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In this issue:
Smooth Operators
Climate Engineering: Possible? Dangerous? Necessary?
Deputy Minister of Taiwan's National Science Council Visits
Purchasing Threshold Increased by DOE

SLAC Today

Monday - March 10, 2008

Smooth Operators

Researchers assembled in the ISOC Mission Support Room for simulated data-taking sessions last week.

Anyone walking by the LAT Instrument Science Operations Center (ISOC) Mission Support Room last week may have deduced that the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) launched prematurely. As part of their preparations for GLAST's May 16th launch, LAT collaborators rehearsed data-taking shifts with simulated data. To the occasional passerby, data-laden conversations, marked by the utmost seriousness and, at times, frenzied enthusiasm, appeared real.

The data were not real, but the commitment was. Attendance, at around 70 participants, for this operations simulation was twice that of even the most optimistic predictions. And that was only the number of people who actually traveled to SLAC. Other collaborators, from both the U.S. and Europe, participated in the simulation remotely, rehearsing the readiness to support the 24-hours-per-day science to come from GLAST.

"People are taking everything we're doing together very seriously," said Eduardo de Couto e Silva, who coordinated sessions. "There is this feeling that we're about to launch and we have to be ready."

Readying procedures and equipment for the telescope's launch were the main goals. But the bottom line for the sessions was readying people and securing a 2008 shift roster. Crews will work around the clock during GLAST's first 60 days of orbit, so familiarizing researchers with the ISOC’s facilities was a priority.

SLAC's role as host continues this week as the first LAT Collaboration Meeting for 2008 begins tomorrow. The meeting will give scientists from nine major science groups within the LAT Collaboration the opportunity to build upon preparations for publishing papers throughout the course of GLAST's mission.

Colloquium Monday

Climate Engineering: Possible? Dangerous? Necessary?

Image courtesy of the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory.

Volcanoes have repeatedly cooled the Earth by injecting small particles into the stratosphere, where they deflect incoming solar radiation away from the Earth. Because solar radiation warms the Earth, decreasing planetary absorption of solar radiation cools the Earth. It has been shown, for example, that if the effective cooling from the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption could be sustained, this would be more than enough to cool the Earth even with a simultaneous doubling of atmospheric CO2 content. This natural experiment has led to idealized model simulations of intentional planetary climate engineering. These studies indicate that reductions in sunlight will never exactly offset greenhouse gas warming, but a high-CO2 world with climate engineering is more similar to the pristine pre-industrial world than is a high-CO2 world without climate engineering. It appears that the cost of planetary climate engineering could be low, perhaps a few billions of dollars per year or less. These considerations raise a wide array of environmental, ethical, political, game-theoretic and economic questions.

In this afternoon's colloquium, Climate Engineering: Possible? Dangerous? Necessary?, Stanford's Ken Caldeira will discuss these considerations and more. The colloquium takes place at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium. All are invited to attend.

Deputy Minister of Taiwan's Nat'l Science Council Visits SLAC

Persis Drell and Alex Chao (second from right) met with Hung-Duen Yang (left) and Joseph Chi-Hang Yang on Friday.

Professor Hung-Duen Yang, Deputy Minister of Taiwan’s National Science Council, visited SLAC on Friday, March 7. His visit included a brief meeting with SLAC Director Persis Drell and physicist Alex Chao as well as a tour of the facility, which featured stops at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, the Klystron Gallery and the Linac Coherent Light Source overlook.

Purchasing Threshold Increased by DOE

Based upon improved processes in Purchasing, the Department of Energy has increased the threshold for review of procurement actions.

The new threshold, which took effect on February 29, 2008, allows Purchasing to issue and award contract actions as follows:
- Request For Proposals (RFPs) and Invitations For Bids (IFBs) under $1,000,000;
- Competitive fixed price awards with a total single price of $500,000 or under, when price reasonableness can be established by adequate price competition;
- Sole source, fixed price actions with a total single price under $100,000;
- Intra-University actions under $100,000.

DOE approval is still required for:
- Any procurement action exceeding $500,000 or any modification, regardless of its value, which first increases the total price of any purchase to a level above $500,000;
- Any actions requiring advance payments;
- Any cost reimbursable subcontract;
- All consultant and personal service agreements.

Additionally, the DOE still requires advance notification of proposed procurement awards of $100,000 or more.


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