Sunday, January 04, 2004

Full Text Databases

One of the databases I use frequently is the NASA Astrophysics Data Service. This service has been a source of innovation and experimentation with on-line full text. It is perhaps equal in importance to the physics preprint server, though less well known. They have just made some enhancements to the service.
We have just finished the development of the new ADS full text search system. This new service allows you to search the OCRd text of all the scanned pages in the ADS (some 2.5 million pages).

A nice test of this new system was to find an answer to a question posed in the recent Physics Today about the first use of the phrase "critical mass". The author of that article found a 1939 article with this phrase. The full text search in the ADS showed a quote from Arthur Eddington using that phrase in 1919.

I think this clearly shows that this new service can be quite valuable for historians and librarians, as well as scientists. As always, please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions about this new service or any other part of the ADS.

Another new service of the ADS is myADS, a personal notification service that allows you to store several queries and receive the results weekly from the latest database updates.

The two new services are linked from the main ADS query page.

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