Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Nuclear Data Community Pleased, as Punch-Card Format Superseded

Via my fellow nuclear physicist @tmertzi,  I read an interesting article (dating back to 2016) from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California.  It's about the worldwide database of nuclear data -- covering things like the expected reaction products when neutrons are captured at different energies by different nuclei -- is hampered in part by the historic file format used, dating back to the days of punch cards.  Codes still in use expect the now-electronic files to still be in this rigid format, which is too constraining to store data in the form that nuclear scientists would like it, so we are finally moving to a more flexible format called GND (Generalized Nuclear Data).  Those interested can download supporting computer code for the new format here.

One thing that I learned from the article is that the old format traces itself back to the ENDL format, standing for Evaluated Nuclear Data Library.  According to the Livermore article, ENDL was developed by Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment, based not too far from here.  Back then, they were known as AWRE;  Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.  They dropped the "Research" from their name in the 80s.