When we think of scientists, most of us picture professionals working in labs or in university settings. But how did these people get to become scientists? They were born into the world like everyone else and could have selected from a myriad different career paths. The evidence does not suggest that scientists necessarily have children who become scientists. Thus the reality is that “new” scientists come from the general public fortuitously, and this reality is often unappreciated.
Many researchers and institutions devoted to motivating the next generation, including for example, the Davidson Institute for Talent Development, a national non-profit concerned with supporting “profoundly gifted students”, stress the importance of exposing youngsters to the latest scientific thoughts and discoveries through the internet and other sources. The public availability of current, up-to-date scientific and technical information is essential in this regard and the benefits of its availability are tremendous.
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.)
More than 2,600 videos showcasing DOE’s most exciting research are available on ScienceCinema. Grab the popcorn and see science in “ACTION!”
Curious about DOE’s work in robotics, antimatter, or outer space? How about microbes, bugs, or mutants?
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.