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OSTIblog Articles in the Technology Topic

The Importance of Small Business Innovation Research Funding

by Dr. Walt Warnick 09 Mar, 2011 in Technology
Search products


The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs were established to provide funding to stimulate technological innovation in small businesses to meet federal agency research and development needs.  Under SBIR, federal agencies with large R&D budgets set aside a small fraction of their funding for competitions exclusively among small businesses.  Each year, the DOE Office of Science sets aside 2.8% of its research budget for SBIR (2.5%) and STTR (.3%) awards.  Small businesses that win SBIR awards keep the rights to any technology developed and are encouraged to commercialize the technology.


Established in 1947, the DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) fulfills the agency’s responsibilities to collect, preserve and disseminate scientific and technical information (STI) emanating from DOE R&D activities.  OSTI’s mission is to advance science and sustain creativity by making R&D findings available to DOE and other researchers and the public.  OSTI is founded on the principle that science progresses only if knowledge is shared; furthermore, OSTI is animated by the concept, now widely accepted, that accelerating the sharing of knowledge accelerates the advancement of science.  SBIR projects have been integral to OSTI’s success in speeding access to scientific knowledge to speed discovery, innovation and economic progress.


Since 2003, the Office of Science’s SBIR office has had a policy of funding knowledge technology SBIR projects under OSTI guidance that have produced technologies that today...

Related Topics: federated search, multilingual, r&d, relevance ranking, SBIR, sttr, translations


ScienceCinema -- Multimedia and Visualization Innovations for Science

by Brian Hitson 08 Feb, 2011 in Technology

ScienceCinema, OSTI's new multimedia search tool, was launched yesterday as part of a one-day workshop, “Multimedia and Visualization Innovations for Science,” jointly hosted by Microsoft and the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI), held in Redmond, Washington. At the workshop, Lorrie Johnson, OSTI's ScienceCinema product manager, and Behrooz Chitsaz of Microsoft Research, held a session on ScienceCinema and the role of mulitmedia in the current science discovery environment. They correctly pointed out that although internet search tools are adequate for searching web pages and textual documents, the same is not true for multimedia content. So in order to provide better access to scientific and technical multimedia, OSTI has partnered with Microsoft Research to leverage speech recognition technology to enable searching across large volumes of spoken Department of Energy content, i.e., ScienceCinema. We hope you will try ScienceCinema and let us know what you think. You can read more about the technology at the OSTI press release and at the Energy Blog.

Brian Hitson, Associate Director

Administration and Information Services
Office of Scientific and Technical Information


Related Topics: energy blog, OSTI press release, ScienceCinema


OSTI’s Web Metrics – Persistent Cookies and the Functionality They Enable

by Mark Martin 30 Nov, 2010 in Technology

Last year I introduced OSTI’s Web Metrics and how they help our organization measure how successful we are in disseminating the research information we curate for the Department of Energy.

Recently we have had the opportunity to enrich the functionality provided by our web metrics.  On June 25th, 2010, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released guidance that enabled the use of persistent cookies for web measurement on Government websites.
What is a persistent cookie?  Why are they important?  Both are great questions.
First and foremost, persistent cookies are important to web users. The use of persistent cookies leads to better designed websites.  These improved websites lead to users finding what they are searching for faster.
A cookie is a small file that a website transfers to your computer to allow the retrieval of specific information about your session while you are connected to a website.  A persistent cookie will remain on your hard drive until it reaches its expiration date or is deleted by you.  This type of cookie is stored on your computer so the website that placed it there can recognize and remember when you return and keep track of which pages on the website you visit.
Persistent cookies are important to web managers because they enable them to understand the usage of their websites better. For example the following questions can be answered through the use of persistent cookies:
How many users return to my site?
What path of navigation do users follow on website?
Is a particular branch of website used once and never again?
Are search engines successfully...

Related Topics: cookies, OMB


OSTI’s Cool Roof

by Dr. Jeffrey Salmon 10 Nov, 2010 in Technology
OSTI’s Cool Roof


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. 

[Detail of OSTI's "before" roof]

OSTI's re-roofing project began before the President issued his Executive Order directing the federal government to set a good example for the nation on sustainability. In July, Secretary Chu, a longtime proponent of cool roofs, announced that DOE would more broadly implement cool roof technologies on DOE facilities.   He noted that "cool roofs are one of the quickest and lowest cost ways we can reduce our global...

Related Topics: carbon emissions, cool roof, energy efficiency


OSTI R&D Plus News on the Move

by Doug Bales 23 Aug, 2010 in Technology
Mobile Web

Ever wonder what innovations OSTI is developing to keep you informed while you are on the go? No need to ever wonder while you wander.

Now you can get DOE R&D full-text reports, OSTI news, videos and more while you’re on the move.

The new mobile web page allows you to:
• Get full-text DOE R&D from Information Bridge 
• Read the latest news in our RSS feed (see image);
• View our YouTube videos;
• Read our award-winning blog
• Visit us on Facebook and Twitter

Visit to test drive or take it on the road with your mobile device.

Doug Bales

Related Topics: mobile, OSTI news, RSS feeds, videos, OSTI Youtube Channel, OSTIBLOG


Recording Science: From Parchment to Pixels.

by Dr. Jeffrey Salmon 06 Aug, 2010 in Technology


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.

That goes for what is called “new media,” as it does for parchments. Multimedia (video, animation, visualization, interactive publishing, image and object recognition) is widely used to record, share, and collaborate in science...

Related Topics: archimedes, multimedia, new media, slac


Value of a Semantic Science Accelerator and Means of Constructing It

by Dr. William Watson 28 Jul, 2010 in Technology

OSTI's current services accelerate science through what is largely a kind of card file.  We point people to particular pieces of literature or data that meet certain search criteria.  From there, people can build on what those pieces of information tell them and achieve new discoveries and inventions. 

Some of what the users achieve involves combining the information they get with other knowledge of their own that isn't represented in databases.  This of course requires some thought from the users.  But other achievements could result entirely from information that the users retrieve through OSTI, with no additional input whatsoever--namely inferences made directly from that information alone.  Right now, such inferences still generally require user involvement.  But software programs designed and tested in the last several years can automate some inferences from text and data tables.  In biology and medicine, these programs have already turned up connections in the literature that could accelerate our understanding, and thus treatment, of some poorly-understood diseases.[1]  Among the most recent inferential programs is Semantic Medline[2], which displays conceptual interconnections across multiple search results in a single graph, thus showing the searcher how his query's terms relate to other concepts, some of which he may not already know. 

If it were permanently left to unaided human users to make these inferences themselves, very few would ever be made, since no user knows every fact mentioned in the entire science and technology literature.  Computers, on the other hand, can check large sets of literature for explicit links between concepts and infer chains of such links to reveal unsuspected relations in the physical world.  The text-analysis software currently...

Related Topics: semantic, Science Accelerator


Multilingual WorldWideScience.orgBETA Officially Launched

by Lorrie Johnson 20 Jun, 2010 in Technology


On June 11, the Multilingual BETA was officially launched in Helsinki, Finland at the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) annual conference.  This new capability is the result of an international public-private partnership between the Alliance and Microsoft Research, whose translations technology has been paired with the federated searching technology of Deep Web Technologies. now provides the first-ever real-time searching and translation across globally-dispersed, multilingual scientific literature. Multilingual

WorldWideScience.orgBETA allows users to conduct a single query of over 70 scientific databases from around the world.  Results can then be translated into the user’s preferred language.  Currently, nine languages are available (Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian) and more languages will be added in the coming months.  With the pace of non-English scientific publishing continuing to grow, it is vitally important that English-speaking scientists gain access to non-English content.  Conversely, Multilingual WorldWideScience.orgBETA also benefits non-English-speaking users by enabling translations of English-language content.

Since its inception in 2007, has grown from searching 12 databases in 10 countries to searching over 70 databases in 66 countries, covering more than 400 million...

Related Topics: microsoft, multilingual, MWWS, translations, (WWS)


No Alternative to Federated Search

by Dr. Walt Warnick 09 May, 2010 in Technology

Discovery services have begun to appear in the search landscape.  Discovery services provide access to documents from publishers with which they have relationships by indexing the publishers’ metadata and/or full text. Discovery services are marketed to libraries where patrons appreciate near-instantaneous search results and where library staff is willing to restrict access to sources available from the service (and optionally the library's own holdings.)  While these services tout themselves as improvements to federated search, the reality is that there is no alternative to federated search for a number of important applications. is a global gateway to science. The federated search application was conceived and developed at OSTI and hosted by us. The portal performs live federated search of 70 databases from 66 countries. Participating members provide access to their national research databases. For a number of reasons this important gateway to millions of research documents does not lend itself to the discovery service model. content is free to the public.  Several difficult technical hurdles make it highly impractical to index content from member databases. The first challenge is that most databases will not provide a harvesting mechanism such as OAI-PMH. Without such a mechanism there is no method of predictably harvesting the entire contents of a database. From OSTI's perspective, it is not acceptable to provide access to only a subset of a scientific collection. Federated search completely avoids this problem by having the source's search engine query the entirety of its contents.

The second major challenge is that meta data does not exist for documents in many of the databases in Discovery services rely upon meta data to "homogenize" information about documents that they place in their...

Related Topics: federated search, (WWS)


Federated Search: Closing in on the Speed Gap

by Dr. Walt Warnick 02 Apr, 2010 in Technology
Title Placeholder


Many casual users of federated search criticize the technology for being slow to retrieve results. Serious researchers recognize the unique ability of federated search engines to mine the deep Web for quality science information that Google cannot find. These users recognize that there is no practical alternative to federated search for the best information. Still, everyone wants everything faster, and those users who are willing to trade quality for quickness focus on how federated search doesn't return results in "Google time."

OSTI begins to address the speed issue by displaying some results as soon as they are available. However, this approach causes results to be delivered in two sequential sets, which many users find less than ideal.The good news for federated search users is that speed is not an insurmountable issue because technology is closing in on the speed gap. The major bottlenecks to lightning fast federated search performance are related to networks, applications, server hardware, and storage. A systematic program to increase the speed of federated search would begin with a much needed serious assessment of the relative size of the bottlenecks. Lacking such an assessment, we consider how each bottleneck can be mitigated. The good news is that the inexorable advance of technology is steadily speeding up federated search.Networks move search result metadata and document full text to searchers. Network latency and overall network speed directly impact response times for searching. Network bottlenecks can appear anywhere...

Related Topics: federated search