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In this issue:
Celebrating Sixty Years of Accelerated Electrons
Profile: Al Baker: A Man with a Plan
SLAC's Information Research Summit
Reminder: Stanford Jazz Orchestra Concert Tonight

SLAC Today

Wednesday - May 16, 2007

Celebrating Sixty Years of Accelerated Electrons

Professor William W. Hansen (right) and graduate students Stanley Kaisel, Clarence Carlson, and William Kennedy hold a section of the first Stanford traveling wave electron linear accelerator. (Image courtesy of SLAC Archives.)

Six decades ago, two teams, working separately at the Telecommunications Research Establishment in the United Kingdom and at Stanford University, achieved a major landmark in the history of physics: accelerating a beam of electrons with a linear accelerator. The British group was the first to succeed in its experiments in December of 1946, followed closely by the Stanford team, led by Professor William Webster Hansen. On April 28, 1947, Hansen sent a report to the Office of Naval Research, his sponsor, reporting the good news: "We have accelerated electrons."

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of this achievement, SLAC is holding a celebration in the Panofsky Auditorium at 9:00 a.m. on May 23. The event is combined with the workshop on the U.S. High Gradient Research Collaboration for Future Colliders, which immediately follows on the afternoon of May 23 and continues through May 25. Registration is required for the workshop, but everyone is invited to attend the anniversary celebration.

SLAC's Deputy Director Persis Drell will deliver welcoming remarks, which will be followed by an opening statement by Pief Panofsky, SLAC's first director. SLAC's Greg Loew will then give a talk on the beginnings of linear electron accelerator work in the Stanford Physics Department from 1932 to 1952, which will illustrate the conditions under which Professor Hansen and his colleagues conducted research at the university at the time.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Al Baker:
A Man with a Plan

(Photo - Al Baker in linac)
Al Baker inside the linac.
(Image courtesy of Peter Ginter.)

Al Baker, an Area Manager for Accelerator Systems, has been at SLAC for 22 years now. For as long as he's been here and longer, he's had an interest besides high-energy physics: local politics. Baker likes to stay abreast to civic affairs, partly because many others don't.

"The problem we have as voters," he said, "is that we tell someone to handle a problem and then we go to sleep. In two or four years, we wake up and vote again. Someone has to be responsible for what we, the electorate, do."

Baker first became involved in 1968 as president of a homeowners association in Milpitas. When he learned of unpublicized plans to build highway 680 abutting a new development, Baker took action. He helped to convince officials to move the highway farther from homes, and led the fight to install the country's first noise abatement fences. The original fences are still in place.

Among other things, Baker has also dabbled as a planning commissioner, a city councilman who worked on beautification committees, a chair of a Milpitas drug and rehabilitation center for kids, and a scout leader—all in his spare time. "I've done everything I could get into," he said. "And as time marches on, lots of things happen in this country which make me want to get involved." He's most proud of what he's done to improve our transport: he helped develop changeable message signs for roads, lobbied for the SLAC signs now on highway 280, and studied noise abatement and airline efficiency.

Lately, he's turned his attention from infrastructure to social structure, making African American cultural documentaries. The film he made with friends, "A Time to be Remembered," earned first prize in the 1997 Black Cinema Society Film Festival. Now, he and his friends are editing their latest film, "The Invisible Railroad," a documentary about the Underground Railroad.

SLAC's Information Research Summit

(Photo - PPA)
Click on image for larger version. (Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.)

Particle physics and particle astrophysics have always been at the forefront of the information revolution. But the fields will need many new ways to connect people with information, and soon, if the science is to progress at full speed, said participants in last week's Particle Physics and Astrophysics Information Resources Summit at SLAC.

The meeting drew 35 researchers, journal editors and information specialists from around the world to brainstorm ideas for the next generation of scientific communication. "A lot of these groups that provide this kind of information have never talked to each other-or have maybe talked occasionally, but not in a deep way," said Travis Brooks, manager of the SPIRES databases at the SLAC Library. "We really should be pooling resources."

Brooks organized the summit together with Library Manager Ann Redfield and Pat Kreitz, the lab's director of Technical Information Services.

The three-day event explored new ways to quickly find information and to link ever more complex information in a meaningful fashion. For instance, a published paper might be linked to recordings of talks the authors had given, to underlying experimental data, to the analysis software used, to interactive graphics, and even to movies.

No matter what the information, it's useless if people can't find it quickly and easily, said Anurag Acharya, creator of Google Scholar, which searches the full texts of research publications. "Good things can come from anywhere," he said, "but what you do not know—what you can't find—you can't build on.''

Stanford Jazz Orchestra Concert Tonight

(Photo - Jamie Davis)Don't forget! Jamie Davis, vocalist for the Count Basie Orchestra and former SLAC employee, will perform at the Stanford Jazz Orchestra Concert in Dinkelspiel Auditorium tonight at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $10. More information is available at the Stanford Jazz Orchestra website.

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