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OSTIblog Articles in the technology Topic

DOE Research Clearing the Way for Medical Solutions

by Sam Rosenbloom 01 Oct, 2013 in Technology

The Randolph-Sheppard Act was signed into law by President Roosevelt in 1936. The act established a priority for blind vendors on Federal property.  Nearly 77 years later, walking toward the snack stand operated by a blind vendor, the irony always occurs to me as I read an unusual brass plaque on the hallway that commemorates the origin of the Human Genome Project and its champion, Dr. Charles DeLisi. The irony is that Rick, the blind vendor who could one day benefit from that project, cannot see the plaque. 

It takes individuals with an almost futuristic vision, able to counter criticism by those with less foresight, to take leaps of faith to establish such a far-reaching effort such as the Human Genome Project. Dr. DeLisi was apparently such a person. 

Dr. DeLisi, then Director of the Office of Health and Environmental Research at the Department of Energy, recognized the available technology and came up with the idea to sequence the human genome in 1985.  He formally funded the program in 1987.  With the involvement of the National Research Council, an arm of the National Academy of Sciences, Congress eventually approved longer-term budgets that included the National Institutes of Health.   It is often the role of government to pursue long-term research, spanning decades, where the prospect of dividends are high risk and often times diffused throughout society.  Good examples of government foresight are the development of the Internet by the Department of Defense and communications technology developed by NASA. These technologies are imbedded in our very lifestyle … so much so that our quality of life could not be imagined without them.  The results are in every smart phone. Yet to a single generation of our predecessors...

Related Topics: Human Genome Project, medicine, Randolph-Sheppard Act

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A Roadmap to Geothermal Heat Pump Feasibility

by Kathy Chambers 28 Feb, 2013 in Technology

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A Roadmap to Geothermal Heat Pump Feasibility

Planning a trip is exciting. I can’t tell you how long my family planned our trip out west.  For so many years we wanted to do this. When we finally hit the road our adventure was more than we could have possibly imagined.  

The landscape was always changing, always beautiful. Cattle ranches stretched out to infinity. Mountain peaks formed by ancient volcanos lined up in rows, one after another. Rivers of black jagged lava flowed over the landscape. We came across rainbow colors of the painted desert, a petrified forest of long ago, and the jaw-dropping expanse of the Grand Canyon. A winding road down from Flagstaff led us into the red cliffs of Sedona and on the cacti-spotted landscape of the Sonoran desert. The further we went, the more we appreciated vast mother earth. 

Our earth has an immense reservoir of geothermal energy that has helped to create this amazing landscape. Geothermal energy is the heat contained within the earth—a clean, reliable, and renewable energy. Department of Energy (DOE) researchers have made great progress harnessing this energy to make our lives better. It can be used as an energy-efficient heating and cooling alternative and can generate vast electric power across the United States. (Read more about DOE’s Geothermal Program and find geothermal energy research results in the Energy Citations Database.)

The Geothermal Heat Pump (GHP) is one of DOE’s high-impact technologies that are currently being researched by the Building...

Related Topics: Building Technologies Program, EERE, energy consumption, geothermal, heat pumps, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, renewable energy

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Travel through DOE databases; find emerging nanotechnology devices

by Kathy Chambers 16 Jul, 2012 in Technology

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Travel through DOE databases; find emerging nanotechnology devices

  In the world of nanomanufacturing, new materials, devices, components and products are emerging at a breathtaking rate. Next-generation nanocoatings are being developed to enhance wear resistance of industrial materials.  An infrared retina that includes adaptive sensors has been patented. Self-cleaning skin-like prosthetic polymer surfaces have been developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). ORNL is also well on its way to creating nano catalysts for diesel engine emission remediation.  The sonification of x-ray scattering data is explored at Brookhaven National Laboratory.  A high frequency nanotube oscillator has been patented by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  And the National Renewable Energy Laboratory is developing tools to measure biomass at the nanometer scale. Take a trip through OSTI’s databases to see the multitude of discoveries happening at the nanoscale.  Find the research resultsin the DOE databases and read more at the OSTI Science Showcase

Related Topics: Brookhaven, databases, nano, ORNL

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Making Scientific Databases Work Together—For You (psst . . . that's "search interoperability")

by Dr. Walt Warnick 13 Feb, 2012 in Technology

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Making Scientific Databases Work Together—For You (psst . . . that's "search interoperability")

Sometimes something complex can work so seamlessly that it’s easy to miss. We think that’s the case with our solution in achieving search interoperability.

As you may know, “search interoperability” is just a fancy way of saying that lots of scientific databases scattered far and wide can be made to work together so that your job as a seeker of science information is easy. You can go to one search box, say Science.gov, type in your search term, and get results from over a hundred important repositories and a couple of thousand scientific websites – with one click.

And you know that this is a good thing, because as a practical matter, you cannot be expected to conjure in advance which database might hold the information you seek. Nor can you be expected to search dozens of sources one-by-one.

That would be an onerous task. Also, as an experienced seeker of quality science information, you are well aware that commercial search engines (read, Google, Bing, etc.) sometimes cannot mine the deep web for you, thus missing R&D results residing there (see Federated Search - The Wave of the Future?).

So achieving search interoperability with OSTI’s federated search tools, such as Science.gov, WorldWideScience.org, and the E-print Network, has been an important development, though by no means easily accomplished. There are myriad obstacles that can block information exchanges between systems.  (To learn more about the broad topic of interoperability and obstacles to exchanging information, see the Wikipedia article on interoperability.)

Specific to our world of scientific and technical information, the challenge of interoperability basically stems from the simple fact...

Related Topics: databases, E-Print Network (EPN), federation, interoperability, science, Science.gov, WorldWideScience.org (WWS)

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Energy Quadrennial Technology Review Released

“The Department is uniquely situated to serve as a resource for energy and technology data, information, and analysis that can enhance understanding, operation and planning across all organizations… ."

— From the Energy Quadrennial Technology Review


"the Department’s role as a source of information… is unique and indispensible in the advancement of energy technologies.”

— From the media announcement regarding the Energy Quadrennial Technology Review


On September 27, Secretary Steven Chu and Under Secretary Steven Koonin released the first Report on the Department of Energy Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR).

Recommended by the President’s Council on Science and Technology (PCAST), the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Technology Review highlights the Department’s key research functions in a broad energy landscape.  It states that the Department’s role as a source of information and as a convener, two functions that are often underestimated, is unique and indispensible in the advancement of energy technologies.  It establishes a framework, utilizing six key strategies, to prioritize the Department’s research and development across energy technologies.

The QTR finds that DOE should give greater emphasis to the transport sector relative to the stationary sector.  Among the transport strategies, DOE will devote its greatest effort to electrification of the light-duty fleet, a sweet spot for pre-competitive DOE R&D.  Within the stationary heat and power sector, the QTR finds that DOE should increase emphasis on efficiency and grid modernization.  Finally, it highlights the need for DOE to develop stronger, more integrated policy, economics and technical analysis of its...

Related Topics: 21st century, doe, energy, r&d, research, Technology

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“Mobilizing” Science

by Dr. Walt Warnick 05 Aug, 2011 in Technology

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“Mobilizing” Science

At the youngest ages, children are intrigued by Mentos in a Diet Coke. Figuring out what nature is trying to tell us, which is otherwise known as doing science, can be exciting. But, too often, young people become disabused of that excitement when they experience the drudgery of reading dry texts while confined in a stuffy cubicle or a study carrel. Now we are taking a step to help change that perspective. We are displacing text with video, and we are making it easy to find and learn science wherever you happen to be. 

It is an unfortunate circumstance that fun is too often taken out of science. We should want students of all ages to be happy, as happy people invest themselves more into what they are doing. We should want science to remain an avocation even as it becomes a vocation for some students and others move on to different interests. For too long, hours of silent study and nights spent in a dreary lab have driven out the joy like my five-year-old granddaughter felt last week when she caught a bright orange newt in the woods. Better to preserve the excitement and drive out the drudgery.

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Related Topics: apps, mobile, WorldWideScience.org (WWS)

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Dark Archives

by Mark Martin 04 Aug, 2011 in Technology

I have to admit that I am truly a science fiction and fantasy geek.  Blame it on growing up on a steady diet of Star Wars and Transformers.  This bit of background information helps explain why I smile internally whenever I get the chance to talk about dark archives.  Those words call to mind a picture of some mysterious, powerful object at the center of an epic story, like The Lord of the Rings.  Great words.

The reality is that in the Information Management industry, a dark archive isn’t quite so epic. But I do think that my choice of adjectives, mysterious and powerful, is still quite appropriate.
 
Mysterious, yes.  Dark archives are certainly misunderstood both inside and outside the industry.  So, what is a dark archive?  It is, simply put, an archive of information that is not used for public access.  Most often it serves as a failsafe copy of a light archive, i.e. a publicly available version of the information, for use in disaster recovery operations.  Dark archives need not be a fully operational copy of an information system, rather just the content behind the information system.  This is an important distinction because maintaining an exact operational copy of an information system is a much more complex and expensive undertaking than maintaining only the content the information system operates on.  Metaphorically, at its base definition, a dark archive will require more than a flip of the switch to make a light archive.
 
Powerful, no doubt about it.  OSTI currently operates a dark archive for the collection of technical reports for those documents that have been announced to OSTI but which are hosted by the National Laboratories.  The technical reports in our dark archive number almost 100,000 and include the digital equivalent of 6 million pages of text, charts, graphs, and photos. Having the full text locally accessible to our information systems allows us to execute critically important...

Related Topics: archives, dark, Star Wars

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How to Integrate Anything on the Web

by Dr. Walt Warnick 03 Aug, 2011 in Technology

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How to Integrate Anything on the Web

OSTI is especially proud of its web integration work whereby we take multiple web pages, documents, and web databases and make them appear to the user as if they were an integrated whole.   Once the sources are virtually integrated by OSTI, the virtual collection becomes searchable via a single query.  Because information on the web appears in a variety of formats, from HTML web pages, to PDF documents, to searchable databases, OSTI has developed and uses a suite of integration approaches to make them searchable via single query.  

OSTI has two goals that make it critical for us to understand multiple solutions for integrating science content on the web.  First, we make DOE science information widely available and searchable by appropriate audienceswherever they may be; and second, we make science information from around the world searchable by DOE researchers.  Since migrating to a fully electronic operationin the late 1990s, OSTI has met these goals by deploying various search architectures for integrating content via the web.

Within the information science circles that we engage in, we are well known for our pioneering work with the integration technology known as federated search. However, there are other, possibly lesser known,  technologies that we employ to integrate web content.

To  integrate information sources which are not interoperable, we see three categories of solutions:  1) you can create a data warehouse where you copy the information items, standardize metadata, and host them on your own servers;  2) you can create a discovery service wherein you index source items without copying them and then host the index on your server   (this technology is similar to that used by the major search engines except that you carefully direct the indexing tools, i.e., the crawler, so that only pre-selected material is indexed); and 3) you can use federated search to take advantage of existing search interfaces...

Related Topics: data warehouse, federated search, information, integration, r&d, science, scientific, technical

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Open Science: the Case for Preserving Raw Data

by Dr. Jeffrey Salmon 12 Jul, 2011 in Technology

Everyone speaks well of the idea that the results of scientific research should be open for all to see, although there are obvious caveats to complete openness: Proprietary research, human subjects research, preliminary results, the pace and timing for releasing results, all come to mind.  But when it comes to research funded by the taxpayer, open science is almost a truism.  And again, while there are practical and principled reasons why complete openness is sometimes restricted, the readers of the OSTI blog will be familiar with the arguments for openness; the principle of reproducibility is a fundamental tenant of science, the possibility of accelerating the pace of discovery by making scientific results readily and easily accessible, these are just two critical pieces of the argument.  There is another reason for openness connected to both these points that was highlighted recently in Jonah Lehrer’s always interesting Head Case column in the Wall Street Journal (6/25/11).

            Here Lehrer points us to a fascinating controversy sparked by Stephen Jay Gould’s decades old criticism of work by the much maligned Samuel Morton on the varying sizes of people’s skulls.  Gould checked Morton’s data and concluded that Morton had cooked the books as it were and that his conclusions weren’t really supported by the actual measurements at hand.  Gould argued that Morton’s racial theories of intelligence biased his work.  And so the business stood until recently when a group of anthropologists reanalyzed all this data, going back and doing their own measurements of the skulls Morton used in his study 170 years ago (now that’s preserving samples!) and discovered, to everyone’s surprise you have to imagine, that Morton’s original measurements were correct.  They found his theories related to race and intelligence to be nonsense, but the data itself were solid.  Lehrer quotes the anthropologists as concluding that “ironically, Gould’s own analysis of...

Related Topics: Jonah Lehrer, Open science, raw data

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OSTI's Web Traffic

by Mark Martin 16 May, 2011 in Technology

Recently, I had the opportunity to explore OSTI's web traffic statistics with Walt Warnick and Karen Spence. I am quite happy with what was revealed about our traffic growth and the value of our various collaborations in making scientific and technical information more accessible.  So I wanted to share it with you here at the OSTI Blog.

Web Traffic, How and What OSTI Tracks

OSTI measures web traffic in a number of ways.  One measure is information transactions, defined as discrete information exchanges between an information patron and OSTI's suite of web-based information services.  Other specific measures include searches performed on various OSTI products; user requests for bibliographic citations; user requests for the full text of a technical report; page views of OSTI web pages; referral information including search engine (e.g. Google) referrals and social media (e.g. Facebook) referrals; and numerous reports captured via specialized metrics tools.  OSTI reports the information transaction metric here because it reports total web traffic from all sources in a simple view.  The OSTI Web Traffic chart captures all traffic hosted at OSTI, including osti.gov, science.gov, and worldwidescience.org.  Currently, 70% of OSTI's web traffic originates from domestic sources and 30% from international sources.  Of the domestic traffic, the majority originates from commercial domains.

Significant Increases

Growth can be attributed to working in close collaboration with Google and Yahoo!, as an early adopter of the Sitemap Protocol, a new information industry standard that facilitates an easy way for web content managers to inform search engines about the content that exists on their sites.

One implementation was to create topical search results pages for Science.gov and WorldWideScience.org to expose these products via the Sitemap Protocol to Google, Yahoo!, Bing, etc.

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

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