Accelerating Science Discovery - Join the Discussion

Published by Dr. Jeffrey Salmon
OSTI’s Committee of Visitors

 

"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.

That's really the reason we open ourselves up to honest reviews of our own performance, or open our programs up to honest review by outsiders.  Now there are two ways to go about such reviews.  One is to gather your amen corner around you and have them tell you how great you are and what progress you are making and how important you are, etc. etc.  You can then announce to the world that you are a smashing success.  The other way is to gather serious, knowledgeable, and thoughtful people and let them ask hard questions; ask them to put you through a Socratic dialogue.  You'll almost always discover that there is room for improvement, if you choose the latter course. 

OSTI chose the latter course when it had a Committee of Visitors (CoV) review its programs.  A previous CoV report some years ago had proved helpful.  I felt it was time for another review. 

Published by Mark Martin

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.

Published by Kate Bannan

President Obama recently visited a clean energy company that manufactures hybrid vehicle transmission technology, and spoke about his long term plan to protect consumers against rising oil prices and decrease oil imports while ensuring a cleaner, safer and more secure energy future for our country.  The President saidthat investments in a clean energy economy are the only solution to high gas prices in the long term.

Published by Kate Bannan
DOE Strategic Plan

 

Plan lays out the Department’s leadership role in transforming the energy economy through investments in research, development of new technologies and deployment of innovative approaches

 

DOE recently released its 2011 Department of Energy Strategic Plan, which outlines the broad, cross-cutting and collaborative goals, and will serve as a blueprint for DOE to help address the nation’s energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.

 

The Department’s missions and programs are designed to bring the best minds and capabilities to bear on important problems. It draws on the diverse talents of our federal workforce, scientists and engineers from national laboratories, academia and the private sector in multidisciplinary teams, striving to find solutions to the most complex and pressing challenges.

 

The DOE Strategic Planis organized into four distinct categories:

 

·         Catalyzing the timely, material, and efficient transformation of the nation’s energy system and securing U.S. leadership in clean energy technologies

 

·         Maintaining a vibrant U.S. effort in science and engineering as a cornerstone of our economic prosperity with clear leadership in strategic areas

 

·         Enhancing nuclear security through defense, nonproliferation, and environmental efforts

 

Published by Peter Lincoln
Impact of Basic Research and Knowledge Diffusion on Innovation

 

In June 2009, OSTIBLOG published a piece submitted by a friend of OSTI on “Impact of Basic Research on Innovation”.  Subsequently, a number of readers remarked that the blog had not made a key point particularly relevant to OSTI: to have an impact on innovation, basic research results must be shared. 

To be sure, it is rarely possible to determine precisely when, where and how the dissemination of scientific and technical information impacts the continuum of basic research to applied research to invention and innovation, but there is no question that such dissemination is a prerequisite for the flow of scientific information necessary for discovery, progress and prosperity.

With this key point included, here is a revised version of the earlier blog:

The development of MP3 technologies illustrates the unexpected benefits of basic research – and how science progresses and innovation advances when knowledge is shared.

In 1965, a hand-sized storage and playback device that would hold 15,000 recorded songs was the stuff of science fiction. Even simple hand-held calculators were rare and expensive at that time.