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In this issue:
By the Light of the Moon
People Today: Bend it Like Gravity
DOE Office of Science Announces Staffing Changes
Energy Tip of the Week

SLAC Today

Wednesday - October 17, 2007

(Photo - the moon)
(Moon image courtesy of NASA).

By the Light of the Moon

The gently glowing moon is more than just a pretty ball in the sky—for gamma-ray astronomers, the moon could become a unique target for calibrating instruments such as the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope (GLAST).

Once GLAST is up and running, scientists will need a way to confirm that it's working properly. Fortunately, the moon provides a big, bright "standard candle"—an object with an absolutely known gamma-ray output. In a December Astrophysical Journal paper, that candle's exact brightness is derived by Stanford's physicist Igor Moskalenko, a member of the GLAST collaboration and the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, and Troy Porter of UC Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics, also a GLAST collaboration member.

Having such a standard provides a unique tool to calibrate GLAST, and will prove a useful cross-check with other calibration methods. If the moon through GLAST matches Moskalenko and Porter's calculations, then images of the rest of the galaxy are probably correct. If the moon looks funny, then it's time to adjust the instrument response.  Read more...

(Weekly Column - Profile)

Bend it Like Gravity

(Photo - soccer game)
Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, players of all skill levels enjoy a recreational soccer game on the SLAC green. (Image courtesy of Diana Rogers.)

In America, the popularity of professional soccer may never reach the heights of high-scoring, commercial-break-friendly games like basketball, baseball and football. Here at SLAC, however, the world's favorite sport has been thriving—and dominating the athletic scene—for over 30 years. Every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at lunchtime, the main green transforms into an animated pitch, as soccer ball-dribbling SLAC employees and students hustle, frolic and savor the pleasures of "the beautiful game."

Rafa Miranda, who has played soccer at SLAC since he was a student in the 1970s, and organized the game since 2001, emphasized the most fundamental aspects of the SLAC soccer game. "We're here to exercise and have fun," he said. "You really don't need experience to play, and only positive, encouraging comments are accepted. And absolutely no slide tackles, to keep us old folks from getting hurt."

The group's friendly, recreational attitude allows people of all skill levels to enjoy the game. According to Miranda, "many players had never played before, and didn't really know the game, but we helped them out and coached them. Now they're doing really well." Meanwhile, those who are more experienced still enjoy the opportunity to exercise, sharpen their skills and have fun with their friends.  Read more...

DOE Office of Science Announces Staffing Changes

Department of Energy Under Secretary for Science Raymond L. Orbach announced yesterday that Robin Staffin, Associate Director of the Office of High Energy Physics, has been reassigned to senior science advisor to Director Orbach. Dennis Kovar is now serving as the Acting Director of High Energy Physics, and Jehanne Simon-Gillo has become Acting Director of the Office of Nuclear Physics in place of Kovar. Both will be responsible for budgets, personnel and planning.

"Today, particle physics boasts an unprecedented number of fundamental questions and opportunities for transformative discoveries. The sense that the answers to these questions are within our grasp provides a new vibrancy and excitement to this field. The particle physics community has a vision and ambitious goals, which require the development of a path forward that is adaptable and robust. Dennis Kovar will have my full support to help the field identify this path forward," Orbach wrote in the official announcement.

"We at SLAC would like to thank Robin for his dedicated service to the field," said SLAC Acting Director Persis Drell. "We warmly welcome Dennis to his new position and look forward to working with him in the coming months."

Energy Tip of the Week

(Photo - light bulb)Use compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) in all the portable table and floor lamps in your home. Consider carefully the size and fit of these systems when you select them. Some home fixtures may not accommodate some of the larger CFLs.

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