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In this issue:
Hollow Molecules Take Center Stage
People: PNNL Lends a Helping Hand, and an Experienced Project Manager
Heard around SLAC: BaBarian Bests Classical Music's Killer Bs (and a C)

SLAC Today

Wednesday - August 25, 2010

Hollow Molecules Take Center Stage

More than 35 researchers were involved in experiments that led to the first published results on hollow molecules. Here, the Atomic, Molecular and Optical instrument control room during the experiments.

Barely two months after publication of the first Linac Coherent Light Source results on hollow atoms, two papers published in Physical Review Letters last Friday unveil the first results for hollow molecules. These studies show that the unprecedented intensity of the LCLS beam can reveal detailed information about a molecule's structure and dynamics.

"The LCLS is proving its mettle as a machine for discovery in strong-field atomic and molecular physics," said Phil Bucksbaum, director of the joint SLAC-Stanford PULSE Institute for Ultrafast Energy Science and co-principal investigator on one of the papers.

Nora Berrah, professor at Western Michigan University and principal investigator on the other paper, agreed. "The LCLS is already uncovering many fundamental mechanisms in the understanding of the interaction of matter with intense photons, and it has demonstrated that it is a powerful tool that will generate many discoveries in the near future," she said.

An atom is a happening place, with electrons zipping around the core in a wildly frenetic yet orderly cloud. Each circling electron occupies its own orbit in the airspace around the nucleus, carrying with it a unique amount of energy. As a result of this uneven energy distribution, the innermost of these electrons most readily absorb X-ray photons, which can propel that electron straight out of the atom. This leaves behind a "core hole"—an empty orbit where that electron used to be.  Read more...

People: PNNL Lends a Helping Hand, and an Experienced Project Manager

Greg Herman with the online version of his hometown paper, the Tri-City Herald, on the monitor behind him. (Photo by Lori Ann White.)

Greg Herman, project director for the Research Support Building Infrastructure and Modernization Project, may feel right at home at SLAC, but he's the first to admit he's a bit of a fish out of water in the Bay Area. Or maybe a fish out of the desert, since Herman is on loan from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, located in the high sagebrush desert of southeastern Washington, where he's lived for 23 years.

"Growing up in the Tri-Cities [Pasco, Richland and Kennewick] and coming down here—it's like a different world," he said. Contemplating Herman's early upbringing, a city dweller might want to echo the sentiment. Born in South Dakota, Herman was five years old when his family moved to the small town of Zillah, Washington, home of the Church of God-Zillah and the Teapot Dome Service Station. When Herman was 15, the family moved again to the Tri-Cities, the largest population center he's ever called home. But the Tri-Cities were no hotbed of cosmopolitan living. "Where I live now used to be the orchard I hung out in [as a teenager]," he said.

Don't let Herman's good-natured small town stories fool you. He's an experienced project manager who just wrapped up construction of two new facilities and the renovation of three buildings at PNNL. When Herman came to SLAC last February to participate in a project review, Mark Reichanadter, deputy associate lab director for operations, recognized Herman had the right skills and background to lead the RSB project through its initial stages. Read more...

Heard around SLAC: BaBarian Bests Classical Music's Killer Bs (and a C)

(Photo - Kyle Knoepfel plays the piano in Panofsky Auditorium)
(Photo by Lori Ann White.)

Earlier this month, four-year BaBarian Kyle Knoepfel treated a select group of SLACers to a mini-recital of piano music. For almost an hour, his colleagues from BaBar and the SLAC Association for Student Seminars were treated to works by Bach, Beethoven, Brahms and Chopin, played on the battered old upright piano in Panofsky Auditorium.

Knoepfel completed his undergraduate education with a degree in music along with his degree in physics. He briefly considered a career as a concert pianist, until, as he said, "I realized that in my spare time I think about physics. I don't think about music."

Yet physics' gain is not music's loss; Knoepfel can continue to play music for his family and friends, including the new friends he'll make when he begins his new position at Fermilab next month.

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