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In this issue:
Keeping GLAST on Track
It's a Tent! It's a Fridge! It's a... Chemical Hut?
Salvage Offers New Life for Old Equipment

SLAC Today

Friday - July 20, 2007

David Paneque and Anders Borgland discuss how they applied the random forest method to GLAST. (Click on image for larger version.)

Keeping GLAST on Track

Thanks to the work of a team of physicists at SLAC, a technique used for years in physics experiments such as BaBar will soon help researchers monitor the performance of the Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) in space.

"As far as I know, we're the first to try using this technique for monitoring," said David Paneque, a physicist with GLAST.

Known as the "random forest" method, this monitoring technique is one of many that will be used to keep an eye on the performance of the Large Area Telescope (LAT) instrument, on board the GLAST satellite. Although major malfunctions causing large chunks of data to be lost should be easy to spot, more minor malfunctions causing inaccurate readings could be much harder to detect, showing up only after the numbers have been crunched. The random forest method will be used to compare the incoming data stream to a known set of data, providing contrast when new data starts falling outside of an expected range.  Read more...

It's a Tent! It's a Fridge! It's a... Chemical Hut?

(Photo - Chem Huts)
Liam Robinson stands next to SLAC's new chemical huts. (Click on image for larger version.)

SLAC employees who frequent the flower-lined path between the Central Lab Building and the Test Laboratory Building may have noticed a series of small, white huts that recently appeared near the water cooling tower. The fiberglass shelters manufactured by the Bevco Engineering Company will each store a different chemical essential to the functioning of the water cooling tower.

Several potentially hazardous chemicals are required to keep the water tower running smoothly. Their functions range from biocides that kill bacteria and mold in the water to chemicals that stop the pipes from rusting.

The chemicals that were formerly housed in one building will now be placed in separate huts to make the area safer. If the chemicals were to mix, they would become much more harmful than they could ever be individually.

"The huts will take care of a major safety issue," said Instrumentation Supervisor Bill Choate. "Adding the huts is one of the upgrades that have been at the top of our priority list. This is one more step in our effort to make SLAC as safe as possible."

Choate's sentiments were echoed by Liam Robinson, Head of the Conventional and Experimental Facilities (CEF) Department, who said, "This project illustrates CEF's vision to deliver expert facility services to support scientific programs in a safe and professional manner."

Salvage Offers New Life for Old Equipment

(Photo - salvage)
Ed Dumaop in Building 28.
(Click on image for larger version.)

Unused equipment gets a second chance at life in the warehouse hidden behind Building 28. Microwaves, refrigerators, computers, monitors, desks, chairs and filing cabinets are just a few examples from a long list of items waiting to be discovered and claimed at SLAC's salvage yard. After all, one employee's trash is another employee's treasure.

"We try to recycle everything," said SLAC employee Ed Dumaop, who works in the salvage yard. "It has to go through us before it gets thrown away."

The piles of would-be treasures at the warehouse are constantly growing. Truck loads of broken or simply unneeded equipment are brought in and sorted each week.

The salvage yard is open every day for any SLAC employee to browse. If the item is going to be used on-site, it can be taken for free, and simply needs to be signed for. Additionally, most items can be bought for personal use, like computer monitors that run five dollars a piece. The only other requirement for personal purchases is a 10 dollar minimum in a single transaction, so it may be necessary to splurge and buy two monitors.

Some larger items such as drill presses, copiers, and palettes of servers and oscilloscopes cannot be sold on-site. These bulky and expensive items are instead sold online at a website called The website works much like eBay but generally sells more expensive items owned by businesses and corporations.

"Our first priority is to recycle the equipment on-site," said Dumaop. "After that, almost everything is for sale. Selling equipment for pennies to the dollar is better than having to pay to throw it away."

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