U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Concluding Remarks by Dr. Walt Warnick

Walter L. Warnick
Director, Office of Scientific and Technical Information
U. S. Department of Energy
OSTI 60th Anniversary
Oak Ridge, TN
September 18, 2007

Thank you, Dr. Garfield. We look forward to hearing more during your lecture tonight at 7 at the American Museum of Science and Energy.

As Jeff Salmon explained, Franklin Roosevelt and Vannevar Bush defined a new relationship between government and science. The world of science was forever changed by WWII, and OSTI is a direct result of that legacy.

The creation of what is now OSTI certainly signified a sea change here in Oak Ridge. What was once shrouded in secrecy – basic atomic science information – was made available for use and future discovery.

The reason it was made available is because everyone in science accepts the fact that science advances only if knowledge is shared. Science advances only if knowledge is shared. That was true in 1944 and it’s true today.

In 2007, we offer the OSTI Corollary: Speeding up the sharing of knowledge will accelerate science. The OSTI Corollary has important implications.

While it is widely acknowledged that science can be accelerated by funding more scientists and furnishing them with better instruments, it is also possible to accelerate science by finding and deploying ways to speed up the sharing of knowledge. The inescapable implication is that enormous benefits are to be gained by speeding up the sharing of knowledge.

Therefore, OSTI moves with great intensity to accelerate the spread of scientific and technical knowledge. OSTI is fortunate today to have a new generation of truly revolutionary technical tools to accelerate the spread of knowledge. We strive to be leaders in advancing those tools.

Vannevar Bush, in response to President Roosevelt’s charge, wrote “Science the Endless Frontier.” Well, that was in 1945. Here we are today, still on that frontier, deploying information technology in revolutionary ways to accelerate what President Roosevelt and Vannevar Bush called knowledge diffusion.

We here at OSTI are part of their legacy, and the enormous store of R&D results housed in this building going back to the Manhattan Project is a tangible outcome.

Of course, the private sector has an essential role too – personified by our distinguished guest Dr. Eugene Garfield – to take that information and add value to it so that we get more mileage out of it. Dr. Garfield is a leader, a pioneer in information retrieval systems. He has achieved both great intellectual success and commercial success.

Here today, we have on the one hand OSTI – the cutting edge government institution for accelerating the spread of scientific knowledge; and on the other, Dr. Garfield – an individual who personifies the notion of “value added”. Taken together, we demonstrate the complementary roles of the government and private sectors.

Looking toward the future, OSTI continuously seeks to expose more of the world’s scientific and technical information to the information consumer. This includes enormous quantities of information that is non-Googleable. Google itself laments that the bulk of science is non-Googleable. This was a central theme advanced by Google co-founder Larry Paige himself at this year’s annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. I am not saying anything more about Google than Google is saying about itself. We at OSTI are making major progress in making non-Googleable information searchable.

OSTI recently led an effort to open government science gateways from the world’s six inhabited continents. WorldWideScience.org was launched in June of this year. It is up for anyone in the world to see and use. Some estimates suggest that the quantity of science information in WorldWideScience.org already exceeds that in Google. These are not competing sites, but complementary, because so much of the information in WorldWideScience is non-Googleable.

Of course, quantity of information is not enough. OSTI works to help the information customer sort through this information to find the most relevant results. We’ve pioneered and deployed relevancy ranking technology for federal government science through Science.gov. We continue to explore technologies that enable information customers to find the right information, such as clustering, and visualization. Tonight, while you are at the American Museum of Science and Energy to hear Dr. Garfield’s lecture, we hope you take a moment to enjoy OSTI’s display in the visualization exhibit, Places & Spaces.

As to the immediate future, the President on Aug. 9th, just six weeks ago, signed the America COMPETES Act, which greatly expands the DOE mission in education. A major provision calls for a Web-based science education tool for grades K-12. Already OSTI has produced the prototype! This tool will fill a major void in science education in America.

That’s not all. This very day OSTI announces the opening of the DOE Patents Database. This database showcases the technological inventions resulting from the great science being done at our national laboratories. About the Patents Database, Ray Orbach, the Under Secretary of Science, said, “From helping the blind to see again to identifying hidden weapons through holographic computerized imaging technology, the U.S. Department of Energy has supported research addressing some of the most pressing scientific challenges of every generation since the Manhattan Project Era. The content within DOE Patents is an impressive demonstration of where DOE research and development generates technological invention.”

There’s more. Earlier this year, OSTI launched the DOE Science Accelerator – an online portal to all DOE science databases. It introduces single-query searching to DOE scientific and technical information collections.

OSTI hosts and maintains Science.gov, for which this road was named. It virtually integrates the R&D results from all federal government R&D agencies. Version 4.0 was launched this year.

And that’s just the declassified side of the house. As many of you here know and recall from days past, OSTI has a historic and continuing responsibility for the Department’s classified R&D information. This is a very important facet of our mission.

OSTI has never stood still. While we hummed in the early days with compositors and printing presses, later with key punches and tape decks, now we hum with electrons.

Certainly we have grand goals today - But no less grand and no less achievable than all the grand accomplishments of these past 60 years. All of you share a special place in those accomplishments.

So a big “Thank you” to all for celebrating the past and for envisioning the future with us today.

Thank you!


Last updated: 7/3/2008