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In this issue:
Ultrafast Theory at PULSE
SLAC in the News 2008

SLAC Today

Tuesday - January 6, 2009

(Photo - Todd Martinez)
In recognition of his innovations in theoretical and computational chemistry, Martinez received a fellowship—the so-called "genius award"—from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in 2005. (Photo courtesy of Todd Martinez. Click for larger image.)

Ultrafast Theory at PULSE

Vision is fast. Light hits molecules in your eye and triggers a cascade of signals to paint a picture in your brain in real time. But scientists at the PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science study even faster events. Some PULSE researchers want to understand how molecules, such as those in your eye, respond the instant light strikes them.

Theoretical chemist Todd Martinez builds computational models of these chemical instants. He is joining PULSE this month, to study the world of ultrafast chemistry that will become accessible through the Linac Coherent Light Source.

"Todd helps us a lot by filling in a very important gap. His group will be the first theory group at PULSE," said PULSE Director Phil Bucksbaum. "He creates a lot of excitement in the kinds of computational chemistry that we're interested in."

Martinez models how the electrons and nuclei of atoms react mere femtoseconds, or quadrillionths of a second, after they're bombarded with light. When light hits a molecule, its energy excites electrons in the atoms that make up the molecule. As the electrons relax, their energy spreads to the nuclei of the atoms, which begin to move. These motions eventually lead to the molecular rotations and shape changes of chemical reactions.  Read more...

In 2008, SLAC-related research made big news with (clockwise from top left) BaBar's discovery of the lowest energy state of bottomonium, the launch of the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the first beam in the Large Hadron Collider, and new types of iron superconductors.

SLAC in the News 2008

SLAC-related experiments made big news in the past 12 months. December issues of publications ranging from Physics News Update to Science highlighted 2008's top news stories, many of which included research conducted at SLAC.

Physics News Update's top 10 scientific stories of the year included three projects involving the laboratory: the BaBar discovery of the lowest energy state of bottomonium, advancements in new types of superconductors, and the start-up of the Large Hadron Collider.

Both Nature and Science also named the LHC among their biggest news stories of the year, and Science named the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope among the magazine's top areas to watch in 2009.

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