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AAU Senior Officer Visits SLAC
Profile Today: Backcountry Physicists
SLAC on DVD
BaBar Baby Boom
Wednesday - September 27, 2006
AAU Senior Officer Visits SLAC
Yesterday afternoon, Association of American Universities (AAU) Senior Federal Relations Officer Amy Scott toured the lab with Ryan Adesnik and Heather Richman from Stanford University's Office of Government Relations.
Time of their visit fell perfectly as, due to the shutdown, many of SLAC's facilities are currently accessible. After discussions with Jonathan Dorfan, the group was able to see upgrades underway at the BaBar detector and SPEAR3. They also viewed the immense earthmoving project going ahead in preparation for the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS).
"This has been a fascinating visit," said Scott, who serves as lead AAU staffer on issues relating to budget and appropriations for NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Homeland Security. "The variety of fundamental research going on at SLAC is an eye-opener."
During her visit to the Bay Area, Scott will also attend a meeting of The National Academies. The meeting takes place today and tomorrow at Stanford.
When Jym Clendenin and Axel Brachmann were deciding where to head for a recent backpacking trip, they looked to alpine routes in Kings Canyon above 8,000 feet. No poison oak or rattlesnakes survive at that elevation, Clendenin says, and it's relatively warm in late summer, usually sunny, with not too many mosquitoes"but Axel was just looking for a tough four-day trip."
The two physicists are among a handful of the lab's backcountry hikers that make three or so treks a year to trails around California. This time they hefted 40-pound packs for their end-of-season trip, reaching nearly 11,700 feet at Munger Pass in the Monarch Divide.
Half of the hiking was cross country, which Clendenin describes as "having no trail, hacking our way through thick brush and rugged rock formations while trying to figure out where we're going."
They eschewed GPS to navigate, relying instead on a compass and topographic mapsdetailed maps that show contours of the landscape and other geographic features. "It's hard to get totally lost using them, but it's also hard to find the best route. In one stretch, we saw our destination and thought, 'Okay, we should be there in about an hour.' Three hours later we stumbled down to the first lake."
The peril of picking their way down slushy snow fields, up a steep-walled half-bowl, and down a steep slope strewn with unstable boulders had its payoffs. Each day they usually had a good swim in one of the many lakes they passed. One evening, after setting up camp lakeside, they dined on Brachmann's fresh-caught trout. Swimming and gourmet backpacker dining were "among the finest moments of a fantastic trip," Brachmann said.
BaBar Baby Boom
The BaBar collaboration has had an unusually fruitful summer. Not only did it present 109 papers and submit 69 papers, it produced at least ten babies. When a collaboration numbers 600 people, many in their prime reproductive years, periodic baby booms are statistically guaranteed.
Chih-hsiang Cheng and his wife Joyce initiated the summer run by welcoming their first child, Taryn Cheng on June 24.
After moving to southern California in May for a post-doctoral job at Caltech, Cheng contended with two important deadlines: "The baby came at the time when I was trying to meet the deadline of the summer conference (ICHEP06) for my conference paper. Fortunately I was able to finish the paper in time."
The BaBar babies are going places. Michael Luke Wilson, born September 5, has already posed for a passport photo, because his parents, Christian Flacco and Michael Wilson, are moving to CERN at the end of October.
"It's not clear which was more difficultobtaining a birth certificate within a week of birth, or getting photos of him alone with eyes open against a white background for the passport," said his father. Flacco and Wilson are post-docs at U.C. Santa Cruz.
Paolo Faccini was born on August 19 in Italy, the day his father Riccardo officially finished his stint as the BaBar Physics Analysis Coordinator based at SLAC. Faccini and his wife, Cecilia, moved back to Rome in time for the birth, so he gave his talk remotely to the Babarians assembled at this month's collaboration meeting. A photo of baby Paolo preceded his father's slides.
Teela Pulliam, and her husband Wilko Kroeger, both former Babarians who now support the experiment through the Scientific Computing and Computing Services group, are expecting their first baby at any moment. The baby was due a week before autumn began.
Many of their BaBar cohorts from graduate and post-doc days have small children, and many have since moved to new positions.
"I feel like I have a lot of support," Pulliam said. "Everyone shares stuff. That's the only advantage when friends move away: we've got a crib and too many clothes, and we haven't spent any money yet."
Just as the experiment is still yielding exciting results, a handful of its scientists have ensured that more BaBar babies are on the way. It's a good thing eBay has plenty of Babar the Elephant books and plush animals in stock.
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