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In this issue:
SLAC to Join New DOE Research Hub for Artificial Photosynthesis
BaBar Funding Committee's Final Meeting Celebrates International Collaboration
Have Geant4, Will Travel

SLAC Today

Thursday - July 22, 2010

SLAC to Join New DOE Research Hub for Artificial Photosynthesis

This morning, the Department of Energy announced the creation of a new Energy Innovation Hub aimed at finding a practical way of making fuels with an artificial version of photosynthesis. Led by the California Institute of Technology and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the new Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis will include work at SLAC, Stanford, and University of California campuses in Berkeley, Santa Barbara, Irvine and San Diego.

Scientists have been looking for years for a way to mimic the way plants generate energy from the sun, a process that is the basis for nearly all life on Earth.

"This is something you can't do today," said SLAC's Anders Nilsson. "You can demonstrate it in principle, but it doesn't really work for practical use. The idea is that the hub will conduct research to see if this can be developed. If this could work, it would have a huge impact that will change our society."


BaBar Funding Committee's Final Meeting Celebrates International Collaboration

On Tuesday, the final BaBar IFC Meeting was held at the George C. Marshall Center in Paris. At the end of the room, a statue by Jean Baptiste Pigalle represents "friendship under the features of Madame de Pompadour (1753)." (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of State.)

The BaBar International Finance Committee, a group that considers the financial needs of the BaBar collaboration, met for the final time last Tuesday. The meeting took place in Paris and covered recent progress on the experiment and the final years of BaBar funding.

"BaBar was founded as a truly international collaboration and the IFC, embodying a sense of shared ownership by the international funding agencies, is an essential part of the laboratory's approach to the B Factory experiment," said SLAC Director of Particle Physics and Astrophysics David MacFarlane. "Over the years the IFC has been very creative and instrumental in resolving the many challenges faced by BaBar."


Greant4 course teachers and students at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, in the city of Puebla, Mexico. SLAC Geant4 group members teaching the course were Makoto Asai, Dennis Wright, Mike Kelsey and Joseph Perl. (Photo courtesy Joseph Perl.)

Have Geant4,
Will Travel

Last month, four members of the Geant4 Simulation Toolkit group, a part of the Particle Physics and Astrophysics Division of SLAC, traveled to Puebla, Mexico, where they taught a five-day course on how to install, configure and use Geant4 at the Benemerita Universidad Autonoma de Puebla. According to Joseph Perl, one of the team members who made the trek, the course was significant because of its location: it was the first course taught in Latin America.

Geant4's toolkit of customizable modules enables experimenters to simulate particles passing through and interacting with matter. The events can be in any context; some examples include accelerator experiments, radiation treatment of cancerous tumors and cosmic rays impacts on space hardware. The flexibility of Geant4, plus its small footprint, have won Geant4 fans worldwide. Yet after teaching in such far-flung locations as Finland, Canada and Senegal, Perl said, "We'd noticed that we had very few users in Latin America, and that seemed a shame."

The opportunity to expand Geant4's sphere of influence came when several users from Mexico arrived at SLAC to take the course. Before the class at SLAC had even ended, the faculty at the Universidad invited the Geant4 teachers to Puebla. This cleared the way for Perl and the rest of the team, including PPA Division members Makoto Asai, Dennis Wright and Mike Kelsey, to book their tickets. The resulting class attracted 48 users from all over Mexico, and if Perl has his way, that's just the beginning.

"Geant4 very much wants to take over the world," Perl said—but for good reasons. "It's absolutely free, even for commercial use. Since it's so open we don't have any trouble finding collaborators," to continue improving the software.

Now that a successful Latin American class is in the past, what's next for the Geant4 globe trotters? According to Perl there's nothing currently on the schedule, but he and his fellow team members are ready to travel wherever the needs of Geant4 users take them.


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