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February 17, 2004

SLAC inaugurates lecture series for the public

Local residents passing the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) on Interstate 280 may wonder what goes on in the 2-mile-long building that stretches beneath the freeway.

The new SLAC Public Lecture Series aims to solve the mystery. This recurring lecture program, aimed at the local nonscientific community, starts Feb. 24 with "All About SLAC: What Goes On in the World's Longest Building?" by SLAC Communications Director Neil Calder.

"We wanted to give the local community a chance to see what SLAC is all about and understand why it is such a unique institution," said Ray Cowan, a scientist and one of the lecture series organizers. Over the past 40 years, SLAC researchers have dramatically expanded our understanding of the physical world, from subatomic particles to outer space. They gave America its first web server and the world its largest database. They developed technologies for zapping cancer and mapping heart disease, for developing drugs that fit molecules the way a key fits a lock, for pinpointing impurities that threaten the performance of silicon chips.

The free one-hour lectures will take place the last Tuesday of every other month at 7:30 p.m. in Panofsky Auditorium on the SLAC campus at 2575 Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park. (The December lecture is scheduled earlier in the month; see below.) Organizers hope the public will attend the lectures to learn about the big scientific questions of our time, find out what goes on at a world-renowned research institute and chat with scientists and other staff on hand to answer questions.

"This effort originated from scientists wanting to include the community and truly caring about educating the public on the value SLAC provides in multiple scientific disciplines," Cowan said. "We intend to convey this information with enthusiasm, without resorting to technical jargon. We want these talks to be fun and entertaining, not your standard science class."


The 2004 SLAC Public Lecture Series schedule:

Feb. 24: "All About SLAC: What Goes On in the World's Longest Building?" by Neil Calder, communications director, SLAC

April 27: "Synchrotron Radiation: The Light Fantastic," by Herman Winick, assistant director and professor emeritus, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory

June 29: "Our Lopsided Universe: The Matter with Anti-Matter," by Steve Sekula, physicist, BABAR and University of Wisconsin-Madison

Aug. 31: "Metal, Molecules, Life and Death" by Graham George, Canada research chair in X-ray absorption spectroscopy, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Saskatchewan

Oct. 26: "Particle Astrophysics" by Roger Blandford, director, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology

Dec. 14: "Magnetism and X-Rays: From the Compass to Modern Technology," by Joachim Stöhr, professor and deputy director, Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory.



Neil Calder, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center: (650) 926-8707, neil.calder@SLAC.Stanford.EDU

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