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The Commerce Blog

Nanosoccer Robots Ready to Compete in Upcoming RoboCup Games

YouTube video clip of nanosoccer. Click to view 2008 video.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) will be serving up “soccer under glass”—the glass of a microscope lens—when nanosoccer makes its second appearance at the RoboCup games at the international competition in Graz, Austria, from June 29 to July 5, 2009. Nanosoccer is a Lilliputian event where computer-driven “nanobots” the size of dust mites challenge one another on fields no bigger than a grain of rice. Viewed under a microscope, the nanobots are operated by remote control and move in response to changing magnetic fields or electrical signals transmitted across the microsized arena. (More)

Under Secretary Blank Urges NALEO Officials to Make Your Voices Heard

United States Census 2010 logo. Click to go to Web site.

Under Secretary of Commerce for Economic Affairs, Dr. Rebecca Blank urged attendees of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) annual conference to help facilitate “equal access so everyone will participate in the 2010 Census.” “The Census is at the core of our democracy. It is not partisan, it is American—and it belongs to everyone living in America. It is about opportunity, equality and full representation, regardless of economic status, race or ethnic origin, “ Blank said at the annual conference entitled “Latinos and Census 2010: On the Brink of the Count.” (More) (NPR-Blank Interview)

NOAA Observes Lightning Safety Awareness Week, Advises 'When Thunder Roars, Go Indoors!'

Image of jagged lightning bolts. Click for larger image.

Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is sponsoring National Lightning Safety Awareness Week, June 21-27, to help the public learn how to recognize and avoid the dangers of lightning. Violent summer storms can form quickly and stretch for hundreds of miles and can produce deadly lightning capable of striking up to 10 miles away. Each year in the United States more than 400 people are struck by lightning. “Lightning is extremely dangerous,” says John Jensenius, National Weather Service lightning safety expert. “The best advice is, ‘When thunder roars, go indoors.’” (More) (Lightning Safety Brochure-PDF)

Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke Announce Expansion of Manufacturing Initiative in Ohio

Ohio Gov. Strickland, Vice President Biden, Secretary Locke seated at table. Click for larger image.

White House Photo

Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced the expansion of the National Innovation Marketplace program, an initiative that will help revitalize supply chains and equip manufacturers to use emerging technology and find new market opportunities. Locke joined Biden, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, and Auto Recovery Director Ed Montgomery at the vice president’s fifth meeting of the White House Task Force on Middle Class Families, reinforcing the administration’s commitment to innovation in American manufacturing. (More) (White House Press Release) (Middle Class Task Force Web Site)

Census Bureau Reports World's Older Population Projected to Triple by 2050

Census Bureau seal.

The world's 65-and-older population is projected to triple by midcentury, from 516 million in 2009 to 1.53 billion in 2050, according to the Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau. In contrast, the population under 15 is expected to increase by only 6 percent during the same period, from 1.83 billion to 1.93 billion. These figures come from the world population estimates and projections released today through the Census Bureau's International Data Base. This latest update includes projections by age, including people 100 and older, for 227 countries and areas. (More)

Secretary Locke Kicks Off President Obama's 'United We Serve' Initiative with Visit to Homeless Shelter

Secretary Locke is shown reading to children with Rep. Harry Mitchell. Photo courtesy Tracy Hayes. Click for larger image.

Photo courtesy Tracy Hayes, A New Leaf

In an effort to inspire Americans to serve their communities, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke visited a homeless shelter in Mesa, Ariz. as part of the President’s summer service initiative, ‘United We Serve,’ focusing on four key areas: energy and the environment, health care, education and community renewal. Locke joined other senior officials in the Obama administration, including fellow Cabinet members and the First Lady, who participated in service projects on Monday in communities across the country. Locke is shown with Ariz. Rep. Harry E. Mitchell, reading to children at the shelter. The initiative will continue through the National Day of Service and Remembrance on September 11th. (President Obama’s Video on ‘United We Serve’)

NOAA Forecasts Predicts large "Dead Zone" for Gulf of Mexico this Summer

Image of mouth of Mississippi River showing nutrient run-off. Click for data visualization.

A team of NOAA-supported scientists from the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, Louisiana State University, and the University of Michigan is forecasting that the “dead zone” off the coast of Louisiana and Texas in the Gulf of Mexico this summer could be one of the largest on record. The dead zone is an area in the Gulf of Mexico where seasonal oxygen levels drop too low to support most life in bottom and near-bottom waters. The mouth of the Mississippi River (imaged here) is an example of how nutrient run-off creates plankton blooms. (More) (NOAA Visualization)

Locke Statement on President Obama's Intent to Nominate David Kappos as Patent and Trademark Director

Photo of Kappos.

President Barack Obama announced his intent to nominate David Kappos, an experienced patent professional with more than 20 years of experience, as the new Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the U.S Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). “The United States Patent and Trademark Office faces significant challenges, and it needs an experienced leader like David at the helm,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “He will be a strong voice for patent reform and I have tasked him to reduce dramatically the unacceptably long time the office takes to review patent applications.” (More)

NIST Releases Report on Smart Grid Development

NIST logo.

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology today released for public review a report* that identifies issues and proposes priorities for developing technical standards and an architecture for a U.S. Smart Grid. The Smart Grid is a planned nationwide network that will use 21st century information technology to deliver electricity efficiently, reliably and securely, while allowing increased use of renewable power sources. The nearly 300-page report, developed and delivered to NIST by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), is available on the NIST Smart Grid Web site. (More)

Locke Announces First Indian Company to Receive Express Lane Status for U.S.-Indian Trade

Secretary Locke speaking from podium. Click for larger image.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke announced an important step forward in the strategic partnership between the United States and India during remarks to the U.S.-India Business Council’s 34th Anniversary “Synergies Summit.” General Electric India (GE India) has been tapped as the first Indian company to qualify as a validated end-user (VEU) in India, allowing the company to enter a pre-approved, export express lane as a trusted end user. That the VEU program was opened for India is an indication of the increased importance of the U.S.-India bilateral and commercial relationship. (More)