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In this issue:
Scientists Reveal How Supermassive Black Holes Bind into Pairs During Galaxy Mergers
Dorfan Today: New Concepts in Hamburg
A First Face For SULI 07: Alison Hoyt
Safety Firsts

SLAC Today

Monday - June 11, 2007

Scientists Reveal How Supermassive Black Holes Bind into Pairs During Galaxy Mergers

This computer simulated image, courtesy of Stelios Kazantzidis, shows galaxies merging at several points in time. (Click on image for larger version.)

Picture the Milky Way galaxy—a disk of stars and gas, a stellar spheroid and an enormous halo of dark matter. It spirals around a black hole that is supermassive—about three million solar masses. The Milky Way's total mass is about 100 billion solar masses-enormous to us but average among galaxies.

Then imagine that galaxy encountering its identical twin. The first galaxy merges with the second to produce a galaxy that's even grander and greater. Cosmologists think that's how galaxies grow-through a complex process of continuous mergers.

Now, using supercomputers to simulate galaxy mergers, scientists at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) and elsewhere have seen the formation of a new type of structure—a central disk of gas that can be from a hundred to a few thousand light years wide and from a few hundred million to a billion solar masses. They report the first simulated formation of a supermassive black hole (SMBH) pair in the June 7 edition of Science Express, an online version of Science magazine.  Read more...

(Director's Column - Dorfan Today)

New Concepts in Hamburg


Attendees of last week's ILC collaboration banquet dinner, held at Hamburg's zoo, were greeted by a camel and an aardvark.

The major annual meeting of the International Linear Collider (ILC) project has become a family reunion of sorts, as now-familiar faces gather together to advance the project.

Some 600 people, including a strong SLAC contingent, met in Hamburg, Germany during a surprisingly rainless week from May 30 to June 3. Our hosts from DESY laboratory put on wonderful events during the meeting, including a memorable and excellent banquet at Hamburg's historic zoo.

With both the Reference Design Report and the Detector Concept Report under its belt, the collaboration made major forward progress at the Hamburg meeting in preparing to enter the Engineering Design phase. On the accelerator side, the engineering work will be overseen by a newly formed Project Office run by three project managers: Marc Ross of Fermilab (and formerly SLAC), Nick Walker of DESY, and Akira Yamamoto of KEK. ILC working groups met to discuss results and plan further R&D, and they gave input to the Project Office on ways to organize the collaboration during the engineering phase that will culminate in an Engineering Design Report in 2010.

On the detector side, major shifts occurred. The Worldwide Study, a group from the detector and physics communities that oversees detector R&D and detector concept studies, set a roadmap for detector development that will allow the community to deliver engineering designs for two detectors in 2010. In the first step, the ILC Steering Committee (ILCSC) will issue a call this summer for Letters of Intent (LOI). Groups have until the summer of 2008 to submit letters detailing their detector concept and performance. Calling for LOIs signals a phase change for the detector concepts, detector “Design Studies” will soon become “Detector proto-collaborations.” Calling for LOIs also sends signals to the ILC detector R&D community that now’s the time to align with a detector concept, participate in the optimization process, and contribute to the LOIs. The process is accelerating rapidly. Read more...

A First Face For SULI 07: Alison Hoyt

(Photo - Alison Hoyt)
Alison Hoyt, a SULI student working in Kelly Gaffney's group.

Late last month SLAC welcomed its first intern from the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Intership (SULI) program. Allison Hoyt, a junior next year at Yale, has participated in beam time at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL) and is now working with Kelly Gaffney's group to help analyze data.

"I grew up in Palo Alto and was always curious about the linear accelerator," said Hoyt. "SLAC seemed like a great opportunity for a summer job."

Hoyt is exploring different science disciplines as she searches for a major, and currently she's considering a future in environmental engineering. To that end, she is participating in a project to build an algae bioreactor, and she is a member of Yale's chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB). EWB is a non-profit organization through which both professional and student engineers can put their skills to work in developing countries.

This year, Yale's chapter of EWB aims to build a water system for a village in Cameroon where residents drink from contaminated springs. The EWB students and their mentors are designing a system they hope will supply clean water from a nearby source. While there, the group will stay as guests with the villagers, and will construct a water tank for a pipe system currently being installed.

The program benefits the village and the students alike. "It's great, we get to learn about water systems as we design one with our mentors," said Hoyt.

"It should be an interesting experience," said Hoyt. She hopes to return next summer with EWB to expand the new water system to reach even more people. "The village is really excited. I'm really excited. It's a great opportunity to travel and learn at the same time."

Safety Firsts

It is said that a lobster in water that is heated slowly will never know it is being cooked. When we focus on tasks that require all of our attention, we become as vulnerable as the lobster because we may not notice other things going wrong. Both military and civilian aviation take this problem extremely seriously due to the consequences while flying. Do you know what they call this vulnerability?

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