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In this issue:
A Flight Simulator for the World's Smallest Beam
100 Hours of Astronomy Kicks Off Thursday
SLAC Colloquium Next Monday: Arc Alley

SLAC Today

Tuesday - March 31, 2009

A Flight Simulator for the World's Smallest Beam

(Photo: White and Woodley at SLAC)
SLAC physicists Glen White (left) and Mark Woodley. (Photo by Lauren Schenkman. Click for larger image.)

Commissioning has begun at the Japan-based Accelerator Test Facility 2, a major technology test bed for future accelerators, including the proposed International Linear Collider, or ILC. During the two-year commissioning process, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory physicists are shuttling back and forth to KEK, the high-energy accelerator lab in Tsukuba, to join an international team of scientists working around the clock to get the accelerator's final focus system up and running. When fully commissioned, this system will squeeze the facility's electron beam down to a slender ribbon just 35 nanometers thick—the narrowest beam of particles ever achieved.

"We're making the world's smallest beam," said SLAC physicist Mark Woodley, who returned from a visit to Japan in early March. The tiny beam will be essential for the ILC, the next large scale high-energy particle collider planned by the international community, after the Large Hadron Collider. "If you can pack more electrons and positrons into a smaller space, they're more likely to collide, so you'll get more events."

At the test facility in Japan, a racetrack 139 meters in circumference delivers a beam of electrons to the final focus system, a 50-meter series of magnets. Since construction of the ATF2 began in 2007, SLAC has built and delivered several key parts, including power supplies, magnet movers, a new type of beam position monitor, and the final two quadrupole magnets. Now it's a matter of getting every component of the final focus system to work in concert to focus the beam to less than a thousandth of the width of a human hair—and keep it there.  Read more...

100 Hours of Astronomy Kicks Off Thursday

(Image - 100 Hours of Astronomy logo)

Telescopes around the world will be out of their cases and facing the heavens this weekend for the 100 Hours of Astronomy project, organized by Astronomers Without Borders and the European Southern Observatory as part of the International Year of Astronomy. From the early hours of Thursday through Monday, astronomers will open observatory domes and remove lens caps to offer members of the public the chance to gaze deep into the universe.

A live 24-hour webcast will offer viewers the chance to see the telescope domes and control rooms of professional observatories around the world. The webcast will begin at 1:00 a.m. PDT on Friday morning and continue until 1:00 a.m. Saturday.

In addition, amateur, enthusiast and professional astronomers will offer 100 hours of local "sidewalk astronomy" events in cities around the world. In the Bay Area, institutes including Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science, Oakland's Chabot Space and Science Center, and Los Altos Hills' Foothill College invite the public to see the sky in a new way. The 100 Hours of Astronomy Web site offers a complete map of the sidewalk astronomy events.

SLAC Colloquium Next Monday: Arc Alley

Next Monday at 4:15 in Panofsky Auditorium, Stanford Professor of Electrical Engineering Thomas Lee will present "When Silicon Valley was 'Arc Alley.'" Lee will discuss some of the key history that prepared the Santa Clara Valley to become Silicon Valley. The event is free and open to all. For full details and an abstract of Lee's talk, see the Colloquium Web site.

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