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In this issue:
Beamline 12 to Unlock Secrets of Organic Molecules
Profile Today: Stanford Site Office - Nothing Gets in the Way of the Science
Making Science "K'nex"tions

SLAC Today

Wednesday - August 30, 2006

Beamline 12 to Unlock Secrets of Organic Molecules

Beamline development group leader Tom Rabedeau explains the design of the in-vacuum undulator for the new Beamline 12. (Click on image for larger version.)

Starting this fall, scientists will have a new tool for peering into the materials that make up living systems at the Molecular Observatory for Structural Molecular Biology at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), thanks to a collaboration between CalTech and SLAC.

Just as astronomers study distant stars and galaxies, molecular biologists deal with materials that seem as inaccessible as the far reaches of the cosmos. And, as astronomers use specialized observatories, chemists and biologists need advanced tools for imaging nano-scale molecular structures.

Beginning in 2007, researchers at SSRL will have a brand new protein crystallography experimental station at Beamline 12 to help unlock the secrets of organic molecules on the atomic level. Using robotic remote-access systems similar to ones already in use at SSRL, the new beamline will offer a state-of-the art observatory for mapping out the shapes and mechanics of the molecular structures that make life possible. Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Stanford Site Office:
Nothing Gets in the
Way of the Science

(photo - DOE Site Office)
Members of the DOE site office (left to right): Ev Valle, Georgia McClelland, Katherine Woo, Tyndal Lindler, Nancy Sanchez, Donald Wilhelm, Hanley Lee, Jeff Logan, Adeline Zensius, John Saidi, Dave Osugi, Lisa Ching and Dominic Passanisi.
(Click on image for larger version.)

To keep pace with the lab's growth, the Department of Energy's Stanford Site Office has expanded over the last year and a half, and is taking a more integral role in overseeing the lab's activities.

No longer a four-person satellite of the now-disbanded Oakland Operations office, the Stanford office currently has 13 members who manage the government contract that allows SLAC to run experiments, pay its employees, and build new projects, all in safe conditions.

"What's most important is ensuring we maintain a safe work environment so nothing gets in the way of the science," said site office manager Nancy Sanchez, who reports to the DOE's Office of Science headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Sanchez and her team collaborate closely with SLAC management on projects such as streamlining procedures to make complying with safety regulations less time-consuming.

The site office's safety engineers work frequently with their counterparts in the Environment, Safety and Health Division (ES&H) at SLAC on Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) construction and other activities. The site office can also call on the DOE's Integrated Support Center in Chicago and Oak Ridge for extra help and special expertise.

"When the Oakland Operations office disappeared, we had to grow because we needed some functions here that could not be accomplished at a remote location. You can't call Chicago or Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and ask them to come down here the next day," said Hanley Lee, deputy manager of the site office.

Another important mission for the site office is supporting the future of science in America. One of the office's favorite projects is bringing high school students to SLAC in February for the DOE Science Bowl.

"The idea behind the science bowl is to help inspire the Marusas of tomorrow," said Sanchez, referring to 28-year-old KIPAC researcher Marusa Bradac, whose direct observation of dark matter made TV and print news last week.

For more information on the roles performed by the site office, click here.

Making Science "K'nex"tions

(Photo - Connor Reed)
Ten-year-old Connor Reed, son of SLAC admin Ellie Lwin, built this model of the LCLS for the current library display. The smiling ball is the "happy electron," which Connor propels down the linac with a rubber-band powered injector. (Click on image for larger version.)

SLAC librarian Lesley Wolf needed a creative idea for the next library display. Ten-year-old Connor Reed had lots of free time this summer and an extensive set of K'nex, the flexible equivalent of Lego.

The results of their collaboration are now on display in the library: a lime-green, blue and orange model of the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS), complete with a rubber-band-powered injector that accelerates a smiley faced ball dubbed the happy electron.

A flag reading "Pief's portion" flies above the linear accelerator part of the model, "because he knows Pief built the linac," said Connor's mom, Ellie Lwin, who works for lab founder Pief Panofsky.

"This is how it shoots particles," Connor said, pulling back on the pinball-like handle and releasing it. He's used this rubber band technology before to make a pinball machine out of K'nex. The lime-green waves are the undulators, the magnets that force the electrons to make x-rays.

"I built it. I got a little help from my mom and Lesley," he said.

Lwin says her son was happy to delegate construction of the more monotonous parts while he napped.

After spending months in the hospital last school year, Connor liked learning that LCLS will look at the proteins in cell membranes to find ways to keep viruses out of our cells and let medicines in. His version has a virus getting through the cell membrane and bright green medicine perched on top, ready "to take away the virus."

Lwin said it took six or seven hours of trial and error to build the entire model and get the injector to roll the happy electron to the end of the machine. But Connor didn't get frustrated; he delved into solving the challenges, just like his mentor Panofsky.

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