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Symmetry Explains in 60 Seconds: Simulations
BeWell@Stanford Issues Health Report Card

SLAC Today

Thursday - April 28, 2011

Symmetry Explains in 60 Seconds: Simulations

(Image: Sandbox Studio.)

Simulations are used in physics to explore many "what if?" scenarios. In particle physics, they are used from designing new types of accelerators and detectors to evaluating the final analysis of data.

Physicists use simulations to build and test virtual equipment to save the time and money required to test multiple real prototype machines. By running the virtual machines many times with various input data, scientists can better understand how the real machine would work when built, and then optimize it for best performance. Without these simulations, particle physics experiments would be harder to construct.

Simulations are also used to understand how signals of new physics phenomena could be detected with an experiment. Software programs create a virtual set of particles according to a specific theoretical model and let them interact with a simulated particle detector. By analyzing how the virtual detector responds, physicists begin to understand the different signatures of new types of physics. Vice versa, if physicists encounter a strange signal in their real experiment, they can use simulations to explore a variety of possible explanations by simply varying the theoretical input. Without simulations, physicists would have trouble interpreting the signals they see in a detector.

BeWell@Stanford Issues Health Report Card

In 2010, about 7,300 Stanford employees, including staff at SLAC, completed the Stanford Health and Lifestyle Assessment, or SHALA, as part of the BeWell program. This number represents a growth in respondents from over 6,600 since the inception of program in 2008. While all personal information remains strictly confidential, the aggregate data have been compiled to provide us with a snapshot of Stanford's health behaviors.

Based on self-reports, Stanford employees met or surpassed goals set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Healthy People 2010 in the areas of obesity, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption. A full comparison of Stanford employees' lifestyle behaviors with Healthy People target and baseline numbers is shown in the table below.

Additional analyses were conducted on the 4,161 employees who completed the survey in both 2008 and 2010. The results showed significant improvements over the two years in respondents' lifestyle factors, specifically: increased physical activity, improved eating patterns, and reduced smoking. In addition, improvements were also found in respondents' self-reported clinical risk factors of blood pressure and cholesterol measures. Unfortunately, weight status and stress reported by the Stanford employees did not show improvement from 2008 to 2010.

Read more in Stanford Report...




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