National Geographic : 1951 Dec
756 National Geographic Photographer John E. Fletcher Memorial Sundial Honors Dr. Briggs and Bureau of Standards' Two Previous Directors Co-author of this article, Lyman J. Briggs is now Director Emeritus; he still carries on research at the Bureau. Here he explains the operation of the sundial commemorating the services of Dr. Samuel W. Stratton, Dr. George K. Burgess, and himself. Dr. Briggs is noted for his studies in aerodynamics of aircraft and projectiles. He is a Trustee of the National Geographic Society and chairman of its Research Committee. implies, it sets the Nation's standards of measurement, essential in today's world of precision machines-the length of an inch and the weight of a pound. It fixes tempera ture standards ranging from nearly the "cold est cold," 459.6° below zero Fahrenheit, to 6,000° or above, where even rocks will melt. It sets the standards for accurate measurement of the amount of electric current in one ampere and of voltage, resistance, and power, which provide the firm foundation upon which our great electrical industry is built. Secondly, it tests the quality and perform ance of all kinds of products, from typewriter ribbons to steel girders, procured by the Fed eral Government, which is the world's largest individual purchaser (page 771). And it carries on research and development in countless fields, from harnessing the atom for peaceful work to learning just how soap gets things clean. Special work for the Atomic Energy Com mission will be done by the NBS at a new laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. Today also, as always when war clouds gather, the Bureau is shifting into high gear to help develop new scientific weapons, many of them top-secret. New types of guided mis siles are being developed for the Navy at a new NBS Laboratory at Corona, California. Congress established the National Bureau of Standards in 1901, because scientists and businessmen were clamoring for some central agency in this country to fix standards for all kinds of things. Until the Bureau was founded, many scientific instruments had to be sent all the way to Germany for calibration to establish their accuracy. To ensure that Uncle Sam gets his money's worth, the Bureau cooperates with other Fed eral agencies in setting up many of the speci fications for the things the Government buys. The NBS has helped to establish many of the industrial standards set up for private business by the American Standards Association and the American Society for Testing Materials. Consumers' groups utilize its testing methods and reports.