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Celebrating Sixty Years of Accelerated Electrons

Six decades ago, two teams, working separately at the Telecommunications Research Establishment in the United Kingdom and at Stanford University, achieved a major landmark in the history of physics: accelerating a beam of electrons with a linear accelerator. The British group was the first to succeed in its experiments in December of 1946, followed closely by the Stanford team, led by Professor William Webster Hansen. On April 28, 1947, Hansen sent a report to the Office of Naval Research, his sponsor, reporting the good news: "We have accelerated electrons."

To commemorate the 60th anniversary of this achievement, SLAC is holding a celebration in the Panofsky Auditorium at 9:00 a.m. on May 23. The event is combined with the workshop on the U.S. High Gradient Research Collaboration for Future Colliders, which immediately follows on the afternoon of May 23 and continues through May 25. Registration is required for the workshop, but everyone is invited to attend the anniversary celebration.

SLAC's Deputy Director Persis Drell will deliver welcoming remarks, which will be followed by an opening statement by Pief Panofsky, SLAC's first director. SLAC's Greg Loew will then give a talk on the beginnings of linear electron accelerator work in the Stanford Physics Department from 1932 to 1952, which will illustrate the conditions under which Professor Hansen and his colleagues conducted research at the university at the time. Following him, Dr. Jake Haimson from Haimson Research Corporation in Santa Clara will give a lecture on the early history of linacs and medical linac development in the U.K. To conclude the event, Dr. George Zdasiuk from Varian Medical Systems will discuss the use of linear accelerators for cancer therapy today and in the future.

"As the audience will find out, this is really a quadruple anniversary!" Greg Loew cryptically adds.

Make sure to arrive at the Panofsky Auditorium well before 9:00 a.m. to secure a seat.

—María José Viñas, SLAC Today, May 16, 2007

Above image: Professor William W. Hansen (right) of the Stanford Physics Department and three of his graduate students: (left to right) Stanley Kaisel, Clarence Carlson, and William Kennedy. They are holding one of the first sections of the first Stanford traveling wave electron linear accelerator. (Image courtesy of SLAC Archives.)