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NISTory Video Series

From pigeon pilots to the curveball, NIST's rich research legacy includes moments both impactful and fun. Check out some of our favorite stories:

Newest release

For a top secret mission, you may assume the federal government would only use trained spies. But that’s not always the case. Find out about NIST’s role in secretly transporting and preserving the Hungarian Crown Jewels at the end of World War II.

Complete Collection


Thrown for a Curve

Nowadays, we take the curveball for granted, but in the early 20th century, many baseball players thought the curve’s sideways movement was an optical illusion. In the 1950s, director emeritus and baseball fanatic Lyman Briggs stepped up to the plate to settle the curveball question once and for all. (For some real history, check out this 1959 press release about this research.)


Hail to the Thief

In this first NISTory Minute, science-geek President Woodrow Wilson won’t let anything stop him from laying his eyes on some new high-flying technology.


Pirates Plunder the Kilogram

If you live in the United States, you’re probably used to using feet and pounds for your measurements instead of meters and kilograms. Pirates and an unlucky French botanist may be the reason!


Pigeon Pilots

There was a time during World War II when pigeons almost became the next war heroes... until scientists at NIST grounded them thanks to some other winged friends. After you watch the video, learn more about the bird-brained bombers in this blog post.


Saving Money by Breaking the Bank

Torching, cutting and blowing up bank vaults may not be part of day’s work for you, but it was for NIST scientists in 1920. The results of their work saved the government $1.7 million and protected a lot of gold at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY.


One Size Doesn't Fit All

As every woman today knows, your clothing size can vary based on the brand. At one point in our history, NIST tried to help standardize women’s clothing sizes. While they eventually fell out of fashion, we hope that standard sizes for women will eventually come back in style to stay.


Picture This

Nowadays, when you want to send grandma a picture of her new grandbaby, all it takes is a few clicks. But it wasn't always that easy. A NIST researcher was the mastermind behind creating the first digital scanned image. When you're done watching, learn more about this achievement in this news release marking the 50th anniversary of the first digital image.



Created June 10, 2019, Updated March 8, 2021