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In this issue:
First Pump-Probe Experiment at LCLS Completed
Second Harvest Food Drive Begins Tomorrow
Colloquium Today: Toward Self-Driving Cars

SLAC Today

Monday - November 30, 2009

First Pump-Probe Experiment at LCLS Completed

The LCLS Undulator Hall, where alternating-pole magnets cause the linac electron beam to create brilliant laser X-rays. (Photo by Brad Plummer.)

The first experiment using the Linac Coherent Light Source to illuminate molecules via a "pump-probe" technique has been completed by an international team of more than 30 scientists from institutions including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, LCLS and the joint SLAC/Stanford PULSE Institute. Ryan Coffee, physicist with the LCLS Laser Group, presented initial results in a seminar at SLAC on Wednesday, November 18.

Pump-probe experiments use one laser pulse, in this case an infrared pulse, to pump energy into a sample and then probe it with another laser pulse, in this case an LCLS X-ray pulse. Such experiments are ideal for looking at atomic and molecular interactions, which take place in tiny fractions of a second. The LCLS probe pulses were as short as a few quadrillionths of a second and a billion times brighter than any X-ray source produced in a laboratory.

Coffee and his colleagues looked at the quantum behavior of electrons in nitrogen molecules, N2. The results represent a step toward a fundamental understanding of how nature converts light into chemical energy and might one day help revolutionize solar power, Coffee said.  Read more...

Second Harvest Food Drive Begins Tomorrow

It's that time of year again when thoughts go to helping those in need, and this year it's hitting even closer to home. The local food banks have had a tremendous amount of requests and need our support now more than ever. Barrels will start showing up at SLAC tomorrow, December 1, and will remain until December 17. (See Barrel locations below.) If you would prefer to help with a monetary donation, you can do that by going to the Virtual Harvest Web site. There, enter companies: 250 or more, then scroll to SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Our Special ID number is 47748.

Last year SLAC won a Silver Award helping families in the greater Bay Area. Let's do it again this year!

Barrel Locations:
Buildings 15, 40, 41, 48, 50, 120, 137 and the Linear Café.

Colloquium Today:
Toward Self-Driving Cars

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

Come to Panofsky Auditorium today at 4:15 p.m. to hear Sebastian Thrun, director of the Stanford University Artificial Intelligence lab, discuss developments in the creation of self-guided cars.

Cars kill more than a million people every year. The speaker will report on progress to make cars safer, more convenient and more efficient (gas, space, utilization) through robotic technology. Building on artificial intelligence advances that led the Stanford Racing Team to victory in the DARPA Grand Challenge and second place finish in the Urban Challenge, Stanford has developed advanced mapping, localization, car tracking, control and planning methods, which enable cars to navigate in dense urban and highway environments. The speaker will survey the latest research in this area, and speculate about possible ways to get this technology into every car.

Sebastian Thrun is a professor of computer science and electrical engineering at Stanford University, where he directs the Stanford AI Lab. Thrun has published 11 books and more than 300 scientific articles. He is probably best known for his pioneering work on probabilistic robotics and the victory of his team in the DARPA Grand Challenge. Thrun is a fellow of the AAAI, ECCAI and WTN, and member of the National Academy of Engineering and the German Academy of Sciences. Popular Science included Thrun in their "Brilliant Ten," Forbes Magazine as one of seven "E-Gang" members, Scientific American in their list of 50 world technology and policy leaders, and Wired awarded Thrun's robot Stanley the top spot in the most influential robots of all times. Thrun also serves as a principal engineer at Google where he was instrumental in the creation of Street View. Finally, he is a senior advisor to Charles River Ventures, an early stage venture capital firm.

Next Monday, SLAC scientist Andy Haas will present "ATLAS and the LHC."


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