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In this issue:
The Next Big Bang
Safety Today: Focus on Safety '08
SLAC at the LHC: Accelerator Systems
Watch the LHC Startup Tonight

SLAC Today

Tuesday - September 9, 2008

The Next Big Bang

(Photo - David Kaplan)
Film narrator David Kaplan did postdoctoral research in SLAC's theory group in 2001–2002. (Photo courtesy of Matt Bennett of Silent Crow Arts. Click for larger image.)

Astronomy—with its lush images of brightly-colorized nebulae and violent solar storms—makes good fodder for popular media. But theoretical physics? A search in's Movies & TV section turns up zero hits. So tonight, cable TV's History Channel will do the unprecedented: air a mainstream TV show centered on theoretical and experimental particle physics.

The Next Big Bang will air tonight, the eve of first light in the Large Hadron Collider. The show adds to the LHC fever that promises to do for high-energy physics what Carl Sagan and Steven Hawking did for astrophysics and cosmology. (And let's face it; the doomsday lawsuits haven't hurt, either.) Supersymmetry, extradimensional space, quantum mechanics—this cable program will go there.

"The biggest mistake was trying to cover too much information," says Johns Hopkins University particle theorist and former SLAC postdoc David Kaplan, who served as science advisor and narrator for the one-hour documentary. "Dark matter, supersymmetry, extra dimensions, the LHC machine, computing power, quantum theory… it’s a lot. That was my only complaint in the end."

But the show works hard to get its ambitious material right, tapping many experts from CERN and around the globe to vet content. "It's all correct," Kaplan says. More than that, the filmmakers aimed to create imagery that at least partially demystifies physics' most arcane realms for the public. "There are some spectacular visual metaphors in it," Kaplan says, "which I really like."  Read more in symmetry breaking...

(Column - Safety Today)

Focus on Safety '08

This year's Focus on Safety training sessions provided some very interesting insight into what SLAC employees consider to be significant accident and safety hazards. Fifty-one departments took part in reviewing their work at SLAC, and considered what contributes to incidents and accidents. The best experts to determine issues in your departments are you. As a result of your efforts, the entire site can learn about potential problems and share solutions.

Out of 143 comments, 23 asked for additional support in ergonomics, that is, computer workstation evaluations and repetitive stress management. SLAC Environment, Safety and Health can provide ergonomic assessment support. If you need help in this area, please contact the ES&H Service Desk (x4554) or your directorate safety coordinator.

Another recognized area of concern includes stairways and the use of handrails. Twenty replies recognized that not using handrails can lead to falls. The solution is in the direct control of each individual. Please take care and always use the handrail, both when ascending and descending stairs. When carrying materials, always leave one hand free to hold on to the banister. If see someone carrying something down the stairs that hinders their ability to do so safely, offer to help.

Tied for third place with eighteen comments were traffic and lifting. As drivers in our own community on site, we all need to show respect for others. Do the best you can to set the example. SLAC Security has patrols and traffic officers to help enforce requirements, but it is your responsibility to walk and drive carefully. Several groups were also concerned about vehicles cutting in to the bicycle lane on Sand Hill Road, to make the right turn into the gate. This is very dangerous to any cyclists, not to mention illegal. You can move into the bike line only within 200 feet of the intersection (about where the solid white line becomes a broken line).  Read more...

SLAC at the LHC:
Accelerator Systems

(Photo - LHC collimator test at SLAC)
The first full-scale, LARP-designed rotatable collimator for the LHC is currently undergoing tests at SLAC. (Photo courtesy of Tom Markiewicz. Click for larger image.)

SLAC researchers are currently involved in several accelerator projects for the Large Hadron Collider through the LHC Accelerator Research Program, or LARP—a consortium of SLAC, Brookhaven, Fermi and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories. The most developed SLAC efforts include the design of rotatable collimators to absorb any stray protons, and simulation of beam-beam interactions.

"We're using tools developed at SLAC and applying them at CERN," said Tom Markiewicz, Accelerator Systems leader for U.S. LARP and head of the LHC Accelerator Research department in the SLAC Accelerator Research division.  Read more...

Watch the LHC Startup Tonight

Only a handful of hours from now, scientists at the Large Hadron Collider will attempt to send a proton beam zooming around all 27 kilometers of the accelerator for the first time.

Don't miss this historic moment! CERN will webcast the event beginning at 11:30 p.m. PDT tonight. The live broadcast will continue for the next nine hours, with the first attempt to circulate an LHC beam beginning just after midnight PDT. The full schedule for the broadcast can be found on the CERN LHC media Web site.

Photographs of the day's events will also be posted at regular intervals to the CERN LHC First Beam Web site. For even quicker updates, subscribe to the CERN Twitter feed.

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