From the Director: The SPC Visits Again
On December 5 and 6, lab management hosted the semi-annual visit of
our Scientific Policy Committee. The SPC is now one of four
subcommittees of our Board of Overseers, which is chaired by Stanford
Vice President for SLAC Bill Madia. This fall, for the first time, all
subcommittees completed meetings, and a full board meeting will take
place on December 19. The new system of Stanford University oversight
is in place and seems to be working well.
The SPC is now firmly focused on oversight of our science
programs. Highpoints of this visit were Linac Coherent Light Source
progress, plans for early science and the light source strategy
developments led by Jo Stohr and Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory's Roger Falcone. The SPC was interested to hear about the
future Particle Physics and Astrophysics programs and developments with
SLAC participation in the ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron
Collider. Tor Raubenheimer gave an excellent talk on the laboratory’s
accelerator science strategy. There was also a series of talks about
some of the science currently going on at the lab, including lovely
talks on recent experiments at FLASH and early results from the Fermi
Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Read more...
Darwin's Dinobird Fossil Analyzed at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
The Thermopolis Archaeopteryx Fossil. (Photo by Brad Plummer. Click for larger image.)
A keystone of evolutionary history, the Thermopolis Archaeopteryx
fossil, has come to the U.S. Department of Energy's SLAC National
Accelerator Laboratory to undergo a revolutionary type of analysis.
Using intense X-ray beams, scientists will search for characteristics
of the "dinobird" that have eluded all previous scientific analyses.
Researchers at SLAC's Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource are attempting to uncover secrets of the
hidden from view since the creature sank to the bottom of a shallow
lagoon and became entombed in limestone some 150 million years
ago. To do this, they are using light source technology developed
by DOE and primarily utilized for advanced energy-related research in
materials science, biology and other fields. Only ten Archaeopteryx fossils have been found and studied. These
specimens have undergone extensive visual analyses and even CT scans in
the past, but never anything as comprehensive as the X-ray imaging
researchers are utilizing at SSRL. Here, researchers are making the
first maps of the chemical elements hidden within one of the best
preserved specimens, possibly including remnants of soft tissue—not
just bone. Approximately 16 by 16 inches (40 by 40 centimeters) in
size, the Thermopolis specimen was originally discovered near
Solnhofen, Germany, and is now owned by the Wyoming Dinosaur Center,
located in Thermopolis, Wyoming.
For more information, see the full news release and
BaBar Scientists Attend Nobel Ceremony
BaBar physicists David Hitlin (left) and Jonathan Dorfan (right) with
Nobelists Toshihide Maskawa (second from left) and Makoto Kobayashi
(second from right) at the Nobel Foundation reception on Tuesday
evening. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Dorfan. Click for larger image.)
SLAC Director Emeritus Jonathan Dorfan and California Institute of
Technology Professor of Physics David Hitlin traveled to Stockholm this
week as the guests of 2008 Physics Nobel laureate Makoto Kobayashi.
Each awardee may invite up to 16 guests to join in the Nobel week
festivities, including the prize ceremony and banquet.
Kobayashi invited Dorfan and Hitlin for their roles in the highly successful SLAC
B Factory experiments that helped to make this award
possible. In a letter received by Dorfan on October 16, 2008, Kobayashi
said, "Please accept my deepest respect and gratitude for both your
PEP-II and Babar achievements. In particular, the high precision
measurement of CP violation and the determination of the mixing
parameters are great accomplishments, without which I would not have
been able to earn the Prize." Dorfan and Hitlin played key roles in the
scientific development and operation of the SLAC B Factory. Among many contributions, Dorfan served as project director
B Factory's PEP-II storage ring and Hitlin served as the first
spokesperson for the BaBar collaboration.
"It was an extraordinary experience in every way—storied, thrilling, hallowed and spectacular," Dorfan
e-mailed from Stockholm. Hitlin kindly shared a blog and photographs of
the week's events.
Kobayashi and physicists Toshihide Maskawa and Yoichiro Nambu shared the
2008 Nobel Prize
for developing the theory to explain the broken symmetry between matter
and antimatter that makes the matter-based universe possible. Their
theory led to the creation of the B Factory experiments, Belle in Japan and BaBar at SLAC,
which in turn generated outstanding validation of their theoretical
Hitlin and Dorfan ready to go to the Nobel ceremony. (Photo courtesy of Jonathan Dorfan. Click for larger image.)
LCLS Hardware Update
Click for an interactive map of the LCLS.
Highlights this week from the Linac Coherent Light Source hardware installation include:
• Undulator Complex controls final checkout continues on the beam
containment system, profile monitors, beam loss monitors, vacuum, undulator motion
controls, and the machine protection system.
• Clearing of corrective action items from the Accelerator Readiness Review and final system checkout
are in process.
• The PCPM1 shielding will be installed this week.
LBNL Director Chu to Head DOE?
U.S. President Elect Barack Obama will nominate Nobel laureate and
Director of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Steven Chu as
Secretary of Energy, according to the Washington Post,
Yahoo News, and others.
Extreme Computing Workshop Comes to SLAC
The workshop wrapped up yesterday afternoon in Kavli Auditorium. (Photo by Kelen Tuttle. Click for larger image.)
This week, nearly 100 researchers attended a workshop at SLAC titled
Scientific Challenges for Understanding the Quantum Universe and the Role of Computing at Extreme Scale.
The three-day workshop, which ended yesterday, examined the
forefront scientific challenges in high energy physics, particle
astrophysics and cosmology, and considered how advanced computing can
help meet those challenges by the end of the next decade.
After four plenary talks, the participants split into five
groups to discuss the future of high performance computing in their
respective research areas, and wrote panel reports based on their
conclusions. Workshop organizers are now assembling these into a
combined report which will be sent to the Department of Energy's Office
of Advanced Scientific Computing Research and Office of High Energy
"Everyone worked very hard at describing their accomplishments
and goals and, especially, at developing mutual understanding of one
another's fields in the common language of computational physics," said
Roger Blandford, workshop chair and director of the Kavli Institute for
Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology. "This is very exciting in physics,
particle physics, particle astrophysics and cosmology. High performance
computing will be essential to realizing the scientific opportunities."
Word of the Week:
An invar brace (foreground) is used here to stabilize a magnet in the SPEAR
storage ring at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. (Photo by Brad
Plummer. Click for larger image.)
Invar—short for "invariable"—is an important alloy prized for its
resistance to changing shape with changes in temperature. It is made
mostly of steel and nickel and is used in a variety of high-precision
and scientific applications. Whereas a 1 °C change in temperature
would cause a 10-kilometer aluminum rod to expand more than
9.84 inches (25 cm), a similar rod of invar would expand only
0.32 inches (0.8 cm). Invar is used extensively at SLAC in
mounting braces for sensitive components such as magnets, where even
slight variations in position would degrade accelerator performance.
Charles Édouard Guillaume received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1920
for the discovery of invar.
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