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In this issue:
SLAC Prepares for First Blackbox to Expand Computing Power
Profile: Q&A: 10GeV Records
Construction Traffic to Increase on Loop Road
Correction: Access Along North Gallery Road
Symmetry Challenge: Name That Particle

SLAC Today

Wednesday - June 20, 2007

SLAC Prepares for First Blackbox to Expand Computing Power

(Image - blackbox)
Dave Douglas, Vice President of Advanced Technology at Sun Microsystems, outside of a Blackbox.

Next week, a truck from Portland, Oregon will deliver a shipping container filled with 252 computing systems to boost SLAC's computing capability. Instead of unpacking it, Scientific Computing and Computing Services (SCCS) will move the entire 20-foot-long, 24,000-pound shipping container to a new concrete pad behind Building 50 and get ready to churn out results.

SLAC is beta testing the Blackbox, a mostly self-contained data center made by Sun Microsystems to quickly deliver computing power. Sun plans to announce the product this summer. In the meantime, SLAC is the first customer to get one.

Building 50, the computing building, is close to maxing out its cooling system and its ability to distribute power within the building. But the demand for computing time is increasing rapidly.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Q&A: 10GeV Records

It was 1987, and Chris O'Grady was a second year graduate student in high-energy physics at Cornell. As former Catholic school choir boys often do, he started a noisy alternative-rock band with two like-minded physicists.

It's 20 years later, and now he works on the BaBar experiment. He has two kids, two cars, and two mortgages, but the music continues, released on a small record label he runs with friends called 10GeV Records.

Q. Any ties between the music and physics?
A. High-energy physicists often associate physics with music like Mozart, Bach, etc. But to me, quantum mechanics and relativity are so strange that they feel more like soaring guitar feedback. Once a band I was in was playing at a club, and this wilder song made me feel like hanging upside down by my legs from the rafters while playing guitar, so I did (the safety requirements at rock and roll clubs are different than at DOE labs). That's what the best physics feels like to me.

Q. Whence the name 10GeV Records?
A. When the three of us first started our band, we practiced in this Cornell Synchrotron warehouse called the 10GeV Annex. 10GeV was the center-of-mass collision energy of the accelerator. In 1993 we put out a double 7-inch record and decided to name our little pseudo-label after that. Interestingly, the collision energy of the Babar experiment is also 10GeV. When the B Factory shuts down in 2008 it will be the first time our label won't be associated with an experiment at that energy. I'm kinda bummed about that.

Q. How was the response to that first record?
A. One cool thing happened. We had sent out copies to assorted press and radio, and I was at Wilson lab one day when a call came in from some guy claiming to be from Rolling Stone who had some questions for me. I thought it was a joke, but fortunately I played along because it turned out to be legit. They wrote a few paragraphs about that record. It's the issue with Cindy Crawford on the cover.

Q. And since then?
A. We started putting out records from some of our friends who had bands we liked: 15 releases so far. Our last couple of releases have made it onto the charts at a few college radio stations, even with no promotion, so that's cool. It's a huge money sink, but it's a nice change from science.

You can check out the music at

Correction: Access to North Gallery Road

(Photo - linac)Yesterday's article about access along the linac misidentified the regions in which non-vehicular traffic is allowed. North Gallery Road is accessible to non-vehicular traffic only from Sector 30 to Sector 21-2. The full, corrected article is available here.

Construction Traffic to Increase on Loop Road

From June 16 through July 14, SLAC's main Loop Road will see an increase in construction traffic as a portion of deliveries of concrete and materials are rerouted out of Gate 30 and through Gate 17. During this period, everyone is advised to use extra caution while trucks use this portion of Loop Road and the two gates. Normal traffic will resume after tunneling activities progress to allow heavy trucks once again to traverse the construction site without being rerouted.

Symmetry Challenge:
Name That Particle

(Image - name that particle)
Image courtesy of Roz Chast.

Flerbs? Marteenies? Tom, Dick, and Harry?

Cartoonist Roz Chast has busted the field of particle physics wide open with her pioneering cover for this issue of symmetry. We say it's about time: Why limit ourselves to the same old list of particles that have actually been discovered, or at least properly theorized?

So here's the challenge: Invent an elementary particle and tell us what it does in 30 words or fewer. A drawing would be nice, but not mandatory. E-mail your entry with subject line "Contest" or mail it to SLAC mail stop 58. The winner will receive an autographed copy of Roz Chast's cover and a place of honor for their entry in an upcoming issue of symmetry.


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