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In this issue:
Holy Beamline! The Red Phone is Ringing.
Richter Encourages Americans to Take a Fresh Look at Nuclear Power Plants
Colloquium Today: Reflections of a Physicist Commissioner—California's Energy Efficiency Programs

SLAC Today

Monday - May 17, 2010

Holy Beamline! The Red Phone is Ringing.

The red phone.
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

When a villain threatened Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon picked up a bright red phone to call Batman. During the Cold War, a Moscow-to-Washington "red phone" served as a hotline to prevent nuclear attacks.

Now SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has its own red phone to avert the types of crises found in accelerator physics–things such as poor beam quality and mechanical troubles. While not as dramatic as the Joker terrorizing Gotham City, these situations do require immediate warnings and rapid adjustments to save valuable time, money and data.

The phone line runs between two control rooms in two separate buildings. One controls the Linac Coherent Light Source, the world's most powerful X-ray laser; the other controls one of its primary experiments, known as SXR for Soft X-ray Material Instrument, which began commissioning this month.

"An experiment is only as strong as its communication link," said Bill Schlotter, an SXR instrument scientist. When the red phone rings, "the call is not just for the person on the line, but for the rest of the SXR control room, too." No dialing is necessary; in true hotline tradition, a scientist need only lift the receiver in one control room to establish a direct connection to the other.

When they hear the red phone's distinctive, old-fashioned "brring brring," Schlotter says, "everyone will know to pay attention."

See this piece and more in the April 2010 Symmetry magazine.

Richter Encourages Americans to Take a Fresh Look at Nuclear Power Plants

Nuclear power should play a significant role in America's energy future, despite widespread concerns about cost and safety, according to physicist Burton Richter.

Richter, director emeritus of the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and a Nobel laureate in physics, is the author of the new book Beyond Smoke and Mirrors: Climate Change and Energy in the 21st Century (Cambridge Press, 2010).

On May 5, he discussed the attributes and challenges of nuclear power at the weekly Stanford Energy Seminar. According to Richter, nuclear energy as a source of electricity is growing worldwide and should be a major component of U.S. energy policy as well. "The consequences are 100 years from now, but the most effective time to start working on this is now," he added.  Read more in Stanford Report...

Colloquium Today: Reflections of a Physicist Commissioner—California's Energy Efficiency Programs

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

Today at 4:15 in Panofsky Auditorium, Arthur Rosenfeld of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will speak about two subjects:

1) Reflections about his ten years of experience as a physicist in Sacramento in the position of California Energy Commissioner, from which he just stepped down, and

2) His innovative idea of offsetting global heating from trapped green house gases by painting our roofs white. His claim is that every 1000 square feet of white roofs offsets the heating effect of about 10 tons of CO2 equivalent.

Rosenfeld received his doctorate in Physics in 1954 at the University of Chicago, where he was Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi’s last student. Rosenfeld then joined the Luis Alvarez Particle Physics Group at LBNL where he worked until 1974. At that time, he changed his research focus to the efficient use of energy, a field to which he made major contributions which benefited the entire state of California and the nation. From 1994 to 1999, Rosenfeld served as Senior Advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. In 2000, Governor Gray Davis appointed him Commissioner at the CA Energy Commission, a position to which he was reappointed in 2005 by Governor Schwarzeneggger. Among many awards and honors, Rosenfeld received the Enrico Fermi Award in 2006, one of the oldest and most prestigious science and technology awards given by the U.S. Government, for his lifetime achievements.

The colloquium is free and open to all.

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