New Standard Cigarette, Whale Pregnancy Tests, Video Search

by John Roberts on February 20, 2020

Also in this issue: microbalance measurements, radio history, composite materials
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A biweekly news digest from the
National Institute of Standards and Technology

FEBRUARY 20, 2020

Editor’s Note

The variety of research topics at NIST is even more awe-inspiring now than when I started working here a decade ago. This diversity in research has a common thread: furthering NIST’s mission of advancing measurement science, standards and technology. NIST’s variety is in full display in this latest issue, with topics ranging from whale pregnancy, Army boots, and video searches to fire-starting cigarettes and individual privacy. Enjoy!

—Ben P. Stein, Managing Editor

A box of cigarettes is labeled: Standard Cigarette for Ignition Resistance Testing

NIST Releases a New Standard Cigarette for Testing the Flammability of Mattresses and Furniture

This special cigarette is designed to burn especially well. Manufacturers of soft furnishings can use it to make sure their products resist catching on fire.


A large whale is halfway out of the water, about to breach.

A Better Pregnancy Test for Whales

It’s not easy to do pregnancy tests on whales, but a new method from NIST and Australia’s Griffith University offers better results. The tests can provide important insights into the marine mammals’ health — and their environment.


An open laptop shows a page of cat videos labeled "MY VIDEOS."

Information Retrieval: How NIST Helps You Find That Video Online

Every day, billions of users go to search engines looking for movies, tutorials about how to fix stuff, and funny cats. The TRECVID project has enabled progress in video retrieval for 20 years.


Two circular disks are quartz crystal resonators with front and back electrodes.

Universe in the Balance

NIST researchers have found a way to link industrially important measurements made by a commonly used microbalance to the recently redefined International System of Units (SI). This SI traceability can greatly increase users’ confidence in their measurements.


A historical black-and-white photo shows a man in a suit with equipment labeled "Amplifier Unit" and "Rectifier Unit."

NIST’s Role in the Early Decades of Radio (1911-1933)

A NIST researcher helped to popularize the word “radio.” But for the new technology to become mainstream, it had to be introduced widely into households. Learn how an invention at NIST made this possible!


NIST Privacy Framework

Learn all about the NIST Privacy Framework! Developed with a range of stakeholders, it’s a voluntary tool intended to help organizations identify and manage privacy risks so they can build innovative products and services while protecting individuals’ privacy.



Joint Conference on Scanning Probe Microscopy

Registration is now open for the 2020 International Scanning Probe Microscopy (ISPM) and Scanning Probe Microscopy on Soft & Polymeric Materials (SPMonSPM) joint conference in Breckenridge, Colorado, from May 31-June 4. The deadline for abstracts has been extended until March 2.

14th International Conference on New Developments and Applications in Optical Radiometry

NEWRAD 2020 will be held at the University of Colorado Boulder on June 23-26. The program will cover all aspects of optical radiation measurements, including remote sensing and quantum optics. Register now!

more news and announcements

An Early Warning System for Damage in Composite Materials

A team at NIST has developed a tool to monitor changes in widely used composite materials that can be found in everything from aerospace and infrastructure to wind turbines. The integrated tool can measure the damage in materials as they age.

Title screen for video says: A Higher Standard for Soldier BootsBoots are on the ground, but foot or ankle injuries can literally take soldiers out of action. Watch our new video to find out what NIST is doing to help the Army update its standards for soldier footware.

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