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In this issue:
Blandford to Chair NAS Decadal Survey
INFN-DOE Exchange Students at SLAC
LHC First Light Celebrations
Gamma-ray Space Telescope Seminar Wednesday

SLAC Today

Monday - September 15, 2008

(Photo - Rodger Blanford)
KIPAC Director Roger Blandford.

Blandford to Chair NAS Decadal Survey

Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology Director Roger Blandford will chair the next National Academy of Sciences decadal survey of astronomy and astrophysics, Astro2010.

"I am honored to be asked to take on this task but daunted by the challenge to live up to the accomplishment of my distinguished predecessors," Blandford said.

Astro2010 is the next in a series of surveys that are produced every 10 years by the National Research Council of The National Academy of Sciences. The survey will assess the field of space- and ground-based astronomy and astrophysics, and recommend priorities for the most important scientific and technical activities of the decade 2010–2020. The Astro2010 report will be addressed to agencies that support research in the field, the congressional committees with jurisdiction over those agencies, and the scientific community. 

Members of the astronomy and astrophysics community are encouraged to suggest possible candidates for the survey committee and panels. They can then meet the survey committee at a special session scheduled for the January 2009 American Astronomical Society meeting.

"My colleagues and I will try our hardest to make the survey process as open, inclusive and fair as we can," said Blandford. "At a time when the gap between aspiration and funding has grown enormously, we will need all the support we can get from the research community for the tough choices that will have to be taken."

INFN-DOE Exchange Students at SLAC

(Photo - INFN students farewell lunch)
INFN exchange students (from left): Elisa Antolini (FGST), Claudia Bertella (FGST), Carlo Mancini Terracciano (BaBar), Maria Giulia Calzolaio (BaBar), Matteo Balbo (FGST) and Luigi Giannelli (BaBar). (Photo courtesy of Harvey Lynch. Click for larger image.)

SLAC is bidding farewell to six visiting students from Italy, whom SLAC had the pleasure of hosting as part of the exchange program between the Italian research organization INFN and the Department of Energy. Italian students came to the U.S. to work at one of the national laboratories, and in reciprocal fashion, U.S. students were able to work at laboratories in Italy. The program offered students the opportunity to learn about the country and the real-life world of doing research.

The six Italian students spent about two months here working on a project in either BaBar or the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope (formerly known as GLAST), depending upon their interests. All are physics students at an Italian university—Milan, Padua, Perugia, Pisa or Rome. They also profited from the SLAC Summer Institute, "Cosmic Accelerators." Those working on BaBar were involved in the intense analysis as the BaBar collaboration pulls together the entire data set, collected from 1999 through April of this year. The FGST students arrived shortly after the observatory was launched into orbit and were able to share in the excitement of the gamma ray telescope's first data.

Life here was not all work. On weekends the students visited the beaches and spent time in Santa Cruz and San Diego, among other places. They also explored the specialties of local haunts such as the Dutch Goose and Su Hong.

They now return to Italy and their respective universities with a new perspective on life in physics as well as California. As they prepare to depart, they express their thanks to SLAC for the hospitality extended them. We all feel a little closer together.

LHC First Light Celebrations

Revelers from Geneva to San Francisco and beyond celebrated the successful startup of the Large Hadron Collider at first beam celebrations last Wednesday. SLACers joined two-hundred scientists and journalists in San Francisco to toast the achievement and watch recorded video of the goings-on at CERN during circulation of the first LHC beams. Wired magazine caught some of the action in this video. Chicago-area politicians, media and Fermilab folk gathered for a very early-morning pajama party. The Beacon News features a short film from that gathering.

Gamma-ray Space Telescope Seminar Wednesday

(Image - WIS logo)

Can you imagine what it takes to "talk to" a telescope that is circling the earth every 90 minutes at a height of 350 miles? Do you wonder what its data might tell us about the universe? Two women who are working on such an experiment will give the next Women's Interchange at SLAC seminar, "Exploring the Extreme Universe with Fermi," on Wednesday, September 24th at noon in the Panofsky Auditorium. Large Area Telescope Software Manager Jana Thayer will talk about running the operations of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Communications officer Lynn Cominsky will discuss the exciting data already streaming in and what might be learned through it. The seminar is geared for a lay audience, a question and answer session is included.

The newest major space observatory, the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, or FGST—formerly GLAST—is working to unveil the mysteries of the high-energy universe. Launched into orbit on June 11, FGST studies the most energetic particles of light, observing physical processes far beyond the capabilities of earthbound laboratories.

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