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Stanford Report, October 9, 2002

More than 1,300 flock to SLAC to mark its many achievements

BY TOM MEAD

More than 1,300 people -- laboratory staff, government representatives, scientists and leaders of science centers from several continents -- united at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) on Oct. 2 to honor 40 years of extraordinary scientific accomplishment. They gathered within a giant white tent erected on SLAC's central green and applauded the laboratory's cascade of breakthroughs, from the discovery of quarks to the first web page in America. An afternoon of speeches and presentations showcased the great events in SLAC's history and the people who made them possible.

"Great people create great institutions," said SLAC Director Jonathan Dorfan, attributing SLAC's success to the hard work and skills of its staff. "I dedicate this day to all of you, the staff of SLAC. It's a day for looking back on our accomplishments while enthusiastically embracing the future and looking ahead to expanding our horizons."

Referring to the close reciprocal relationship between Stanford and SLAC, President John Hennessy said, "In preparing my remarks for today, I thought how difficult it is to think of Stanford without SLAC and how SLAC could not have been conceived without Stanford."

Dorfan thanked the Department of Energy (DOE), SLAC's primary sponsor, for its support. "We are fortunate that the United States government has long provided the vision, the leadership and the resources for the laboratory. Our thanks go to all those in the House and Senate who have backed SLAC since its inception," he said.

Peter Rosen, associate director for high energy and nuclear physics in the DOE Office of Science, presented a written address by Ray Orbach, director of the DOE Office of Science.

"SLAC is famous for innovative and bold projections into the unknown," wrote Orbach. "We celebrate extraordinary scientific achievements. We also celebrate contributions to our country, for the service of the men and women who have been and are associated with SLAC is legendary. They have contributed to science, education, government, national security and world peace."

An emotional moment underscored the great respect and affection earned by the event's second speaker, W. K. H. "Pief" Panofsky -- the prime mover in the realization of SLAC, the center's first director and a daily presence in the lab halls. As Panofsky was about to speak, 1,300 people rose to give him a standing ovation.

In three affectionate and humorous talks, Haim Harari, chair of the Davidson Institute of Science Education; Burton Richter, SLAC director emeritus; and Robert Birgeneau, president of the University of Toronto, reviewed highlights of SLAC's contributions to particle physics, accelerator technology and synchrotron radiation research.

John Marburger III, chief science adviser to President George W. Bush and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, summarized SLAC's first 40 years: "These have been good years for SLAC, and I am delighted that this great laboratory is positioning itself today for decades more of outstanding work at the very foundations of physical science."