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In this issue:
SLAC at the LHC: The ATLAS Pixel Detector
People Today: Where Has All the Antimatter Gone?
Conservation Tip of the Week: Endless Summer

SLAC Today

Wednesday - September 3, 2008

SLAC at the LHC: The ATLAS Pixel Detector

(Photo)
Stanford/SLAC graduate student Daniel Silverstein (left) and Caltech grad student David Lopez after they brought the entire ATLAS pixel detector to a configured state for the first time. The green images on the screens indicate that the detector is in the proper state. Not pictured, but also involved in the project, are SLAC graduate students David Miller, Bart Butler and researcher Matthias Wittgen. (Click for larger image.)

With the Large Hadron Collider start-up only weeks away, SLAC researchers working on the LHC are feeling the excitement. SLAC has been involved in designing and building the ATLAS (A Toroidal LHC ApparatuS) detector since mid-2006, when the lab officially joined the collaboration. Since then, SLAC has become an ATLAS Tier 2 computing center and begun contributing to efforts on the ATLAS pixel detector and high-level trigger system. In addition, many SLAC researchers currently work on the LHC accelerator and theoretical studies. Overall, eight SLAC researchers are based at CERN, with another 10 to 15 working there part-time and about 50 others working on LHC projects from SLAC.

"SLAC's skills are a good match to several ATLAS efforts, and although we didn't join the collaboration until just a few years ago, we are sharing our expertise wherever we can help," said Charlie Young, who co-leads the SLAC ATLAS team with physicist Su Dong. Young serves as the run coordinator for the large crew that operates, tests and commissions the ATLAS pixel detector. He is currently at the LHC preparing for the start-up.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Where Has All the Antimatter Gone?


Steve Sekula helped optimize the data acquisition system for the BABAR experiment. (Image courtesy of Steve Sekula.)

Stars are not made of antimatter. People are not made of antimatter. Your chair, desk and computer are all not made of antimatter. Instead, everything we see around us consists of matter. But at the time of the Big Bang, an equal amount of matter and antimatter existed. Where did it all go? Steve Sekula, a postdoctoral researcher at Ohio State University on the BABAR experiment at SLAC, would like to know.

BABAR physicists study the decay of subatomic particles—specifically B mesons and B anti-mesons, for which BABAR and the whole B Factory experiment are named. The goal is to understand the origin of the broken symmetries in nature, in particular, the breaking of the charge parity (CP) symmetry that balances the behavior of matter and antimatter particles. The experiment has already confirmed that the CP symmetry is broken in B decays at a level that is consistent with the Standard Model.

When Sekula joined BABAR as a graduate student in 2000, he focused on the data acquisition system. The experiment accumulated hundreds of gigabytes of data a day, and Sekula helped optimize the system to routinely achieve better than 97 percent efficiency. "It put us in the factory mode of a B factory," says Sekula.

As a postdoctoral researcher, first at MIT and now at Ohio State, Sekula focuses on analysis. "I look for things that are expected to be really rare in nature," he says. "If they’re not, it tells us something about the universe." 

Conservation Tip of the Week: Endless Summer

Remember the classic surf movie "In Search of the Perfect Wave"? Whether enjoying the beach or a leisurely hammock in the backyard, the end of summer is definitely my favorite time of year. Barbecuing is still an excellent food preparation choice and the garden harvest is coming in full force. Here are some simple tips to help keep your cool this endless summer.

• Take advantage of the summer's garden-fresh produce to whip up salads and other side dishes that require little or no cooking energy.

• Choose meals that don't need to be reheated to be enjoyed as leftovers.

• If you barbecue frequently at home, consider replacing your charcoal grill with an electric one. Electric grills generate far fewer air pollutants than burning charcoal or even propane gas.

• When buying an outdoor grill, choose one that also has a burner feature. You'll be able to cook as well as grill outside, helping to keep your kitchen cool and minimize indoor air conditioning needs. And don't forget, barbequed vegetables are very good and high in nutrient value.

• If you do use charcoal, apply the minimum amount of lighter fluid (which contributes to air pollution). Or use a chimney lighter that relies on newspaper instead of lighter fluid to start the charcoal.

These tips and others may be found at earthshare.org.

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