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In this issue:
Fourth LCLS Instrument Captures Its First X-ray Image
Stay Safe: Stay within Your Work Plan
Colloquium Today: James Van Allen—The First Eight Billion Miles

SLAC Today

Monday - February 7, 2011

Fourth LCLS Instrument Captures Its
First X-ray Image

(Photo - detector team members)
SLAC contributors in the detector project stand in the LCLS XPP hutch just after the detector was installed there. From left: Jeff Tice, Brian Duda, Jack Pines, Lupe Salgado, Miguel Pinillos, Matt Weaver, Yolanda Casas, Philip Hart, Chris Kenney, Gunther Haller, John Morse, Ryan Herbst, Tom Nieland and Leo Manger. Not pictured: Matt Swift, Garth Williams, and Martin Nordby, and the team's collaborators from Cornell. (Photo by Brad Plummer.)

The Coherent X-ray Imaging instrument at the Linac Coherent Light Source achieved the first X-ray image from its newly installed detector last Tuesday. The detector was installed inside the instrument’s vacuum-sealed experimental chamber in January. Through this week, CXI instrument scientists will test and adjust the new device in preparation for arrival of the first experimental users this Sunday.

The CXI hutch is the fourth end station to receive X-rays since LCLS turned on in 2009. Researchers hope to use the instrument to turn patterns of X-rays scattered off experimental samples into faithful images of single molecules. The detector, which will collect these scattered photons, is a key component in the setup. Because the LCLS X-ray pulses are unique in the world, the detector needed to have the sensitivity, dynamic range and data processing speed to match.

"This detector can process about half a gigabyte of data per second," said software engineer Matt Weaver, who wrote analysis software that will allow researchers to see live displays of what’s going on inside the experimental chamber. "This is about 4000 times as fast as your typical Internet connection."  Read more and see the slideshow and time lapse video...

Stay Safe: Stay within Your Work Plan

When you're working on a project, it's easy—and seems more efficient—to extend what you're doing to get just a bit more done. However, doing that extra task outside the defined project scope can put you, your colleagues, or the environment at unacceptable risk. Don't do any job without planning it out.

Potential hazards for any project are identified before work begins, based on the scope of work to be done, and controls are put in place to mitigate them. If you are unsure of the consequences of a task then you need to stop and re-evaluate. We’ve had several situations where workers have taken the initiative to do work beyond the initially evaluated scope, with good intent, but unfortunate results.  Read more...

Colloquium Today: James Van Allen —The First Eight Billion Miles

(Photo)
Author Abigail Foerstner. (Photo by Robert Potter III.)

Astrophysicist James Van Allen barely had time to savor the launch of America's first satellite, Explorer I, in 1958 when colleagues at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory told him his cosmic ray detector onboard wasn't working. The instrument kept blanking out. Van Allen discovered in the blanks evidence for the Earth's radiation belts, which had saturated his detector. Van Allen helped remap the solar system as he tracked cosmic rays, high-energy particles hurled across the galaxies by nature's own accelerators.

At today's colloquium, hear how the Iowa astrophysicist helped pioneer the U.S. space program on a shoe-string budget and later took space exploration eight billion miles beyond the Earth with instruments on Pioneer 10. Author Abigail Foerstner will talk about the life and times of this ingenious American hero in a presentation full of photographs and anecdotes drawn from her award-winning biography, "James Van Allen: The First Eight Billion Miles."

Foerstner teaches health, science and environmental journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications. She coordinates science coverage for Medill's Chicago newsroom where graduate students produce multimedia stories for widespread media clients of the Medill News Service.

The colloquium begins at 4:15 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium. It is free and open to all.

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