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In this issue:
Lawrence Berkeley Astrophysicist Wins Nobel Prize
Safety Today: Need New Wheels?
SLAC Welcomes New Employees
Safety Second
Medical Contribution Assistance Program Applications Due Friday

SLAC Today

Tuesday - October 3, 2006

Lawrence Berkeley Lab Astrophysicist Wins Nobel Prize

(Image - George Smoot)
George Smoot

Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory astrophysicist George Smoot won the Nobel Prize in physics this year for his work on cosmic microwave background radiation. He shares the prize with John Mather of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

This year the Physics Prize is awarded for work that looks back into the infancy of the Universe and attempts to gain some understanding of the origin of galaxies and stars. It is based on measurements made with the help of the COBE satellite launched by NASA in 1989.

The COBE results provided increased support for the Big Bang scenario for the origin of the Universe, as this is the only scenario that predicts the kind of cosmic microwave background radiation measured by COBE. These measurements also marked the inception of cosmology as a precise science. It was not long before it was followed up, for instance by the WMAP satellite, which yielded even clearer images of the background radiation. Very soon the European Planck satellite will be launched in order to study the radiation in even greater detail.  Read full press release...

(Column - Safety Today)

Need New Wheels?

(Photo - chair wheels)
Plastic chair wheels (left) cause costly damage to floor tiles and should be replaced with rubber wheels (right).

This past summer, Carpenter Shop Supervisor Aidan Metzger and his coworkers spent most of their weekends replacing damaged tiled floors in offices throughout SLAC. The floors were damaged by an unlikely culprit—plastic chair wheels.

Over time, plastic wheels dull and scratch tiled floors (see image), eventually pulverizing them to the point of needing replacement. And unfortunately, says Metzger, the cost of replacing floor tiles is extreme: 100 square feet of tile costs nearly $1,500.

Replacing plastic wheels with non-damaging rubber wheels, however, is a much less expensive fix: only $5 per wheel. Metzger encourages all staff who have a chair with plastic wheels and an office with a tiled floor to have this done. Conventional and Experimental Facilities (CEF) has rubber wheels aplenty, and can easily deck out any office chair with a new set.

To determine if a chair wheel is rubber or plastic, push a thumbtack or paperclip into its surface. If it is made from rubber, it will give slightly; if made from plastic, it won't. CEF can also help determine if a wheel is rubber or plastic.

To submit a wheel request to CEF, simply give them a call at x8901 or complete a CEF request form online.

SLAC Welcomes
New Employees

(Photo - New Employees)
Photo courtesy of Diana Rogers.

SLAC welcomed thirteen new employees yesterday at orientation. From left to right, they are: Toshiya Sanami, Feng Yiping, Danny F. Wong, Shawn Alverson, Daniel Peterswright, Darrin Gambelin, Johannes Bauer, Rafael Huerta, Ken Breda, Christopher Larrieu, Jaiprakash Naidu and Devon McDonald. Not pictured: Gary Clayton.

Medical Contribution Assistance Program Applications Due Friday

The Stanford Benefits Department's new Medical Contribution Assistance Program (MCAP) subsidizes the cost of medical coverage for employees who work 75 to 100 percent time and whose family income is $60,000 or below.

For those who think they may qualify for this program, complete details and an application form can be obtained at the BenefitSU website under "BenefitSU News" or at the SLAC Benefits Office. Applications are due by Friday, October 6.

Safety Seconds

In yesterday's edition, I asked if anyone could explain why Santayana's statement that "those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" is insufficient.

One answer: It's hard to keep its quotability, but Santayana probably meant that "those who continue to practice behaviors shown amiss by history are doomed to repeat them." Remembering is insufficient.

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