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In this issue:
People: Like Father, Like Son
November Visit Continues a Longstanding Tradition of Cross-borders Science and Friendship
Around SLAC: Sign of the Season?

SLAC Today

Wednesday - November 25, 2009

People: Like Father, Like Son

Three generations of Skarpaas. From right: Knut Skarpaas VIII; his wife and son, Knut Skarpaas IX; and his father Knut Skarpaas VII. (Photo courtesy Knut Skarpaas.)

Knut Skarpaas VIII occupies the same SLAC office where his father, Knut Skarpaas VII, once worked. The Skarpaas bond runs deep; both father and son are passionate mechanical engineers who excel at extraordinary projects.

"I tend to have a more intricate, unusual style," said the younger Skarpaas. "Whereas my father built larger machines."

No kidding. Knut Skarpaas the Elder, who retired in 1993, helped design much of the 10,000-foot long accelerator structure for the SLAC linac. Hired on August 14, 1961—the same year that Congress authorized the accelerator—Knut Skarpaas VII was one of the not-yet-built laboratory's first employees.

"My father had been working at Hewlett-Packard until this point," said Skarpaas VIII. "SLAC promised him that he wouldn't have to wear a tie." 

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November Visit Continues a Longstanding Tradition of Cross-borders Science and Friendship

 Artem Alikhanian, director of The Physical Institute of Armenia, SSR, presents a sculpture Pief Panofsky at the SLAC Dedication Banquet, Stanford Faculty Club, on SLAC dedication day, September 9, 1967. (Photo: Stanford University.)

Professor Robert Avagyan and Director Ashot Chilingarian from the Yerevan Physics Institute in Armenia visited SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory this month to tour the lab and meet with SLAC and Stanford University physicists. The visit is the latest in a long-standing friendship between SLAC and YerPhI. Over time both institutions have continued exchanging ideas and opinions for mutual benefit, but the relationship began with two prominent high-energy physicists mid-last century.

"There were only a few accelerators in the world," Avagyan said during his visit to SLAC. "So of course the physicists and people that had leadership at these facilities knew each other and discussed the future of physics and accelerators."

Pief Panofsky, director of SLAC from 1961–1984 and Artem Alikhanian, founder and director of YerPhI from 1943–1973, had a lot in common. Both were the first directors of their respective institutions, both built electron accelerators, and both were known as experienced experimentalists. Similarities like these sparked a friendship that reached beyond discussions of physics. 

Archived correspondence from 1967 documents Panofsky's efforts to arrange visits for two prominent Armenian experimental physicists to spend a year using SLAC facilities for their research. After learning about the difficulties that Soviet physicists had securing approval and visas from the United States government, Panofsky sent requests to Washington, DC, asking the Office of Science and Technology to re-evaluate the handling of foreign scientific visitors to the United States.


 (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

Around SLAC: Sign of the Season?

Winter is coming up quick, but with temperatures at SLAC still reaching into the 60s, it's a little easy to forget. Despite the heat, some ice was spotted recently on this liquid nitrogen tank, located behind Building 120 at Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. The ice forms naturally on a heat exchanger that cools as it converts liquid nitrogen into gas, which is in turn used to cool SSRL equipment.


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