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In this issue:
People: Frank Topper's Brand of Creativity
Seen Around SLAC: BaBar Superconducting Magnet Moves to End Station A

SLAC Today

Wednesday - March 30, 2011

People: Frank Topper's Brand of Creativity

(Photo)
Frank Topper shares his mantra with the world. (Photo by Lori Ann White.)

Instead of advertising a dealership or garage, the license plate holder on Frank Topper's car says, "Thank you for not complaining."

"I've had it for years," said Topper, who had the plate holder made for himself. The inspiration came during the Employee Recognition Awards (popularly known as the Globies) some years back, he said. Among the many contributions announced for one award winner was the phrase, "she never complained."

"When she walked up to meet Persis, Persis laughed and shook her hand and said, 'Thank you for not complaining.' I liked it so much as an inner mantra, I put it on my car," Topper said. "Whenever I find myself complaining, I try to minimize it and move on to what is possible. If I'm repeating my complaints I'm not recognizing any creative possibilities."

Topper has worked at SLAC for about fifteen years, starting in a part-time capacity that has slowly grown closer to full time. He is transitioning to a position in the Human Resources Department and remaining open to the possibilities along the way. 

Creativity is often required in one of Topper's main areas of expertise—facilitation. He's been working as a facilitator for more than 20 years, beginning at the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked before coming to Stanford University about 19 years ago. Topper defines facilitation as "helping people in a room get to the point, get agreement and figure out how to get on with it." SLAC and academic institutions hold some special challenges in that regard, he said.

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Seen Around SLAC: BaBar Superconducting Magnet Moves to End Station A

(Photo - BaBar magnet on a truck)
BaBar's superconducting magnet heads for End Station A. (Photo by Lori Ann White.)

One very important piece of the massive detector for the BaBar experiment did no detecting. Instead, a 15-ton superconducting magnetic coil about three-and-a-half meters in diameter and four meters long coaxed the paths of charged particles within the detector along graceful curves—curves that told BaBar physicists of the particles' properties. It was moved last week from Building 620 to End Station A.

Transporting the magnet went smoothly, according to Bill Wisniewski, manager of the BaBar deconstruction and demolition effort. And unlike the moves for several other pieces of BaBar equipment, weather was not a factor in determining the date. "If it had rained last week, all that would have happened is the cryostat encasing the magnet would have gotten rinsed off," he said. "The complicated part was repositioning it to be transported for reuse. Shawn Osier with the Accelerator Engineering division spearheaded that effort."

Italy has expressed interest in the magnet for its upcoming SuperB flavor factory. "The magnet does have a potential future," Wisniewski said.

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