Helps Ensure Well-Timed Sledding at Winter Olympics
down the icy side of a mountain on steel runners, racers in the
bobsled, luge and skeleton events reach some of the highest speeds
of any Olympic Winter Games competitorsup to 130-145 kilometers
per hour (80-90 miles per hour). Since winners are often decided
by mere milliseconds, the timing system for these events must
be highly accurate and consistent.
wont be a problem at the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt
Lake City, Utah. Thanks to experts from the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST), the timing system for the
state-of-the-art runs at Utah Olympic Park has been calibrated
against national time standards. NIST also loaned special equipment
to the Salt Lake Organizing Committee so that the timing systems
can be recalibrated shortly before the opening ceremonies on Feb.
calibration process uses electronically controlled shuttersactivated
by Global Positioning Satellite signalsto simulate a racer
breaking the infrared light beams at the start and finish lines.
The track timers count is compared to the elapsed time measured
by electronic systems that are directly traceable to the NIST
atomic time scale (including the NIST-F1
cesium fountain atomic clock in Boulder, Colo.). Results indicate
that the Utah Olympic Park timing system can achieve an accuracy
of better than plus-or-minus half a millisecond.
Smith (Boulder), (303) 497-3198
Page Highlights NIST Efforts in Homeland Security
the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST) is playing a key role in
enhancing the nations ability to prevent and respond to
terrorism. Through more than 75 ongoing and newly initiated
research and standards development projects, NIST is helping
the millions of individuals in law enforcement, military, science,
emergency services, information technology, airport and building
security, and other areas protect the American public from terrorist
new NIST Web page, Technologies for Improved Homeland
provides a sampling of the NIST efforts related to improving
homeland security. On the Web page, projects are grouped into
four sections: Safer Structures and Secure Information Systems;
Enhanced Threat Detection and Protection; Tools for Law Enforcement;
and Emergency Response.
are provided to additional information on specific projects
and programs, as well as related topics.
available from NIST is a printed version of the Technologies
for Improved Homeland Security fact sheet. To obtain copies,
e-mail your request with a mailing address to email@example.com,
or call (301) 975-NIST (6478).
Evidence for Human Impact on Carbon Dioxide Levels
at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and
Arizona State University (ASU) have new, statistical evidence
of the impact of human activity on rising levels of carbon dioxide
in the atmosphere. Kevin J. Coakley of NIST and Randall S. Cerveny
of ASU performed a statistical study of atmospheric concentrations
of carbon dioxide (CO2) at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii
and at the Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole. Their data
study goes back to 1974 and 1975, respectively.
researchers detected a seven-day cycle in carbon dioxide concentrations
in Hawaii but not at the South Pole. On average, they found the
highest CO2 concentrations in Hawaii were during weekdays and
the lowest were during weekends. They attributed the apparently
weekly cycle to air pollution emitted from either local traffic
or transported to the observatory from more distant sources by
weekly cycle in atmospheric CO2 records cannot be explained by
natural variability. However, such a cycle can be attributed to
human causes since the five-day workweek is an artifact of Western
civilization, Coakley and Cerveny said.
paper based on the Coakley and Cerveny study will appear in an
upcoming issue of Geophysical Review Letters.
McGehan (Boulder), (303) 497-3246
ATP Project Helps Manufacturers Get a Grip
better way to get a grip on your work has earned a Technology
of the Year award from Industry Week magazine for researchers
at Lamb Technicon Machining Systems (Warren, Mich.). In a project
supported by the Advanced Technology Program (ATP) at the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), Lamb Technicon (a
UNOVA company) developed an innovative flexible fixturing
system for manufacturing.
machining requires that a part under production be clamped and
located rigidly in place in the machine tool with micrometer accuracy.
To do this, manufacturers custom-build precision clamps or 'fixtures
for each part. An automobile engine alone might require 100 different
fixtures, at a cost of up to $5 million. The need to design and
build a new fixture for every new or modified part adds significantly
to the cost and time required to correct a design problem or change
Technicons Intelligent Fixturing System (IFS), by contrast,
automatically adapts itself to any part within a family, a group
of like parts with similar size. The system recognizes different
parts automatically and positions each in the proper orientation
for the machining process. The IFS can save automakers $30 to
$50 per car, according to Lamb Technicon estimates, as well as
simplify set-up, speed model change-overs, and economize the production
of cars with low-volume demand.
by a 1997 ATP award, the IFS was developed with help from the
University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign, the Georgia Institute
of Technology, Pennsylvania State University, and the University
of Michigan. The system is now in prototype.
Baum, (301) 975-2763
Helps US Army Ensure Gas Mask Quality
an enemy uses chemical or biological weapons on the battlefield,
the US Army wants to be certain that its gas masks are able to
properly protect American soldiers. A gas mask that does not fit
wellfrom leaks around the edges, small holes in the mask
or a malfunctioning filtercannot do the job.
identify such problems, the Army uses a commercial system that
compares the concentration of airborne particulate matter inside
a soldiers mask while it is being worn with the ambient
concentration of particles outside the mask. Ordinary small particles
in the air serve as a stand-in for chemical or biological agents
like mustard gas or anthrax since their flow behavior is very
similar. Unfortunately, there is no standard reference material
or method in place for verifying the accuracy of the measuring
equipment to ensure that the particles are being properly counted.
the Army is funding a National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST) project to standardize its gas mask testing procedure.
NIST is utilizing a uniform particulate source that will consistently
deliver 80 nanometer (or 125 times smaller than the diameter of
a human hair) airborne particles for use in tests. Also in developmenttwo
independent methods to verify the accuracy of the test equipmentwhich
together with the new particulate source will provide the needed
Newman, (301) 975-3025
Automakers Steer Clear of Info Highway Barriers
automobile production depends on the quick and consistent exchange
of data between production plants, a worldwide chain of hundreds
of suppliers, and multiple engineering and manufacturing teams.
Dissimilar software formats, however, can inhibit easy data exchange,
resulting in costly delays and sometimes even flawed parts. Such
information exchange barriers are estimated to cost the US automotive
industry at least $1 billion per year.
combat the problem, the National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST) recently awarded $300,000 to the Automobile Industry Action
Group (AIAG) in Detroit. The funds support a pilot project to
implement and demonstrate a new product data management (PDM)
exchange standard that all parties could use to convey and manage
individual automaker would not be motivated to undertake this
effort alone with its suppliers, since the benefits would extend
beyond that automaker. This NIST/AIAG pilot project will accelerate
adoption of a PDM standard that will reduce data translation and
exchange problems industry-wide. In the near-term, the project
provides participants with the means to share technical data that
are vital to successful global manufacturing.
new PDM standard builds on the successful STandard for
the Exchange of Product model data (STEP), developed
by NIST and industry teams during the 1990s. AIAG will present
a progress report on its efforts in June 2002.