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In this issue:
Team of Scientists Goes Deep, Armed with World's Best Detectors of Dark Matter
People Today: Jeff Brown, Driven
Stanford to Host Conference Examining Impact of Female Influx in Science, Engineering
Conservation Tip of the Week

SLAC Today

Wednesday - March 12, 2008

Team of Scientists Goes Deep, Armed with World's Best Detectors of Dark Matter

The CDMS II detectors (hexagons) are stacked in an icebox with six insulating layers to keep the instruments cold. Wires carry measurements from the detectors to computers outside.

A half-mile down in an old iron ore mine in Minnesota, incredibly sensitive detectors have been waiting for a particle of dark matter, an invisible substance that may form the skeleton of galaxies, to make itself known.

A consortium of research scientists, including Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) physicist Blas Cabrera, anticipated the detection of a predicted-but-undiscovered dark particle known as a weakly interacting massive particle, or WIMP. The hope was that several WIMPs would travel through space and a half-mile of Earth to plunk themselves into the nuclei of germanium atoms in the detectors, each collision creating a vibration and a tiny puff of heat that would signal the WIMP's existence.

WIMPs are leading candidates for dark matter, the unseen stuff that accounts for 85 percent of the entire mass of the universe. Billions of WIMPs may be passing unnoticed through the bodies of humans every second.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Jeff Brown, Driven


Jeff Brown with his '54 Henry J. Kaiser. (Click on image for larger verison.)

Jeff Brown loves life, family and cars. For the SLAC Safety Controls Associate, the latest embodiment of this is his '52 Henry J. Kaiser, which he built over the course of hundreds of weekends and many years.

Brown remembers the first time he laid eyes on a Henry J. at a weekend drag race when he was a kid. At six-years-old he would wipe down the tires on his father's dragster and hand him wrenches as they were needed. As Brown got older, his father would take him to races—the stains on his clothes proved it.

"I started at a young age," he said. "It bit me. I always wanted to build a car from the ground up."

Brown bought his Henry J. from retired co-worker Joel Fitch in 1992, but two years elapsed before he finally began to disassemble it. In the mid-nineties, Brown spent many weekends as the crew chief for a drag-racing team that eventually became division champs.

When he finally he got down to using the rare body of the Henry J. to build what he calls a "custom drag car," he took his time to get all the parts he wanted. He did everything himself, except the machine work on the bored-out 450 horsepower engine. In fact, he restored and sold a motorcycle to buy the frame, engine and a welder that he used to customize the car. Sometimes Brown would spend months fabricating parts for the body, not like the end result and do it all over again.

Brown now has the car running, but it still needs an interior. Yet that hasn't stopped him from driving it on weekends and taking it to car shows.

At a show with 3,000 cars, Brown said he can count on one hand the number of Henry Js there. The most he's ever seen at a single show is five.

"You can't be shy driving something like this because everybody looks at you and everybody talks to you," he said.

Brown's wife, daughter and son have always supported his hobbies. His 20-year-old son still occasionally serves as the "smart-end-of-the-measuring stick guy" and his daughter, who works for a custom car association, loves it too. His wife takes pleasure in knowing it's there for weekend drives, when they're not out on his Harley.

"Both my family at home and my gear-head friends at SLAC have helped with the Henry and listened to my trials and tribulations," he said. "I can't thank them enough."

Conservation Tip
of the Week

Take the bite out of tax time. Don't forget that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 entitles homeowners to certain energy conservation tax credits through December 31, 2007. Most of the tax credits are described as Home Improvement Credits, however cars, solar energy systems and fuel cells are also on the list. Some of the individual items contained within the Home Improvement category include: hot water heaters, roofing, insulation, exterior doors, perimeter windows, skylights and storm protection. See if you qualify for any tax credits at energystar.gov. Good luck!

Stanford to Host Conference Examining Impact of Female Influx in Science, Engineering


Women are entering science and engineering in even greater numbers, bringing unique perspectives to traditional disciplines and helping to push the boundaries of scientific knowledge in new directions. A two-day conference to be held at Stanford March 13-14, titled "Gendered Innovations in Science and Engineering II," will explore how and why.

Presented by the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research, the conference is free and open to the public. The program kicks off Thursday, March 13, at 10:00 a.m. with a welcome talk titled "Fixing the Knowledge" by Londa Schiebinger, director of the Clayman Institute and the John L. Hinds Professor in the History of Science. Myra Hart, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School, will deliver the keynote address on Friday, March 14, at 1:00 p.m.

Panels will be held both days to discuss women's contributions in engineering, medicine, the environment, natural sciences and business. Panelists will include faculty from Stanford, plus scholars from around the country, scientists, business executives and experts in the field. They will include Diane Green, chief executive officer of business software leader VMware; Joyce Chung, managing director of Garage Technology Ventures; and Nancy Hopkins, the Amgen Professor of Biology at MIT.

"As more women enter science and engineering, new questions are being asked, and new solutions are being offered for old problems," said Michelle Cale, associate director of the Clayman Institute, adding that the Nintendo Wii is popular with both sexes in part because the game system was designed and promoted with females in mind. "Commercial products are changing as businesses make better use of female creative talent and as they try to meet what they perceive to be the values and needs of women as consumers. Everyone benefits, men and women."

Read more in the Stanford Report...

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