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In this issue:
LCLS Progress Steps Up
Safety Today: Arm Yourself for Health with Vaccine Updates
Large Area Telescope Collaboration Meeting
Can Science Be Funny?

SLAC Today

Tuesday - August 19, 2008

A two-person crew uses a laser to align components in the Beam Transport Hall. (Click for more images.)

LCLS Progress Steps Up

The balance of activity on the Linac Coherent Light Source project has shifted from building infrastructure to installing hardware, with all but the final construction "punch-list" items completed. The tunnels, utilities, fire suppression systems, cooling water and electrical systems are nearly ready for prime time. Momentum is gathering in the piecing together of the LCLS hardware, starting with the first sections of vacuum chamber now installed in the Beam Transport Hall.

The LCLS begins at Sector 20 of SLAC’s original linac, using the final third of the accelerator to create and accelerate the initial electron pulse. Once the pulse has reached the right energy—up to 14 GeV—it enters the Beam Transport Hall, or BTH, which houses the "linac to undulator" section of the LCLS. This section preserves the delicate electron pulse while transporting it to the Undulator Hall, where the undulator magnets will cause the electron pulse to emit powerful X-rays.

Since January, all of the 270-plus support pedestals housed in the BTH have been installed and aligned. The quadrupole steering magnets resting atop them are now bolted in place, shrouded with protective plastic. They await connection to the vacuum system, which is about one-third complete.

The linac-to-undulator project has a perfect safety record, the result of months of careful preplanning, according to Kathleen Ratcliffe, the project manager overseeing the linac-to-undulator and beam dump hardware installations. "We haven’t had so much as a near miss." she says.  See more images...

(Column - Safety Today)

Arm Yourself for Health with Vaccine Updates

As summer winds down, students from kindergarten to college are heading off to new schools, with lots of new people to meet—and new germs to catch. It’s a perfect time to start planning to protect your health. One of the best ways to guard yourself and your family against infectious disease is to stay up-to-date with your vaccines.

Thanks to medical research, many of us have never known the terrible diseases that immunization keeps at bay—polio, smallpox, diphtheria and more. Today, these are best known as the names of shots our kids get at the pediatrician’s office. Cases of vaccine-preventable diseases have reached an all-time low, according to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But because we rarely, if ever, see childhood diseases like diphtheria and whooping cough, some people question whether the vaccines are necessary. Others worry about possible links between vaccines and illness. The scientific evidence to date doesn’t support such concerns, however, and public health officials agree that the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks.  Read more in NIH News in Health.

Large Area Telescope Collaboration Meeting

(Image - GLAST logo)

September 15–19, the scientific collaboration for the Large Area Telescope instrument on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope will meet at SLAC for their first collaboration meeting since the successful June launch. The LAT team members will gather at SLAC for a mixture of plenary talks and focused splinter group meetings.

For details and registration, see the LAT Collaboration Meeting Web site.

Can Science Be Funny?

The owners of the Punch Line Comedy Club in San Francisco weren’t too sure when they hosted Brian Malow, self-styled "science comedian" on August 11, 2008. Pre-bookings were slow and the club had only two servers working a room that can seat over 200. But as the start time drew closer the room filled to capacity.

Malow started performing general stand-up comedy but found that his audiences would respond well to bits he did based on topical science. Over time he began to specialize and now does full stand-up shows with a science theme, and is often booked by scientific organizations as entertainment.  Read more in symmetry breaking.

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