Happy Just The Way We Are

Great speaker today at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).


Mike Reiss, producer and writer for the hugely successful Simpson show–the longest-running series on primetime TV with 30 seasons and over 600 episodes!


The topic was “The Science Behind The Simpsons.”


Whether the guest was Stephen Hawkings or Leonard Nimoy–there was no shortage of scientists and science in this animated, comedy show that taught us much about life.  


The video clip above was a short capture of the Simpsons singing “We are happy just the way we are.”


Incremental change and continuous improvement is so important to our growth and maturation in life.


Yet, there is also a lot to be said for being happy with what you have and who you are. 


There is so much to be grateful for and plenty to enjoy at the moment. 


Many people are on the proverbial roller coaster to nowhere.  


It’s nice to get off the roller coaster and finally be somewhere that makes you happy and fulfilled. 


Mary Poppins get hit by the airplane at the end of the skit, and you know what, she’s not even missed. 😉


(Source Video: Andy Blumenthal)

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Net-Zero Energy House

Today, I had a wonderful opportunity to explore the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Net-Zero Energy House.


As its name implies the residential home makes as much energy as it uses. 


It is run by one of NIST’s 7 laboratories, the Engineering Lab’s Energy and Environment Division.


The 2,700 square foot home is super-insulated and hyper-energy efficient.


It runs on only 12,000-13,000 Kilowatt per year compared to a typical home that guzzles 40,000 KW. 


You can see the array of solar panels on the roof and there is a two-way exchange of energy to/from the grid as available/needed. 


There is also solar thermal water heater. 


The home simulates a family of 4 living there cooking, bathing, watching TV, etc. 


There are 600 sensors inside the house that monitor everything. 


The garage maintains the computers and controls for the research. 


Overall, I was very proud to see the wonderful scientific research being done here. 


It was truly impressive and good for the nation and the planet.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Measurement And Standards Are Our Friends

So I learned that Metrology is the science of measurement. 


And measurement is the foundation of scientific research and creating standards. 


Scientific research and measurement are about exploration, discovery, and innovation.


Further, it is about finding the facts; it is objective; it is truth; it is essential to maintaining integrity. 


Standards also help to ensure dependability, because there is a common reference and you know what you are getting. 


A great true story that demonstrates the importance of measurements and standards is the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904.


This was the third worst urban inferno in American history. 


It destroyed over 1,500 building across 140 acres. 


Fire engines responded from as far as New York and Virginia. 


But the problem was that they invariably could not help. 


Why?  


Because their fire hose couplings could not fit on the Baltimore fire hydrants–they were not standardized.


Without standards, we don’t have interoperability. 


We don’t have a reference that everyone can go by. 


It’s as if we’re all working on our own desert islands. 


This defeats the power in numbers that make us together greater than the sum of our individual parts. 


Science and technology help us advance beyond just ourselves and today. 


Measurement and standardization help us to build a better and stronger society. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Cybersecurity Vulnerabilities Database

Cybersecurity.jpeg

There is a very useful article in Bloomberg about how the U.S. is taking too long to publish cybersecurity vulnerabilities. 


And the longer we take to publish the vulnerabilities with the patch/fix, the more time the hackers have to exploit it!


Generally, the U.S. is lagging China in publishing the vulnerabilities by a whopping 20-days!


Additionally, China’s database has thousands of vulnerabilities identified that don’t appear in the U.S. version. 


Hence, hackers can find the vulnerabilities on the Chinese database and then have almost three weeks or more to target our unpatched systems before we can potentially catch up in not only publishing but also remediating them. 


Why the lag and disparity in reporting between their systems and ours?


China uses a “wider variety of sources and methods” for reporting, while the U.S. process focuses more on ensuring the reliability of reporting sources–hence, it’s a “trade-off between speed and accuracy.”


For reference: 


The Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology publishes the vulnerabilities in the National Vulnerability Database (NVD).


And the NCD is built off of a “catalog of Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) maintained by the nonprofit Mitre Corp.”


Unfortunately, when it comes to cybersecurity, speed is critical.


If we don’t do vastly better, we can be cyber “dead right” before we even get the information that we were vulnerable and wrong in our cyber posture to begin with.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)