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OSTIblog Articles in the science communications Topic

Champions of Change: Open Science

OSTI’s involvement in public access is accelerating! The week of June 24th, 2013, The White House recognized Champions of Change: Open Science at an event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. OSTI’s Director Walt Warnick was invited to nominate individuals who had been instrumental in championing public access to open science. As a result of Walt’s involvement in Public Access to scientific information, he was invited to attend this important event. Two notable Champions of Change who were honored were Jack Andraka, a Maryland high school student who at age 15 created a novel paper sensor that detects pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer in 5 minutes for as little as 3 cents; Jack has a huge Twitter following and is a passionate speaker about open access, STEM education and universal Internet availability. The other is Paul Ginsparg who created arXiv.org, an open access e-print network that serves as the primary daily information feed for global communities of researchers in physics, mathematics, computer science, and related fields and is the most popular e-print server in the world.

Dr. Warnick was very pleased to have the opportunity to attend and network with this distinguished group of science information pioneers. He was able to meet and talk with Jack Andraka about how open access positively impacted his discoveries. Jack was very appreciative of OSTI’s resources and the OSTI Blog,...

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#Energypledge

Personnel of the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) recently contributed to the Department of Energy's (DOE) "2013 Energy Pledge Campaign"!  The 2013 Energy Pledge Campaign was part of DOE's efforts regarding the National Day of Service.  Federal Agencies and Individuals joined together to make commitments to a wide range of causes, including energy conservation.

People at OSTI joined the "Saving Energy – Saves Money" cause and pledged everything from turning off the lights when they go out, unplugging unused power cords, recycling, and driving hybrid vehicles. A great commitment was made to engage the next generation, as employees pledged to teach their families and children to be more responsible energy users.

Not only are OSTI individuals making an Energy Pledge, but the OSTI facility team has worked diligently, over many years, to increase the sustainability and efficiency of the OSTI building.  In December 2012, the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Sustainability Performance Office awarded its "SUSTAINABILITY SUPERSTAR" recognition to OSTI. This award particularly highlighted efforts of the OSTI sustainability team, including members supporting the facility, financial and procurement, and making sure that our IT infrastructure is compliant and using the most efficient and cost-effective equipment.

Some of the...

Related Topics: energy conservation, energy efficiency, energy pledge, hybrid vehicles, recycling, sustainability, unplug

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Where Do New Scientists Come From?

Photo of Jack Andraka from his Twitter feed

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. 

For example, a few months ago, Jack Andraka, a 15-year-old high school freshman from Maryland developed a break-through dip-stick test to check for pancreatic cancer which has been shown to be incredibly effective (400 times more sensitive than previous tests), 90% accurate and extremely cheap ($0.03 per test). See the article detailing his discovery. Jack indicated in an interview with the BBC news service that the idea for his pancreatic cancer test came to him while he was in biology class during a lesson on antibodies and while he was independently reading an article on carbon nanotubes, a subject he was interested in at the time. He followed up with more research on...

Related Topics: antibodies, cancer, high school, labs, open access journals, pancreatic cancer, scientists, test

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The Unbelievable Accuracy of the Monte Carlo Method

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The Unbelievable Accuracy of the Monte Carlo Method

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.)

Fifteen years earlier, a too-good-to-believe method to predict experimental results by statistical sampling techniques rather than using differential equations had been used by Enrico Fermi while studying neutron transport.  Fermi used his new method to mystify his colleagues with unbelievable accuracy of experimental results. This new prediction method was in its infancy.

By the late 1940s, Ulam was so intrigued with the ENIAC and the increased computing power it offered, he soon realized that Fermi’s computational methods were now appropriate. He began to use random statistical sampling to gain insight into phenomena for which there’s no obvious method of exact analysis. John von Neumann recognized the potential in Ulam’s techniques and championed his effort.  What we now know as the Monte Carlo method was introduced.  (Read more about the Monte Carlo method in OSTI’s January 2013 Science Showcase “...

Related Topics: eniac, Enrico Fermi, LANL, Los Alamos, Monte Carlo, Stanislaw Ulam

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The Manhattan Project -- Its Operations

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The Manhattan Project -- Its Operations

Major operations for the Manhattan Engineer District (Manhattan Project) took place in remote site locations in the states of Tennessee, New Mexico, and Washington, with additional research being conducted in university laboratories at Chicago and Berkeley.

At the Metallurgical Laboratory in Chicago, Enrico Fermi's experiments at the CP-1 pile took place to determine the exact amount of neutron reduction needed for a safe and controlled sustained nuclear reaction.  A second pile (CP-2), with external cooling, was built at Argonne in order to move the continuing experiments away from populated areas.

Under the umbrella of Clinton Engineer Works near Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the X-10 experimental plutonium pile and separation facilities, the Y-12 Electromagnetic Plant, and the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant were constructed. 

In February 1943, ground was broken at X-10 for an air-cooled experimental pile, a pilot chemical separation plant, and support facilities.   On November 4, the pile went critical and it produced plutonium by the end of the month.  The chemical separation plant completed the steps needed for producing pure plutonium by extracting the plutonium from the irradiated uranium.  Chemical separation techniques were so successful that Los Alamos received plutonium samples in the spring of 1944.

Because of security requirements, fear of radioactive accidents, need for a long construction season and abundant water for hydroelectric power, an isolated area near Hanford, Washington (Site W) was chosen for the production plants.  Three water-cooled piles and three chemical separation plants were constructed.

At Y-12, using a design that was based upon research at Berkeley Lab, the first electromagnetic plant began to take shape in 1943.   By the end of February 1944, 200 grams of twelve-percent...

Related Topics: 70th Anniversary, atomic bomb, DOE Research & Development (R&D) Accomplishments, electromagnetic, gaseous diffusion, Manhattan Project, nuclear chain reaction, plutonium, uranium, World War II

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The Secret City Is Emerging from Its Past

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The Secret City Is Emerging from Its Past

Oak Ridge is rapidly emerging from a secret city into the hub of open science information.  How did this happen? It’s an amazing story. 

In 1942, deep within the quiet farm hills of East Tennessee, a secret city called Oak Ridge was created seemingly overnight.  Approximately 75,000 workers worked tirelessly to refine uranium ore into fissionable material. When the first atomic bomb was dropped in Japan and World War II came to an end, their work for the Manhattan Project was revealed to them and to the world. Their secret is still commemorated today. Oak Ridge, Tennessee has much to be proud of:  Science created its beginning and science continues to be vital to its future.

Just 5 years after the birth of Oak Ridge, the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) was established to manage the atomic information.  Since then, OSTI has become one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of information about energy science and technology.  It is a little known fact – even around Oak Ridge – that OSTI is mandated by law to maintain and make available science and technical information from research, development, demonstration, and commercial applications activities supported by DOE and its predecessors. OSTI not only collects and preserves research reports from nearby Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Y-12 and labs and weapons facilities across the country, the Office is DOE’s mechanism for spreading the word about the results from its $10 Billion investment in annual research and development. OSTI’s creation 65 years ago signaled a sea change from the Secret City of the Manhattan Project toward openness to share R&D knowledge with the public. 

Since its beginning, OSTI has known that shared knowledge is an enabler of scientific progress. And sharing it does.

I recently spoke to the...

Related Topics: osti, Science.gov, WorldWideScience.org (WWS)

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Exploring DOE Data Treasures

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Exploring DOE Data Treasures

There are databases, and then there are treasure maps. The DOE Data Explorer (DDE) merges the two concepts into a product offering the best of both. DDE’s database provides the features needed for simple retrieval or advanced searching. The treasure map aspect comes from DDE’s content, which links you to collections of data and non-text information wherever those collections reside.

Instead of sailing the seven seas, you can browse DDE’s seven types of content. Choose “Browse by Content Type” from the drop down menu on the DDE homepage and hit the “Submit” button. Each one of the seven categories shown on the results page will open a list of every collection tagged in DDE with that particular type of content. Naturally, “Numeric Files/Datasets” is a content type with a huge “footprint.”  High-Energy Physics (HEP) data from experiments at DOE’s National Laboratories, Scientific User Facilities, CERN, and prestigious universities vie for the most visible presence on the treasure map with terabytes of climate and environmental data gathered around the globe and made available by DOE Data Centers such as the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) and the archive for the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Program.

Browse “Interactive Data Maps” to discover sophisticated, layered views of everything from nuclides to energy resource data (solar, wind, geothermal, etc.) to genetic details of plant and animal kingdoms, to carbon sinks, the ocean floor, and drought-stricken land.

If you want graphs and charts, diagrams, and data plots, the DOE Data Explorer can show you where “X” marks the spot.  Or, if you want a little more action from your treasure haul, check out the collections of computer models and resulting simulations, along with downloadable tools, codes, and sample data that will help you generate your...

Related Topics: cern, DOE Data Explorer (DDE), national laboratories

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A Big Year for Science.gov

This is a big year for Science.gov, the interagency federal science information portal on the web since 2002.  A major upgrade has just been completed and is available at http://www.science.gov

  • An updated look is in place, with a slideshow demonstrating some of the major activities of the 13 participating science agencies
  • Multimedia sources are now available and automatically searched 
  • Visualization of related and narrower topics is an optional display, as is the ability to navigate visually
  • A Spanish version, Ciencia.Science.gov, is linked from Science.gov
  • New databases and websites have been added
  • Upgraded software enhances the results page

Look for an updated mobile version coming out soon!  Science.gov is a collaboration of 17 organizations within 13 federal agencies, operated by DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information and supported by CENDI, an interagency working group of senior scientific and technical information (STI) managers.

 

Valerie Allen

Science.gov Operations Manager

Related Topics: CENDI, ciencia.science.gov, Science.gov, sti

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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Nobel Prizes for Two DOE-associated Researchers

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Celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Nobel Prizes for Two DOE-associated Researchers

DOE-associated researchers have contributed to the advancement of a variety of science disciplines as a result of research they have conducted. Twenty years ago, the work of two of these researchers (Georges Charpak and Rudolph Marcus) was recognized when they were awarded Nobel Prizes.

Georges Charpak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber".

"It's hard to imagine a particle physics experiment that wouldn't use one of his concepts. ... Particle physicists owe him a lot, and so does the general public, since his inventions yield applications in many other fields that use ionising radiation such as biology, radiology and nuclear medicine.

Georges Charpak ... revolutionised particle detection in 1968 ... . Before he proposed this new detector [the multiwire proportional chamber], particle physicists were thrilled by the bubble chamber, though analysing data at that time was fastidious, requiring loads of manpower. Charpak took advantage of the development of electronics to develop a new ionisation detector that combined the technology of tube detectors ... with proportional counters for energy measurement. His historical 100-square-centimetre detector was able to detect one million particle events per second when former one-square-metre proportional chambers could count only one hundred. Thanks to multiwire chambers and its daughters that equipped from then nearly all detectors, major discoveries and observation in particle physics followed, from Z and W bosons in 1983 at CERN to the top quark at Fermilab in Chicago. With Charpak's new detector particle physics entered a new era."1

'...

Related Topics: Charpak, DOE Research & Development (R&D) Accomplishments, electron transfer reactions, Lederman, Marcus, multiwire chamber, particle detectors

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Science and a Movie

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Science and a Movie

DOE’s ScienceCinema is now showing “A LANL Scientist’s Dream Takes Off to Zap Rocks on Mars” starring Roger Wiens.

At age 9, Roger Wiens and his brother built rockets, a whole fleet of rockets. They also built a telescope that allowed them to draw craters they saw on Mars when  it neared close to earth. Little did Roger know that he would be putting a camera on Mars 40 years later. Roger Wiens is now a LANL planetary scientist and the principal investigator of the Mars Science Laboratory mission’s ChemCam team. The ChemCam instrument fires a laser at Martian rocks and looks at the resultant flash to determine the composition. Data obtained from Chemcam is helping to answer the question of about life on Mars. Visit DOE’s ScienceCinema to catch Roger’s excitement along with a team of 40 people at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the collabortaion of the French Space Agency IRAP as the Curiosity rover reaches...

Related Topics: Energy Citations Database (ECD), Los Alamos, Mars, ScienceCinema

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