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In this issue:
The LSST Gets Twelve Thumbs Up
Safety Today: Fire Marshal Robert Reek to Retire
Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg Awarded 2007 Physics Nobel
Word of the Week: Scintillation

SLAC Today

Tuesday - October 9, 2007

The LSST Gets Twelve Thumbs Up

This circular furnace will melt and spin-cast 38 tons of glass to create the LSST primary mirror.

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) has passed an important milestone on the way to becoming reality. An NSF Conceptual Design Review of LSST progress—the first of three such reviews—occurred in September in Tucson, Arizona. Eighty members of the LSST Collaboration participated in the review. Observers from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy (DOE) and the European Southern Observatory, along with potential collaborators from Germany and France, were present. The 12 NSF reviewers were "very impressed," according to SLAC physics professor Rafe Schindler, who is part of the SLAC team designing the camera for the telescope and recommended the second NSF or Preliminary Design Review be conducted within 10 to 12 months.

The LSST is designed to scan the skies of the Southern hemisphere repeatedly over a period of 10 years, looking for evidence of dark matter and dark energy, as well as mapping nearby asteroids and observing supernovae and other transient phenomena. If the project goes forward as planned, the 3.2 billion pixel camera used by LSST—by far, the largest digital camera ever made—will be assembled and tested at SLAC before being shipped to the telescope site in Chile.  Read more...

(Column - Safety Today)

Fire Marshal
Robert Reek to Retire

(Photo - Robert Reek)
Robert Reek

SLAC will soon say farewell to its fire marshal of nine years, Robert Reek. However, it will be a gradual goodbye because although Reek is retiring as SLAC's fire marshal on September 28, he will continue working 20 hour weeks for six months to ease the transition process. But it's not because he doesn't have faith in his replacements. Ralph Kerwin will take over as fire marshal and Gene Bailard has been hired as the new emergency coordinator.

"I'm very happy with the people taking over," said Reek. "Gene is extremely qualified and I have always expected Ralph to eventually take my place."

Reek has been in the fire-fighting business for 43 years in positions ranging from fire fighter to fire marshal. He says he has seen considerable improvements in safety at the lab over the past decade, but what he will remember—and miss—the most is the people.

"I've had the privilege of working with the great people here at SLAC. I'm especially thankful for the opportunity to have worked in all departments especially with the outstanding employees in Environment, Safety and Health, Conventional and Experimental Facilities, and the Main Control Center," said Reek. "The people will make the transition out very bittersweet."

With his newly acquired free time, Reek will contribute to charitable work with the San Jose Fire Department, fly fish and travel. He wants to see the country from the southern states, up through the eastern seaboard and back through the great lake states. But his most cherished time will be spent right here in California.

"I'm going to enjoy my grandchildren. All five of them live in California," said Reek with a big smile. "Grandchildren are pretty special. There's no doubt I'll be busy."

Albert Fert and Peter Grünberg Awarded 2007 Physics Nobel

(Photo - Fert and Grunberg)
Albert Fert (left) and Peter Grünberg. (Photos courtesy of Invisuphoto and Forschungszentrum Jülich.)

This year's physics prize is awarded for the technology that is used to read data on hard disks. It is thanks to this technology that it has been possible to miniaturize hard disks so radically in recent years. Sensitive read-out heads are needed to be able to read data from the compact hard disks used in laptops and some music players, for instance.

In 1988 the Frenchman Albert Fert and the German Peter Grünberg each independently discovered a totally new physical effect—Giant Magnetoresistance (GMR). Very weak magnetic changes give rise to major differences in electrical resistance in a GMR system. A system of this kind is the perfect tool for reading data from hard disks when information registered magnetically has to be converted to electric current. Soon researchers and engineers began work to enable use of the effect in read-out heads. In 1997 the first read-out head based on the GMR effect was launched and this soon became the standard technology. Even the most recent read-out techniques of today are further developments of GMR. Read more on the Nobel website...

Word of the Week:
Scintillation

In physics, scintillation occurs when a material, such as certain plastics or crystals, emits photons of light when bombarded by charged particles. This property makes possible detectors called calorimeters, which produce a brief flash of light when a particle passes through. The BaBar detector contains an array of 6,580 bar-shaped crystal scintillators that enable researchers to calculate a passing particle's energy and location from the flashes of light.


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