Standards community expanding its portfolio
"Market driven" has long been a byword among creators of
global standards. In the past that has meant devising standards that would
enhance corporate profits and world trade. But the concept of the market that
drives standards is expanding within the standards community to include the
welfare of workers, consumers, and the environment. The International
Organization for Standardization (ISO) is again considering adding health and
safety to its series of management standards. ISO also devoted an open session
at last fall's General Assembly to discussing standards'role in improving "the
quality of life." Clement Bezold, president of the Institute for Alternative
Futures, predicts that the new byword among drafters of standards will be a
question: "Are we making the world better?" In the face of the trend, national
and international standardization bodies have noted declining participation over
the past decade by corporations. "If industry continues to retreat from the
standardization process, it will run the risk of political initiatives taking
its place," warns Veit Ghiladi, president of the International Federation of
Standards Users. "It cannot be in industry's interest to have technical
standards prescribed either by governments or by the European Union Commission.
Contact Bezold at firstname.lastname@example.org .
scale established for all of North America
The official times in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico are
synchronized as never before. After several years of international comparisons
and negotiations, their respective versions of Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)
are equivalent to within five millionths of a second for time measurements and
within one part in a trillion for frequency measurements. The common time scale
should benefit technology and trade across the region through joint engineering
and scientific observations and financial transactions. The three nations now
hope to harmonize UTC North America with official times in all Western
Hemisphere nations. For current times around the world, access www.time.gov .
global strategy for Luer connection problems
The European Committee for Standardization (CEN) has issued recommendations to avoid dangers from incorrect use of Luer connectors between medical devices. The Luer consists of a tapered barrel and a conical male part that fits into it without a seal. The original purpose of the Luer fitting was to connect a hypodermic needle to a delivery tube. However, it has been so successful as a connector that it is being used widely in other medical devices, raising possibilities of wrong connections that could have fatal consequences. In the future, CEN recommends, Luer connectors in use today should be restricted to devices leading to the vascular system or a hypodermic syringe. Connectors used for devices linked to the digestive tract or the respiratory system, or other uses, should be designed so they are not directly compatible with those Luer connectors used for the vascular system. Fax Peter Thompson at + 44 1225 75 59 26.
guidelines aim to minimize impact of voltage disruptions
New standards have been drafted to enable semiconductor
makers to use components that safely "ride through" so-called voltage sags from
common power system disturbances, such as lightning or downed power lines. The
standards define a reasonable level of resistance to voltage sags for many
semiconductor fabrication tools. They also specify a methodology for testing
specific pieces of equipment to determine their tolerances to voltage sag.
Michele Negley, who co-chairs the SEMI Power Quality Task Force that created the
standards, would like to see them adopted by other standards-setting bodies and
used globally. For more information send an e-mail to email@example.com .
research progress in countries, regions explored
How can you compare the quality and impact of research
in one country or region with world standards of excellence? The question has
prompted a series of experiments by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.
Panels of carefully selected experts from many countries evaluated research
around the globe in three areas: mathematics, immunology, materials science, and
engineering research. The panels considered citations, journal publications, and
quantitative data. An Academy report concludes that the approach appears to be a
valid way to benchmark world standards in research. For copies of the report,
Experiments in International Benchmarking of U.S. Research Fields, contact www.nap.edu .