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In this issue:
Girders Get the Green Light
Science Today: Looking for the Higgs Boson at Hadron Colliders
"Accelerators for 400 Please, Alex"
Correction: APS Efficiency Report
APS Energy Efficiency Study Targets Technology and Policy

SLAC Today

Thursday - September 18, 2008

Girders Get the Green Light

A total of 33 undulator girders such as this one will be installed to make ready for undulator magnet installation early next year. (Photo by Brad Plummer. Click for larger image.)

The temperature is now stabilized at a mild 68 °F (20 °C), support pedestals are in place and aligned, the paint is dry and physicists are moving in. That's the scene in the Linac Coherent Light Source Undulator Hall, where the last items on the civil construction punch list are being checked off. Last week, after extensive monitoring and testing of the air handling system, workers began moving in crates containing the heavy, precision-aligned steel girders that will support the LCLS undulators.

"It's a pretty big milestone, getting these things in here," said Mike Zurawel, SLAC area manager for the Undulator Hall.

Girder installation marks the latest step toward completion of the LCLS construction project, which began in 2006. Situated inside a tunnel leading from SLAC's Research Yard, the 300-foot long, climate-controlled Undulator Hall will house arrays of magnets used to produce X-rays from a beam of accelerated electrons. The undulator magnets will rest atop the 33 specially designed girders now being installed.  Read more and view photos...

(Daily Column - Science Today)

Looking for the Higgs Boson at Hadron Colliders

Diagrams for the production of a Higgs boson plus two jets. Going from calculations for the left diagram (no loops) to the right (one loop) requires a lot of work. (Click for larger image.)

The existence of the Higgs boson was predicted more than 40 years ago to solve puzzles associated with the weak interactions, very short-range forces in the Standard Model of particle physics. The Higgs still has not been discovered, nor has the possibility of its existence been excluded. Today, the search for this elusive particle is becoming intense. The Fermilab Tevatron, operating at its peak performance, is just becoming sensitive to predicted values of the Higgs' production rate. The Large Hadron Collider at CERN, which is expected to have the capability to discover the Higgs at any expected value of its mass, is just turning on.

It is not easy to discover the Higgs boson at a proton collider. Experimenters must sift through many similar reactions that mimic the production of the Higgs boson but involve only quarks, gluons and photons. To avoid these conventional background processes, it is often helpful to look for production of the Higgs in association with "jets," sprays of strongly-interacting particles that come from quarks and gluons. Reactions with jets are more likely than simpler reactions to contain a real Higgs rather than a misleading signal. But there is a price: It is more difficult to obtain accurate theoretical predictions for the rates of these reactions, compared to non-"jet" reactions.

Calculations using traditional methods quickly become too complex even for even the most powerful computers. So the SLAC Theory group is developing new methods based on carefully crafted simplifications. The results are enabling more precise predictions, and could make it easier for experimenters to spot the Higgs.  Read more...

"Accelerators for 400 Please, Alex"

The Clue Crew visited SLAC in March to film several answers for this evening's broadcast of Jeopardy (Photo courtesy of Cheryl Hultquist. Click for larger image.)

Set your DVR and put away your Wii! Tonight, the television game show Jeopardy will feature a category entitled "Accelerator," which will include interactive clues filmed at SLAC and a short overview of the laboratory.

Don't miss SLAC's foray into the world of Jeopardy The show will be broadcast tonight on the Bay Area's local ABC network, KGO channel 7. KGO has it slated for 7:00 p.m.; please check specific airtimes for the show on your cable provider's program list.

Correction: APS Efficiency Report

SLAC Today initially ran the wrong American Physical Society news release yesterday, announcing the beginning rather than completion of the APS report on energy efficiency. With apologies and congratulations to all involved, below is the real news.

APS Energy Efficiency Study Targets Technology and Policy

The American Physical Society released its report, Energy Future: Think Efficiency, on Tuesday. The report discusses the importance and benefits of improved energy efficiency in U.S. buildings and vehicles, and a role for federal policy in encouraging the development of energy efficient technology.

The APS report concludes that the average light-duty vehicle should have a mileage of at least 50 miles per gallon by 2030 and that widespread construction of homes that require no fossil fuels should be possible in most areas by 2020.

The report recommends that the federal government invest more in its research and development programs, particularly in the areas of batteries for conventional hybrid vehicles, plug-in hybrids and battery electric vehicles. The report credits automakers for devoting resources to the development of hydrogen fuel cell and plug-in hybrid vehicles, but concludes that they will not be a short-term solution to the nation’s energy needs because to be broadly adopted they will require significant scientific and engineering breakthroughs in several critical areas.

The study also calls on Congress and the White House to increase spending on research and development of next-generation building technologies and on training scientists who work on building technologies. Additionally, it recommends that lawmakers develop policies that address a wide-array of market barriers that discourage consumers from investing in energy-efficient technologies, especially in the highly fragmented building sector.

"The American people need leadership from the Congress and the next president on this issue," said Nobel Laureate Burton Richter, chair of the study panel and director emeritus of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. "Both Senators McCain and Obama have outlined plans for improving energy efficiency and the important role new technologies will play in our energy future. The next leader of the United States will have an opportunity to be the first in history to lay the necessary groundwork to reduce energy use among Americans."

The report also calls on Congress and the White House to allocate funds for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science consistent with the authorizations in the 2005 Energy and Policy Act and the 2007 America COMPETES Act. And it calls on DOE to comply fully with the Energy Policy Act mandate to improve coordination between its basic and applied research activities and to fold long-term applied research into its scientific programming in a more serious way than it currently does. Read the complete news release...

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