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In this issue:
Scientists Attend Workshop on SABER's Design
People Today: Bucksbaum Propels New PULSE Center
Finishing Touches Put on Fred Kavli Building
Quantum Diaries - A Year in the Life

SLAC Today

Wednesday - March 15, 2006

(Graphic - Plasma Wakefield)
The multi-GeV acceleration of electrons in a plasma wakefield accelerator.

Scientists Attend Workshop on SABER's Design

More than 60 people will be onsite today and tomorrow to attend the South Arc Beam Experimental Region (SABER) workshop. During this meeting, potential future users will discuss the opportunities and technical requirements for conducting experiments at SABER and help to refine the design.

The proposed SABER project will provide a new facility for experiments requiring beams of high energy electrons or positrons. These beams are needed for many disciplines including laboratory astrophysics, beam-plasma physics, and condensed matter physics at ultrafast time scales.

"This workshop will help us to ensure that the design features will accommodate the needs of users," said Roger Erickson, who is organizing SABER's design effort.

Physicists from about a dozen universities and other national labs will be onsite for the event.

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Bucksbaum Propels
New PULSE Center

If only airplanes traveled as quickly as the ultrafast laser pulses Phil Bucksbaum uses, he would have no trouble commuting between SLAC and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Bucksbaum is the director of PULSE , the new ultrafast science center at SLAC and Stanford. This academic year he concurrently holds the new job and is finishing his teaching duties at University of Michigan, where he has been a professor of physics since 1990.

PULSE is a partnership between Stanford and the DOE to provide a central home and world leadership in ultrafast and short wavelength science and technology. Ultrafast science examines the fast movements and transformations of atoms, molecules and materials that take place in mere femtoseconds (quadrillionths of a second). The center's researchers will develop groundbreaking experiments and exceptional machine capabilities for an incredible new tool for ultrafast x-ray science—the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS)—currently under construction at SLAC.

PULSE's research programs include atomic-molecular-optical physics, time-resolved x-ray scattering, ultrafast magnetic effects, single molecule imaging, ultrafast chemistry, ultrafast electron beam physics.

"We're having wonderful new results in these areas," he said.

Bucksbaum's own research involves quantum control. In his new lab in the Varian physics building at Stanford he is building an ultrafast laser that emits 5.2 femtosecond pulses of optical light —"about as good as it gets," he notes. Using precise control over the energy and timing of the laser field, researchers will rip an electron off an atom in larger molecule and then send the electron careening back into the molecule to get an image of chemical changes as they take place in the molecule.

"It will be control of quantum mechanics at a real virtuoso level, and will help us in developing the imaging we want to do with LCLS," he said.

Finishing Touches Put on Fred Kavli Building

With the dedication of the Fred Kavli Building only days away, construction crews are working at full speed to complete the building's finishing touches.  The race is on to have as much completed as possible before Friday's dedication event. 

Don't forget, you're all invited to walk around SLAC's newest building and help yourself to snacks and refreshments as of 3:00 pm on Friday.  The Kavli Building is part of SLAC—get to know it.

Quantum Diaries - A Year in the Life

For 33 particle physicists, the year 2005 was a great experiment in science communication. To support the World Year of Physics, these brave souls had agreed to share their thoughts and their lives with the public, blogging on the Quantum Diaries Web site. Some of them posted notes a couple of times per month, others wrote almost daily. Twelve months and 2400 postings later, the Quantum Diarists have delivered a vivid image of their personalities, interests, cultures, and achievements.

The Diarists reflected on research activities and combining life with work. They commented on the position of women and families in physics; science and politics; teaching and outreach activities; and how an individual physicist fits into the increasingly international scientific endeavors. Most importantly, they provided the public and future scientists a glimpse of what it is like to be a scientist.

Some blogs drew more than 1000 page views per day, and over the course of the year readers from around the world posted almost 5000 comments. As the year came to an end, symmetry asked some regular and not-so-regular readers to share their thoughts on the Quantum Diaries.

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