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Blog Category: National Institute of Standards and Technology

NIST Researchers Measure High Infrared Power Levels from Some Green Lasers

Photo from an ordinary camera shows light from a green laser diffracted into several spots. The green laser pointer is visible in the foreground. (Bottom) The same vignette photographed by a webcam with no infrared-blocking filter reveals intense diffraction spots from 808nm infrared light, invisible to the eye. Green laser pointers have become a popular consumer item, delivering light that’s brighter to the eye than red lasers, but stories have circulated on the Web about the potential hazards of inexpensive models. Now, a team led by physicist Charles Clark at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) puts some numbers to the problem. In one case, the group found that a green laser pointer emitted almost twice its rated power level of light—but at invisible and potentially dangerous infrared wavelengths rather than green. A new NIST technical note* describes the nature of the problem as well as a home test using an inexpensive webcam that can detect excess infrared light from green lasers.  Read more

Secretary Locke Highlights Efforts to Bolster CyberSecurity in the Commercial Arena at Commerce Department Symposium

Secretary Locke aon podiumToday the Commerce Department hosted a public symposium on the protection of consumers’ and the commercial sector’s information from increasingly sophisticated cyber threats. Secretary Locke provided opening remarks at the event, held at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., followed by remarks from U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski.

The meeting is part of a broader effort to use the Internet to foster innovation and economic growth. The symposium was organized by the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force and featured senior government and private-sector leaders in a wide-ranging discussion of issues, best practices, and strategies for responding to cyber threats. 

Other administration and Congressional officials who addressed the symposium included U.S. Cybersecurity Coordinator Howard Schmidt, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and Commerce Department General Counsel Cameron Kerry.  Panel discussions featured senior officials from the White House, the Department of Homeland Security, the Commerce Department and private-sector executives.  Remarks  |  Read more

Secretary Locke Addresses Symposium on Copyright Policy in the Internet Economy

Secretary Locke on the podiumU.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke discussed the relationship of copyright policy, creativity, and innovation in the Internet economy at a Commerce Department symposium today. The day-long symposium is part of an ongoing series of events sponsored by the Department’s Internet Policy Task Force. The encourages public discussion of online copyright policy in the United States and seeks comment and input from all interested stakeholders--rights holders, Internet service providers, and consumers--on the impact of current copyright laws, the common and emerging techniques used to illegally distribute and obtain protected works, the extent of such infringement and its effects on creativity and innovation in relevant technologies.

Recognizing the vital importance of the Internet to U.S. innovation, prosperity, education and political and cultural life, the Commerce Department has made it a top priority to ensure that the Internet remains open for innovation.  The newly created Internet Policy Task Force will identify leading public policy and operational challenges in the Internet environment.  The Task Force leverages expertise across many of the Department’s bureaus, including those responsible for domestic and international information and communications technology policy, international trade, cyber security standards and best practices, intellectual property, business advocacy and export control.  For more information, including the agenda and webcast information, go to the Internet Policy Task Force Web site (whttp://www.ntia.doc.gov/category/internet-policy-task-force?type=All&field_month_list_value_many_to_one=February&date_filter%5Bvalue%5D%5Byear%5D=) or (www.uspto.gov).  Secretary remarks

Commerce's NIST Team Advances in Translating 'Language' of Nanopores

Image of nanopresScientists from Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have moved a step closer to developing the means for a rapid diagnostic blood test that can scan for thousands of disease markers and other chemical indicators of health. The team reports it has learned how to decode the electrical signals generated by a nanopore—a "gate" less than two nanometers wide in an artificial cell membrane. 

Nanopores are not new themselves; for more than a decade, scientists have sought to use a nanopore-based electrical detector to characterize single-stranded DNA for genetic sequencing applications. More recently, NIST scientists turned their attention to using nanopores to identify, quantify and characterize each of the more than 20,000 proteins the body produces—a capability that would provide a snapshot of a patient's overall health at a given moment. But while nanopores permit molecules to enter into them one at a time, determining what specific individual molecule has just passed through has not been easy.  Read more here

Secretary Locke Discusses Clean Energy Technologies at Energy Efficiency Forum

Secretary Locke on podium in front of audienceU.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke delivered the keynote address, "Connections between Energy Efficiency and the Economy” at the 21st annual Energy Efficiency Forum in Washington today. In his remarks, Locke said,

"Investments in emerging technologies like solar, wind and advanced batteries are vital to this nation's future, and the Obama administration is making unprecedented investments to help them grow. . . .  The president has already made $80 billion in clean energy investments through the Recovery Act – with a good portion going to the type of basic R&D that is often too risky or too expensive for private sector investors."

The 2010 Energy Efficiency Forum, sponsored by the U.S. Energy Association and Johnson Controls, brings together leading energy experts, policy makers, business executives, and top administration officials to discuss the critical role that energy efficiency in buildings, vehicles and industry plays as the foundation for international agreements, national strategies and local actions.  Remarks

Secretary Locke Announces NIST to Lead National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education

Locke at podium.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced today at the Business Software Alliance Cybersecurity Forum that the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will coordinate and facilitate the implementation of the Obama administration’s National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE). This initiative expands the government’s cyber security education efforts into a national focus that will establish an operational, sustainable and continually-improving cyber security education program for the public and private sectors focused on sound cyber practices. (More) (Remarks)

Commerce's NIST Issues Landmark Fire Study on Saving Lives and Property

Photo of NIST researchers outside of burning building.

A landmark study issued today by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) shows that the size of firefighting crews has a substantial effect on the fire service's ability to protect lives and property in residential fires. Performed by a broad coalition in the scientific, firefighting and public-safety communities, the study found that four-person firefighting crews were able to complete 22 essential firefighting and rescue tasks in a typical residential structure 30 percent faster than two-person crews and 25 percent faster than three-person crews. (Release) (Report)

NIST Develops Instrument to Detect Poultry Spoilage

NIST logo

Researchers at Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) designed an instrument that quickly and precisely sniffs trace amounts of chemical compounds that indicate poultry spoilage without damaging the product itself. The process can detect minute amounts of spoilage compounds and can be used by suppliers during all stages of processing, transport and storage. Several proactive measures are used in the United States to keep poultry from going bad between the time it leaves the farm to when it reaches the grocery cart. (More)

NIST, Partners Develop Testing Infrastructure for Health IT Systems

NIST logo.

Fully incorporating modern information technology into the healthcare system promises many benefits, including better quality care, less paperwork and fewer medical errors while reducing unnecessary costs. In any such critical application, however, it’s important to ensure that the new technology behaves as expected. To meet this need in health information technology, a broad array of public and private stakeholders have been working with Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST has released the first of four installments of a new health IT test method and related software. (More)

NIST, NASA Launch Joint Effort to Develop New Climate Satellites

One of the three CLARREO satellites, which will make observations of the energy the Earth absorbs from the sun and radiates back into space. Click for larger imae.

Image: NASA

Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have launched a joint effort to gather enhanced climate data from spaceborne climate observation instruments planned for a group of satellites now under development. The Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Mission includes a fleet of satellites tentatively scheduled for launch later this decade that will gather data for long-term climate projections. (More)