Browsing: NIST General

A catchphrase from a popular reality show goes: “One day you’re in. And the next day, you’re out.” For the purposes of the show, the host is referencing fashion. But the same could be said about science. With each new discovery or advance, an old theory or idea often becomes obsolete … or at least less important. We here in the NIST public affairs office thought it might be fun to list some of the NIST-relevant scientific ideas that we think are on their way in and out in 2017. While the items on the list below may not be as monumental as the discoveries that led to this year’s Nobel Prizes, MacArthur Foundation “genius” grants or Breakthrough Prizes, we…

November is National Aviation History Month. So it’s fitting that it was also in November, of 1910, that a 12-year-old boy in Baltimore, Maryland, named Hugh Dryden saw an airplane for the first time. The owners of the Baltimore Sun newspaper, for promotional purposes, had paid adventurer Hubert Latham $5,000 to fly his monoplane, an Antoinette, in a looping course over the city. This sight inspired Dryden to write an essay for a school assignment comparing and contrasting airships and the new-fangled “aeroplanes.” The young Dryden had concluded that airships were still the superior craft. Unimpressed, Dryden’s teacher called his paper “illogical” and gave him an “F.” This must have been shocking to Dryden, who was not accustomed to receiving…

I’m a graphic designer, or, in the language of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management, a “Visual Information Specialist.” For the past 18 years I’ve been working at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a federal laboratory where some of the best and brightest scientists, engineers, IT specialists, and mathematicians come together to do basic research, develop standards, create new methods of measurement, and win the occasional Nobel prize. In addition to designing exhibits, infographics, and brochures, one of my regular tasks has been to evaluate and process thousands of images created by NIST researchers to accompany the news articles my colleagues in the Public Affairs Office write. These images, which include micrographs made with scanning electron microscopes,…

Guest blog post by Don Hillger, President, U.S. Metric Association This year, 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Metric Association (USMA). Our mission is to help the U.S. complete its transition to the metric system. Although we’ve always expected that the adoption of the metric system in the U.S. was just around the corner, all these years later we find we’re still working for the metric cause. I joined the USMA in the early 1980s. Like many citizens, I had been mostly unaware of the worldwide move to metric, mainly in the former British Commonwealth countries: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, etc. At the time, metric-adopting countries followed through on their planned transitions without…

I’m from a town called Aguadilla on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico—about a 2.5-hour drive from San Juan. My parents grew up in poverty. My mom was one of nine siblings and education was not a priority at the time. She had big dreams of studying, getting a degree, and improving herself, but she was faced with too many obstacles and could not fulfill her dreams. My dad and his three siblings grew up deep in the mountainous region and worked the land as traditional “jíbaros.” My dad had the opportunity to study agronomy in college, but he was drafted for the Vietnam War and had to pause his education. They both understood the value of a good education…

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