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In this issue:
Science Snapshot: Simulations Explore Physics of Gamma Ray Bursts
Announcing the 2011 Robert Hofstadter Memorial Lectures
Welcome New SLACers!

SLAC Today

Thursday - March 10, 2011

Science Snapshot: Simulations Explore Physics of Gamma Ray Bursts

Artist's conception of a gamma-ray burst. The GRB is visible from Earth if the jets (yellow) are oriented so that one points toward us. (Image courtesy of NASA.)

Gamma-ray bursts are the most energetic events in the universe. They involve physics under conditions that can't be achieved anywhere else. As their name implies, their defining characteristic is a temporary flash of gamma rays, the most energetic photons of light.

GRBs are likely to originate during the formation of black holes, when intense beams of particles are shot out following the collapse of a giant star or the merger of two extremely massive stars called neutron stars. Thus GRBs begin as extreme particle accelerators! The details of what actually happens to go from highly accelerated particles to the visible GRB can be studied in detail only through computer simulations, since these extreme energies and huge sizes are beyond the reach of any laboratory experiment.  Read more...

Announcing the 2011 Robert Hofstadter Memorial Lectures

The Department of Physics at Stanford University is very pleased to announce that the 2011 Robert Hofstadter Memorial Lectures will be given by distinguished theoretical physicist David Mermin. Mermin is the Horace White Professor of Physics (emeritus) at Cornell University. Over the years, his academic interests have ranged among such fields as solid-state physics, statistical physics, low-temperature physics, mathematical crystallography and quantum computation. All the while his zeal for explaining complex scientific ideas to a general audience has flourished. Since his retirement in 2006, Mermin's book Quantum Computer Science was published by Cambridge University Press. He is also the co-author, with Neil Ashcroft, of the classic textbook Solid State Physics, first published in 1976 and in the intervening years translated into numerous languages. 

Spooky Actions at a Distance

At 8 p.m. on Monday, April 4, Mermin will present "Spooky Actions at a Distance" at the Hewlett Teaching Center, 370 Serra Mall, Rm. 200, Stanford University campus. Einstein's real complaint about the quantum theory was not that it required God to play dice, but that it failed to "represent a reality in time and space, free from spooky actions at a distance." Mermin will use a computer-simulated lecture demonstration to explain both the power of Einstein's criticism and the remarkable fact that the "reality" he insisted upon is nevertheless impossible.

What Has Quantum Mechanics to Do with Factoring?

At 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5, Mermin will present "What Has Quantum Mechanics to Do with Factoring?"  at the Hewlett Teaching Center, 370 Serra Mall, Rm. 201. Quantum computer science will be introduced in the context of its most sensational algorithm: a highly efficient factoring routine discovered by Peter Shor. Mermin will emphasize features of Shor's procedure that puzzled, surprised, and charmed him in the course of his own efforts to better understand how it does its magic. The subject offers some offbeat glimpses of both quantum mechanics and computation.

Please see the lecture Web site for a map and other information.

(Photo by Maria Mastrokyriakos.)

Welcome New SLACers!

On Thursday, March 3, SLAC welcomed 17 new staff members at New Employee Orientation. Please join us in congratulating our newest members as they embark on their successful pathways at SLAC!

First Row (from left): Judy Pena, Lorenza Ladao, Lyssette Williams, Daniel Hayes, Mario Marchesano

Second Row (from left): Clifford Whitfield, Daniel Bruch, Jill Bentz, William Smith, Eiji Suzuki, Grant Quinlan, Jamouri Ringold, Kyle Dhillon

Back Row (from left): Tim Skirvin, Jianzhi Tang

Not pictured: Maria Co-Garcia, Lope Amores




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