for gifted individuals. D. E. Hamachek identified six specific, overlapping behaviors associated with perfectionism. They include (1) depression, (2) a nagging "I should" feeling, (3) shame and guilt feelings, (4) face-saving behavior, (5) shyness and procrastination, and (6) self-deprecation. As with isolation, perfectionism is more common in females than in males.
There are many theories that try to explain the correlation between perfectionism and giftedness. Gifted children may have difficulty with perfectionism because they set standards that would be appropriate to their mental age (the level at which they think), but then can't meet them because they are trapped in a younger body. Perfectionism is also encouraged by the fact that gifted individuals tend to be successful in much or all of what they do because their abilities have not been challenged, and consequently try to avoid failure.
Another problem often associated with giftedness is underachievement. Many gifted students will continually do well on achievement or reasoning tests, but will fail to turn in assignments or attend or participate in class. Overall, they will be disengaged from the educational process. This can result from under-challenging schools, peer pressure for conformity, social isolation, and family dysfunction. In other cases it can result from other factors within the individual, including depression, anxiety, failure-avoidance, rebelliousness, irritability, nonconformity, or anger. In addition, such failures may also result from learning disabilities which have gone undiagnosed due to the myth that one cannot be gifted and learning disabled (generally a difference of 1σ between scores constitutes a learning disability even if all of the scores are above average). One apparently effective way to attempt to reverse underachievement in gifted children includes enrichment projects based on students’ strengths and interests.
It has been thought in the past that there is a correlation between giftedness and depression or suicide. This has not been proven. As Reis and Renzulli mention, "With the exception of creatively gifted adolescents who are talented in writing or the visual arts, studies do not confirm that gifted individuals manifest significantly higher or lower rates or severity of depression than those for the general population...Gifted children's advanced cognitive abilities, social isolation, sensitivity, and uneven development may cause them to face some challenging social and emotional issues, but their problem-solving abilities, advanced social skills, moral reasoning, out-of-school interests, and satisfaction in achievement may help them to be more resilient."
Also, no research points to suicide rates being higher in gifted adolescents than other adolescents. However, a number of people have noted a higher incidence of existential depression, which is depression due to highly abstract concerns such as the finality of death, the ultimate unimportance of individual people, and the meaning (or lack thereof) of life. Gifted individuals are also more likely to feel existential anxiety.
Davidson Institute for Talent Development
Gifted education programs
Inheritance of intelligence
Triple Nine Society
^ Peter Breggin (February 2001). Reclaiming Our Children. Perseus Publishing, 21-22, 115-116, 159-162.
^ Grace Jackson. A Curious Consensus: Brain Scan Proves Disease?.
^ Peter Breggin, Ginger Ross Breggin. The Hazards Of Treating "Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder" With Methylphenidate.
^ Douglas Eby. Interview With Stephanie Tolan.
^ James T. Webb, Elizabeth A. Mechstroth, Stephanie Tolan (March 1989). Guiding The Gifted Child. Great Potential Press.
^ Steven Pinker. His Brain Measured Up.
^ a b Johnsen, S. K. (2004). Identifying Gifted Students: A Practical Guide." Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press, Inc.
^ Hoagies' Gifted: Optimum IQ: My Experience as a Too Gifted Adult. Retrieved on 2006-09-17.
^ SENG: Articles & Resources - Dabrowski's Theory of Positive Disintegration: Some implications for teachers of gifted students. Retrieved on 2006-09-17.
^ Swiatek, M. A. (1995). An Empirical Investigation Of The Social Coping Strategies Used By Gifted Adolescents. Gifted Child Quarterly, 39, 154-160.
^ Plucker, J. A., & Levy, J. J., (2001). The Downside of Being Talented [Electronic version]. American Psychologist, 56, 75-76.
^ Robinson, N. M. (2002). Introduction. In M. Neihart, S. M. Reis, N. M. Robinson, & S. M. Moon (Eds.) The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children. Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press, Inc., Lardner, C. (2005) "School Counselors Light-Up the Intra- and Inter-Personal Worlds of Our Gifted" as found on the World Wide Web at http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/light_up_the_world.htm.
^ Parker, W. D. & Mills, C. J. (1996). The Incidence of Perfectionism in Gifted Students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 40, 194-199.
^ Schuler, P. (2002). Perfectionism in Gifted Children and Adolescents. In M. Neihart, S. M. Reis, N. M. Robinson, & S. M. Moon (Eds.). The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children (pp. 71-79). Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press, Inc.
^ a b Reis, S. M. & Renzulli, J. S. (2004). Current Research on the Social and Emotional Development of Gifted and Talented Students: Good News and Future Possibilities. Psychology in the Schools, 41, published online in Wiley InterScience.
^ Reis, S. M. & McCoach, D. B. (2002). Underachievement in Gifted Students. In M. Neihart, S. M. Reis, N. M. Robinson, & S. M. Moon (Eds.). The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children (pp. 81-91). Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press, Inc.
^ Neihart, M. (2002). Risk and Resilience in Gifted Children: A Conceptual Framework. In M. Neihart, S. Reis, N. M. Robinson, & S. M. Moon (Eds.) The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children. (pp. 113-124). Waco, Texas: Prufrock Press, Inc.
^ SENG: Articles & Resources - Adolescence and gifted: Addressing existential dread. Retrieved on 2006-09-17.
Renzulli, J. S., (1984). What Makes Giftedness. Phi Delta Kappan, 60, 127-130. Phi Delta Kappan Educational Foundation.
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