The year was 1945, the year I was born. That in itself is of great significance to me. However, it was a momentous year in history. World War II came to its merciful end and the development of the first electronic computer – the ENIAC—was nearing completion. At a post-war Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), mathematician Stanislaw Ulam envisioned the possibilities of reviving statistical techniques that would have a huge impact on science and technology research today. (Read the history of Stanislaw Ulam in the special edition of Los Alamos Science No. 15, 1987.)
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With the Manhattan Project on the brink of success in spring 1945, the atomic bomb became an increasingly important element in American strategy to bring an end to World War II.
Because of the generally accepted view that the Japanese would fight to the bitter end, a costly invasion of the home islands seemed likely, even though some American policy makers held that successful combat delivery of one or more atomic bombs might convince the Japanese that further resistance was futile. They contended that the bomb could possibly lead to Japanese surrender without an invasion and should be used as soon as possible, without warning.
When I became Director of the DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information in 1997, we had a grand vision for a new era of global discovery. The way we provided access to scientific and technical information could be revolutionized. The internet showed promise, unbelievable promise. How exciting it was to become OSTI’s leader at that point in time.
Although the development of the Department of Energy’s web-searchable databases greatly enabled our scientific community to access R&D collections, the search technology was inefficient. How could we make the information more easily accessible to the public? Somehow we had to wrap our arms around and embrace new technologies. We had the talent, we had the motivation, and we definitely had the energy. We knew there was a better way to improve the Government’s service to its people.
Ten years ago this month Science.gov was launched! The cross-agency portal was created to break down the stovepipes of science information, knowing that it is difficult to know which federal agency holds what information. Thanks to longtime relationships between the agency senior information managers of CENDI as well as a partnership with USA.gov, and with the efforts of many, many supporters, a unique and grassroots project was undertaken and still provides an important service today. A special thanks to our Science.gov Alliance co-chairs during these years: Eleanor Frierson, NAL/USDA (retired); Tom Lahr, NBII/USGS (retired); Cindy Etkin, GPO; Tina Gheen, LOC; Annie Simpson, USGS.