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In this issue:
BaBar Re-feathers its Nest
Profile: Martin Berndt: Cross-country Biker
Annual Run & Walk Takes Place Tomorrow
Save the Date: SLAC Holiday Party

SLAC Today

Wednesday - November 15, 2006

The installation crew celebrates the successful placement of the final set of LST muon detectors for BaBar. (Image courtesy of Diana Rogers. Click on image for larger version.)

BaBar Re-feathers its Nest

Like a bird in molt, the BaBar detector is temporarily vulnerable while it acquires better plumage.

At the end of the summer, crews opened the "doors" that seal the front end of the detector, exposing its belly. In a delicate operation, the collaboration has been putting new muon detectors in four of the six sides of the 3-story-tall hexagon that makes up the overall detector's outer layer. With the final sextant successfully installed on Monday, BaBar now sports a vastly improved system for identifying muons and reconstructing rare but important decays.

"This is the most invasive change to BaBar in its history. The detector was not designed to be taken apart. It's tricky," said LST commissioner Mark Convery.

The performance of the original muon detectors, called Resistive Plate Chambers, declined unexpectedly and steadily soon after BaBar turned on in 1999. By 2002 it had become clear they could not be saved.

"We had no choice but to replace them, even though the project would require an enormous effort by BaBar and SLAC engineering and technical staff under severe time pressure," reported former BaBar spokesperson Stewart Smith of Princeton University.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Martin Berndt:
Cross-country Biker

(Image - Martin Bernt)
Martin Berndt (middle) with two of his traveling companions, Bill Cook (left) and Earl Wooten (right).
(Click on image for larger version.)

This summer, on a day when most people were hiding in air conditioned offices, SLAC engineer Martin Berndt was cycling through the Badlands of South Dakota in 115 degree heat.

It was one of the toughest legs of a 3,300-mile trip from Seattle to Washington, DC. "I biked every bit of it," said Berndt, who turned 73 on the ride through Ohio.

The oldest member of the 40-person group, Berndt rode an Italian Guerciotti he salvaged from a dumpster and restored. "It fits with my record at SLAC, where I have salvaged and reused a lot of equipment," he said.

"We averaged 85 miles a day, with periodic days of rest," he said. The trip was supported by a truck that carried camping gear and exhausted cyclists unable to finish the day's ride. 

The seven-week trip was not without incident. The party was barely out of Seattle when one member was killed by an inattentive motorist. "It was a sobering experience," said Berndt. "Getting through each day safely was our biggest priority."  Read more...

Annual Run & Walk Takes Place Tomorrow

At last year's run, Bobby McKee won in his age group with a time of 23:43. (Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.)

This year's SLAC Run and Walk takes place tomorrow at 12:00 p.m. Don't miss it! No registration is necessary and everyone is invited to join in, cheer on the participants, or just buy a t-shirt ($10 each, sizes s, m, l, xl and xxl).

The runners' course is officially 3.8 miles and 66.5 feet, while the walkers travel two miles. A map of the course can be found online or at the event.

Registration starts at 11:45 a.m. on the south side of the Klystron Gallery at Sector 30, and the run starts at 12:05 p.m. sharp, rain or shine. For complete details, visit the Run and Walk webpage.

Save the Date:
SLAC Holiday Party

Revelers at last year's bash.
(Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.)

This year's annual Holiday Party will take place on Thursday, December 14th. More information will be posted to SLAC Today and the Holiday Party webpage as it becomes available.

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