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Pictorial Tour of World's Longest Linear Accelerator 79

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the always-with-the-measuring-contest dept.
Wired has a great pictorial tour of their recent visit to Stanford University's linear accelerator, the longest in the world. The accelerator has been the vehicle upon which three Nobel Prizes were earned and a the next big project will boast an electron laser roughly 10 billion times more powerful than existing x-ray sources.
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Pictorial Tour of World's Longest Linear Accelerator

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  • I wonder (Score:3, Interesting)

    by croddy (659025) * on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:33PM (#22467224)
    I wonder if Man or Astro-man will come out of cryostasis to compose an ode to the new electron laser. Their song for the two-mile linear particle accelerator [archive.org] pretty much nailed it.
  • by Reverend528 (585549) * on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:33PM (#22467230) Homepage
    I'm tagging this songofthetwomilelinearparticleacceleratorstanforduniversity.
  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:36PM (#22467252) Homepage Journal
    Now, when are we going to get the moon-sized space station to put it on?
  • by CompMD (522020) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:38PM (#22467272)
    Its really a shame that SLAC just had to lay off something like 15% of their staff due to DOE budget cuts in the past couple of weeks.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Well thats what happens when you mostly do "B" physics.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by niklask (1073774)

        Well thats what happens when you mostly do "B" physics.
        High-energy physics, like the BaBar experiment, is only a fraction of what SLAC does these days. SLAC is heavily involved in photon science and particle astrophysics.
    • by bcdm (1031268) <bcdm999&yahoo,ca> on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:50PM (#22467430)
      125 staff members at SLAC have been let go this year (so far), and 200 projected layoffs at Fermilab by the end of the summer. Wired has the fuller scoop. [wired.com]
    • by eecue (605228)
      Yeah what's really a bummer is that BaBar got cut short right in the middle of their experimental run. Hopefully they'll solve the matter / anti-matter ratio riddle despite their 6 month project cut.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Yeah but from my understanding, Belle just had them beat (mainly due to that long safety related shutdown which pretty much killed BaBar's competitiveness). Coupled with CDF/D0 and soon LHCb (I'm aware the these are hadron collider experiments and are therefore more complimentary than direct competitors but still...), there just wasnt much of a physics program left that wasnt being done better elsewhere or hadnt already been measured by BaBar and Belle to great precision.

        I would be interested in hearing fro
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward
          The safety shutdown didn't help get experimental results faster, but I think you're overstating the effect. Belle/KEK-B was designed from the beginning to deliver more luminosity than BaBar/PEP-II -- particularly as the IP for Belle was designed for the bunches to rotate ("crab crossing") to improve the beam-beam parameter. BaBar/PEP-II was actually ahead in integrated lumi. for quite a while, but that was because Belle/KEK-B's program was more ambitious (and IIRC more expensive), and so it took longer to
    • by nguy (1207026)
      Its really a shame that SLAC just had to lay off something like 15% of their staff due to DOE budget cuts in the past couple of weeks.

      Well, it is when you consider that the money is being wasted on useless wars.

      On the other hand, given a limited overall science budget, it is doubtful to me that physics mega-projects should continue being supported in the way they have been. Biology, chemistry, math, and computer science yield a lot more useful results per dollar.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Well, it is when you consider that the money is being wasted on useless wars.

        On the other hand, given a limited overall science budget, it is doubtful to me that physics mega-projects should continue being supported in the way they have been. Biology, chemistry, math, and computer science yield a lot more useful results per dollar.

        Well, okay, maybe Congress found it necessary to cut $88 million out of the high energy physics budget to pay for Bush's useless wars. Sure, I could probably that.

        But if that's so, then how the hell did the same Congress find it possible to lard $19 BILLION of new earmarks (a.k.a. pork) into the budget?!?

        If they could cut back the Bridge to Nowhere and other pork by just 5%, then there would be more than enough money for SLAC, Fermilab, etc. But instead of cutting wasteful pork by only 5%, they choose to

        • by nguy (1207026)
          Well, okay, maybe Congress found it necessary to cut $88 million out of the high energy physics budget to pay for Bush's useless wars. Sure, I could probably that.

          And the rest of the money comes from where? The tooth fairy? Bush's war probably costs a trillion dollars when all is said and done.

          But if that's so, then how the hell did the same Congress find it possible to lard $19 BILLION of new earmarks (a.k.a. pork) into the budget?!?

          Most of the money you call "pork" is infrastructure spending. There may
  • welcome our electron laser generating SLAC overlord! (wonder if they have a sharktank + proper mount for the hot end?)

    Bob [subgenius.com] would be proud.

    tm

  • by Snakefoot (1241778) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:48PM (#22467396)
    Too bad the Superconducting Supercollider project http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superconducting_Super_Collider [wikipedia.org] went bust. 'Twould have been glorious.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:48PM (#22467402)
    ...which merely leaves you going in circles.

    Though I suspect the taxi driver was padding the fare.
  • by ScentCone (795499) on Monday February 18, 2008 @03:57PM (#22467520)
    I mean, that whole pictorial is just screen captures from Halflife.
  • Thanks for the link! I really enjoyed the tour and can't wait to go back to shoot the SCLS... now that is going to be bad ass!
  • I interviewed for a job once at SLAC, but barely remember enough of it to know if the beginnings of my my short story [storymash.com] featuring SLAC are vaguely accurate. It seems that they were using Amiga computers when I was there and searching for the W particle.

    I don't know, I suppose it is the 0 dimensional particle thought to exist at the core of Bush's brain?

  • by gillbates (106458) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:07PM (#22467632) Homepage Journal

    Our accelerator is longer.

    • by imsabbel (611519)
      But the ALS is more useful.

      AND the dont have a fucking tree as a mascot.
      • But the ALS is more useful.

        I'm not a Stanford person, so I agree with the tree comment. But synchrotron radiation was first put to use at SLAC. The ALS would not exist were it not for the initial work done at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lab. (which still exists and is used in scientific work, just like the ALS) Besides if you read the summary you would know that the LCLS is essentially a outrageously fast (femtosecond pulses) x-ray laster that's billions of times brighter than the ALS.

        • by imsabbel (611519)
          Well, i am a physicist, and i have used the several synchrotrons for research.

          While FELs are able to create light pulses billion times more brilliant, they are not brighter.
          In fact, for most experiments, this creates more problems than solutions:
          - XPS is near impossible because of the high charge density of the ionisation cloud (acceleration after emission warps the whole spectra)
          - tomography suffers from the destructive pulse behaviour (few application outside molecular tomography have simple enough system
      • by doxology (636469)
        Hey, at least we don't have people living in trees...
  • by Programmer_In_Traini (566499) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:08PM (#22467648)
    although it is pointless, i cant resist the urge to mention this would make a perfect death ray machine in a james bond movie.

    I'm also pretty sure it would make a cooler death ray than a linear accelerator, which, when you look at it, serves no purpose in world domination.

    lastly but not least, the controls looks like the computers salvaged from the "2001 - a space odyssey" mission.
  • Sarah Connor is on her way to deal with this "machine." The future is safe. The End.
  • Bong? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Frosty Piss (770223) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:13PM (#22467688)
    Ladies and gentalmen, I give you the worlds most advanced bong... [wired.com]
  • ... and SLACware is back!
  • by warrior_s (881715) *
    Linear accelerator at Los Alamos [google.com]

    http://lansce.lanl.gov/ [lanl.gov]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:16PM (#22467706)
    Picture 8 has a description that starts with: "Your microwave oven has a klystron inside" which is wrong. All modern microwave ovens have a cavity magnetron inside not a klystron.
    • by arminw (717974) on Monday February 18, 2008 @05:46PM (#22468572)
      ......a cavity magnetron inside not a klystron......

      Indeed correct, but each these klystrons has a large magnet associated with it. Also, there are only about 400 of them, not 4000 as in the article. SLAC never did much with protons, as was stated, but accelerates and collides anti-electrons, commonly called positrons with electrons. In the beginning, the electrons however were all directed against fixed targets.

      The accelerator is perfectly STRAIGHT but not level. The injector end is about 50 feet higher than the target end. So, the Klystron Gallery does have a slope also.

      I was there in the group at the ground breaking. Starting down on the Stanford University campus, I participated in the design and construction of power and control systems for magnets in the beam switch yard. We all had big celebration in 1967, upon getting an electron beam all the way through that 3/4 inch 2 mile long hole in that copper pipe. Sigh.... those were the days.....
  • Crazy tag (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yoweigh116 (185130)
    What is up with this crazy tag attached to the story?

    songofthetwomilelinearparticleacceleratorstanforduniversity
    Doesn't it defeat the purpose of a tagging system entirely if every article has unique tags?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by treeves (963993)
      Not unique - there's always the dupes!
    • by nuzak (959558)
      You mean you still have tags on? Have you ever actually searched on a tag, or otherwise found them remotely useful on slashdot?
  • Alas, Wired failed to photograph the most massive movement at the lab, namely the large number of laid off scientists being ejected in the next two months. You can thank our wonderful congressional members for cutting the budget at SLAC, so enjoy the view while it is still there.
    • by eecue (605228)
      As it turns out, that is a hard one to photograph! I'll try harder next time.
  • Working at SLAC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by c0d3r (156687) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:29PM (#22467834) Homepage Journal
    I worked at slac for some 6 months and i remember them telling me they solved the big bang during the interview and they could see sub atomic particles visually. It was a pretty cool place, with posters from the 60's all over the place that had been there since the 60's. I actually worked with the guy who made the first cgi-script web page and he was telling me about mosaic how you had to cut and paste the link into the location adress instead of clicking on it. There was also a very weird office with all kinds of interesting old posters and I remember a book titled "quantum mechanics" by messiah. They also had a room labeled "Retire" that had a bed in it for taking naps, of which I did utilize. Seems as if they fill up an oracle grid cluster full of data from the detectors and mine the data to figure out how it all works. They were the slowest most laid back people I've ever seen. Just getting a white board installed was a long process that went through the carpentry department. I found it interesting how the buildings are laided out as the computing center is between the cooling tower and cryogenics. When they were upgrading the hvac systems the computing center looked like one big computer with huge manual fans at each entrance and we weren't allowed to move fans without the permission of the HVAC people. Also we'd always seem to know when power outages were going to happen ahead of time. I think SLAC uses more of California's power than anywhere else (some 1/16 or more) and they have the fastest interntet connection in the world, but at the desktop its a slow 10MB.
    M
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arminw (717974)
      .......Also we'd always seem to know when power outages were going to happen ahead of time........

      That's because the computer building is fed from the same beam switchyard power substation. Often when the large power supplies that ran the big magnets needed maintenance or reconfiguring for new experiments, they had to kill the feed to that substation.

      On hot summer days, the accelerator was often shut down, so the silicon valley air conditioners could still run. I believe the wind tunnels at NASA/Ames in Mt.
      • by AaronW (33736)
        According to a friend of mine who worked at Nasa he said the wind tunnels drew many megawatts of power and they had their own direct supply from the utilities.
  • Poor Johnny! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DoctorSVD (884269)
    Am I the only one who feels that the authors treated Johnny on a callous and cruel manner?
    • by eecue (605228)
      Sorry, I have a bad habit I'm not proud of. I'm a robot taunter.
    • by jftitan (736933)
      No... Poor Jonny was all happy and waiting, and then no tape.

        I think the tape robot should have rebelled. SkyNet FTW. oh wait... nm...
  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Monday February 18, 2008 @04:47PM (#22468030) Journal
    Feynman used to visit his sister in neighboring Palo Alto. He dropped by SLAC one day, "just to snoop around" and by chance, was shown a graph that no one quite knew what to make of. It was somewhat bell-shaped but the parameters that had gone into its construction were obscure - the only one who had a good handle on it was Bjorken and few were smart enough to understand what he was saying. Besides, he was just a grad student speaking in terms of current algebra, a language few understood at the time. The experimenters were hoping Feynman could explain the graph's significance.

    Feynman looked at the curve, went back to his motel for the night and came back the next day thoroughly excited because he'd deciphered the curve. The curve was showing the momentum transfer that occurred when the electrons coming out of the accelerator slammed into the quarks at the atom's core. He described the point-like quarks as looking like slow moving pancakes due to the electron's relativistic speed.

    That accidental encounter broke a mental logjam at SLAC and enabled them to get a handle on what their new machine was producing - evidence that the quark was real. Up until that point, most of them had been in Murray Gellman's thrall. Gellman had insisted that quarks were mathematical scaffolding that didn't have any physical counterparts. Feynman's insight at SLAC proved otherwise and gave the experimenters mental hooks that enabled them to figure out what was going on with their machine.

    Feynman later said the Bjorken and he were saying the same thing - he had just chosen different words to express the idea.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Guy Harris (3803)

      For the benefit of those who think "Dolly" when they hear "Parton", the parent artice is presumably talking about the parton model [wikipedia.org], devised by Feynman to explain some high-energy collision results; as the article says, eventually the partons Feynman talked about were identified with the quarks [wikipedia.org] that Gell-Mann [wikipedia.org] and Zweig [hhttp] proposed, and the gluons [wikipedia.org] that bind them together in hardons^Whadrons [wikipedia.org]. (Oh, and "Bjorken" is James Bjorken [wikipedia.org].)

  • It often looks like some of the parts of these things are just cobbled together....wires and tubes left dragging everywhere....most people who work in data centers would get fired or at least tuned-up for being that sloppy with cables that are arguably a lot less important.

    For the billions they spend on this stuff, I'd figure they could afford a little bit for tidying it up. Still - impressive pictures...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arminw (717974)
      .....wires and tubes left dragging everywhere.........

      Keep in mind that these are short term experiments, not long term, installations. The more permanent parts of the accelerator itself are much more orderly, just as in a good data center.
      • by darenw (74015)
        In cutting-edge physics labs, it is important not to wiggle cables around. When i worked at SLAC back in the 80s, i knew people who calibrated cables for beam position monitors and other instruments. Every cable and its measured parameters had to be entered into a database. Yegads, i have no idea what kind of databases anyone used back then ((shudders)). Anyway, bending a cable around to be "neat" would have fricked up its capacitance etc. slightly. Anyone who has ever worked in an audio recording stu
  • Weird Tags (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 18, 2008 @05:06PM (#22468230)
    [+] science, technology, lookicanmakemytaglongerthananyotheraslongasitypeuptothelimit, itssodanotpop, songofthetwomilelinearparticleacceleratorstanforduniversity (tagging beta)

    Do I have to submit a few stories as "I Don't Believe in Ridiculous Tags" to make a point, or will this behavior self-correct before then?
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Monday February 18, 2008 @05:37PM (#22468480) Journal
    Scientists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator...are currently amassing the first scientific evidence that there is more matter than antimatter in the universe

    That is just plain wrong. They are studying CP violation which is the difference between matter and anti-matter this might help to explain the huge excess of matter over antimatter that astronomers already observe in the Universe but it is known the the effects we understand today with B and K mesons (which is what they are studying) cannot explain it by itself.

    Secondly they are NOT the first to observe CP violation by a long shot. It was first discovered in Kaons by Christenson, Cronin, Fitch and Turlay at Brookhaven in 1964 a discovery for which they won the Nobel prize.
    • by eecue (605228)
      Thanks the intro will be updated when my editor comes to work tomorrow.
    • by Guy Harris (3803)

      They are studying CP violation which is the difference between matter and anti-matter

      Well, perhaps more precisely, it's the difference between matter and anti-matter as a whole - the difference between a particular bit of matter and the particular corresponding bit of anti-matter is that their quantum numbers, such as charge, are inverted (so that, for example, a particle with charge N has an anti-particle with charge -N). It was originally thought that if you had some physical interaction between particl

  • If that title doesn't screan Geek Porn I don't know what does!
  • Johnny 5 IS alive!
  • Every time I drive by SLAC on 280, I am reminded that the facility sits almost on top of one of the world's most violent and active fault systems. SLAC is only 3000 feet away from the San Andreas fault at its closest point and about 7000 feet at its farthest. If you go to this site [geology.com], you can zoom in where Sand Hill Road intersects 280 and plainly see both SLAC and the fault line.

    To see what happened to another linear structure as a result of an earthquake on the San Andreas, go here [exploratorium.edu].

    So, when SLAC b
    • I wonder whose bright idea was it to build a huge linear accelerator almost on top of a known fault system in the first place?

      Valve Software's?
  • But I do know that SLAC serves as one hell of a distinctive VFR reporting point for the local General Aviation Community.
  • It says this is the longest in the world but I'm pretty sure Cern in Switzerland is longer.

Maybe Computer Science should be in the College of Theology. -- R. S. Barton

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