Scientific Computing Center, Nicholas Brawand
Quantum dots are tiny particles of semiconductor materials that are only a few nanometers in size. These tiny but mighty particles have immense potential because of their flexibility and highly tunable properties. Since they are so small, their optical and electronic properties behave quite differently from those of larger particles. They obey quantum-mechanics laws. They can be synthesized on-demand with nearly atomic precision. They emit extremely pure light that differs in color, depending on their size. They can be suspended in solutions, embedded into materials, and used to seek out cancer cells and deliver treatments. They can accept photons and convert them into electricity at substantial rates and they are exceptionally energy efficient. Quantum dots research holds great promise to improve our lives.
It has always been important for authors and researchers to maintain and present accurate records of their work and experience. In this digital age, an author can achieve such record-keeping by using a persistent digital identifier, a number associated with a particular author that remains with him or her, regardless of changes in discipline, research project, organization, or position. ORCID, a not-for-profit-organization working to make it easier to connect research results to authors, has stepped in to provide just such a service. To date, they have registered over 2.5 million ORCID iDs for their users, and this number grows daily.
In April 2012, The Economist ran a biting editorial arguing that, “[w]hen research is funded by the taxpayer or by charities, the results should be available to all without charge.” Academic journals, the magazine contended, were raking in huge profits by selling content that was supplied to them largely for free and in the process restricting public access to valuable research to just those willing to pay for subscriptions. The answer to this “absurd and unjust” situation, The Economist wrote, is “simple”: governments and foundations that fund research “should require that the results be made available free to the public.”
We at the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) have found that providing full public access to the research DOE funds is simple in principle and complex in practice. And reflecting on this 2012 editorial, we can say that a great deal of progress has been made toward reaching the goal of free public access it sets out. And much of that progress is due to hard collaborative work by both the government and publishers.
Image credit: DOE Office of Energy Efficiency
and Renewable Energy, Photo by Dante Fratta
In the 1800s, the Brady Hot Springs geothermal fields were known as the “Springs of False Hope.” As pioneer wagon trains traveled across the northern Nevada desert on their way to California, their thirsty animals rushed to the springs only to find scalding 180° water and bare land. Additionally, the water was loaded with sodium chloride and boric acid.
Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, LA.
Image credit: LIGO Laboratory
Interferometers are investigative tools used in many fields in science and engineering. They work by merging two or more sources of light or other waves to create an interference pattern, which can be precisely measured and analyzed. Interferometers are making possible significant advances in scientific research. One of these advances is in astronomy, where laser interferometers are opening a new era in the exploration of the universe.
In 1972, a young Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics professor, Rainer Weiss, drew up a teaching exercise using a basic concept for an interferometer to detect gravitational waves. This work later became the blueprint for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), a national facility for gravitational wave research. LIGO is funded by the National Science Foundation and other public and private institutions.