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Blog Category: National Institute of Standards and Technology

NIST in the 1940s

NIST in the 1940s

Ed. Note: This post is part of a series following the release of the 1940 Census highlighting various Commerce agencies and their hard work on behalf of the American people during the 1940s through today.

In 1940, the United States was officially not involved in the burgeoning conflicts in Europe and Asia. Yet secretly the country was hurriedly preparing for war. A decade of drought and economic depression and 20 years of peace had left the military with a fleet of outdated ships, divisions of ancient armored vehicles, scores of rusty rifles, and little in the way of new weapons and other technological development.

Mobilizing for war in the face of these deficits required materials and production on a monumental scale. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (then called the National Bureau of Standards) was enlisted to ensure that those materials and the manufacturing processes used to shape them were of the highest quality and performed as expected.  

NIST/CU 'Star Comb' Joins Quest for Earthlike Planets

Infrared starlight (three solid band) by comparing the missing light to a laser frequency comb reference "ruler" (sets of bright vertical bars indicating precise wavelengths, which increase from left to right).  Credit: CU/NIST/Penn State

If there is life on other planets, a laser frequency comb developed at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may help find it.

Such a comb—a tool for precisely measuring frequencies, or colors, of light—has for the first time been used to calibrate measurements of starlight from stars other than the Sun. The good results suggest combs will eventually fulfill their potential to boost the search for Earth-like planets to a new level.

The comb was transported to the Texas mountains to calibrate a light analyzing instrument called a spectrograph at the Hobby-Eberly telescope. A University of Colorado Boulder (CU) astronomer and Pennsylvania State University students and astronomers collaborated on the project.

“The comb worked great,” says NIST physicist Scott Diddams. “In a few days, it enabled measurement precision comparable to the very best achieved in the same wavelength range with much more established techniques—and we hope the comb will do much better as the new technique is perfected.”

The NIST comb calibrated measurements of infrared starlight. This type of light is predominantly emitted by M dwarf stars, which are plentiful in Earth’s part of the galaxy and might have orbiting planets suitable to life.

Global Biometric Leaders Attend International Biometric Performance Conference at NIST

image of thumb print

Anyone who enjoys police dramas on TV knows that biometrics such as fingerprints and DNA are used to match criminals to crimes. But increasingly, biometrics are being used in public and private arenas to ensure access to computers and buildings, or to authenticate that you are really you when traveling internationally with an e–passport. One day, biometrics may be used to authenticate who you are when banking or buying something on the Internet.

Last week, biometric experts from across the globe have been attending the International Biometric Performance Conference at Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in Gaithersburg, Md. This applied research conference was focused on identifying fundamental, relevant, effective and new performance metrics for biometric systems and determining and sharing best practices for performance evaluation and calibration as they relate to design specifications and day-to-day operations. The goal is for people and computer systems to know reliably who is who.

Building America’s Future: Smart Investments in Advanced Manufacturing

From the front row, Secretary Bryson watches President Obama at the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe Manufacturing Plant

Guest blog post by Commerce Secretary John Bryson

I had the opportunity today to join President Obama on a visit to the Rolls-Royce Crosspointe facility in Prince George’s County, Virginia. This facility manufactures components of some of the company’s most advanced airplane engines.  The company announced that it is planning to add 140 new jobs at Crosspointe and more than 100 additional jobs in Indiana manufacturing components for aircraft wings. 

As I have said and as the President said today, we are fully committed to helping U.S. businesses build things here and sell them everywhere.  The Crosspointe facility is an important example of how we are doing just that, and it was remarkable to have the opportunity to see these efforts in action.

Crosspointe received a $4 million investment from the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help establish the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM).  Later this summer, the CCAM, an applied research center developed by eight companies, the state of Virginia, and three leading state universities, will open its doors.  This will help bridge the gap from research to product development while supporting the skills that workers need to get good jobs in advanced manufacturing.  In addition, CCAM will form linkages to local community colleges to promote workforce training and high-skilled employment.  The project is expected to create 128 jobs, while at the same time strengthening advanced manufacturing in the immediate area, and generating $22 million in private investment.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Fighting Botnets

President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

In September, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) in cooperation with the Department of Homeland Security, released Request for Information (RFI) to focus on the growing concern around a specific Internet security risk related to "botnets."

While security risks on the Internet continue to exist in many areas, one increasingly exploited threat is the global rise of botnets. A botnet infection can lead to the monitoring of a consumer's personal information and communication, and exploitation of that consumer's computing power and Internet access. Researchers suggest an average of about 4 million new botnet infections occur every month.

Secretary Bryson Meets with Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee

Nanofabrication facility at NIST where manufacturers come to study new ways to make advanced computer chips, nanoscale batteries, and other high-tech products.  Photo credit:  Photo by Kristen Dill

Yesterday, U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson delivered remarks at a meeting of the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) Steering Committee. At yesterday’s meeting, held at the White House, the Steering Committee discussed recommendations targeting issues in manufacturing, focusing on technology development, policy, education and workforce development, and shared facilities and infrastructure.

AMP is a collaboration between industry, academia and government leaders to accelerate the development of the U.S. advanced manufacturing sector and to shape the administration’s Advanced Manufacturing Strategy. AMP is guided by a Steering Committee, which is co-chaired by Andrew Liveris, President, Chairman and CEO of the Dow Chemical Company, and Susan Hockfield, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their final report will be reviewed by PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in April. Though AMP is still at work on the recommendations, several were prioritized for early action and implementation by Secretary Bryson.

National Consumer Protection Week: Spotlight on Trusted Identities

National Consumer Protection Week logo

On Monday, President Obama declared March 4-10, 2012 as National Consumer Protection Week, building on a coordinated effort that encourages consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their consumer rights and make better-informed decisions. The Commerce Department is using this occasion to showcase the efforts of our Internet Policy Task Force, which is leveraging the expertise of several Commerce bureaus that are aimed at ensuring continued innovation in the Internet economy and preserving consumer trust in Internet commerce and online interactions. In particular, the Task Force continues to move forward in our work to promote new efforts that will lead to improved Internet privacy protection and better security for consumers online.

One of the biggest problems facing consumers online is the heavy reliance on usernames and passwords.  Most Internet users are asked to create so many logins and passwords that they have to create coping mechanisms to keep track of them all, from using the same one as often as possible to writing them all down, none of which lead to strong security practices.  In fact, exploiting the inherent weaknesses of passwords was the top method attackers used last year, according to the 2012 Data Breach Investigations Report produced by Verizon.  

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

NIST Establishes National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence

According to a recent industry study, cyber crimes cost the global economy $388 billion annually in both direct financial losses and the value of lost time dealing with the effects of cyber crime. The study found that about 431 million adults are victims of cyber crime each year.

Another recent study found that annual cyber crime costs for larger U.S. companies averaged about $5.9 million each with a 44 percent increase in the number of successful cyber attacks compared to the previous year.

To help organizations better protect themselves from such threats, the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) today announced a new partnership to establish the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.  The Center will operate as a public-private collaboration for accelerating the widespread adoption of integrated cybersecurity tools and technologies. The State of Maryland and Montgomery County, Md., are co-sponsoring the Center with NIST, which will work to strengthen U.S. economic growth by supporting automated and trustworthy e-government and e-commerce.

U.S. Senator for Maryland Barbara Mikulski, Maryland Lt. Governor Anthony Brown and Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett were at NIST in Gaithersburg, Md., today to announce the partnership with Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and NIST Director Patrick Gallagher.

Acting Deputy Secretary Blank Tours Factory in Flint, Mich.

Photo: Veronica Artis, Executive Vice President, Genesee Packaging; Flint Mayor Dayne Walling; Dr. Blank; Jane Worthing, Chief Operating Officer, Genesee Packaging, Terence Broussard, Operations/Sales Manager, Genesee Packaging

Yesterday, Acting Deputy U.S. Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank traveled to Flint, Michigan, to tour the factory floor at Genesee Packaging, Inc., along with Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, Genesee Packaging President and CEO Willie Artis, and other employees. Her visit followed the release of President Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget request Monday, where the president laid out his blueprint for an economy built on American manufacturing, American energy, and skills for American workers.

Following the tour, Blank highlighted investments in the new budget proposal that will support U.S. manufacturers and help more American companies like Genesee Packaging keep making their goods here and sell them in markets abroad–both of which are top priorities of President Obama and U.S. Commerce Secretary John Bryson. In addition, Blank participated in a roundtable with area business leaders at the Genesee Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Support for Manufacturers in the President’s FY2013 Budget Request

President's Fiscal Year 2013 Budget Request Logo

Yesterday the president released his FY2013 budget request and Secretary Bryson announced the Department of Commerce’s requests. In the president’s budget, there is strong support for manufacturers by increasing investments in advanced manufacturing, new trade promotion efforts, and innovation investments.

To strengthen and extend Advanced Manufacturing research, Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology is requesting an increase of $45M for a total of $135M. These laboratory efforts are further leveraged with a request of $21M to support the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia Program, and $20M for a NIST Centers of Excellence program. These programs will strengthen public-private partnerships and accelerate innovation focused on manufacturing and technology development.

The president’s budget provides $128 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) to improve the competitiveness of small- and medium-size firms in manufacturing and service industries through custom consulting and product testing.