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ent countries. Seren volumes with a total of approximately 3,500 pages were published in the years 1926–30, constituting the largest single compilation of critical data in the history of science up to that time. These volumes provided scientists and engineers with a compact set of authoritative tables giving them the data needed in their research, development, and engineering activities.
The Academy established a Committee on Tables of Constants in the early years of World War II. Although this Committee considered it desirable to have a revision of the International Critical Tables, it saw no ready solution to the problems created by the steady growth in the quantity of such scientific and technical data. In 1955, the Committee concluded that there was no hope of repeating the work of the International Critical Tables as a single compilation. This conelusion resulted from the following considerations:
1. The fields of chemistry, physics, and engineering, as well as other disciplines, had expanded greatly in size and in their requirements for quantitative data of all kinds.
2. Both precision of measurements in science and the precision of manufacturing in industry had been pushed to new levels in the intervening period, requiring more accurate data of even greater precision.
3. Rough estimates indicated that an adequate and complete revision and extension of the International Critical Tables would be 100 to 200 times as great as the original task.
4. Any new undertaking of this kind should provide for continuity.
5. By 1955 a number of large data-compiling projects operating on a continuing basis had come into existence in the United States, involving total annual expenditures of about a million dollars.
Recognizing the need for central planning, the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council created in 1957 the Office of Critical Tables with the following responsibilities:
(1) The coordination of existing compilation projects;
(3) The establishment of a directory and index service for projects;
(4) The encouragement of uniform editorial practices and other items that go into the expression of quantitative data (e.g., use of approved nomenclature, symbols, units, fundamental constants, the adoption of suitable publication forms for compilation of numerical data, et cetera); and
(5) The establishment of communications in this area, to the extent practicable, with scientists in other countries. The formation of this Office by the Academy was greeted with enthusiasm and hope by the scientific community. It succeeded in making progress with most of its aims. But, in the all-important task (item (2) above) of encouraging the creation of new centers for the evaluation, consolidation, and compilation of standard reference data, it failed because no agency, government or private, was able at that time to provide the necessary funding. The establishment in 1963 of the National Standard Reference Data Program at the National Bureau of Standards, with the full backing of the Academy, marked the beginning of a strong central coordination and management center which, hopefully, would receive adequate funding.
The evaluation of data is an international problem. The leadership of the United States is, by its example, encouraging other countries to assume a part of the scientific and financial burden for data collection, evaluation, and compilation. The Academy, with the cooperation of scientific organizations in 5 other major countries and of 10 international unions adhering to the International Council of Scientific Unions, has recently created an International Coordinating Committee for Data in Science and Technology. This Committee will stimulate programs in other countries which will both complement and supplement reference data activities in the United States.
The President of the Committee is Frederick D. Rossini of the University of Notre Dame who is also Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Office of Critical Tables of the Academy which as one of its functions supplies advisory services to the Standard Reference Data Program. Dr. Rossini spent many years at the National Bureau of Standards in the early part of his career and is well known to the Bureau.
The United States must continue to be active in this area of international cooperation and must bear its share of the costs for the international committee and its supporting staff.
Now, turning to the bill before us, I can state that the Academy and the scientific and technical community it represents are in full agreement with the overall purposes of the bill. We are delighted with this evidence of an effort on the part of the Government to strengthen the Standard Reference Data Program.
The cooperative nature of the program must be emphasized. Many of the data to be evaluated are produced in nongovernmental research laboratories, both university and industrial, in the United States and abroad. These data are to a large degree published first in journals of the scientific societies which are almost without exception privately controlled, although they operate on a not-for-fee basis. In part they become the subject matter of many handbooks and data compilations in the United States and in other countries. Many important data are produced by private industry in the course of new product and engineering development and enter the regular channels of science and technology. In view of these facts we wish to express some concern about the wording of sections 7(a) and 7(b) of the bill. Section 7(b) appears to place a copyright on products of the Standard Reference Data Program, whatever their origin, contrary to the usual practice with governmental publications. This restriction could, if not watched, serve as a deterrent to a free flow of scientific data. We should like to point out also that copyright problems are under review at this time in both the executive and legislative branches of the Government.
Mr. DADDARIO. What is your recommendation as to this section? Should it be eliminated or would you suggest other terminology?
Dr. Seitz. I would say the following: I am in general accord with the concept that the Bureau of Standards should receive some fair remuneration for the sale of some of its work. This, in addition to reimbursing the Government, at least in part, would make it possible for the Bureau to keep up the program, to provide special services, and to make sure that the compilation remains current.
I can think of the following example: Someone may write to the Reference Data Center, asking for special information. This would cost effort and time. If the Bureau had a fund which it derived from the sale, it could then use that money to help provide services, as it is doing in other areas at the present time.
I want to emphasize that I am not opposed to some reasonable compensation for the volumes. I would mean people would take them seriously, among other things. I am concerned about the problem of copyrights and also I am concerned about the possibility of charges being so great that individuals or organizations might be prevented from having the volumes.
Mr. WAGGONNER. Doctor, isn't the question there whether the Bureau of Standards has the constitutional right to usurp what might already be an existing copyright?
Dr. SEITZ. I don't know. I would not pretend to be an expert on the matter of copywriting though I have published a number of books.
Mr. DADDARIO. Are you concerned that this section does involve the National Bureau of Standards in a copyright situation, and that this is complicated by the fact that it is under review by other committees of the Congress?
Dr. SEITZ. Yes, sir.
I would hope that any implementation of section 5 as it now reads would not result in pricing some standard reference data publications out of the reach of many of our younger scientists and engineers.
Section 6 also gives us concern, for two reasons : First, the Government, by adopting and using a mark or symbol of approval may be exposing itself to serious criticism in exceptional cases when erroneous or inaccurate data find their way into the standard reference data collections. This can always happen.
Second, in our opinion the appearance of giving authority to numerical data by a mark or seal of approval may not be acceptable to many of our able and productive scientists and engineers. Scientific data by its nature is subject to constant improvement as the skills and techniques of scientists steadily increase. Debate about the correctness of data is a continuing process. Nothing should occur to freeze or impede this discussion.
I may summarize by saying that I strongly support the overall purpose of the bill.
I think that the scientific community would unanimously agree with that statement. I want to point out, however, that sections 5, 6, and 7 introduce questions which should be considered with some care.
Thank you very much.
Could you discuss the symbol as proposed in section 6 in a little greater detail? I ask you to do so because this has been a matter of concern to the committee. The possibility that the symbol would place any responsibility on the Government at all for accuracy is not likely since it is generally recognized that these figures should be taken for what they mean under the present circumstances. You do in a sense back up the concern the committee has shown. I do think your concept ought to be expanded a bit.
Dr. Seitz. I have the feeling that if the compilation is as good as I suspect it will be, the mere fact that it comes from these volumes will be adequate. It would not be necessary to have another separate symbol associated with it.
Many, many scientists and engineers, in using the data in the International Critical Tables, which I mentioned earlier would, in a footnote, just say that they obtained the values from the International Critical Tables. The quality of the work was sufficiently well known that nothing else was needed to give the reader a notion of the general standard that was implied. I think that would be adequate.
Mr. DADDARIO. Unless the work is developed in such a way as to change the degree of quality necessary in the scientific community. Except for that, the symbol would neither add nor detract?
Dr. SEITZ. Exactly.
Mr. DADDARIO. The development of a way to make appropriate payments to the Commerce Department also has troubled us. You raised the point that younger scientists and engineers may be barred from obtaining this information when they need it. Would you give us further ideas on this? This question has been answered previously in this way. The value of the information would be shown if people were ready to pay for it.
Dr. SEITZ. Yes, I think some charge is completely reasonable. It means that people will not ask for the compilations unless they have a serious interest.
On the other hand, I think one serves the community by making the material available at what I call a reasonable fee, regarding it as a catalyst for international and national science.
Mr. DADDARIO. Mr. Mosher?
Mr. MOSHER. Dr. Seitz, as I understand your position, speaking for the scientific community, you are saying that this is an undertaking that needs to be done.
Dr. SEITZ. It is long overdue.
Mr. MOSHER. This need is not likely to be met by any other group or combination of groups other than the Government, is that right? This is a case where almost of necessity the Government has to take the initiative.
Dr. SEITZ. I think this is the best way and I think it is also important that it be initiated by a large technologically oriented nation such as ours.
Mr. MOSHER. However, the assistance we will get from scientists around the world will be significant.
Dr. Seitz. Very significant. There is much enthusiasm for the program.
Mr. MoSHER. The quality of that work will be significant, too.
Mr. MOSHER. You are saying that the National Academy of Sciences is not prepared to do this, or any other non-Government agency that you know of? The Government will not be stepping on someone else's toes?
Dr. SEITZ. I think not. The Academy prefers to retain an advisory role when it can. We do occasionally enter into operations, but I think this project would be ideally handled by the National Bureau of Standards.
Mr. MOSHER. The American Association for the Advancement of Science would not be able to take it on ?
Dr. SEITZ. I do not believe so. If there were no other way of doing it, the National Academy of Sciences National Research Council could. On the other hand, I think it is better to have the National Bureau of Standards undertake this.
Mr. MOSHER. You say if the Government doesn't do it, you could? Is that right? That is an interesting statement.
Dr. SEITz. I will put it this way: We played a key role with regard to the original compilation and if no Government agency were prepared to do it, I think we would give serious consideration to undertaking it.
On the other hand, I think that since the National Bureau of Standards has the interest, and the competence, it is best if it is done as proposed in this bill.
Mr. MOSHER. And you think that view you have just expressed would be almost universal throughout the scientific community?
Dr. SEITZ. I think so.
Dr. Seitz. I don't think it would be seriously challenged by those who have given responsible thought to it.
Mr. MOSER. I have nothing further.
Mr. VIVIAN. With reference to the cost of preparing this compilation, I am sure that very few useful compilations can be perpared except for minor abstrating for less than several thousands of dollars, as an absolute minimum, and it would be more likely 10 times that amount.
Dr. SEITZ. Yes.
Mr. Vivian. If you had to charge a cost per volume, how would you anticipate spreading this cost? Are you thinking in terms of, say, charging $1,000 to the first 10 users, or $10 to the first 1,000 users? How would you conceive of the cost being recouped? How would you do it if the scientists had to go ahead with it!
Dr. Seitz. Working out the details is not a trivial thing and I don't want to speak irresponsibly. I think some reasonable charge can be made per volume. I don't see very easily how you could shift the price as you go along. Mr. VIVIAN. Testimony yesterday by Dr. Hollomon discussed this
He raised the question of perhaps some particular firm being interested in a compilation on some particular material or some class of materials. The question is: How much do you charge for the second volume? The orders come in a month apart. The volume already exists and is on the shelves and has been paid for at some fairly high price. I would assume it would cost at least thousands of dollars. The second firm comes along and asks for a copy. What price do you place on the second copy?
Dr. Seitz. If the first organization wanted special service, then perhaps one would have a separate fee for that special service. Once the compilation was available, presumably one would put a standard price
Mr. VIVIAN. What kind of a price?
Dr. SEITZ. I would think that would have to be worked out from case to case.