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In this issue:
From the Director: The Return (Again) of the Scientific Policy Committee
A Successful AED Improvement Initiative Review
SLAC Holiday Party: Join the Festivities Online
Word of the Week: Anisotropy

SLAC Today

Friday - November 12, 2010

From the Director: The Return (Again) of the Scientific Policy Committee

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Linda Cicero.)

The Scientific Policy Committee met last week as part of a week-long series of meetings to provide input to our Board of Overseers—the BoO. Recall that Stanford University is responsible for overseeing SLAC science and operations and Stanford uses the BoO to assure that our performance is up to the university's high standards.

The SPC helps develop, refine and assess the scientific strategies of the laboratory. Their recent meetings have been full of excitement as they have watched the successful launch and excellent science productivity of the Fermi telescope and first lasing, initial operations and first science from the Linac Coherent Light Source. As I approach each meeting I wonder: what can we do that will top the excitement of the meeting before?  Read more...

Noontime Concert by the Cecilia String Quartet Today

(Photo courtesy the Cecelia String Quartet.)

The Cecilia String Quartet will return to SLAC to present a noon-time concert today in the Kavli Auditorium. This is an exciting group that was awarded the first prize in the 2010 Banff International String Quartet Competition at The Banff Centre this past September. They are working with the St. Lawrence String Quartet of Stanford as part of their Emerging String Quartet program.

They will play two quartets, Mozart, String Quartet No.14 in G Major, K. 387 and Schumann, Op. 41 No.1 in A minor.

Please join us!

External reviewers gather during a break. From left: Jama Hill (ORNL), Bryan Mohler (PNNL), Graeme Murdoch (ORNL), Will Oren (JLab), Geoff Pile (ANL), John Byrd (LBNL), and Armand Staprans (Consultant). (Photo courtesy Paul Bellomo.)

A Successful AED Improvement Initiative Review

Karen Fant and her Accelerator Engineering Division management team are all breathing a sigh of relief after three days of scrutiny by external reviewers from October 27 through October 29. AED is the organization within the Accelerator Directorate that puts the "engineering" into the accelerator—getting the power, designing and building hardware, creating software, and measuring everything to the sub-micron to help turn scientists' brilliant ideas into reality.  Read more...

SLAC Holiday Party:
Join the Festivities Online

Jump into the holiday spirit and share Global Peace… Global Joy! Please visit the holiday party Web site, which lists details of this wonderful annual event. Feast on turkey with all the trimmings (vegetarian items available, too), swing to cheerful music, talk to Santa or win a raffle prize (if you are lucky!) Share in the spirit of giving with our annual giving campaigns and learn more about our festive and fun live entertainment! Check the site often for updates.

The most recent map of the cosmic microwave background from WMAP data. Different colors indicate different temperatures. (Image: NASA.)

Word of the Week: Anisotropy

The term "anisotropy" is probably best-known as part of the name of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, or WMAP, which spent nine years measuring differences across the entire sky in the slowly-fading heat of the Big Bang. Such a measured directional difference is the very definition of anisotropy.

Most anisotropies are part and parcel of the materials they describe. For example, crystals can have anisotropies that affect the way they refract or reflect light. One of the best-known examples is the double-refraction of calcite, in which the crystal splits incoming light into two rays with differing characteristics. In another example, the anisotropies of magnetic fields show us the way north.

But it's the unexplained anisotropy that scientists really notice. For example, the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole recently discovered more cosmic rays coming from one direction of the southern sky than the other, and no one yet knows why.

Scientists like unexplained anisotropies like this because they can point the way to new scientific discoveries.


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