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In this issue:
Why the Aluminum Foil?
People Today: A 187 Mile-an-Hour Smile
Commencement Volunteers Needed

SLAC Today

Wednesday - June 7, 2006

Beamline 5-1's foil-swaddled monochromator. (Click on image for larger version.)

Why the Aluminum Foil?

Perhaps you've noticed that physicists seem to love aluminum foil. Give them a high-precision, expensive vacuum chamber and what do they do with it? Wrap the whole thing like leftovers.

The real story, of course, is more complicated than an arbitrary love for shiny things. Foil is used for many things in the lab, and it turns out that when it comes to vacuum chambers, aluminum foil is crucial to developing an ultra-high vacuum.

Most vacuum chambers are constructed from stainless steel, which has a tendency to collect substances on its surface when exposed to air. Whenever a steel vacuum chamber is opened or develops a leak, atmospheric air can enter and create a thin film of things like water vapor or hydrocarbons. Once the leak is repaired or the chamber is closed, this residue disrupts the ability to achieve a high vacuum by gradually releasing a stream of molecules as the air is pumped out, preventing the chamber from being emptied enough to conduct research.   Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

A 187 Mile-an-Hour Smile

(Photo - Howard Rogers) Howard Rogers in his Long-EZ.
(Click on image for larger version).

Howard Rogers studied as an aircraft mechanic at 19, even though he had yet to board a plane. When an instructor learned of his earthbound status, a little trip ensued.

"The very first time I got off the ground, I was the one at the controls," says Rogers. He was hooked. By trading mechanic time for flight time, he soon earned his private pilot license.

Rogers will celebrate 30 years at SLAC this fall. For eight of these years, he commuted here from Placerville in his Grumman Cheetah.

After years of building a Burt Rutan aircraft, and finding himself bereft of garage space, "I finally just got frustrated and bought one."

He chose a Long-EZ for a few reasons. It flies higher and faster and uses half the gas of similar-size planes. With it's smaller forward wing, it will not aerodynamically stall or spin.

"And let's not forget reason number three: the snarkiness cool factor," Rogers says with a smile that has whipped through the air at 187 miles an hour.

More than 1,600 hours in the air have offered glorious sights.

"Most people don't know a rainbow isn't a bow, it's a full circle, when viewed from high above the ground," he points out. While racing the sun's rays at 2,000 feet through an afternoon drizzle, Rogers has caught unforgettable glimpses of such fleeting splendor.

Volunteers Needed
for Commencement

(Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.)

Each year, the friends and families of about 2,000 graduating Stanford students converge on Palo Alto. For nearly four decades, SLAC tours have been a part of their visits. This year's commencement tours take place on Saturday, June 17.

Tour coordinator Maura Chatwell is once again looking for volunteers to speak on one of 15 buses as it drives from campus to SLAC.  Once at the lab, the volunteers will lead an informal tour. "We've got tons of very excited visitors signed up so far," she says. "Anyone who knows about SLAC is welcome to sign up as a tour guide." 

To learn more, please attend an informational meeting at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, June 8 in the Orange Room. No registration is necessary, and refreshments will be served. Please contact Maura Chatwell with any questions.

Listening to Washington Event Available Online

Streaming Video of last Wednesday's Listening to Washington event is now available online. Available footage consists of Mike Holland's talk and questions, Steve Sekula's talk, and the final Q&A session. Please note that the first two minutes of Holland's talk are missing. You can also view the PowerPoint presentations of Holland and Sekula

If you are a SLAC employee and do not have Real Media Player installed on your computer, you can download it here.

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