Posts New Web Site: No One Over 18 Admitted!
new National Institute of Standards and Technology web site gives
fourth- to eighth-grade students a fun way to learn about measurements,
science and technology. Found at www.nist.gov/kids,
the new site lets children explore the research, programs and
impacts of NIST through a variety of educational games and activities.
The Taking Americas Measure web site is part
of NISTs year-long observance of its centennial (see the
web site at www.100.nist.gov).
NIST was founded as the National Bureau of Standards, the nations
first physical science laboratory, in 1901.
Among the activities available for kids on the new web site are
a search for eight hidden measurement siblings to
learn about prefixes used in the International System of Units;
riddles highlighting NIST achievements during its first century;
a hidden pictures page; a NIST scrambled word puzzle; a crossword
puzzle on measurement; a NIST metric pyramid that
can be downloaded, cut out and assembled; and a hunt for 25 hidden
words in a Find NIST in Your Home word search. The
words used in the last activity are all names of household items
that are supported by NIST. For example, cars, CD players and
cell phones all rely on accurate measurements made at the agency.
Also available from NIST is a printed brochure that features many
of the same activities found on the kids web site. To obtain
copies, email your request with a mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org,
or call (301) 975-NIST (6478).
E. Newman, (301) 975-3025
Grape! NIST Excels in International Wine Testing
Institute of Standards and Technology chemists recently demonstrated
that their measurements of lead in wine are among the best in
the world. NISTs effort was part of an international pilot
study of how accurately 14 national measurement institutes around
the world measured the hazardous metal in wine. The participants
results agreed very closely with the exact level of lead in
wine samples provided by the Institute for Reference Materials
and Measurements in Geel, Belgium.
quantified the trace amounts of lead in wine in a new clean
room facility in the Advanced Chemical Sciences Laboratory at
the agencys headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md. This clean
room has specially designed air-handling and workspace structures
to substantially reduce metal contamination from the environment,
while the air is continuously filtered to remove particles.
These features allow scientists to keep samples in their original
state and better quantify the lead and other metals within them.
in wine study will help prevent measurement disagreements from
becoming barriers to U.S. wine producers who wish to export
their products overseas. International measurement comparisons
are important for global trade because any country potentially
could require proof that importsespecially imported foods
and beveragesare sufficiently free of toxic elements and
have been measured against reliable standards.
Research Helps Create New Treatment for Abnormal Uterine Bleeding
uterine bleeding, defined as bleeding outside the regular monthly
menstrual periods of non-pregnant women, is a common, troublesome
ailment. Treatments for this condition include a thermal balloon
procedure suitable only for a limited number of patients, hormone
therapy or hysterectomy. A new procedure, based in part on National
Institute of Standards and Technology research, in which the abnormal
bleeding is curtailed by freezing problem tissue was recently
approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.
The new procedure, which can be done on an outpatient basis, results
from a cooperative research and development agreement between
NIST and CryoGen Inc., a San Diego-based medical device company.
NIST scientist Ray Radebaugh, along with colleagues Eric Marquardt
and Marcia Huber, designed a catheter that can reach temperatures
of minus 150 degrees Celsius (minus 238 degrees Fahrenheit) and
minus 190 degrees Celsius (minus 310 degrees Fahrenheit) at the
tip. The technology originally was created to freeze abnormal
heart tissue and prevent arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
The cryogenic probe is inserted via the cervix into the uterus
where one side receives a four-minute freeze and the other side
a six-minute freeze. Ultrasound helps the technician place the
probe for a good result. According to a review in Family Practice
News, the treatment was successful in clinical trials, with
patients typically discharged 30 minutes after the procedure and
with nearly all returning to work the following day.
McGehan Boulder, (303) 497-3246
for Alarm ... Unless It's for Real
whomor more importantly, for whatdoes the fire or
smoke detector bell toll (or shriek or beep)? Sometimes, it tolls
for nothing, at least nothing dangerous.
Too often, false detector alarmswhether from stray fumes,
burnt toast or even a cigarcause people to ignore or deactivate
these life-saving devices. Fire researchers at the National Institute
of Standards and Technology are studying sensor alarm thresholds
to help manufacturers build smarter multisensor detectors
that sound off only to real fire and smoke dangers. The project
is sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Developments
Healthy Homes Initiative program.
In stage one of the project, researchers in NISTs
Building and Fire Research Laboratory exposed carbon monoxide
sensors, photoelectric and ionization smoke sensors, and thermal
heat sensors to various stimuli in a wind tunnel. Sensor responses
to stimuli such as flaming fire, smoldering cotton, cigarette
smoke, smoke from bread toasting and dust were obtained. Data
were used to derive a mathematical formula that could lead to
a combined carbon monoxide/smoke detector that can discern dangerous
fire and smoke conditions from non-threatening activities.
Next summer, the researchers will test prototypes of the combined
CO/smoke sensor packages in 50 high-rise apartments and single-family
Blair, (301) 975-4261
Being Developed to Detect Concealed Weapons
theres an unruly crowd where law enforcement officers have
reason to believe some members are carrying concealed weaponsguns,
knives, perhaps even plastic explosives. Word goes out over the
police radio to bring an unmarked, nondescript van up to within
10 meters of the shouting demonstrators.
Within minutes of the vans arrival, the armed personnel
are identified and captured before they have a chance to use their
weapons. Far fetched? Not if a new technology under development
by the National Institute of Standards and Technology proves successful.
Working with funding from the National Institute of Justice and
the Federal Aviation Administration, members of NISTs
Electromagnetic Technology Division in Boulder, Colo., have
been testing individual components of a system designed to reveal
concealed weapons in a crowd.
The technology involves a radar-like apparatus that would illuminate
a group with low-level electromagnetic waves. Clothing is transparent
to the waves but objects concealed beneath the clothing are not.
Images of guns, knives and plastic explosives are reflected back
to the NIST device, then directed through a set of optics which
focus the radiation onto an array of 8-centimeter (3-inch) silicon
wafers with millimeter-wave antennas attached. The antennas are
so tiny that 120 can fit onto a single wafer. An electronics package
converts the concentrated electromagnetic radiation into images,
and these are projected onto a laptop computer screen.
The researchers are hoping to have a prototype of the weapons
detector ready for testing by years end.
McGehan Boulder, (303) 497-3246
Team to Keep the Feds Ahead of Cyber Dangers
team of computer security experts at the National Institute of
Standards and Technology soon will be available to help federal
agencies navigate through the dangers of cyberspace.
The newly formed Computer Security Expert Assist Team (known as
CSEAT) will help agencies to assess their vulnerability to hackers,
viruses and a variety of other threats. The team will be staffed
by members of the Computer
Security Division of NISTs
Information Technology Laboratory. NIST long has been active
in information technology security efforts ranging from developing
information scrambling (encryption) standards to identifying ways
to make the Internet more secure.
NISTs expert team will help government offices improve their
computers in order to reduce disruption of critical federal computer
systems. Agencies served by CSEAT will learn how to protect their
computer systems, how to identify and fix existing vulnerabilities,
and how to anticipate and prepare for future security threats.
Additionally, the CSEAT team plans to identify the most successful
computer security practices in government and industry, and educate
agencies about which approaches work best.
NIST will give the highest priority to emergency requests and
assistance for critical computer systems in federal agencies.
The team expects to begin operations by the end of June 2001.
The team may be reached via electronic mail at email@example.com.
Bulman, (301) 975-5661
first permanent woman employee, Grace C.U. McDermut, joined the
agency in 1904 (three years after its founding) as a laboratory
aid in the Office of Weights and Measures. McDermut had previously
broken another "gender barrier" at the Colorado School of Mines
where she was the first woman graduated. She retired from NIST's
Mechanics Division in 1952.
the notable female scientists during NIST's first century were
Marilyn Jacox, an expert in the spectroscopy of free radicals
and molecular ions; Mary Natrella, author of Experimental Statistics,
one of NIST's most frequently cited publications; Charlotte Moore
Sitterly, responsible for the compilation of Atomic Energy
Levels, volumes of critically edited data on atomic spectra;
and Katharine Gebbie, current director of NIST's Physics Laboratory.
first woman director, Arati Prabhakar, served from 1993 until
1997. Prabhakar came to NIST after heading up the Microelectronics
Technology Office at the Defense Department's Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency. She also was the first woman to earn
a doctorate in applied physics from the California Institute of