SLAC Today is available online at:
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In this issue:
SLAC's Machine Shop Builds the Unique
Dorfan Today: An Important Week Ahead
Safety Firsts
New Microphone in Panofsky Auditorium

SLAC Today

Monday - September 11, 2006

SLAC's Machine Shop Builds the Unique

SLAC machinist and self-described "grease monkey" Mark Williams operates the World War II era floor mill, formerly used to build tanks in Hawaii. (Click on image for larger version.)

Much of the hardware in use at SLAC is not commercially available—thankfully, perhaps. But because you can't buy a particle accelerator at Home Depot, constructing one requires making many of the components from scratch.

Since the lab's inception, machinists on site have tooled many of the key components in use around SLAC. Doing so requires many different kinds of tools, some quite sophisticated, and some older than the lab itself.

The most sophisticated pieces of machining equipment are the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) milling machines. CNC operators can quickly zap out high-precision pieces from digitized plans sent over SLAC's computer network, enabling machinists, physicists and engineers to collaborate to produce complex parts. Read more...

(Director's Column - Dorfan Today)

Important Week Ahead

Catch your breath and hold on for a wild ride! This week will be packed with important visits, meetings and presentations that will both take stock of the research currently going on at the laboratory and will look into our future plans for operating and financing SLAC in the period after 2008.

Visitors, including decision-makers who directly influence our research funding, will be coming to SLAC from all over the nation and indeed from all over the world. We are busy and the activity mirrors the vitality of our current and future research program.

On Monday through Wednesday the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) directorate of the DOE's Office of Science will conduct a review of our proposed plans, and the associated costs, for operating and supporting the Linac complex in the period after FY2008. I am delighted to welcome Pedro Montano, Director of BES's Scientific User Facilities Division and his DOE colleagues along with the highly experienced team that will conduct the detailed review of the Laboratory's financial and management plans for the era when the linac's primary mission has transitioned from supporting PEP-II to running the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS). A highly motivated and dedicated group of staff from all of the Directorates have helped prepare for this review, with the lead taken by the TWG (see related SLAC Today article here). We are eager to share our plans with the committee as a critical step towards establishing the necessary support from DOE to ensure an efficient and effective turn-on of LCLS in FY2009.

On Monday, the annual SLAC Users' Organization (SLUO) Meeting will be held in the auditorium. SLUO has organized a wonderful program which includes a mix of talks focused both on areas of scientific excitement in our Particle and Particle Astrophysics program and on representing the perspective from Washington. Read more...

Spare the Air

(Image - spare the air)Today is a Spare the Air Day in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ground-level ozone air pollution is forecast to exceed 100 AQI (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups) due to clear skies, hot temperatures and light winds.  More information...

Safety Firsts

Beginning today, Director of Operations John Cornuelle will present the SLAC community with a safety question each Monday. The answer to this "Safety First" will appear in Tuesday's edition of SLAC Today.

The recent commercial jet crash in Kentucky is so dramatically instructive because it is an example of a poor decision about a task that at first appeared minor but led to a devastatingly terrible consequence. When we face similar decisions about moving something by hand or walking around the site, the potential consequences are fortunately never so severe. Yet it is important to take the time to make good decisions, no matter how minor they appear.  Does anyone recall the harshest example of an incident similar to what happened in Kentucky?

New Microphone in Panofsky Auditorium

(Image - earset)Attendees of the Safety and Security Briefings last week may have noticed something different about the microphone passed from speaker to speaker. Or perhaps they didn't notice the microphone at all. Long gone is the handheld microphone, the lapel microphone and now, the headset microphone. Welcome to what sound tech Rod Reape calls the earset.

The earset is a nifty gadget that hooks to the speaker's ear like the arm of a tight-fitting pair of glasses. The microphone floats near the mouth. Reape purchased the gadget because speakers tended to shy from constraining headsets and the sound from the lapel microphone was spotty.

"Most of our presentations have PowerPoint. If a speaker turns his or her head, the sound fades out," he said.

The new microphone less obtrusive, but it's also more sensitive. A speaker's voice can drop to a whisper and still not be lost in feedback.

This is not the first time Reape has initiated change. Two years ago he redesigned the speaker set-up in the auditorium to be cleaner and crisper. He also tuned the speakers to allow less potential for feedback when speakers with softer voices were presenting.

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