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In this issue:
Mapping the Digital Divide
Profile: Paint Shop Serves Up a Little Bit of Everything
Lab Loses One of its Own
Find the Higgs!

SLAC Today

Wednesday - May 30, 2007

Mapping the Digital Divide

Les Cottrell (bottom right) with the speakers from the Digital Divide Seminar, held during the last meeting of the American Physical Society.

Les Cottrell has spent more than a decade measuring the differences in access to Internet services that exist between developed and developing countries. Most recently, he organized a session on the digital divide during last April's American Physical Society meeting, and has submitted a paper on the subject to an international conference that will be held in Kathmandu, Nepal, in December.

Cottrell, of SLAC's Scientific Computing and Computing Services Group, began his research on Internet performance in 1994, when physicists at the lab complained to him whenever the Internet performed poorly. "We didn't know why it happened, so we started to make measurements," he says. In 2000, encouraged by the International Committee on Future Accelerators, he switched his focus to quantifying the digital divide across countries, concretely studying which countries have connectivity problems.

Cottrell's group, working with collaborators from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Georgia Tech and the National University of Science and Technology in Pakistan, developed a program called Ping End-to-end Reporting (PingER). PingER uses "pings," short messages sent from a computer to a distant host, to gauge the performance of international networks. The program measures how long it takes for the "ping" to go and come back and how frequently the messages get lost; these measurements give a good idea of the quality of the networks.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Paint Shop Serves Up a Little Bit of Everything

(Photo - Paint Shop)
The SLAC paint shop's Joe Stafford.
(Click on image for larger version.)

Color coded satellite components in space and utility vehicles at SLAC don't have much in common, except that they both got their finishing touches at the SLAC paint shop.

Tucked into a small eight by twelve office full of labeling and engraving supplies, the paint shop has the tools and expertise to fulfill all of SLAC's engraving and labeling needs.

"From big brown building signs to little green safety signs, there's no end to what we can do," said Paint Shop Supervisor George Sandoval.

Sandoval and colleague Joe Stafford have been engraving and labeling here at SLAC for more than five years. But the labeling project really boomed with the thousands of electrical safety labels placed to avert electrical accidents after late 2004. Since then, the two have worked on projects ranging from "Please Wash Your Hands" signs to SLAC volleyball trophies.

Most projects can be completed in less time and for a fraction of the cost of taking jobs outside of SLAC's gates. "Security can call at 9:00 a.m. with a request for a job site safety sign and we can put it together in minutes to get it out to the site," said Sandoval.

So the next time your office needs a nameplate engraved or label created, take it to the paint shop.

"Anything an engraving shop can do, we can pretty much do here," said Stafford.

To request a job, contact the service desk at x8901, fill out a request online or complete a hard copy form at the paint shop in Building 35. Showing up in person is often the best choice, so they can better understand what you need.

Lab Loses One of its Own

Last Saturday, Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) Design Supervisor Michael Dutcher died on his motorcycle. Mike's wife, Laura, survived the accident with a severe leg injury. She is currently in residence at the John Muir Trauma Center in Walnut Creek.

Mike worked to implement, improve, and manage many aspects of mechanical design and documentation based on large scale 3D modeling. His contributions to LCLS and SLAC will outlive the short time that he was with us.

Mike is survived by Laura, his three daughters, Aubre, Amber, and Jessica, as well as two stepchildren and grandchildren. His father, family, and large circle of friends plan to celebrate Mike's life in a form appropriate to the way he lived. Mike was passionate about his family, work, and motorcycles. He died doing what he wanted most in life.

Find the Higgs!

Click on the above image to play The Hunt for Higgs, courtesy of London's Science Museum.

The theoretical Higgs boson has eluded experimentalists for decades, but when CERN's Large Hadron Collider (LHC) turns on later this year, the wait may finally be over. If this mysterious particle is finally observed, it could explain how other elementary particles gain mass and could fill a gap in the Standard Model of Physics.

Thanks to London's Science Museum, everyone can now "search" for the Higgs. The museum's website now offers The Hunt for Higgs, a game that challenges visitors to identify the particle tracks that might signal a Higgs—in a cartoon parallel universe.

See if you can spot the Higgs!

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