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In this issue:
Recovery Act Funds SLAC Infrastructure Projects
A Boost for High Energy Physics Data Analysis
Evening Lecture Next Tuesday: The Low Temperature Universe
An Excellent Safety Trend

SLAC Today

Tuesday - July 14, 2009

Recovery Act Funds SLAC Infrastructure Projects

SLAC ARRA projects include the modernization of two of the lab's more than 40 year old electrical substations, including Substation 40s, located behind Building 40. (Photo by Kelen Tuttle.)

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds recently awarded to SLAC include $21.8 million for three infrastructure projects: seismic upgrades to the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource, modernization of lab utilities, and updates to the lab's electrical infrastructure.

"These upgrades have been long in the planning, and will enhance site infrastructure and safety," said Laboratory Director Persis Drell. "All of these projects will contribute to the laboratory's readiness to carry out our science mission."  Read more...

A Boost for High Energy Physics Data Analysis

(Photo - Boost workshop attendees)
Boost workshop attendees. (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

The Boost workshop, held at Kavli Auditorium July 9 and 10, brought physicists from around the world together to discuss how to better interpret data produced in high energy physics experiments.

The event drew 35 participants and featured 18 presentations given on experimental and theoretical aspects of new challenges in data analysis.

As the energy involved in HEP experiments increases, the data produced becomes more difficult to analyze: Decay products become confined to a smaller and smaller region of a detector, turning the corresponding data into a sort of particle physics rat's nest. According to SLAC physicist Andy Haas, who organized the workshop with Jay Wacker, the goal was to promote new ways of thinking about how to analyze these jumbled, or boosted, data sets.

"It's something that people have avoided before because it's difficult and new," Haas said. "We're sort of tackling it for the first time."

According to Haas, who is a collaborator on the ATLAS detector at CERN, the workshop demonstrates that SLAC can be a valuable partner in large experiments like those conducted at the Tevatron or Large Hadron Collider.

Aside from the presentations, the workshop also included a group dinner. Plans for a second workshop have been discussed, although the date and location have not yet been determined. For more information, visit the Boost Workshop Web site.

Evening Lecture Next Tuesday: The Low Temperature Universe

Today, many people think of the universe as a hot place, full of bright stars, quasars, gamma ray bursts and so on, emanating from a giant explosion—the Big Bang. However, the universe can also be a surprisingly cool place. It is permeated by a background radiation with a temperature close to that of liquid helium. Next Tuesday at 7:30 p.m., SLAC physicist Roger Blandford will discuss how this coolness comes about and its implications for what we see around us. His talk will take place in Panofsky Auditorium and is free and open to all. For more details, see the event Web page.

SLAC Safety Notes

An Excellent Safety Trend

Good news from the SLAC safety team: The quarter ending June 30 is the first since December 2003 without a single "recordable" injury-that is, a work-related injury serious enough to require treatment beyond first aid.

SLAC recordable cases by quarter, Q3 2007 through Q3 2009.

"It can be done, and SLAC is doing it. We’ve now had one million hours worked by our employees and subcontractors without an injury requiring medical treatment beyond first aid," said Craig Ferguson, head of the SLAC Environment, Safety and Health Division. "This is a major milestone and reflects that we are thinking about how we execute the work safely."

This accomplishment is the result of substantial efforts throughout the laboratory. It represents improvements in planning, recognizing hazards, working together to implement controls, improved communications between all levels of the Lab on safety issues, and stopping when something is not right to regroup and address issues. Although the number of recordable cases are way down, everyone has been doing an excellent job of continuing to report less severe cases and "near hits." That's important so everyone at the lab can learn from these events to prevent a more severe event.

While it's great to celebrate this accomplishment, we can't let our guard down. Continued care and focus on planning your work and safe execution of your work and reporting of untoward events will help us all go home just as healthy as when we arrive at work each day.

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