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UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA,
LAWRENCE RADIATION LABORATORY,
Berkeley, Calif., July 2, 1966.
on Science and Astronautics, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. DEAR SIR: I am happy to have the opportunity to submit my comments on H.R. 15638 to your committee. The rate of growth of our science and technology depends strongly upon the availability of information. In recognition of the importance of wide dissemination of scientific data, considerable expenditures have been made by various government agencies and industrial firms for data compilations. Unfortunately a considerable portion of these expenditures has been wasted as many of these compilations have not been critically evaluated and have been less than worthless in that they have misled and confused scientists and engineers who have attempted to apply these compilations.
The difficulty arises from the fact that scientific data are pouring out of thousands of laboratories all over the world. They are produced in a variety of equipment and by many different methods of varying reliability. They are reported in many different journals and in a variety of units and formats. It is difficult for scientists and engineers who have not specialized in the types of experiments reported to evaluate the reliabilities of the various reported data and to convert them to compatible and consistent bases of comparison. It is of great importance in the application of technical data to insure that the data from a variety of sources have been evaluated and transformed to a consistent basis. Otherwise serious discrepancies will be introduced that can invalidate the conclusions drawn from the information.
The critically evaluated compilation "Selected Values of Chemical Thermodynamic Properties" (National Bureau of Standards Circular 500) is an example of the type of compilation that presents consistent data that can be used by scientists and engineers in all fields. This compilation has been widely used for many applications. It is of greatest importance that compilations of this type be expanded in scope to include other types of data and that they be carried out on a continuing basis to digest the flood of new data and convert them to a consistent critically evaluated form which can be used with confidence in all areas of our technology.
It takes a great deal of careful work by highly trained scientists to produce critically evaluated compilations such as NBS Circular 500. The effort is small compared to the total effort required on the part of many individuals who must prepare their own compilations when they are not available. In those areas where critically evaluated compilations are not available, engineers and scientists often do without the use of available information to the detriment of their work, or, because of their lack of experience with the particular methods used to obtain the data, they may improperly evaluate the data and draw erroneous conclusions which can handicap them in the development of their work.
The effort required to cope with the tremendous outpouring of information is a larger one than could be managed by any government agency or the combined efforts of all the agencies. It is an important feature of H.R. 15638 that the Secretary of Commerce is directed to utilize not only the reference data services of the various governmental agencies but any other compiling activities that meet the standards of the Standard Reference Data Program also are to be coordinated to insure consistency and to avoid duplication. There are many individuals who evaluate and compile the data pertaining to their narrow speciality. The Standard Reference Data Act provides the means of making the results of these expert evaluations available to all scientists and engineers in a form that is consistent with the rest of the data compiled under the Standard Reference Data Program. These activities can often be added to the Standard Reference Data Program with no expenditures on the part of the Department of Commerce.
In summary, the Standard Reference Data Program that is set up under H.R. 15638 is of the greatest importance to our technology in eliminating wasteful duplication of compilations and ineffective non-critically evaluated compilations. The availability of reliable information will be an important stimulant to our technology. Respectfully yours,
LEO BREWER, Head, Inorganic Materials Research Laboratory.
HERCULES POWDER CO, INC.,
Wilmington, Del., July 7, 1966. Hon. EMILIO Q. DADDARIO, Chairman, Subcommittee on Science, Research and Development, Committee
on Science and Astronautics, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. DEAR SIR: In response to your letter of June 20, 1966, I appreciate the opportunity to offer my comments on HR 15638, known as the Standard Reference Data Act, an Administration bill introduced on June 13 by Chairman George P. Miller. I have been quite familiar, for several years, with the planning activities of the National Bureau of Standards, Department of Commerce, on the National Standard Reference Data System (NSRDS). In fact, I have followed the evolution of the NSRDS through my association with the National Research Council as Chairman of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Technology for the period of 1962 to 1964. It is within this Division that the Office of Critical Tables was established in 1955 to carry on critical data activities initiated by the National Academy of Sciences over thirty years ago. The magnitude of the task of critical data compilation is such that it calls for government leadership and support. I welcome with enthusiasm the expression of interest by the Congress of the United States in the declaration of policy outlined in Sections I through IV of the proposed Bill and heartily endorse the wording of the Act with reference to these particular sections.
Since the compilation and critical evaluation of Standard Reference Data entails a considerable expense which will tend to increase as scientific activities increase, it seems to me desirable to relate the extent of such work to the needs of the scientists and engineers using the compilations. I know of no better way to ensure that such a relationship continues to exist than by establishing prices to the users which may reflect the cost of such compilation and evaluation. Since the government itself is largely involved in the field of science, it does not follow that the entire cost should be so recovered. I note that in Section V, line 20, the phrase, . . To the extent practical and appropriate. ...” modifies the sentence permitting such cost recovery. opinion, the pricing policy should aim at maximum utilization of the Standard Reference Data Compilation.
I am opposed to Section VI on the grounds that it might appear to provide some sort of a guaranty of accuracy or special status to the physical data contained in the compilations. In all cases data are approximations to reality and the accepted values change as scientific methods improve. Thus, the use of such a symbol could be confusing in the course of time.
Since Section VII seems to relate to the special type of copyright, it would seem more appropriate to consider this section in light of the very extensive copyright hearings that have recently been in progress and new copyright legislation now being drawn. Personally, I feel that this Section together with Sections VIII and IX should be deleted from the proposed Act. I do not feel that they are in keeping with the purposes of the other parts of the Act, nor necessary to the proper functioning of the new National Standard Reference Data System.
Although these are my personal opinions, I had an opportunity last week at a meeting of the National Academy of Sciences-National Academy of Engineering's Committee on Scientific and Technical Communication (which I chair), to discuss HR 15638 with my colleagues on the Committee and I found that they are in substantial agreement with the above comments. The Committee, however, did not take any formal action in this connection. Sincerely yours,
R. W. CAIRNS, Director of Research.
EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY,
Ypsilanti, Mich., July 25, 1966. Hon. WESTON E. VIVIAN, House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
DEAR CONGRESSMAN VIVIAN: Thank you for your letter calling attention to H.R. 15638, a bill to authorize the Departmnt of Commerce to college and make available critically evaluated, standardized scientific and technical reference data.
We believe that the proopsed expansion of the National Standard Reference Data System is highly desirable. Such a program is indeed essential to the most productive development of research and teaching efforts. We are familiar, of course, with the work of the Center for the Application of Science and Technology at Wayne State University, which uses the NASA tapes, and we infer that data compiled under this authorization might be employed in similar ways. Sincerely yours,
DONALD F. DRUMMOND,
Acting Dean. 158
THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER,
Rochester, N.Y., June 21, 1966.
DEAR MR. CONABLE: I am replying to your letter of June 17 in which you ask for comments on H.R. 15638. Several thoughts immediately came to mind.
1. Offhand this does sound like the sort of service which logically might be expected to be offered by an agency of the National Bureau of Standards. In fact specialized programs already exist there; one which I am familiar with is concerned with the evaluation of nuclear data. Perhaps all such efforts, old and new, should be organized under one administration.
2. In spite of the limitations expressed regarding the nature of the material to be evaluated this project could become very large, in fact I suspect that it would have to be quite large to be reasonably effective in finding and evaluating new material, in rejecting old, inferior data, and in providing rapid access to the information.
3. This project seems logically to be connected with the broad problem of information retrieval, which has recently been undergoing serious study by a number of separate groups. This means computer orperations on a large scale. I understand that there is a big information retrieval project at the Library of Congress, now working to get the entire L.C. card file into computer language and that this is a continuing long range effort to streamline information retrieval for the whole country. A second project, quite a bit smaller, is one sponsored by the N.I.H. with the participation of the National Institute of Arthritic and Metabolic Diseases and three universities, the University of Rochester (Dr. Joseph Izzo), the University of Minnesota (Dr. Lazerow) and and Western Reserve University (Dr. Al Goldwyn). I understand that an automated system developed by them over the past five years is already in service. These are obviously only samples of fairly widespread efforts in information retrieval. You probably know of others.
4. The quality of the data provided will naturally depend on the quality and interest of the people who review the data. Will these be permanent staff people who make the judgments, will specialized committees be established from the scientific community, will opinions of individual outside people be solicited ?
5. My overall impression is that such a service could be of great value if it proves after study, to be technically and economically sound. These are all offhand remarks. I hope that they will prove of some value. Sincerely yours,
H. W. FULBRIGHT,