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OSTIblog Posts by Dr. Jeffrey Salmon

Dr. Jeffrey Salmon's picture
Deputy Director for Resource Management, U.S. DOE Office of Science

Achieving Public Access: The Department of Energy Launches DOE PAGES(Beta)

Published on Aug 04, 2014

Click here (www.osti.gov/pages/) to view the future of public access to scientific publications.

As of August 4, 2014, and for the first time ever, the Department of Energy (DOE) will provide a portal (see above) allowing anyone to read, download, and analyze in digital form final peer-reviewed manuscripts or final published articles of work sponsored by the Department.  You can read the entire DOE public access plan here.

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Basic Research and Innovation

Idea Sharing

Published on Mar 24, 2014

Recently, I attended a roundtable discussion hosted by the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C. on the topic of innovation – how it comes about, what factors can impede it, where the U.S. might be headed as a lead innovator in the 21st Century, and what cultural and ethical issues need to be considered in a complete understanding of innovation.

As a science and technology agency, the Department of Energy (DOE) cares a great deal about questions surrounding innovation.  As an information management agency within DOE, the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) works to accelerate innovation through the sharing of knowledge.  We also love to point out where DOE has done just that.

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OSTI Is Re-Focusing and Re-Balancing Its Operations – And Refreshing Its Home Page – to Advance Public Access

Scientific and Technical Information Program:  STI from DOE Programs, Labs, MajS

Published on Mar 03, 2014

Let’s call it creative destruction, borrowing from a popular term in economics.  The idea is that the very essence of capitalism is the destruction of old structures and the building of new ones that inevitably face the same pressures as the structures they replaced.  It’s the reason the buggy whip industry fell on hard times. The information management business of the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is in constant flux too, where the next big thing can soon become the next big flop.

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The National Library of EnergyBeta: A Gateway to Information about the “All-of-the-Above” Energy Strategy

Picture of the National Library of Energy Logo

Published on Sep 26, 2013

While I have not taken a formal survey, my experience over many years as a Department of Energy (DOE) employee suggest to me that most people have no idea what DOE does.  Let me amend that.  Many people know exactly what we do.  DOE controls the price of gas at the pump; it manages natural gas drilling, builds pipe lines and regulates refineries.  As it turns out, people know a great deal about DOE, it’s just that most of it is dead wrong.

Look it up and you’ll find that “[t]he mission of the Energy Department is to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”  Hmm.  Nothing about gas prices there.

Once you get a bead on the DOE mission you are ready to mine its extraordinary set of resources. 

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Open Science: the Case for Preserving Raw Data

Published on Jul 12, 2011

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).

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OSTI’s Committee of Visitors, An Update

Published on May 23, 2011

"The unexamined life is not worth living."  So says Plato's Socrates in the Apology.   His self-examination led to extreme humility (or to an extreme irony) when Socrates confessed to his accusers that the only knowledge he had was knowledge of his own ignorance.  No one we know of came away from a Socratic cross-examination in one piece, but they would at least have known their own limits.  And in knowing their limits, or their ignorance, they would somehow be better.

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OSTI’s Cool Roof

Picture of new cool roof

Published on Nov 10, 2010

The Office of Science occupies many buildings around the country, but it owns only two of them.  One of them is making some news. The 134,629 sq. ft. (about 3 acres) roof of  the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) building in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is now officially a Cool Roof, that is, it’s energy efficient in ways that darker roofs are not.  Cool roofs are light in color, so reflect rather than absorb sunlight.  Oak Ridge gets lots of sunlight.  The previous roof was black, but worse, it was leaky and those leaks, controlled for years in some very innovative ways by the OSTI staff, were going to cause significant problems if not addressed.  OSTI needed to invest in a new roof to ensure employee safety, protect the structural integrity of the largest federal office building managed by the Office of Science and safeguard its databases and historical collection of scientific and technical information documents, some of which date back to the Manhattan Project and which exist nowhere else. 

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Recording Science: From Parchment to Pixels.

Published on Aug 06, 2010

One of the more fascinating pieces of work at a DOE National Laboratory was the examination of an ancient work by Archimedes on parchment that had been erased, written over, and so, mostly, lost to history. Lost, that is, until the SLAC synchrotron X-ray beam tore into the parchment and was able to let us see and read much of the original Archimedean text. Archimedes would have used a lab notebook, if he had had paper, or a computer and a thumb-drive to record his work if they had been available, but he did not live long enough to invent those things, which he probably could have if given the time. One hopes that before his study was erased, others were able to read it, profit from its insights, and use the knowledge as a springboard to another discovery. That’s one way we make progress.

We often hear that with declining costs in storage, increased bandwidth, and faster processing speeds, the power and potential of the electronic age to spread and communicate science are amazing things to ponder. I guess. But the work can still be lost, no matter how it is recorded. And some material, let’s face it, isn’t worth saving. Between this blog and Archimedes’ method of mechanical theorems, the work that SLAC was looking at, which would you save? What is needed now, as then, is someone to care about preserving the scientific findings that are worth preserving.

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Transparency in Government and Transformative Science

Published on May 04, 2009

I recently had the opportunity to speak with members of DOE's Scientific and Technical Information Program (STIP) at their annual meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. This is a collaboration that works and is critical to OSTI's success. It is supported by a DOE Order, but there is no compulsion in the order.

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