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In this issue:
Michelle Smith Keeps Good Company
SLUO Workshop: SLAC in the LHC Era
Symmetry Explains It in 60 Seconds: Neutralino

SLAC Today

Wednesday - April 15, 2009

Michelle Smith Keeps Good Company

(Image courtesy of Michelle Smith.)

Administrative assistant Michelle Smith says she often thinks back to her family's large Christmas celebrations, when her mother always made sure that everyone had a gift. Even though the family has expanded so much that presents are now assigned by a drawing, Smith—who also goes by her married name, Strand—says she can't resist buying something for everyone.

"It was instilled in me to buy gifts, because I always saw my mom buying them," says Smith, who worked in the Experimental Facilities Department's cryogenics group for many years before moving in 2008 to assist at the Facilities Department help desk. "Now if you saw my list, you wouldn't believe it."

But her generosity isn't reserved for just family. For many years she has donated money to charities supporting American veterans. During the holiday season, she tucks five-dollar bills into greeting cards, which she keeps in her car to give to homeless people she sees when she's running errands.

"There are some people who are really roughing it out there," she says. "I do it so they can feel like somebody's thinking about them at Christmas too."  Read more...

(Image - SLUO logo)

SLUO Workshop:
SLAC in the LHC Era

July 16–17, the SLAC Users Organization will host the SLUO Large Hadron Collider Workshop: SLAC in the LHC Era—Ambitions from the SLUO Community. The workshop's aim is to estimate how the lab can best leverage its user support infrastructure and historical know-how to facilitate the physics ambitions of the SLAC user community at the LHC. Sessions will focus on evaluating and understanding the expectations of the SLAC user community at large. In return, the Workshop will be an opportunity to assess the resources that SLAC can bring into projects that will advance the LHC physics and accelerator programs.

The meeting will include presentations and discussion on current and future SLAC projects connected to all facets of the LHC adventure. For additional details and online registration, please see the 2009 SLUO LHC Workshop Web site.

Symmetry Explains It in 60 Seconds: Neutralino

(Image - missing neutralino)

Neutralinos are hypothetical particles that may explain what dark matter is made of.

Dark matter accounts for about 83 percent of all matter in the universe. Whereas matter on Earth and in stars is made of atoms and nuclei, scientists know that dark matter must be made of something else. Neutralinos are a prime candidate.

Physicists around the world are working on experiments that look for dark matter particles, in laboratories and with satellites. Neutralinos could emerge from high-energy collisions at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe or the Tevatron collider in the United States.

Supersymmetry theories predict that neutralinos are closely related to the well-known carriers of the electroweak force—photons and W and Z bosons—and to Higgs bosons. Whether the LHC will produce neutralinos, and what the experimental signatures of these particles look like, depends on how neutralinos interact with ordinary matter.

If the LHC experiments discover neutralinos, a main goal will be to measure the relationship between neutralinos and the electroweak force carriers. This will allow theorists to calculate the amount of dark matter produced in the big bang and how it relates to the dark matter observed throughout the universe today.

With luck, people will soon be talking about neutralinos as they read newspaper and magazine reports about the particle's discovery.

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