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In this issue:
Symmetry: Outsider Science
Colloquium Monday: An Open Source Voting Machine: Prospects for a New Voting System
SLAC Library Moves
600 Stanford Graduates Tour the Laboratory

SLAC Today

Monday - June 16, 2008

Photo courtesy of Fermilab/Reidar Hahn.

Symmetry: Outsider Science

Science, as people often think of it, is something that happens in high-tech labs and ivory towers, where trained thinkers with strings of letters after their names apply their skills to agreed-upon problems.

But not every scientist fits that mold. Benjamin Franklin and Michael Faraday were largely self-educated. James Clerk Maxwell did much of his work at his countryside home. Albert Einstein's early "Department of Theoretical Physics," where he kept some of his greatest ideas, was the name he gave to a drawer in his desk at the patent office.

Today, citizen scientists all over the world collect important data from their backyards. A few even get their work published; a recent report in the journal Science of a solar system similar to ours had two amateur observers as lead authors. Could the next Einstein be out there somewhere, toiling at a menial job while developing ideas that will revolutionize the way physicists understand the universe? Some people think so—and some even claim to be that unsung genius. Professional physicists, on the other hand, say it's unlikely solid theories will come from outside academia. While fields such as astronomy welcome amateur contributions, the expense of experimental physics is often prohibitive, and the degree of specialization needed to understand theory makes it nearly impossible for an outsider to contribute.
Read more in Symmetry...

Colloquium Monday

An Open Source Voting Machine: Prospects for a New Voting System

SLAC Today originally announced that this afternoon's colloquium would be given by Kenji Hakuta. In fact, it will be given by Alan Dechert.

In this afternoon's colloquium, Alan Dechert will present An Open Source Voting Machine: Prospects for a new Voting System.

In 2000, we all learned that the voting system in the United States was unreliable. Since then, the situation has not improved very much, despite billions of dollars thrown at the problem. Last year's top-to-bottom review by the California Secretary of State revealed many faults in the voting systems currently in use. Secretary Bowen has indicated her desire to see a new voting system based on a non-proprietary open design. Fortunately, quite a few people have been working on such designs for some years now.

Dechert received his undergraduate degree in Music from U.C. Berkeley in 1978. A few careers later, he serves as president/CEO of Open Voting Consortium (OVC). His background as an application developer and quality assurance engineer—as well as forays into political matters—helped to prepare him to lead this project. In 2003, he founded the OVC along with scientists and engineers with the idea of making a great voting system freely available, fully open to public scrutiny.

The colloquium takes place this afternoon at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium. All are invited to attend!

Learn more...

Library on the Move

Over the course of the next five days, SLAC's library will be moving to its temporary home in the lobby of Building 50 (SSCS). During this time, the library's "old" space in Building 40 area will be considered a construction zone. Please do not enter this area, as it is unsafe and library staff will not be able to provide any services during this time. If you have an urgent request, please send an email and a staff member will respond as soon as the library is up and running in its new location.

Normal library services will resume on June 23 in Building 50. The library staff welcomes everyone to come see our the space then, and apologizes for any inconveniences and disruptions this may cause.

600 Stanford Graduates Tour the Laboratory

(Photo - Tour)
(Click on image for larger version.)

On Saturday afternoon, about 600 Stanford graduates and their families toured SLAC as part of the 2008 commencement activities.

"This event continues to be a great way for SLAC to increase its ties with Stanford," said Education Officer Susan Schultz. "Many thanks to this year's tour guides: Adam Cunha, Wells Wulsin, Tae Hong, Joseph Tuggle, Patrick Lui and George Kuraitis. I would also like to offer special thanks to Simon Ovrahim, Jim Allan, Al Baker, Tom Graul and Natalie Aylesworth for arranging for security guards and ensuring the safety of all the visitors."


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