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In this issue:
From the Director: The SPC Visits Again
Darwin's Dinobird Fossil Analyzed at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
BaBar Scientists Attend Nobel Ceremony
LBNL Director Chu to Head DOE?
Extreme Computing Workshop Comes to SLAC
Word of the Week: Invar
LCLS Hardware Update

SLAC Today

Friday - December 12, 2008

From the Director: The SPC Visits Again

(Photo - Persis Drell)

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

(Photo - archeopteryx)
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 Archaeopteryx 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 photo gallery.

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 for the 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 in Physics 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 work.


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 Physics.

"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:
Invar


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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