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In this issue:
SLAC Researchers Respond to Loss of Hubble Camera
Profile: Honest, Abe's a Renaissance Man
Acid Leak Quickly Contained
Science Bowl Training Today
SLAC Welcomes New Employees

SLAC Today

Wednesday - February 7, 2007

SLAC Researchers Respond to Loss of Hubble Camera

(Image - Hubble)
The Hubble Space Telescope.
(Image courtesy of NASA.)

The Hubble Space Telescope is responsible for some of the most breathtaking astronomical images ever taken. Perhaps the most famous is the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, a snapshot of primordial galaxies at the dawn of the universe. But the camera that took those pictures, the Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), has now been rendered useless by a short-circuit, causing major problems for astronomers who depend on the ACS for their research.

"It's a big loss for the astronomical community," said Marusa Bradac, an astrophysicist at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC). "Everything I've done in the last two to three years has been done with that camera, including the Bullet cluster images."

The electrical problems struck on Saturday, January 27, coming at an unfortunate time for researchers. Proposals to use the ACS were due the Friday just before the camera shut down. Astronomers like Bradac are now scrambling to rewrite their proposals, adapting them to a secondary camera, the Wide-Field Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2).  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Honest, Abe's a
Renaissance Man

(Image - Abe Wheeler)
Librarian Abe Wheeler finds books and journals by day, rare movies by night. (Click on image for larger version.)

If he looks like a cross between a bookworm, a priest, and an artiste, it's because he is. SLAC librarian Abraham Wheeler, a theology student, turned documentary maker, turned science librarian and movie buff, has followed a more circuitous path to his career than most. Along the way, Wheeler realized that his passions unpredictably intersect.

"I've begun to see some common threads," Wheeler said. "They're seemingly really different interests, but I think they all have the potential to make peoples' lives better."

After earning a graduate degree in theology with an emphasis in medical ethics in 1998, Wheeler moved to the far reaches of Kentucky's Appalachia to study environmental impacts on human health. While investigating, he met and apprenticed with a filmmaker who taught him to shoot documentaries. He spent three years making and selling films about environmental and economic issues before losing his funding to the hit cable show "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."

"Filmmaking is a very competitive field," he said. "You succeed when someone else fails, and everyone is a potential rival." Wheeler has since given up the harsh filmmaking lifestyle, spending his weekdays researching physics journals instead of conditions in impoverished Appalachia.

In his spare time, Wheeler engrosses himself in movies he hasn't written. "I still feel very connected to the world of art and film," said Wheeler, who owns hundreds of movies and rents many more. The internet enables him to order obscure films from around the world, including a personal favorite, "Tears for the Black Tiger," a Thai western musical romance.

His "esoteric and Catholic" movie taste mirrors his unique past. "In a way, I think my movie history ties into why I became a librarian," Wheeler said. "I feel a missionary zeal when I'm helping people find things, like I did as a documentarian. I really feel that zeal with the LCLS—I love finding information for a project whose research could improve people's lives."

Acid Leak Quickly Contained

Early yesterday morning, a small leak occurred in the cooling tower water system east of SLAC's Main Control Center. Approximately 5 to 10 gallons of water containing dilute sulfuric acid, used to control the water pH and prevent algae from building up in the system, were released onto the ground when the tower's containment system failed. The spilled water had an acidity value approximately the same as lime juice.

There were no injuries, exposure, property damage or off site contamination. The spill was discovered by a SLAC technician during a routine daily inspection of the cooling tower. A Palo Alto Fire Department Hazardous Incident Team initially responded to the leak and immediately contained the spill. The area has remained sealed off until an outside contractor finishes the job of completely cleaning the spill and vicinity. Workers are also in the process of evaluating and repairing the cause of the leak.

There are seven cooling towers on site used to cool water that is constantly circulating to absorb heat created by the accelerators. That water is treated by chemicals, including the acid, to prevent contamination using industry standard processes.

Last Chance to Volunteer
for Science Bowl 2007

SLAC's DOE Regional Science Bowl takes place at 8:00 a.m. on Saturday, February 10, and volunteers are still needed to support this exciting event.

The final training session (attendance is mandatory for all volunteers) will take place today from 10 a.m. until noon in Panofsky Auditorium. For more information please see the Science Bowl website or contact Melinda Lee at x8547.

SLAC Welcomes
New Employees

(Image - New employees)
Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.

SLAC welcomed 19 new employees last week at orientation. From left to right, front to back, they are: Juan Salazar, David Misaki, Reynaldo Francisco, Maliheh Hakimi, Marian Wu, Michael F. Lee, Thomas Fornek, Michael G. Harms, Paul Grunow, Phil Hoyt, Agustin Burgos, Thien Hoang, John Hugyik, Behzad Bozorg-Chami, Bruce Hanlon, Robert Aymeric, Robert Perry and Alvaro Regalado. Not pictured: Steven Frey.

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