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In this issue:
Physics at BaBar is Eventful
Science Today: Decoding an Infectious Mystery
Hong Kong University Heads Visit SLAC
New HIP Classes Offered at Stanford

SLAC Today

Thursday - February 1, 2007

Physics at BaBar is Eventful

The BaBar detector is now collecting physics data as experimental Run 6 begins. The event pictured at right shows the detector in cross-section, and traces the momentum and energy of the shower of particles created from electron and positron collisions. Recorded January 19, this event contains a candidate neutral B meson decaying into a charm meson with negative charge and a pion with positive charge. The charm meson decays further to one positive and one negative kaon and a negative pion. Taken together, the events that BaBar detects tell scientists about the detailed workings of the weak force.

(Daily Column - Science Today)

SSRL: Decoding an
Infectious Mystery

Malaria infects 300 to 500 million people and takes 2 million lives each year, making it one of the deadliest diseases worldwide. Now, researchers working at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) have solved the structure of a protein complex that may one day be exploited to combat drug-resistant strands of the parasite that causes the illness.

The x-ray crystallography experiments, performed by University of Washington scientists at SSRL Beamline 9-2, provide insights into the malaria parasite Plasmodium on the atomic scale. A multi-protein complex located between the parasite's plasma membrane and inner membrane acts as Plasmodium's invasion machinery, empowering it to move and invade a host cell. The sophisticated machinery can enter and infect multiple cell types in human and insect hosts.

The group solved the structure of the Myosin A tail interacting protein (MTIP) complex, one of the primary Plasmodium proteins responsible for initiating infection of a host cell. After learning the protein's structure, the researchers tested the viability of P. falciparum—a dangerous malaria-causing Plasmodium species—as a drug target. They found evidence that the peptide inhibits treated parasites from invading red blood cells and blocks parasite growth. Because the cellular physiology of Plasmodium differs significantly from human, new structurally based drugs could target the parasite without harming human cells. The results were published in the March 28, 2006 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Photo of the Day:
Hong Kong University

(Photo - VIPs)
Chief information officers and deputies from Hong Kong colleges and universities stand with Richard Mount (10th from right), Patrick Lui (12th from right), and visitors from Cisco Systems. (Click on image for larger version.)

Yesterday, chief information officers and deputies from seven Hong Kong colleges and universities visited SLAC. In the Bay Area at the invitation of Cisco Systems, the group toured SLAC to learn about how the lab manages computers and computer networks.

New HIP Classes Offered at Stanford

In its ongoing effort to approach health holistically, Stanford's Health Improvement Program (HIP) continues to come up with classes that work out both the brain and body—with some of HIP's most recent offerings focusing on anger management and being a conscious consumer when it comes to buying personal care products.

The program's newest course, "Bags, Balls and Brains," begins February 5 and will consist of a series of balance, auditory and vision exercises that require full-body coordination and focused attention—using sand bags and racquet balls for individual, partner and group activities. The class will meet six times, on Mondays from 12:15 to 1:15 p.m. in Hoover Pavilion. STAP funds may be used to cover the $150 cost.  Learn more...

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