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In this issue:
From the Director: The LCLS Users are Coming!
Happy Birthday, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope!
WHO Declares Flu Pandemic; SLAC Web Resources Available
Word of the Week: Black Body

SLAC Today

Friday - June 12, 2009

From the Director: The LCLS Users are Coming!

(Photo - Persis Drell)

Even before the Linac Coherent Light Source achieved lasing, the first call for proposals for beam time went out. Twenty-eight proposals were submitted by 219 scientists from 16 countries to get beam time on the Atomic, Molecular and Optical science instrument in fall 2009. An external proposal review panel selected the 11 best proposals. Each experimental team is sending a team member to SLAC in July to participate in the commissioning of the instrument and there will be first beam to the users in September.

The second call for beam time proposals just closed. In this second round, 62 proposals were submitted by 469 scientists from 15 countries to get beam time on AMO and the second experiment, the Soft X-Rays Materials Science instrument, which will come live in March 2010. These are astonishing numbers for a facility that will not even be completed and officially operating until summer of 2010! It appears that before ever delivering an X-ray pulse to a user, the LCLS is oversubscribed by a factor of 2-3. I believe we can attribute this tremendous growth in proposals partly to the additional instrument, but also to the excitement that has gripped the science world since news of successful lasing spread through the community in April.  Read more...

Happy Birthday, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope!

The launch, June 11, 2008. (Image: NASA.)

Yesterday marked one year since the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope was launched into orbit. Since then, the telescope has discovered a whole new set of pulsars, gained a new view of cosmic jets, seen the most extreme gamma-ray blasts ever, created new sky maps in gamma-rays, shown that blazars are more complex than previously thought, observed a mysterious excess of high-energy electrons from space that could be from pulsars or possibly a sign of dark matter, and spotted gamma-ray bursts that lasted for half an hour rather than the expected few minutes.

Happy birthday, Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope!

WHO Declares Flu Pandemic; SLAC Web Resources Available

The World Health Organization yesterday declared the swine flu a global pandemic. This does not mean the flu has become more deadly, only that it is more common than usual and has spread globally. As part of lab preparedness efforts, SLAC has collected the following online resources for flu information (all links SLAC internal):

Please refer to these pages for updates and flu information.

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Word of the Week: Black Body

A black body is a theoretical object that absorbs all incoming light and reflects none: a thing that, at the coldest possible temperature, would be utterly and completely black. Like ordinary objects, when heated, black bodies begin to glow—first infrared, then red, yellow and then white, continuing on to emit blue and finally ultraviolet light as their temperature increases. But unlike ordinary objects, black bodies emit light just as perfectly as they absorb it. In doing so, they provide physicists a way to study the energy carried by different frequencies within the electromagnetic spectrum.

While perfect black bodies don't actually exist, the black body idea is extremely powerful. Disagreement between predictions of how black bodies emit light and observations of nearly black bodies led Max Planck in 1900 to describe light in terms of discrete packets of energy called quanta. Albert Einstein capitalized on Planck's idea in 1905 with his Nobel Prize-winning explanation of the photoelectric effect—the phenomenon in which light can cause metal targets to eject electrons and a key advance in quantum theory. And physics has never been the same.


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