Every year, like atomic clockwork, the communications folks at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder have me up to photograph their annual award candidates. Note that the next best thing to winning a Nobel is winning a NIST Award!
This time, we peeked, among other places, into the lab of a team developing a standard for pacemaker parts. You see, they flex every time the heart beats, and failure amongst the manufacturers was commonplace but irregular. The FDA came to NIST and asked for a standard.
This machine cycles the pacemaker at hundreds of movements a minute, noting failure times. In this case, NIST is playing a critical role in consumer safety.