March 30, 2006
a biweekly tip sheet for journalists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology
Quantum Dot Method Rapidly Identifies Bacteria
A rapid method for detecting and identifying very small numbers of diverse bacteria, from anthrax to E. coli, has been developed by scientists from the National Cancer Institute and NIST. Described in the March 28 issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the work could lead to the development of handheld devices for accelerated identification of biological weapons and antibiotic-resistant or virulent strains of bacteria-situations where speed is essential.
RFID Tags to Assist in Tracking First Responders
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology has been around for many years and is widely used to identify, track and communicate information about items, products and even animals. An interdisciplinary team of NIST researchers is studying whether RFID technology can be used as a low cost, reliable means to track firefighters and other first responders inside buildings and help them navigate under hazardous conditions.
NIST/ORNL Dedicate New Nuclear Medicine Lab
NIST is establishing a satellite facility at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to promote measurement accuracy for nuclear medicine imaging. In a dedication ceremony at the new laboratory today (March 30), NIST Director William Jeffrey and ORNL Director Jeff Wadsworth described the program, which is a pilot test for a planned series of such sites around the country.
Quality Standards Issued For Testing Herbal Products
NIST has issued the first suite of Standard Reference Materials (SRMs) in a planned series of reference materials for botanical dietary supplements. Manufacturers can use these materials for quality control, and researchers can use them to ensure that their laboratory analyses of supplements are accurate.
Measuring Electrical Arcs At the Micrometer Scale
A new device and technique have been developed by NIST researchers for measuring “breakdown” voltage-the voltage required to produce electrical arcs when electrodes are 400 nanometers to 45 micrometers apart. The advance could be useful in microelectronics, such as in the design of microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS), in which arcing could cause device failure.
Bytes by the Quintillion For Today and Tomorrow
Engineers and information specialists from government, industry and academia agreed this month at a NIST workshop that immediate action is needed to keep vast amounts of digital knowledge from disappearing into cyberspace or becoming in 200, or even 20 years, as incomprehensible as the markings on Babylonian cuneiform tablets.
“March Madness” Effects Observed in Ultracold Gases
Physicists at Harvard University, George Mason University and NIST have discovered new quantum effects in ultracold gases that may lead to improved understanding of electrical conductivity in metals. In work presented at the March meeting of the American Physical Society in Baltimore, Md., the researchers calculated the properties of an “artificial crystal” of ultracold atoms in a lattice formed by intersecting laser beams.
NIST Proposes Updating Digital Signature Standard
To keep current with changing technology, NIST is proposing several changes to the Digital Signature Standard (DSS). The draft Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 186-3 allows the use of 1024, 2048, and 3072-bit encryption keys.
Rescue Robots Test Skills At ‘Disaster City’ Event
Ground, aerial and aquatic emergency response robots from across the country will face real-life challenges April 4-6 in tests of their life-saving skills at Texas A&M University’s "Disaster City" in College Park, TX. The event, hosted by Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service and the local Federal Emergency Management Agency Task Force, is the second in a series of evaluation exercises conducted by NIST for urban search-and-rescue robots.
IT Meeting to Help Agencies With Security Assessments
NIST will host a workshop at its headquarters in Gaithersburg, Md., on April 26 to help federal agencies comply with FISMA (Federal Information Security Management Act) through the development of uniform requirements for security assessment service providers.
Chenok Set To Chair IT Security Advisory Board
NIST Director William Jeffrey has appointed Daniel J. Chenok, a prominent leader in the information technology industry, as the new chair of the Information Security and Privacy Advisory Board. The Board advises NIST on emerging managerial, technical, administration, and physical safeguard issues related to information security and privacy issues.
Collins Named to Head NIST Technology Services
Belinda L. Collins, an expert in both the technical and policy related aspects of standards development, has been promoted to director of NIST's Technology Services.