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In this issue:
From the Director: Budgets Good and Bad
In the News: Federal Budget Proposals
Symmetry Explains It in 60 Seconds: Redshift

SLAC Today

Tuesday - February 15, 2011

From the Director: Budgets Good and Bad

(Photo - Persis Drell)
(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

As you may have read last week, the House Appropriations Committee of Congress released a list of spending measures for fiscal year 2011 that includes some proposed deep cuts for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. The proposed reductions would bring the office's funding back down to 2008 levels, which, if passed, would have a significant impact on the budgets of national laboratories such as SLAC for the remainder of this fiscal year.

While these numbers are harsh and cause for concern if we look at them out of context, it's important to remember that a proposal from the House Appropriations Committee is a first step in a process of negotiation in Congress and with the President before any budget is actually passed. The committee's proposals have to go before the entire House of Representatives for a vote first. If that passes, they would have to be reconciled with the budget proposed from the Senate, whose stated priorities are markedly different. The two houses of Congress would need to negotiate and come up with numbers both can agree on, which will likely change these proposed cuts from the House in a significant way. In addition, any budget would have to be signed by the President, who clearly stated his support in his State of the Union address for greater investment in innovation and research—exactly the type of work we do here at SLAC.  Read more...

In the News: Federal Budget Proposals

Here is some background information on recent federal budget proposals discussed in the director's column today:

Symmetry Explains It in 60 Seconds: Redshift

(Image - trains)
(Image: Sandbox Studio.)

Redshift is the observed change in the color of light emitted by a star or other celestial object that is moving away from Earth.

Light, like sound, travels in waves that are stretched or compressed when the source or the observer is in motion. Imagine a passing train blowing its horn: You hear a high-pitched sound as it approaches and a low-pitched sound as it recedes. The approaching sound waves are compressed and the receding sound waves are stretched, causing you to hear different frequencies.

You experience a similar effect with light emitted by a moving object. The wavelength of light appears shorter for an approaching object and longer for a receding one. In the visible spectrum of light, the longest wavelengths are red, so the light from a receding source is said to be "redshifted."

In the 1990s, astronomers measuring the redshifts of distant, bright objects discovered that they are farther away than one would have expected from the expansion of the universe as influenced by gravity alone. Confirmed by more recent observations, the discovery means that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate. This accelerated expansion is thought to be caused by dark energy, the physical nature of which is one of the most compelling mysteries of modern science.




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