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In this issue:
LSST Makes a Strong Showing at AAS
Your Feedback Wanted for the SLAC Holiday Party
Colloquium Next Week: Strange Bedfellows—Quantum Mechanics and Data Mining

SLAC Today

Tuesday - January 18, 2011

LSST Makes a Strong Showing at AAS

A diagram showing the 60 square degrees of sky covered by seven LSST pointings, used for simulations for AAS. The LSST will have 20,000 square degrees of sky to cover, so over the course of the 10-year survey the telescope will spend less than 50 hours taking data from this segment, but the results will exceed any previous survey in quantity and quality of data. (Image courtesy Dustin Lang.)

SLACers of many stripes attended the 217th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Seattle last week, and one of the big draws was the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. The giant telescope enjoyed increased visibility at the conference, due in large part to its lead position among ground-based observatories in the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Survey, also known as Astro2010, released last August.

Kirk Gilmore, with the joint SLAC-Stanford Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, presented a paper on one of the LSST's biggest attention grabbers—its camera. Gilmore is a member of the SLAC team leading the design of the camera, which, when constructed, will be the largest digital camera in the world at more than nine feet long and four and a half feet in diameter and weighing more than 6600 pounds. Gilmore discussed progress on the camera design, as well as some of the unique challenges facing the design team, such as filter coatings that must be applied with a high degree of accuracy and detector chips that must be fabricated with surface imperfections measured in microns or less.  Read more...

Your Feedback Wanted for the
SLAC Holiday Party

Thank you to all of you who participated in the 2010 Holiday Party. The Holiday Party Committee wants to improve the event. We would appreciate you taking the time to complete the Holiday Party Survey (SLAC internal), which will only take a few minutes. Obtaining your feedback is invaluable in helping us to shape an event that is meaningful to you. Your responses are voluntary and will be kept confidential.

Please complete the survey by end-of-business on January 28, 2011.

Should you have any questions, please contact Maria Mastrokyriakos or Lori Pirri.

Colloquium Next Week: Strange Bedfellows—Quantum Mechanics and Data Mining

(Image - SLAC Colloquium banner)

SLAC theorist Marvin Weinstein will discuss a novel approach to problems in data mining at the next SLAC colloquium, next Monday, January 24, at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium.

One often hears that physics not only benefits the world by increasing our knowledge of how the world around us works, but through the social benefits of spin-off technologies. Next Monday, Weinstein will talk about a very surprising form of spin-off that comes from understanding how quantum physics works and applying that knowledge to problems that have nothing to do with quantum mechanics. He will discuss an algorithm he invented with his colleague David Horn of Tel Aviv University, which is related to problems in data mining: a highly visual approach called Dynamic Quantum Clustering, or DQC.

Weinstein promises to tell you what the fifty-billion-dollar-a-year data mining industry is interested in, explain the nature of their problems and remind you of enough quantum mechanics (through movies) to tell you how his trick works to capture clustering information. He will show a simple example of how the computer algorithm works, as well as some of the problems in biology, business, astrophysics and particle physics to which it has been applied. 

The talk is free and open to all.




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