SLAC Today is available online at:

In this issue:
New Gift from Science Philanthropist to Benefit Students at KIPAC
People Today: Les Cottrell: Running Wild
Library Moving But Still Open for Business
Conservation Tip of the Week: Why Grow Grass?

SLAC Today

Wednesday - May 7, 2008

(Photo - Fred Kavli)
Fred Kavli

New Gift from Science Philanthropist to Benefit Students at KIPAC

The Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC)—which seeks to understand the universe on all scales, from colliding galaxies to tiny unseen particles that constitute the lion's share of the universe—has received a new infusion of support from science philanthropist Fred Kavli and The Kavli Foundation.

The pledge of $7.5 million sets up an endowment that will sponsor Kavli Fellowships for promising graduate students and young researchers. Committed to securing the institute's future, Stanford is offering matching funds to help attract additional gifts to build the endowment to $20 million.

Based both at SLAC and on the main Stanford campus, researchers at KIPAC are working on a number of projects, such as designing and building the world's largest digital camera for a ground-based telescope—the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope—to map dark matter and explain the perplexing substance called dark energy. KIPAC also runs an operations and analysis center for the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, which will be launched by NASA this June. KIPAC led the design and construction of the telescope's major instrument.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Les Cottrell:
Running Wild

Les Cottrell.
(Click on image for larger version.)

Les Cottrell was lured to California by the siren-like songs of the Beach Boys. It was the prospect of surfing that originally attracted the SLAC Manager of Networking and Telecommunications to the West Coast, but, to this day, he's only body surfed.

Working with Nobel Prize winners, landing in the Guinness Book of World Records and helping to establish the first permanent Internet connection and website in China suggests he devoted all of his energy to work, but that's not quite it. It's just that things don't always go as planned.

Cottrell, who married his wife in their home country of England two weeks before coming to SLAC, anticipated a short stay. "I told my father-in-law, 'We're only going for two years, don't worry about it.' Oops."

Aside from two year-long leaves of absence, which Cottrell spent at CERN and IBM, he has never left SLAC for an extended amount of time in roughly 40 years. And though he didn't surf, he managed to accumulate a laundry list of activities—hiking, skiing, soccer, bicycling, climbing, golfing and so on—outside of work.

Until recent heart complications, Cottrell was an avid runner. The fact that he's run in races and marathons on two continents—"enough for anyone," he says—tempts one to think he took his hobby seriously, but that's not true either.

Cottrell has experimented with some unconventional forms of running. Hashing, which he was introduced to while vacationing in Borneo, originates in Malaysia, where a group of ex-patriots invented it to cleanse their bodies from the weekend's excesses by jogging to a "hash house" for food.

Over the years it's become more organized. A couple of runners, or hares, lay out a trail for other runners, harriers, to follow. But the trail has breaks, which require runners to fan out and find where it resumes.

"The marvelous thing about it is that while the good runners are hunting for the path, everyone else is catching up until somebody spots the trail and yells, 'On, On, On,'" he said. "At the end there are always drinks, and everyone stands around, shouts and things like that. It's a 'drinking club with a running problem.'"

Cottrell participated in a few local hash races, but mainly he took part in them abroad. He regularly ran in the Bay to Breakers race, which he described as a "moving pageant," with other SLAC members. The event is marked by runners, often dressed in outlandish regalia, who sometimes tie themselves together in a tradition known as "centipede racing."

"I got involved with the race through a group called the Dolphin South End Runners, whose motto is 'start slowly then taper off,'" he said. "I thought it was a great motto, nothing too serious."

Now that he's tapered off running completely, Cottrell could give surfing a shot, but it seems unlikely.

"The water is too cold out here and I've got no fat on me to keep me warm," he says with a laugh. "Really, it was never too important and, anyhow, work keeps me busy."

Library Moving But Still Open for Business

The SLAC library, currently located on the second floor of Building 40, is moving to the first floor of Building 50. Expect to see the new location open up in about two weeks, around May 19. "We're delighted to be partnering with Scientific Computing and Computing Services for this new public access space," said Director of Technical Information Services Patricia Kreitz. The opening date of the new location and the closing of the current one will overlap, so readers won't be without a library for even a day.

The move comes as a result of a complete renovation of the two-story half of Building 40, and will redistribute the library staff and activities into two buildings until the renovation is complete. The new public space will still have a browsing section, two public-access computers and a work area. Five thousand books and journals will make the move, while the remaining three quarters of the library materials will be stored off-site but locally. Those books will be available on request, with a one to two day waiting period. Patrons can even request large sections of books to browse. The library will keep its most current print-only journals, reference materials, selected computing books and scientific books most relevant to SLAC research projects available in Building 50.

The library staff emphasizes that all of the library's resources are still available. "The expertise is still there," said Reference Librarian Abraham Wheeler. Kreitz added that the books are most important not for their physical presence, but their purpose. "Books are tools that help the Lab do science—that's why they're important," she said. "They help us build things, and put things together in new ways." That purpose, Kreitz and Wheeler agreed, will still be served in the new location.

More information is available on the library webpage.


Conservation Tip
of the Week:
Why Grow Grass?

Summer is approaching and water bills will soon increase. Given how labor and water intensive maintaining a lawn can be, consider alternate ground covers. The Earth Share website recommends the following ground covers that require little mowing or watering. Be sure to check with your local nursery to make sure the option you choose can tolerate your local climate conditions.

Yarrow withstands light foot-traffic and grows in poor, dry soil.

Alyssum tolerates dry soil and is very attractive in bloom.

Thyme grows low, spreads quickly, and offers colors ranging from light lemon yellow to deep grayish green; several types make for great ground covers.

Sweet Woodruff loves shade, has slight, sweet fragrance and sports fine white flowers when in bloom; but it's not very tolerant of foot traffic.

Periwinkle does best in the shade; this very low-growing vine may feature either white or blue flowers.

Save water, save money and help save our environment.


Access (see all)

(see all | submit)

 Lab Announcements

Community Bulletin Board

News (see all | submit)

dividing line
(Office of Science/U.S. DOE Logo)

View online at