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Dorfan Today: It's Great to be Back!

It's great to be back! The break was very restful and I thoroughly enjoyed it, but I am itching to get back to work. It is when you have the opportunity to stand back from the daily business of the lab and view it from outside, as I have over the last few weeks, that you realize what an extraordinary group of people work together here and what an exceptional and refreshingly broad scientific program we are pursuing. I am exhilarated to be re-immersing myself in the excitement of running one of the world’s greatest science laboratories.

I would like to thank everyone who took over my responsibilities while I was away, absorbing the extra load with no relief from their normal overburdened days. My particular thanks to Keith Hodgson who did such an excellent job as Acting Director.

I return thrilled to see that 2007 has gotten off to a great start. Both of our accelerator-based facilities are running smoothly, providing our users with excellent data. SPEAR3 recently completed 3 years of operation and, as Keith described in last week's Director's column, it has been a period of remarkable achievement. The extensive upgrades to PEP II and BaBar were successfully completed and once again the B Factory is producing voluminous amounts of data. We can thus anticipate that 2007, like 2006, will produce a plethora of high quality journal publications in photon science and particle physics.

Construction on the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) has made major strides forward. The massive near experimental hall excavation is substantially complete and the long-anticipated tunneling will commence around the end of the month. Electrons from the SLAC gun have been successfully transported through the newly-installed linac sections just beyond Sector 20, and by mid-March we expect to begin commissioning of the dedicated LCLS gun and injector. After years of honing the concepts, of successfully executing the design and engineering phase, it is truly thrilling to see the LCLS springing to life.

The Gamma Ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) has successfully been mated to the space craft and preparations for a fall 2007 launch on a massive Delta-II rocket are well under way. The Instrument Science Operation Center, which is housed in the central lab annex, will be in full operation in time for the launch.

Although today is my first day back at the lab, I spent 3 days last week taking part in meetings of the International Linear Collider Steering Committee and the International Committee for Future Accelerators in Beijing. The high point of these meetings was the presentation of the Reference Design Report for the Linear Collider. The 300 page report describes the essential design parameters and the costing for the proposed accelerator. Completion of this critical milestone could not have happened were it not for the breadth and depth of the SLAC contributions and we can feel justifiably proud of our continued centrality to this worldwide effort. A press conference was held at the meeting and there has been a flurry of articles in the worldwide press.

We all recognize that this calendar year presents us with many challenges and I'm eager to join with you to meet them with our traditional verve and success. As soon as the budget situation is fully clarified, I will schedule an All Hands talk for the Panofsky Auditorium. Have a successful week!

—Jonathan Dorfan, February 12, 2007