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OSTIblog Posts by Dr. William Watson

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Physicist

Enrico Fermi, Experimentalist and Theoretician

Published on Dec 12, 2017

Enrico Fermi

Enrico Fermi

To celebrate 70 years of advancing scientific knowledge, OSTI is featuring some of the leading scientists and works particularly relevant to the formation of DOE, OSTI, and their predecessor organizations and is highlighting Nobel laureates and other important research figures in DOE’s history.  Their accomplishments were key to the evolution of the Department of Energy, and OSTI’s collections include many of their publications.

Enrico Fermi was born in Rome on September 29, 1901.  His aptitude for mathematics and physics was recognized early.  After gaining his doctorate in physics in 1922, Fermi worked with prominent physicists Max Born in Germany and Paul Ehrenfest in Switzerland.  He then returned to Italy in 1924 to be a lecturer in mathematical physics and mechanics at the University of Florence.  It was there that Fermi discovered how elementary particles at a given temperature and chemical potential are distributed over different states of motion when no more than one of each particle can exist in any of those states.  Since the constituents of atoms (electrons, d quarks, and u quarks) behave this way, the law of this distribution plays a significant role in the physics of atoms and of their nuclei—two of the main fields of Fermi’s research career.  

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Alan Heeger and Alan MacDiarmid, Conductive Polymer Pioneers

Published on Nov 15, 2017

To celebrate 70 years of advancing scientific knowledge, OSTI is featuring some of the leading scientists and works particularly relevant to the formation of DOE, OSTI, and their predecessor organizations and is highlighting Nobel laureates and other important research figures in DOE’s history.  Their accomplishments were key to the evolution of the Department of Energy, and OSTI’s collections include many of their publications.

Atoms can bind together to form molecules of an innumerable variety of shapes.  One basic shape characterizes polymers, whose molecules are long chains or networks of small groups of atoms, the atom groups being of just one or a few types.  Many polymers are biochemical products of animal, plant, and microbial metabolism; other polymers are entirely artificial.

Photos of MacDiarmid and Heeger

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Edwin McMillan and Glenn Seaborg, Discoverers of New Elements and Isotopes

Published on Oct 16, 2017

To celebrate 70 years of advancing scientific knowledge, OSTI is featuring some of the leading scientists and works particularly relevant to the formation of DOE, OSTI, and their predecessor organizations and is highlighting Nobel laureates and other important research figures in DOE’s history.  Their accomplishments were key to the evolution of the Department of Energy, and OSTI’s collections include many of their publications.

In 1951, Edwin M. McMillan and Glenn T. Seaborg were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering that the list of chemical elements, previously thought to end with the most massive known element, uranium, was actually longer and included elements whose atoms were even more massive.  Unlike most other elements, the new ones discovered by McMillan and Seaborg were not found ready-made in nature, but were produced artificially.

Edwin McMillan and Glenn Seaborg

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Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity – ChemCam

Science Communications

Published on Sep 12, 2012

Mars Science Lab Rover

How do you run chemical tests at a geologic site millions of miles away from you to see what the rocks and soil are made of? Curiosity’s new instrument ChemCam, developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is designed to determine how much light is emitted at each frequency by a geologic sample when it’s heated by a laser beam. Since different materials have different light-emission patterns, measuring the patterns shows what materials emitted them.

Slide presentations giving a general view of Los Alamos contributions to ChemCam:

Reports and analysis of data:

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Value of a Semantic Science Accelerator and Means of Constructing It

Technology

Published on Jul 28, 2010

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. 

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Why might the critical-point behavior of coauthorship networks be universal? The symmetry group of the associated concept space

Products and Content

Published on Feb 01, 2010

In December 2008, Luis Bettencourt and David Kaiser reported their findings[1] from studies of research collaboration networks, which included their discovery that, as coauthorship networks in a particular field reach the point of forming a single giant component of interconnected authors that dwarfs all other coauthor groups in that field, the growth near that point depends in a universal way on the average number of coauthors per author.  In particular, the fraction of coauthor links that belong to the giant component appears to be proportional to ( - kc)0.35, where kc, which marks the critical point, depends on the research field.[2]  The remarkable fact is that the exponent, 0.35, fits the data for networks in several quite distinct fields.  This value apparently isn’t common to networks in general, though.  I had wondered what features of a network do determine the exponent’s value. 

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