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In this issue:
From the Director: First Light
SSRL Interns Get Firsthand Experience
Word of the Week: Gravitational Lensing
Building the LCLS: Weekly Update

SLAC Today

Friday - August 29, 2008

(Photo - Persis Drell)

From the Director: First Light

NASA and the laboratory celebrated this week as the first light images from the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope were unveiled along with the new name for the observatory: Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. The traditional ceremony marking the transition from on-orbit checkout to science is already being overtaken by events, with the rapid and trouble-free turn-on of the instruments. The first papers from the Large Area Telescope collaboration are in the final stages of preparation and the science results are starting to flow.

While we celebrate FGST first light this summer, we look forward to celebrating first light from the Linac Coherent Light Source next summer. FGST has demonstrated—beautifully—its ability to detect the gamma rays, orbiting 550 kilometers above the earth’s surface. Starting next summer, LCLS will demonstrate its ability to generate coherent X-rays using electron bunches prepared in the SLAC linac. The first LCLS hutch will be ready to do the first experiments in a phase we call "early science." While the LCLS project completion is not until 2010, the opportunity to start early science in 2009 will give physicists and experimenters a wonderful opportunity to start to explore the new frontiers that the LCLS will open.  Read more...

SSRL Interns Get Firsthand Experience


Rice University undergraduate Ian White (right) and his summer mentor, SSRL protein crystallographer Irimpan Mathews. (Photo by Calla Cofield. Click for larger image.)

An educational summer of firsthand synchrotron science is coming to a close for the Stanford Synchrotron Research Laboratory summer interns. SSRL hires interns as part of SLAC's summer science program, which includes students from the Department of Energy's Summer Undergraduate Laboratory Internship program, the Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Science Fellowship program, and general hires depending on the needs and availability of SLAC mentors.

SSRL accepts students with specific interests in chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics. Interns assist with a wide variety of projects including beam calibration, user support, software development and research. Past SSRL interns and their mentors are listed on the SSRL Summer Internships page, with student presentations on their summer projects.

"They’re just incredible. They’re so intelligent. I expect to be working for some of them one day," says Herb Axelrod of his interns. Axelrod mentored graduate student Peace Esonwune. Esonwune was interviewed for SLAC Today's People Today column, as were undergraduates Ben Cherian, John Rabedeau, and Brendon Soltis.  Read more...

Word of the Week:
Gravitational Lensing


Four images of a single distant quasar appear due to gravitational lensing caused by the galaxy in the center. (Image courtesy NASA/ESA.)

Gravitational lensing is a phenomenon wherein light from a single, very distant object such as a quasar is bent by the gravity of a closer, massive object, such as a galaxy cluster or black hole, creating the appearance of distorted or multiple images of the source. Originally predicted by Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, gravitational lensing is an important observational tool for astronomers studying the masses of distant objects, and has helped provide clues about the existence of dark matter.

Building the LCLS: Weekly Update

Construction highlights from the Linac Coherent Light Source this week include:

• Completion of piping insulation in the Central Utilities Plant

• Domestic water and sanitary sewer installation in the Far Experimental Hall

• HVAC training for Central Utilities Plant facilities support groups

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