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(NIST: Gaithersburg, MD) -- It’s no surprise that tiny precision objects, such as the parts inside your smartphone, must be measured with laser technology in order to fit together and work properly. But some of the largest structures people depend on every day—including airplane wings and bridge components—are also measured to exacting standards by three-dimensional laser scanners.

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How do jumbo-jet designers develop resilient materials for modern airframes, while still bringing in their projects on time and on budget? Before they prototype a new material, they depend heavily on computer simulations to indicate how it will perform—and scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are making those simulations more effective.

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Providing wireless communications in a factory, plant, or other industrial environment these days means more than just helping employees talk with each other while they work. By eliminating physical connections such as wires and cables from a facility’s communication network, wireless technology offers many manufacturing, chemical processing, and municipal (such as water treatment) organizations a means to run their entire operation more efficiently, more productively, and at less cost.

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To any of his sports-fan colleagues, NIST mathematician and computer programmer Vernon Dantzler might have been somewhat of a celebrity. Dantzler had been a professional baseball player, and a star shortstop in the Texas circuit of the Negro Baseball League during the early 1940s, before the desegregation of Major League baseball. Dantzler also had a degree in mathematics from the Tuskegee Institute, and would later earn a graduate degree in the same field from American University.

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Throwing a perfect strike in virtual bowling doesn’t require your gaming system to precisely track the position and orientation of your swinging arm. But if you’re operating a robotic forklift around a factory, manipulating a mechanical arm on an assembly line, or guiding a remote-controlled laser scalpel inside a patient, the ability to pinpoint exactly where it is in 3D space is critical.

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(NIST: Gaithersburg, MD) -- Small-business owners may think that they are too small to be victims of cyber-hackers, but Pat Toth knows otherwise. Toth leads outreach efforts to small businesses on cybersecurity at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and understands the challenges these businesses face in protecting their data and systems.