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In this issue:
Gamma Rays from the Sun: A New Way for Looking at the Solar System
Safety Today: Mental Health Benefits
Research Yard Power Outages
National Academies: Women Continue to be Underrepresented
Change a Light Campaign Exceeds Goal
Safety Second

SLAC Today

Tuesday - October 31, 2006

Gamma Rays from the Sun:
A New Way for Looking at the Solar System

(Image - Gamma Ray Emission)
Calculated sky map of the intensity of gamma rays from collisions between cosmic-ray electrons and solar photons (sunlight), centered on the sun. The emission is brightest within a few degrees of the sun but extends over the whole sky.

Until now, gamma-rays emitted directly from the sun have been detected only during rare intense solar flares. However, a paper to be published by Igor Moskalenko of Stanford/SLAC, Troy Porter of SCIPP/UCSC, and Seth Digel of SLAC—in Astrophysical Journal Letters in December—finds that collisions between cosmic-ray electrons and solar photons (sunlight) make the inner solar system a relatively-bright, diffuse source of gamma rays with energies 100 million to 1 billion times greater than visible light. Although the intensity is greatest near the sun, the entire sky glows faintly in high-energy gamma rays from this effect, which is known as inverse Compton scattering.

This indirect gamma-ray emission from the sun will be readily detectable by GLAST, the gamma-ray astronomy mission scheduled for launch by NASA in late 2007. The main instrument on GLAST, the Large Area Telescope (LAT) was developed by an international collaboration including Stanford University/SLAC and SCIPP/UCSC.  Read more...

(Column - Safety Today)

Mental Health Benefits

Healthy living involves more than just taking care of yourself physically—it involves taking care of yourself mentally, too. And just as a physician can treat your physical ailments, so too can a counselor address your mental and emotional concerns.

"People oftentimes put off dealing with mental and emotional issues," says Kevin Carr, a Stanford counselor. "But these issues are better addressed sooner rather than later."

SLAC employees with health benefits have access to a variety of counseling services to confront job stress, personal loss, relationships, substance abuse, eating disorders, depression, and various other issues.

Employees who would like to take advantage of these services should start by contacting the Stanford Faculty and Staff Help Center. The Help Center offers confidential, short-term counseling at no cost to employees and their families. Services provided range from individual, couple, and family counseling to workshops and peer support groups. In addition, counselors can provide referrals to community agencies or private resources if extended counseling is needed.

The Help Center is located on the Stanford campus, at 100 Encina Commons, and is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. For additional information or to make an appointment, call 650-723-4577 or send an e-mail to

Alternatively, employees can visit the Help Center's satellite office at the SLAC Medical Department. The office is staffed by the Help Center's Rosan Gomperts on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and Kevin Carr on Thursdays from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. To make an appointment, call the Medical Department at x2281 or contact the Help Center directly.

Research Yard
Power Outages

Due to LCLS construction, many facilities in the Research Yard and SSRL's cooling tower CT404 will be without power from November 3 through 7. Generators have been provided for cooling tower CT404 and several other critical locations in the Research Yard. Click here for more information.

National Academies: Women Continue to be Underrepresented

Despite great progress, women in science and engineering still face significant barriers to hiring and retention at research universities, a National Academies committee said last month. The committee, chaired by University of Miami president Donna Shalala, found that although women now earn more than half of the science and engineering bachelor's degrees in the U.S., they hold only one fifth of all full-time faculty positions, largely because of bias and institutional policies. The committee's report, Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science and Engineering, offers recommendations for universities, professional societies, federal agencies, and Congress. It can be read for free online at the National Academies Press website.

Change a Light
Campaign Meets Goal

Today is the final day of the Department of Energy's Change a Light campaign. To date, the DOE Office of Science has achieved 104% of its pledge goal. Thank you to everyone who participated! DOE Office of Science employees have replaced 6,518 incandescent bulbs with with compact fluorescent bulbs, saving about 1,823,976 kWh of energy and preventing about 2,878,260 lbs of greenhouse gas emissions. For more information or to make a pledge on this last day of the campaign, visit the Change a Light website.

Safety Seconds

In yesterday's edition, I noted that commercial airline pilots have to adhere to "sterile cockpit" rules to prevent accidents. Unless they are cruising at a constant altitude, pilots cannot talk about anything other than flying the airplane safely. This rule comes from learning the hard way that even a mildly-distracted pilot can quickly get into serious trouble.

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