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In this issue:
John Gilbey Tweaks the Future
June 22 Swissnex Event to Feature Local Lightsource Experts
Colloquium Today: The Mars Science Laboratory

SLAC Today

Monday - June 21, 2010

John Gilbey Tweaks the Future

An interview with the author of "Catalyst"

(Photo by Julie Gilbey.)

John Gilbey is a writer, photographer, educator and project manager at Aberystwyth University in Wales. For the past two decades, his fiction and non-fiction stories have appeared in the likes of Nature, New Scientist, and the Guardian.

He wrote the science-fiction story "Catalyst" especially for Symmetry magazine, loosely drawn from his visits to the San Francisco Bay Area and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in July 2009.

He talks with Symmetry about writing, visiting SLAC, experiencing the spirit of Silicon Valley, and remaining an optimist.

John Gilbey's science-fiction stories often take place in the tangible few decades to come, allowing him to play with scientific ideas while working within the framework of a familiar reality. His first-hand experiences with science and the culture of science inform the stories. As a young scientist he studied grasslands and soils in the cold, damp moorlands of England and Wales. The Welsh climate, he says, pushed him toward the "much more attractive" indoor vocation of computer science.

Q: What was the inspiration for "Catalyst"?

A: I was in California last July, and was doing some articles about the Bay Area. I was lucky enough to get an interview with SLAC Director Persis Drell, and I spent a very, very enjoyable half-day at the center. And as a thank-you to the people who looked after me, I wanted to write a short story.

Read more in Symmetry magazine...

June 22 Swissnex Event to Feature Local Lightsource Experts

Leading scientists from the US and Switzerland will describe their work with lightsources, instruments that produce bright beams of light to peer into nature's secrets, on Tuesday, June 22 from 6:30 to 10 p.m. The even will take place at 730 Montgomery Street in San Francisco. It is free, but advance registration is required. See the Swissnex San Francisco announcement for full details.

Colloquium Today:
The Mars Science Laboratory

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

Today at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium, Adrian Brown of the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center will present "Mars Science Laboratory Mission and the Search for Carbonates and Methane on Mars."

The Mars Science Laboratory (named "Curiosity") will launch to Mars next year and is loaded with new instruments and cameras to investigate the geology of a new location on Mars. Brown will talk about the exciting and scary aspects of the new rover, and how it might just impact our understanding of the chances for life on the Red Planet. The MSL Rover will have the capability to measure atmospheric methane, which is a possible trace gas for Martian volcanism or perhaps even Martian biota. Brown will discuss the recent controversy over methane, and how it is linked to the 2008 finding of carbonate on Mars.

The colloquium is free and open to the public.


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