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In this issue:
From the Director: The Budget in Difficult Times
New Security Building Complete
Word of the Week: Antiferromagnetism

SLAC Today

Friday - March 18, 2011

From the Director:
The Budget in Difficult Times

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

Before addressing anything else in this column, I want to start with a thought for the tragedy that has unfolded this past week in Japan. On a macro scale, it's impossible not to be deeply affected by the images we see each day coming from the areas devastated by the earthquake and tsunami. Closer to home, we can only be thankful that our colleagues, Glen White and Mark Woodley, who were in Japan at the time of the earthquake, have safely made it back home. All our thoughts continue to be with the people of Japan and the difficult times they face in the weeks and months ahead.

While it's difficult to discuss a topic such as Congressional budget negotiations while a tragedy of this magnitude is unfolding, I do want to update you on where we stand with regard to our 2011 funding. As many of you have no doubt heard by now, Congress this week approved another continuing resolution to fund the federal government for another 3 weeks. The CR does include a provision for $6 billion more in cuts, but none of those affect the Office of Science or the national laboratories. Many of you have also read that there is increasing opposition in both the House and the Senate—and from both sides of the political aisle—to the idea of another short-term continuing resolution after this one expires. The pressure is now on both parties to reach a compromise for the remainder of the 2011 budget before this resolution ends on April 8.  Read more...

(Photo by Brad Plummer.)

New Security Building Complete

The move is complete, both parking lots are open, and a set of great-looking posters greets visitors arriving at their first stop through SLAC's Main Gate: the new security building, Building 235. In addition to visitor and staff badges, the Security & Emergency Management Department staff in Building 235 can help you with parking stickers, new employee training, keys and more. One-hour visitor (only) parking is available out front. Stop by and say hello.

(Image - antiferromagnetism)
Antiferromagnetic behavior in a single layer of manganese atoms. Inset: data taken with a spin-sensitive tip on a scanning tunneling microscope; top: schematic of the spin structure of the material. (Image: Argonne National Laboratory.)

Word of the Week: Antiferromagnetism

Magnetism is a part of everyday life—a little reminder of how neat the world of physics truly is. What could cause an invisible attraction between materials? Simply put, magnetism is the result of an ordering of electrons in a substance. A quantum mechanical property of electrons called spin can either be up or down—in a magnet, the overwhelming majority of spins point in one direction.

Antiferromagnetism can't be detected by us in the same way—a refrigerator antiferromagnet would be silly, because it wouldn't stick to the refrigerator door. But antiferromagnetism indicates an ordered state that's no less intriguing. It doesn't indicate a random jumble of spins. Instead, in the simplest instance, the spin of each electron is opposite the spin of its neighbor. In more complicated instances, spin directions can vary—but are arranged with the final effect of cancelling each other out.

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