Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Link of the month - NIST

My website of the month is the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

The NIST was founded in 1901 and is a non-regulatory federal agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its mission is the promotion of “U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards, and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life”. NIST scientists have earned three Nobel prizes over the past eleven years, and the $64 billion market of emissions trading is based on collaboration between the NIST and EPA.

The NIST home page is rather busy looking, but it contains valuable links that allow internet research covering a number of different interests. Here one can find documentation about measurements, technology services, and standard reference materials for the U.S. industry, e.g. introductions and information about building and fire codes, and the cyber security programs that are provided by the NIST.

Within this NIST page one can find the Virtual Library

The Virtual Library offers access to the online catalog, e-journals, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) standards, and a reference shelf. The IEEE standards can be searched by the number, industry and numerical listing, and although the entire contents of the standards is only available for IEEE members and institutional subscribers, the table of contents and a summary can be accessed easily. Additionally the NIST Virtual Library allows full text access to all articles of the “Journal of Research of NIST” since 1982. Issued six times a year, the journal covers a broad range of subjects with major emphasis on measurement methodology and the basic technology underlying standardization.

Lisbon Treaty now in effect

After 8 years in the making, December 1st 2009 marked the date when the Lisbon Treaty (finally) came into force and with it the attempt to streamline the EU institutions and strengthen democracy within the Union. Some of the most important changes are:
• A politician chosen to be president of the European Council for two-and-a-half years, replacing the current system where countries take turns at being president for six months.
• A smaller European Commission, with fewer commissioners than there are member states, from 2014.
• A redistribution of voting weights between the member states, phased in between 2014 and 2017 - qualified majority voting based on a "double majority" of 55% of member states, accounting for 65% of the EU's population.
• New powers for the European Commission, European Parliament and European Court of Justice, for example in the field of justice and home affairs.
• Removal of national vetoes in a number of areas, including fighting climate change, energy security and emergency aid. Unanimity will still be required in the areas of tax, foreign policy, defense and social security.
While critics say that the Lisbon Treaty threatens national sovereignty the overall response has been positive and deemed a necessary step in the unification of Europe.
For more information on the Lisbon Treaty check out the Treaty web site on Europa.eu