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Hit It over the Alps
Seen around SLAC: New Security Building

SLAC Today

Wednesday - January 5, 2011

Hit It over the Alps

(Photos by Zach Marshall.)

Every summer weekend, several dozen CERN physicists gather to enjoy a beloved American tradition: They play for the Quarks and the Leptons in an international softball league.

The games are hosted by the U.S. Marines at a site just north of Geneva, with a view of the Swiss Alps over the centerfield fence.

Playing the Marines is "like jocks versus nerds, and we tend to give them a run for their money," says Jim Degenhardt, a postdoc from the University of Pennsylvania working on the ATLAS experiment. "Unfortunately, the jocks usually win, but we all have fun."

Americans who grew up playing baseball or softball are in the minority on the two CERN teams. Some of the European players, particularly the English, had never seen a baseball bat before arriving at CERN, but by the end of the summer they can hit a baseball at least as comfortably as they hit a cricket ball. The teams have a strong tradition of coaching anyone with the desire to learn, yet remain avidly competitive.

Their competition includes teams of employees from international companies and organizations like Merrill Lynch, Caterpillar and the United Nations.

The Quarks and the Leptons are part of the CERN softball club, which fields more women in this co-ed league—and, incidentally, more talented women—than any other club. It was also the first ball club in the world to have a page on the World Wide Web, beating out any team from Major League Baseball. (Of course it had a leg up, since the Web was invented at CERN.)

Vicki Moeller, an ATLAS collaborator from the University of Cambridge, says, "Sipping A&W [root beer] between innings, looking out on Geneva and the lake from our field, and hitting a game-winning two-run double in the bottom of the ninth is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon."

This story first appeared in Symmetry magazine.

(Photo by Lori Ann White.)

Seen around SLAC: New Security Building

The New Year brings with it a new security building next to SLAC's Main Gate. The building, destined to be the new badging and security office, is only one of the security upgrades planned to improve lab security while making it easier for SLACers, users and visitors to get around.




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