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PEP-II Stepping Up: Photo Gallery

The final days of PEP-II operations are, in many respects, days like any other for the beam operators in SLAC's Main Control Center (MCC). Placid lighting, watchful, attentive operators, dozens and dozens of flickering monitors of all sizes—the MCC bears more than a passing resemblance to the bridge of a starship.

Despite the subdued lighting, however, occasional bursts of activity erupt—phone calls are made, knobs are turned, the watchful operators stand for a closer look at banks of monitors across the room. Their vigilance pays off with round-the-clock up times for both the accelerator and the PEP-II storage ring.

And these last days are full of new scientific opportunity as well. Diverging from the typical scenario of the last 8 years, when beam operators kept the center of mass energy of PEP-II at a steady 10.58 GeV, physicists are instead periodically creeping up the energy by small increments to collect the widest range of data possible. Every 40 minutes, more knobs are turned, and PEP-II stair-steps to higher and higher energies, a few MeV at a time.

Yet it's the beam operators who keep this amazingly complex operation in the delicate balance between having beams and having blank monitors. On last Friday's morning shift, Cliff Blanchette sat at the helm of the linac, while Karen Goldsmith kept PEP-II humming along. The beam operators, according to Blanchette, rotate from day to day, focusing on different parts of the machine to keep their skills sharp. But this balancing act requires more than knowing a little bit about everything, Blanchette says—"You have to know everything about everything."

(Photo - SLAC's Main Contro Centerl)
SLAC's Main Control Center, the primary hub of linac and PEP-II operations.


(Photo - SLAC's Main Control Center)
Mike Sullivan (left), Howard Smith and Stephen Weathersby discuss linac operations during Friday's morning shift at the MCC.


(Photo - SLAC's Main Control Center)
Eric Tse keeps an eye on PEP-II's performance during a series of incremental shifts in beam energy. 


(Photo - SLAC's Main Control Center)
Cliff Blanchette (left) keeps watch over the linac, while Karen Goldsmith monitors PEP-II.


(Photo - SLAC's Main Control Center
Stephen Weathersby served as the manager in charge on this morning shift.


(Photo - SLAC's Main Control Center)
Franz-Josef Decker (left) and Mike Sullivan assist beam operators and managers in keeping an eye on both the linac and PEP-II.


Brad Plummer, SLAC Today, April 7, 2008