Curves to Corked Bats: NIST Helps America Play Ball
new addition to the Centennial web site for the National Institute
of Standards and Technology will be a hit with baseball fans from
Boston to Seattle. Titled NIST and the American Pastime,
this historical page (www.100.nist.gov/baseball.htm)
describes the surprising connections between the federal governments
first physical science laboratory and the sport from the diamond.
can learn how Lyman Briggs, director of NISTs predecessor,
the National Bureau of Standards from 1933 to 1945, scientifically
addressed a World War II concern of major league batters. Batters
thought that all-cork-center baseballsused to replace the
previous rubber-cushioned cork center balls when rubber supplies
were at a premiumwere less lively. A hard-hit fly
ball with a 1943 center, he reported, might be expected
to fall about 30 feet [9 meters] shorter than the prewar ball
hit under the same conditions.
new web page also details the famous research conducted in the
late 1950s by the then-retired Briggs on the physics of the curve
ball. Using wind tunnels and pitchers from the Washington Senators,
Briggs demonstrated that a thrown ball can curve up to 17-1/2
inches (44-1/2 centimeters) over the 60.5 feet (18.4 meters) that
separate pitcher and batter. Briggs revealed that it was the balls
spin, rather than speed, that caused it to break.
featured NIST links to baseball include investigations of corked
bats, better radio signals for game broadcasts and innovations
in light-emitting diode displays that make todays spectacular
full-color scoreboards possible.
Bello, (301) 975-3776
Partners Booting Up Tomorrows Smart Workplace
at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in cooperation
with U.S. information technology companies are prototyping the
office of the future and developing the infrastructure that
will one day make it a reality.
Smart Space Laboratory is a simulated work environment where
software and hardware are blended to give people unprecedented
levels of access to computers. One project uses audiovisual
technology to allow computers to participate in a meeting. An
array of microphones in the system can identify which person
is speaking by voice patterns and then transcribe what he or
she says. Video cameras also can be incorporated to continually
scan the room for a visual record of the proceedings.
project, a person speaks to a computer to access stored information
or the Internet. If a voice identification program gives the
okay, the computer lets the person through.
Smart Space Laboratory makes use of numerous aspects of pervasive
computingthe convergence of computers, wireless devices,
sensors that see and hear, and the Internet
so that people use their machines in a natural, unobtrusive
way. The smart office research focuses on how machines and sensors
can work together in an office environmentdata that soon
may help to overcome the challenges involved in integrating
such tools into a cohesive network.
Bulman, (301) 975-5661
Blazes May Help Make College Life Safer
researchers of the National Institute of Standards and Technology,
burning abandoned residence halls isnt a form of protest,
its a test for saving lives. Last September, NIST fire engineers
set fire to a condemned barracks at a South Carolina Air Force
base to study fire behavior in a dormitory setting. This summer,
they will conduct fire tests in a scheduled-for- demolition residence
hall at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark., as part
of a U.S. Fire Administration initiative to demonstrate
how fire sprinklers can improve fire safety in college housing.
with an automatic sprinkler system have excellent fire safety
records, yet fewer than 25 percent of the dormitories in this
country have the devices installed. In the Arkansas study, a NIST
team will set fire to four dorm rooms, two of which will have
sprinklers installed beforehand. The experiment will examine rooms
with both closed and open doors. Data on temperature, carbon monoxide
and oxygen readings will be collected from sensors both inside
and outside of the rooms. The data will define the hazards created
during a dorm room fire, determine how rapidly a fire spreads
when unchecked and reveal how effectively sprinkler protection
lessens the threat.
is committed to helping college and university officials recognize
the important role sprinklers have in their fire safety plans.
The University of Arkansas is the first university to participate
in these fire studies.
Blair, (301) 975-4261
Biomedical Standards Say Heres to Your Health!
and urine tests play a critical role in medical diagnosis. Yet,
can the results be trusted? False negatives can lead to untreated
disease, while false positives can incur unnecessary treatments.
And results may vary from one laboratory to another, necessitating
costly retesting. Responding to the challenge, the National Institute
of Standards and Technology has been applying its expertise in
basic chemical analysis and measurement techniques to promote
accurate results in the clinical laboratory.
a number of years, NIST scientists have been developing pure reference
compounds, known as Standard
Reference Materials (SRMs), for biochemical markers. Back
in 1967, they came up with the first pure crystalline compound
of cholesterol and since have developed definitive methods for
measuring the substance in blood. Laboratory instrument manufacturers
use SRMs as quality controls to assure consistency in results.
NIST maintains and continues to refine definitive methods for
12 health status markerscalcium, chloride, cholesterol,
creatinine, glucose, lithium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, triglycerides,
urea and uric acid. NIST also provides SRMs for other markers
including vitamins A and E and beta-carotene. More biomedical
SRMs and reference methods are in the development pipeline such
as cardiac troponin, thyroid-stimulating hormone, prostate-specific
antigen and cortisol.
bottom line? More accurate measurements lead to better diagnosis,
which translates into more cost-effective and improved health
E. Newman, (301) 975-3025
the Start, NIST Has Helped Optoelectronics Improve Our Lives
may not be a familiar word to most of us, but its definitely
well known at the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
For more than three decades, NIST researchers have helped make
measurements and develop standards for the industry that combines
electronics and opticsincluding lasersfor use in products
and services. Examples include modern telephones, compact discs,
laser printers and medical diagnostic equipment.
market for optoelectronic components reached $70 billion in 2000;
lasers alone accounted for $8.8 billion in sales that year. Obviously,
a booming industry such as this has a strong need for reliable
and cost-effective measurements. In fact, it is estimated that
between 10 and 30 percent of the cost of producing an optoelectronic
component is attributed to measurements, including those that
support the manufacturing process and those that support product
first NIST primary standard for laser measurements was developed
in 1965. Today, the agency maintains seven primary standards for
measuring laser power and energy. NIST also was involved with
the optical communications industry at the very beginning. Its
work on the characterization of optical fiber began in 1976, just
as telephone companies around the world were beginning to test
optical communication systems in the field. Over the years, NIST
has developed a series of standards to help this industry flourish.
NIST maintains the broadest range of measurement capabilities
of optoelectronics of any national measurement laboratory. In
some areas, it is the only laboratory able to provide traceability,
and it makes those services available throughout the world.
McGehan (Boulder), (303) 497-3246
Time of Your Life, Call NIST
ever say we dont have time for you.
National Institute of Standards and Technology has lots of different
ways to satisfy your (and the rock band Chicagos) need to
really know what time it is: