Browsing: NIST General

First, let me say that I’m totally energized by the good press my dear acquaintance Wonder Woman has been receiving lately. It’s absolutely electrifying to see a strong woman get good publicity! And she has done some wonderful things, what with defending the world from evil-doers and all. Maybe with her around, superheroes like me will get a little more recognition. For those of you who haven’t heard of me, I’m Ms. Ampere of the Measurement League. My fellow superheroes and I make sure that the basic measurements that make modern life possible—time, temperature, length, amount of substance, mass, brightness, and electric current—are as accurate and precise as they can be. Without us, you’d have a tough time describing the…

Right now, the NIST museum in Gaithersburg, Maryland, is displaying a glass globe the size of a large beach ball. When visitors first come upon it, they’re not sure what to make of it. Is it a giant lightbulb? A highly impractical fishbowl? Thankfully, they can quickly quench their curiosity by reading the identifying sign that accompanies the object. (This particular artifact is actually for collecting gas samples.) NIST’s museum collection includes hundreds of artifacts that tell the story of NIST, and its predecessor NBS, that reflect the larger history of American scientific research. But not every item in our collection has been identified. In fact, we’re in the possession of quite a few … thingamajigs. Knowledge of these things’…

With International Firefighters’ Day behind us and World Turtle Day looming, you might not think you’ve got time for another international day in May. But don’t skip World Metrology Day, which is observed on May 20 every year—the anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of the Meter in 1875. Because measurements matter. Without accurate measurements, you can’t be confident you’re getting what you pay for at the grocery store, taking the right dose of medicine or crossing a well-constructed—and safe—bridge. Metrology—the science of measurement—touches on many areas of your life, whether you realize it or not. Take just one example: transportation. Without the ability to make very precise measurements, you wouldn’t be able to get where you’re going as…

From the GPS receivers that help us find our way and the MRI machines that provide lifesaving medical images of our bodies to the reliable electrical power we receive in our homes, federal research benefits us and fuels our economy. Transforming a discovery made in the lab to something you can use is what government calls technology transfer. Every year, the government spends your tax dollars—on a wide variety of research programs housed at multiple government agencies. At the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), this investment supports our work in measurement science. However, it’s the private sector, not the government, that uses this enabling research to make commercial products that you buy. Connecting the research results from the…

NIST/JILA Fellow Debbie Jin died of cancer on Sept. 15, 2016, at the age of 47. One of the most prominent researchers at NIST, she won many science awards, including a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“Genius”) Fellowship in 2003 and a L’Oreal/UNESCO “For Women in Science” Award for North America in 2013. Jin is perhaps best known for producing and characterizing the world’s first fermionic condensate. It is similar to Nobel-prize-winning Bose-Einstein condensates, the world’s first quantum gas (for which Jin played a crucial early role) but much more challenging to produce and characterize, with very different physical behavior and applications. Debbie Jin was a treasured friend and colleague for many years. I am one of many people who have…

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