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Cyber Commuters Attend Conference with a Click

(Photo)Thirteen Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST) collaboration members attended a workshop in Bari, Italy, earlier this month—despite the fact that only three of the researchers actually traveled to Europe. Multimedia and teleconference tools erased travel burdens and expenses by allowing researchers to attend via cyberspace.

Even though they never set foot on an airplane, the cyber commuters still had to endure jetlag. Professor Elliott Bloom participated in instrument analysis and data-collection talks from 11 p.m. to 10 a.m., Pacific time. But in comparison to travel, the adjustment was easy he said.

"Getting to Bari can be difficult. First you fly to New York, then across the Atlantic, then to Rome and then finally you fly to Bari," Bloom said. "We saved ourselves a lot of energy and time."

Time is of the essence as the Instrument Science Operations Center (ISOC) members prepare for the GLAST's May launch. Avoiding the trip to Bari allowed researchers to both maintain their SLAC workloads and keep up with workshop discussions.

Bloom lauded the Enabling Virtual Organizations (EVO) software that made this possible. The collaborative service, developed and provided by the California Institute of Technology with support from Large Hadron Collider Experiments and the Department of Energy, allows physicists to easily disseminate information worldwide.

"The use of this innovation will become more prevalent," Bloom said. "It unifies the physics community and this time it saved us about $30,000 in travel funds."

Addendum: The multimedia and teleconference tools in the 3rd Floor Conference Room are not yet completely ready for users.  Please do not contact KIPAC administration about using this equipment—it is not ready for general use.  Thanks!

Matt Cunningham, SLAC Today, February 20, 2008

Above image: Teleconference equipment in the Kavli 3rd Floor Conference Room enables GLAST KIPAC researchers to interact with colleagues in Bari, Italy.