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In this issue:
Learning How Nature Splits Water
Profile: Rago and Pope Coach Junior Engineers
NUST Rector Visits SLAC
Tree Planting Ceremony to Honor Yeager Today
Listen to SSRL Researchers on CBC

SLAC Today

Wednesday - November 29, 2006

The water-splitting catalytic cycle with the Mn4Ca structure in the middle. (Image courtesy of LBNL. Click on image for larger, labeled version.)

Learning How Nature Splits Water

Billions of years ago, primitive bacteria developed a way to harness sunlight to split water molecules into protons, electrons and oxygen—the cornerstone of photosynthesis.

Now, a team of scientists has taken a major step toward understanding this process by deriving the precise structure of a metal catalyst composed of four manganese atoms and one calcium atom (Mn4Ca) that drives this water-splitting reaction. This catalyst resides in a large protein complex, called photosystem II, found in plants, green algae, and cyanobacteria.

The international team was led by scientists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and includes scientists from the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), Germany's Technical and Free Universities in Berlin, and the Max Planck Institute in Mülheim.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Rago and Pope
Coach Junior Engineers

(Image - Pope and Rago)
Rodd Pope (left) and Carl Rago (right) both share their expertise with school robotics clubs.

From January through March each year, students at nearby Woodside High School work almost every day to prepare their robot for competition. "It gets absolutely crazy," said Carl Rago, a linac design engineer and 29-year SLAC veteran.

Rago started working with the Woodside robotics team six years ago when his son was a student at the school. "My son said, 'I'll join if you help out,'" Rago explains. "He ended up sticking with it for three hours—for me, it's been more like 3,000."

Rago is delighted by the enormous enthusiasm of the students. "Some of these kids are bricks in class, but in the club they're transformed," he says.

Woodside and Carlmont High School have a joint team participating in FIRST, a lively national robotics competition with regional seed tournaments. In the last six years, Woodside has gone on to the national level four times. In 2007, Rich Burgess, an engineer in the Controls Department, will be spearheading the team's efforts.

"It's a medium to teach a lot of life lessons," says Rodd Pope, an engineering physicist working on LCLS undulators. Pope assists at Palo Alto High School, Jordan Middle School, and local girl and boy scout clubs.

"Volunteering means giving technical support, but also crowd control, ego control, and guidance with interpersonal dynamics and problem solving," says Pope.

Both Pope and Rago would like to see more colleagues get involved. "There are some really great opportunities out there," Pope says, "and it helps kids to see that there's a path there."

Rector of Pakistani University Visits SLAC

(Photo - NUST visit)
NUST Rector Lt. General Syed Shujaat Hussain (center) stands with Dean Syed Mohammad Zaidi and student Syed Akbar Mehdi.

On Monday and Tuesday of this week, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST) Rector Lt. General Syed Shujaat Hussain and Dean Syed Mohammad Zaidi visited from Pakistan to discuss continued ties between their university and SLAC.

Three NUST students including Syed Akbar Mehdi (pictured above) currently work at SLAC as part of the PingER project, which gauges the performance of international networks.

"Data transfer brings the world close, and we can use this tool to learn from one another's experiences and mistakes," said Hussain. "This is how we will live in peace and harmony and bring about prosperity."

Tree Dedication to
Honor Yeager Today

This afternoon at 12:00 p.m., friends and coworkers of Rick Yeager will dedicate a Coastal Oak tree and memorial plaque in his memory. The event will take place at the Sector 6 Picnic Area.

As the South Gallery Road is currently closed for construction, anyone wishing to attend the ceremony should drive down the North Gallery Road. Attendees can then choose to either park along the North Gallery Road near Sector 6 and walk through the Klystron Gallery or to continue down the North Gallery Road to the end and then proceed up the South Gallery Road to Sector 6.  Learn more...

Listen to SSRL Researchers on CBC

Stanford Synchrotron Research Laboratory (SSRL) researchers Ingrid Pickering and Graham George will be featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC) radio show "The Current" this morning. The show begins at 8:30 a.m. and can be streamed from the CBC website. In their interview, the researchers will discuss their work on arsenic, selenium and the arsenic poisoning of tens of millions in Bangladesh, and the clinical trial now underway there.

In addition, Pickering and George will appear live on the local CBC Saskatchewan radio show "Blue Sky" at 12:35 p.m. this afternoon. This program is also available from the CBC website.

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