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In this issue:
Keith Bechtol Gives It His All
Seen Around SLAC: Cookies, Coffee and Community

SLAC Today

Wednesday - September 1, 2010

Keith Bechtol Gives It His All

(Photo - Keith Bechtol)
Keith Bechtol. (Photo courtesy the College of William and Mary.)

Keith Bechtol likes a challenge. Whether pursuing a Ph.D. in physics or running ultra-long distances, "most of the things I like reward patience," he said.

The fourth-year Stanford graduate student spends most of his time at SLAC, working on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope studying gamma-ray emissions from other galaxies. But astrophysics isn't his only area of expertise—Bechtol is well-versed in SLAC science as well as its history, and puts this knowledge to good use as a public tour guide for the laboratory.

"It's a great way to keep being involved," said Bechtol, who thinks it is important for scientists to communicate what they do and to help "bridge the gap" for those who feel like science is too difficult to understand.

Bechtol, who has been a SLAC tour guide for about a year, said his favorite part of giving tours is answering questions. "High school students ask really good questions, ones that adults are sometimes too afraid to ask. For example, 'do particles make noise when they collide?'" (They don't—at least not at SLAC—because the particles collide in a vacuum, where sound waves can't propagate. There are, however, acoustic detectors that record collisions in other environments.) 

Back on the university campus, Bechtol participates in another educational program, Habla, where he teaches English to Stanford maintenance workers. "I've probably learned more Spanish from them than they have learned English from me," Bechtol mused. "One of my students, Miguel, has a personal mission to teach me Spanish. But he says I need to practice more." Read more...

Seen around SLAC:
Cookies, Coffee and Community

The weekly "cookie-coffee" meeting brings together theorists and experimentalists. (Photo by Lauren Rugani.)

It's not often that theorists and experimentalists in the high-energy physics community have the chance to work together. But SLAC scientists from both sides are changing that. Since May, theorists and experimentalists from the BaBar Collaboration have been gathering every Thursday in the Research Office Building to discuss new and interesting physics results in the news and various projects both present and future. It also serves as an informal atmosphere for the BaBarians to pose questions or seek advice from the theorists, and vice versa, and perhaps enjoy a chocolate chip cookie or two.


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