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In this issue:
Linear Café Celebration Today
Profile: Reggie Rogers: Giant Pumpkin Grower
Streaming Video of LCLS Animation Now Online

SLAC Today

Wednesday - October 25, 2006

Yu Kei prepares smoothies in the Linear Café. (Click on image for larger version.)

Linear Café Celebration Today

You might want to make at least one special stop by the Linear Café today to help celebrate the completion of café renovations.

Before 11 a.m., the café will offer free 12 oz. espresso drinks and free homemade coffeecake. Free coffee will also be available to those who bring their own mugs. From 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., lunch will include live music and a number of SLAC community favorites, including grilled beef fajitas. After lunch, free 12 oz. espresso drinks and samples of fresh fruit smoothies will be offered until the café closes at 3 p.m.

The renovation, which started in June, eliminated a large salad bar that took up almost half the floor. The room was also expanded to include another alcove for cold beverages and assorted grab-and-go items.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Reggie Rogers:
Giant Pumpkin Grower

(Image - Reggie Rogers)
Some people grow giant pumpkins for the glory, others for cash prizes, but Staff Associate Reggie Rogers does it out of a pure love of Halloween.

This year, Rogers will enlist friends and family to move a 521 pound pumpkin from the garden of his Campbell home to the front yard, where it will be carved to make a giant jack-o-lantern.

The sacrificial squash will be the centerpiece of a massive Halloween display. "I go all the way out," Rogers said. "I have a cave and a graveyard and fog machines."

How do you move a quarter-ton vegetable? "I have a pumpkin-rolling party the week before Halloween in honor of the way I used to get it out, when it would take six people to roll it end-over-end," said Rogers. "Now we roll the pumpkin onto a blue tarp, wet down the lawn, and drag it across. It's a lot easier."

Carving a jack-o-lantern out of a giant pumpkin isn't easy. At its thinnest, the pumpkin wall is almost a foot thick, so Rogers had to construct a special tool to cut through it.

A 23-year veteran of SLAC, Rogers works in the research engineering group on the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) and the Large-Area Balloon-Borne Polarized Gamma Ray Observer (PoGO). He loves his work. "When you're here you're contributing to really big science, and that kind of opportunity is hard to find," he said.

Rogers is tight-lipped about his growing secrets. "Every pumpkin grower will tell you the same thing. You need to have good seed, good soil, and good luck," he smiled.

Pumpkins, he said, also need lots of water. In the growing season, his water bill can easily get to $200. "My wife would get mad if she saw it," he said, "so I just pay the bill quickly."

Streaming Video of LCLS
Animation Now Online

To view streaming video of the LCLS animation, created by SLAC's Greg Stewart, click on the image above. If you are a SLAC employee and do not have Real Media Player installed on your computer, you can download it here.

Whether it's a good movie or a bad one, if there's one thing that holds Greg Stewart's attention, it's the special effects. Stewart, an avid movie buff and SLAC animator working for InfoMedia Solutions, says that for him, regardless the quality, visual effects can make any movie entertaining.

Stewart loves visual effects so much, in fact, that since the age of 17 he's done little else.

"I've always loved art and graphics," he said, "and being able to do scientific graphics at SLAC is just really cool."

A native of Arkansas and a Bay Area resident since 1999, Stewart came to SLAC in April of 2006. Since his first day, he says, animating the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) has been one of his top priorities.

Stewart's latest creation debuted Friday, October 20th at the LCLS Ground Breaking Ceremony. The four minute video, which he created with the help of a team of physicists, engineers and other artists, took nearly 300 hours to render into a movie. The video depicts in 3D how the LCLS will work—from an aerial flyover to electron pulses surging through the undulators. (Watch the streaming video here.)

"I get access to all sorts of different information from different parts of the lab. It's been great seeing scientists and engineers excited to visualize what they're building," he said.

Stewart and his team are currently working on a longer, more detailed version that will explain more of the physics behind the LCLS. InfoMedia hopes to have the new video ready by the end of the year.

"Just like art and design, SLAC is a very dynamic environment," he said. "I've been lucky to find a happy marriage between what SLAC does and what I love doing. Hopefully the LCLS video will showcase what InfoMedia can do. 3D animation is a great tool... especially considering all of the theoretical work that goes on at SLAC."

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